One of the most popular and widespread martial art in the world, Taekwondo or Tae Kwon Do which is known for its speedy and powerful kicks with amazing acrobatics and aerial moves.
Taekwondo is a martial art which has its roots in Korea. Taekwondo meaning is quite simple. “Tae” means foot, “Kwon” means fist and “do” means art. So Taekwondo means the way or art of foot and fist. However, it is most famous for its attractive acrobatic kicks.
The main Taekwondo organization today includes International Taekwondo Federation or ITF, World Taekwondo or WT (formerly known as WTF or World Taekwondo Federation), Korea Taekwondo Association or KTA, Taekwondo Federation of India, etc.
The highest level of Taekwondo competition is in the Olympic games. Other Taekwondo competitions include World Taekwondo championship, ITF World Cup, European Taekwondo Championship, etc.
Origin and History of Taekwondo
During the 6th century A.D, Korea or Korean peninsula was divided into 3 kingdoms. Their names were- Koguryo, Paekje, and Silla. Koguryo was the largest of the three kingdoms and occupied the majority part of Korea while Silla was the smallest among them.
The three kingdoms were at war with each other and have had some rough times going on. Silla, being the smallest and weakest have some difficulties in protecting itself from other kingdoms. So it took some actions which changed the history of Korea.
Chin Heung, the 24th king of Silla, formed an organization of warriors, which came to be known as the HwaRang. They have good trainings in the use of weapons, tactics, and fightings. They devoted their entire lives to these martial skills. Won Kang, a Buddhist monk took charge of the mental training of these warriors and helped them in their mental conditioning. HwaRang were not only fighters but also scholars and calm from the mind and spiritual point of view.
Silla, with the help of HwaRang warriors, defeated Kouguryo and Paekje and took control over entire Korea. During 918 A.D to 1392, Koryo dynasty was ruling the territories. This dynasty developed the initial stages of martial art very well.
SooBakGi or SooBak was the first form of martial art used those days. Various other forms evolved and Tae Kyon was one of the best-evolved forms. It became a very popular sport and it became famous in public as well as in the military.
When Japan Took Control
When Japan took control of Korea, many things changed. The competitive sports and martial arts were outlawed. Only the military personnel could practice martial arts. SooBakGi was practiced in secret and changed its name again to SooBakDo.
During 1905, under the Japan-Korea treaty, Korea was declared as a protectorate of Japan. Due to this treaty, many Japanese people introduced Japanese arts and culture to Korea. It includes the introduction of Japanese martial arts such as Kendo, Karate, Judo, etc. However, only the military was allowed to practice the martial arts and most of the Korean martial arts were banned until that time.
In 1914, a man named Hwang Kee was born. He was said to have the intensive talent and have mastered the art of Taekyon.
After Korea’s Liberation
As Korean martial arts were restricted at that time, Kee seemingly attracted the authorities. So, Hwang Kee went to China and there, he developed his skills and also learned some new skills in other martial arts such as Kung Fu and Karate. On August 15, 1945, Korea’s liberation from Japanresults in return of Kee back to Korea. There he founded one of the main five martial art academics i.e Moo Duk Kwan. Several other masters along with Kee formed the five main academies of martial arts.
Those were- Moo Duk Kwan, Jido Kwan, Changmu Kwan, Chungdo Kwan, and Songmu Kwan.
During 1950-1953, the Korean war was going on. At the end of the Korean war, four more Kwans came into effect. Those were- Oh Do Kwan, Han Moo Kwan, Kang Duk Kwan, and Jung Do Kwan. The Kwans combined and the arts were now called as Tae Soo Do which means a way of the warrior spirit.
During the formation of this unified art, General Choi Hoong Hii, one of the founding father of Kwan (Oh Do Kwan) suggested the name Taekwondo. As a result, he got the title of founder of Taekwondo. However, there are many criticisms of this as well.
Unification and Recognition of Taekwondo As a Sport
In 1959, the Korean Taekwondo Association or KTA formed in order to get the unification of this martial art. The South Korean government did not want any elements of North Korean martial arts in their association’s but General Choi did not agree to their conditions as he thinks that they should include and unite all Korean martial arts.
In 1966, he broke off and formed a new organization called International Taekwondo Federation or ITF. The South Korean government did not support him so he eventually established the headquarters in Toronto, Canada.
The South Korean government along with the Korean Taekwondo Association formed the World Taekwondo Federation or WTF later changed its name as World Taekwondo or WT to promote Taekwondo as an international sport.
In 1962, Jhoon Goo Rhee opened the first Taekwondo school in America and introduced Taekwondo to America. As a result, became “The father of American Taekwondo”.
Taekwondo is one of the most popular sport today which is popular in many different schools in many different countries. It is one of the only two Asian games in the Olympic Games (Judo is the other one).
Rules and Regulations of Taekwondo
Taekwondo was first played as a competitive sport in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Since then, it attracts many fans and people and has got huge popularity. There are a different set of rules for a different organization. But we will discuss the rules for the Olympic Taekwondo.
The objective is simple, you can either knock your opponent out or win the maximum points. Taekwondo competitions comprise of matches on the basis of different weight categories.
It is played in an 8-meter squared mat and the competitors wear a white-colored dress which called as gi or dobok along with a colored belt in their waist. The belts indicate the experience level of that particular player. The belt system goes from white for a beginner to yellow, green, blue, red and black for the experienced players. The competitors use various protective equipment during the competition which includes-
- Head guard or helmet
- Chest, trunk or torso guard
- Groin guard
- Forearm guard
- Shin and ankle guard
- Mouth or gum guard
Scoring of Points-
- 1 point for a straight punch to the torso (the rules allow only straight punches and not the hooks, jabs, and uppercuts)
- 2 point for a straight kick to the torso
- 4 points for a spinning kick to the torso
- 3 points for straight kicks to the head
- 5 points for a spinning kick to the head
The matches generally consists of 3 rounds of 1.5 minutes each with 30 seconds break. However, there are several don’t during a Taekwondo match. It includes-
- Punching to the face
- Grappling, pushing or holding your opponent
- Kicking below waist
- Stepping of the ring
- Lifting the leg for more than 3 seconds to defend themselves
The winner will be the fighter with the highest number of points at the end of three rounds or if he or she delivers a knockout to the opponent.
Today, Taekwondo has got millions and millions of practitioners and is still increasing day by day. It’s due to many of its other side benefits as Taekwondo increases height, Taekwondo gives you the most toned figure and Taekwondo kicks are very effective. In addition, it works a lot in real or street fights.
If you want to learn taekwondo then, hit a taekwondo academy or school near you and try it out. I am sure you will not get any disappointments.
Keep in mind that none of the Martial Arts promote any kind of violence. These are just for self-defense and development of disciplines. Remember that fighting is not cool, always stay cool and calm and keep maintaining non-violence as much as possible.