About Tae Kwon Do

"Tae Kwon Do is a physical expression of the human will for survival and an activity to fulfil the spiritual desires of a person".

Tae Kwon Do is the Korean Martial Art of health, fitness and self-defence. The main feature of Tae Kwon Do is that it is a free fighting combat sport using bare hands and feet to repel an opponent. Translated literally, Tae

Kwon Do means "Foot, Hand, Art" (the art of foot and hand fighting). However, there is much more to Tae Kwon Do than kicking and punching. Tae Kwon Do training aims to develop better coordination, self-confidence and all-round fitness.

Tae Kwon Do is a guide for the formation of outstanding character, a modern international and Olympic sport and one of the greatest Martial Arts in the World

Tae Kwon Do training develops physical and mental discipline. Tae Kwon

Do is so much more than a mere fighting system. Its practice is intended to have a beneficial effect upon the student's character and therefore his/her attitude is one of the most important factors in whether the training will be successful or not. The serious student who listens to instructions, practises that which is shown and respects his/her instructor and colleagues will progress further.

The place for training in Tae Kwon Do is known as the "Dojang" (which translates to "the place of training in the Way"). When entering the Dojang, the students will show their commitment to the objects of Tae Kwon Do by pausing at the door and performing a standing bow towards the instructor. If the instructor is not present, the bow is made to the centre of the training hall.

Development of Tae Kwon Do

In order to gain a better understanding of Tae Kwon Do, it is necessary to have some knowledge of the history of Korea and to observe how such a small country managed to survive through three thousand years of being besieged, raided, occupied and invaded.

The earliest indication of martial arts practice in Korea is documented in paintings from the Kokuryo Dynasty (AD 37 to 668); apart from these enigmatic paintings there is no other record of martial arts practice. At the beginning of the Koryo dynasty (AD 953 to 1392) this interest in martial arts was developed further and taught to the Korean military forces under the name 'Soo Bahk'. Finally, during the Yi Dynasty (1907 to 1945) the first Korean martial arts manual was published covering twenty-four techniques.

By the end of the Second World War the five major "Kwans" (schools) in Korea were:

Chung Do Kwan
Won Kook Lee
Moo Duk Kwan
Hwang Kee
Chang Moo Kwan
In Yoon Byuna
Song Moo Kwan
Byung Chik Ro
Ji Do Kwan
Gae Buyng Yun
Old Korean Schools of martial arts & their founders

Tae Kwon Do is the Korean Martial Art that was perfected by the Korean Martial Arts movement (the above Masters) in April 1955, at which time the name Tae Kwon Do was also chosen and the first President (General Choi Hong Hi) was elected. In 1959 the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA) began a programme of international development and in 1972 the World Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF) was founded and based at the Kukkiwon (World Tae Kwon Do Centre). The first World Tae Kwon Do Championships was held at the Kukkiwon in May 1973. As a result of the WTF's efforts, energy and enthusiasm Tae Kwon Do is now a fully recognised Olympic sport.

In 1966 General Choi Hong Hi made a goodwill trip to North Korea, as a result of which he became very "unpopular" with many South Koreans. General Choi was forced to resign from the KTA and emigrated to Canada where he founded the International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF).
The ITF concentrated on the forms developed by General Choi, while the WTF developed the Palgwe's. Later the WTF introduced the TaeGuks, which are still practised today. The ITF practises the semi-contact part of Tae Kwon Do, while the WTF practises the full-contact part.
Since the break-up, there have been many attempts to reunite WTF and ITF, so far without success. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that there will ever be a union within Tae Kwon Do, since both styles have evolved in different ways.

Tae Kwon Do Tenets
The philosophy of Tae Kwon Do is based upon constant striving for excellence. The goal is to become a honourable person with perfect character and physical condition. To realise the ultimate benefits of Tae Kwon Do, one must practise it daily and commit to it for a lifetime. Though none of these goals are absolutely attainable, the key is in one's endeavours.
In Tae Kwon Do, we honour five fundamental tenets of living. These should serve as a guide to all serious students of the art, both inside and outside of class:

  • Etiquette

  • Modesty

  • Perseverance

  • Self Control

  • Indomitable Spirit.

The Kiup
Tae Kwon Do Techniques are quite often practised with a kiup, a yell made simultaneously with the technique. As the technique is executed, the abdomen contracts to push out the breath and to make the ki, the energy, flow out from the centre of the body to empower the technique.
Allowing the out breath to form into a shout can increase the power and focus; this is the kiup, and it signifies full commitment of body and spirit to that particular technique.
In training, kiup is useful for keeping your momentum and accuracy up when you are becoming tired. In sparring, kiup is used to give extra force and focus to techniques, and also as a force in itself. A good focused kiup can really move an opponent back or momentarily stop him or her in their tracks. An unexpected kiup may have a further advantage in breaking up a sparring rhythm that has become predictable, making space for an effective technique.

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