Taekwondo - Everything You Need To Know
What is Taekwondo
Tae Kwon Do (also known as Taekwondo) is the art of self defense that originated in Korea. It is recognized as one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world, reaching back over 2,000 years. The name was selected for its appropriate description of the art: Tae (foot), Kwon (fist), Do (art). So, literally Taekwondo means "the way of the foot and fist".
The name Taekwondo, however, has only been used since 1955 while the arts' roots began 2,300 years ago in Korea. Known as a martial art and way of life, the evolution of Taekwondo was a direct result of the happenings in Korea long ago, and knowledge of the history is an important step in understanding Taekwondo.
History Of Taekwondo
Early Korea :
Korean history began when in 2333 B.C. the legendary national founder, Tangun, founded "Old Korea" at Asadal. As in the histories of other nations, communal life was gradually transformed into tribal communities, and then tribal leagues and finally took the form of a state. Although no written history of the fighting systems of this time remains it is known that the people of this time were hunters and had some means of protection as well as livelihood.
The Three Kingdoms :
During the 6th century A.D. what we now call the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms; Baekje, Koguryo and Silla.
There were archeological findings during these times such as the mural paintings on the royal tombs during the Koguryo period, stone sculptures at pagodas during the Silla period and documents written in the Baekje period, show techniques and fighting stances that were probably the first forms of Taekwondo.
The three kingdoms were at war with each other and constantly fought for new ground on the peninsula. Silla, being the smallest and weakest militarily began to have a difficult time protecting itself against the other kingdoms and so Silla took an action which would turn out to be a key point in Korean history.
The 24th king of Silla, Chin Heung, formed a group of warriors, which were called the HwaRang. The HwaRang were trained in weapons such as the sword, spear and bow. They devoted their lives to these martial skills in the hopes that they could save Silla. The HwaRang also studied an unarmed form of combat called SooBak. SooBak was a primitive form of foot fighting, using some hand, but mostly foot techniques.
The HwaRang took SooBak and added things to it to create a more fighting art. The techniques of SooBak were created to be used in fighting along with the other weapons of the HwaRang to make the warriors able to defeat their enemies. But, Chin Heung needed something more than just competent soldiers; he needed something to unify the HwaRang and create the mental conditioning to lead the kingdom to victory. So, he asked Won Kang, a buddhist monk and scholar, to take charge of the HwaRang training. Won Kang did so and not only created fine warriors, but actually he also created a way of thought for the HwaRang. Won Kang came up with a code of ethics that the HwaRang warriors followed. They were:
1. Be loyal to your king.
2. Be obedient to your parents.
3. Have honor and faith among friends.
4. Have perseverance in battle.
5. Justice never to take a life without cause.
With the code of ethics and with their skills in fighting the HwaRang became the HwaRangDo, which meant "way of the flower of manhood." The HwaRangDo became known for their bravery and fighting skills and soon supplied the leadership to defeat both the Baekje and Koguryo kingdoms and unify Korea into one country known then as Koryo.
Recent History of Taekwondo :
In 1975 the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) accepted Taekwondo as an official sport. Taekwondo was also admitted to the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and the International Council of Military Sports (CISM) in 1976. In 1980 the WTF became an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized sports federation, making Taekwondo a demonstration sport for the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games.
Taekwondo has a lot of techniques but in this section we will talk about only the basic ones:
Kkeokgi ( Snapping )
Techniques of restraining by pressing or twisting the opponent’s joints These are restraining skills to press or twist the opponent’s wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, or knee with the performer's hand. These skills are executed when the performer is seized by the assailant or one is grabbing the opponent at close range.
Neomgigi ( Throwing down )
Tripping up or throwing down techniques by pulling or pushing the opponent off balance.
Ditgi ( Stepping )
Movements of changing directions or one’s feet to various points in order to adjust one’s distance to the opponent, where one executes attacks or makes defensive moves
These include all kinds of foot movements involved in taekwondo and are used in the form of nae-ditgi, dora-ditgi, mo-ditgi, mulleo-ditgi, yeop-ditgi and jejari-ditgi.
Ttwigi ( Jumping )
Applications of a jumping movements to apply the diverse technical skills of taekwondo
These are movements used to attack a target that is higher or farther than normal, or to evade the opponent’s attack. They can involve one or more vertical turns or horizontal flips.
Makgi ( Blocking )
Techniques of protecting the vital parts of the defender’s body from the assailant’s attack by blocking it off with a hand, arm, foot or leg.
Cheo-makgi (Striking Block) is one of the conventional blocking skills frequently used in defensive taekwondo techniques. The defender confronts the assailant’s attack by matching force for force. Occasionally, bada-makgi (Absorbing Block) absorbing the impact of punching and kicking attacks, georeo-makgi (Tripping Block) obstructing the offense in advance, and geodeo-makgi (Deflecting Block) deflecting or pushing off the opponent’s attack are also employed.
Milgi ( Pushing )
A motion to extend one’s arms or push away the opponent with one’s hands or feet.
This is a movement to keep one’s distance with the opponent by pushing away in order to create sufficient space to facilitate an attack or to dodge the opponent’s attack.
Ppaegi ( Pulling out )
A technique of pulling oneself free when part of the defender's body is seized by the opponent.
They are the skills executed by twisting or turning the joint and pulling it out when the defender’s wrist or ankle is grabbed by the assailant.
Seogi ( Stance )
Various postures of standing on one's feet in order to perform offensive and defensive techniques.
They are the various standing postures with feet positioned on the ground to efficiently shift the performer's center of gravity and/or change his or her directions.
Japgi ( Grabbing )
Auxiliary techniques of holding the opponent’s body, collar, etc. with the hands.
They are auxiliary skills to interfere with the opponent’s movement or seize him or her by grabbing a part of his or her body with the performer’s hands.
Junbi-jase ( Ready Posture )
Postures for physical relaxation, breath control and mental focus before executing taekwondo techniques.
There are six fundamental, standardized postures in poomsae (patterns) whereas individuals may freely adopt postures in georugi (sparring) in accordance with their physical conditions and characteristics.
Jireugi ( Punching )
Techniques of striking with the fists.
They are the skills of striking the opponent’s vital points with the Fist, Extended Knuckle Fist, Pincers Fist, Trigger Finger Fist and Half?clenched Fist (Flat Fist). These striking surfaces are utilized with jireugi, jeocheo-jireugi (Turn-over Punch), dollyeo-jireugi (Turning Punch), dwi-jireugi (Punch to the rear), etc.
Jjireugi ( Thrusting )
Techniques of striking the opponent’s vital points with the fingertips.
These skills have the same movements as those of punching techniques; however, their striking surfaces are the fingertips so that they can deliver a strong impact to the opponent’s vital points.
Jjikgi ( Chopping )
Techniques of striking the target swiftly with curled fingers.
This is a skill of striking with the fingertips after they are firmly closed at the first knuckles of the five fingers and used in such techniques as naeryeo-jjikgi (Downward Chop) an-jjikgi (Inward Chop) and ap-jjikgi (Forward Chop).
Chagi ( Kicking )
Techniques of striking a target with the feet by extending or turning legs.
They are the skills to dominate the opponent in a confrontation by delivering a strike with the foot. They are offensive skills using the power generated from flexing and extending the knee or swinging the leg.
Chigi ( Striking )
All kinds of offensive techniques delivered by the hand excluding fist, fingertips and foot.
They are the techniques of striking targets by using the rotational force of the body while the elbow is being bent and extended or just in a state of being bent. These techniques include all offensive strikes executed with hands except jireugi (punching), jjirueugi (thrusting), and jjikgi (chopping).
Pihagi ( Evading or Dodging )
Techniques of moving the performer’s body to evade or dodge the opponent’s attack.
These are skills to avoid the opponent’s attack by turning or twisting the performer's body to the left or right or by lowering it forward or leaning it backward.
Teuksupum ( Special Patterns )
A preparatory motion for performing attacks and defenses in sequence.
It is used as a preparatory movement for the follow up moves. The upper Back Knuckle faces upward for keun-doljjeogwi (Big Hinge) whereas it faces forward for jageun-doljjeogwi (Small Hinge).
How Many Belts Are There In TaeKwonDo?
The "color belts" in taekwondo are white, white yellow, yellow, yellow green, green, green blue, blue, blue red, red and red black. (White yellow really is a white belt with yellow stripe, yellow green is yellow belt with a green stripe, and so on.).
Taekwondo ranks vary from style to style and are not standardized. Typically, these ranks are separated into "junior" and "senior" sections, colloquially referred to as "color belts" and "black belts". And now we will talk about the main colors of belts and what each color represents.
1- White Belt:
White belt symbolizes innocence. It's the first and most important step of the taekwondo journey. Usually no one has to do a test to get a white belt. It's a part of the first taekwondo uniform.
2- Yellow Belt:
Yellow belt represents the earth. In which the roots of taekwondo form ready for a plant to grow.
3- Green Belt:
Green color represents the plant (which is taekwondo) starting to grow from the earth.
4- Blue Belt:
Blue belt represents the sky or heaven. Taekwondo skills are growing strong like a tall plant or tree growing up towards the blue sky.
5- Red Belt:
Red belt stands for danger. At this stage the student is becoming very skilled in their taekwondo. But may have more to learn about self-control.
6- Black Belt:
Finally there's the black belt. The black belt represents maturity, a good level of skill in taekwondo and rejection of fear.
Taekwondo Scoring System
1 Point: You get one point for a basic attack to your opponent's chest protector (for example a basic turning kick).
2 Points: You get two points for a kick to your opponent's chest protector if the kick involves a spinning technique - (this includes back kick).
3 Points: You get 3 points for a kick to your opponent's head.
Extra Point: You get an extra point for a knockdown.
To score a point your punch or kick has to be accurate and powerful, light tapping kicks do not score.
In major competitions, chest protectors have electronic scoring systems in them. These are adjusted to take into account the weight category of the competitors. (Heavier players have to kick harder to score a point.)
For head kicks and if non-electronic hogus are used then at least 3 judges have to see the point and score it at the same time. The judges push a button when they see a point.
Benefits of Taekwondo
- Developing discipline by thoroughly training your body and mind in the tenets and techniques of Taekwondo.
- Enhancing self-esteem by heightening your physical and mental powers.
- Building confidence by encouraging you to succeed and to take control of your life.
- Teaching self-defense by training you to recognize situations in which physical self-defense may be necessary, and teaching you how to control such situations to your advantage.
- Strengthen your mind and body through increased physical coordination and mental discipline.
Best of Taekwondo Knockouts:
So folks, if anyone wants to know more on a specific thing I didn't talk about in this article, feel free to leave a comment about what you want to know and I'll update the article as soon as possible.
A Brief History of Taekwondo, By Ronald A. Southwick.
World Martial Arts Academy.