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".
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.
|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,
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
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.
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
|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.
WTF vs. ITF
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:
- Self Control
- Indomitable Spirit.
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
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.