One of the oldest Martial Arts known to us, Taekwondo means ‘the art of kicking and punching’. It has a history of over 2000 years and it is a prominent self-defense technique that originated in Korea.
Taekwondo is a very systematic way of martial arts and takes a lot of discipline to master. Forgotten for a long time, modern Taekwondo was developed in Korea during the 1940s and 1950s.
Taekwondo Origin: A brief history of the art
Taekwondo’s history can be traced long back from the Koguro Dynasty in 37 BC to the Silla Dynasty when the Hwarangdo influenced Koran culture and martial arts heavily. Hwarangdo was a youth group during the 6th century of Korea which followed a unique military and philosophical code.
The world of taekwondo seems to have originated from the three words, ‘take, ‘Kwon, and ‘do’. ‘Tae’ means ‘leg’ or’ foot’, Kwon roughly translates to ‘fight’ and ‘do’ means ‘discipline’.
Throughout its long history, Taekwondo has been referred to by various names. It was originally called ‘Subak’ or ‘Taekkyon’. Under the logo, it took on the name ‘Sunbae’ and by the Shilla period, it was one of the most prominent martial arts techniques.
Modern Taekwondo: Taekwondo Today
Taekwondo, as it is today, originated during the 1940s and 50s in Korea. It was in 1961 that the Korea Taekwondo Association became a part of the Korea Amateur Sports Association.
Taekwondo might have certain similarities to other martial arts but being around for so long, it has evolved into many different styles which sets it apart from other such skills.
The philosophy and aim behind Taekwondo are to unite your body, mind, and life along with the unity of the pose, confrontation, and cracking down. The word ‘Poomsae’ is usually used to describe the pose.
In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Taekwondo was presented as a demonstration event. Ever since the 2000 Olympics, it’s been one of the three martial arts Olympic sports. By 2010, it was also accepted in the Commonwealth games.
Taekwondo Dress: What to wear?
Taekwondo practitioners wear the Korean martial arts uniform called ‘Dobok’. The ‘Dobok’ is very similar to Japanese martial arts uniforms like ‘keikogi’ or ‘dogi’.
World Taekwondo Federation‘s taekwondo practitioners usually wear V-neck jackets designed similarly to the Korean ‘hanbok’. The term ‘hanbok’ itself means ‘Korean’ clothing.
Traditional Taekwondo practitioners might wear ‘dobok’ which is very similar to ‘keikogi’ while others wear the new design with a vertically closing jacket front.
Around the ‘dobok’ they wear a belt called ‘it. The kind of belt you wear depends on your mastery of the art. The junior section wears color belts whereas the senior section is called ‘black belts’.
Types of Taekwondo Belts
The different kinds of Taekwondo belts are-
- The color belts are for the junior ranks and are indicated by the word ‘up.
- The lowest rank is the ‘white belt’. There might be 8-12 ranks depending on the style. The highest rank is usually red or brown in the junior ranks.
- The order of ranking at the junior section might vary due to different styles but the usual order is white, yellow, green, black, and red.
- There are nine ranks in the senior section, the ‘black belts’. Each rank is referred to as a ‘dan’ which roughly translates to ‘degree’.
- 1st dan is the lowest dan and hence the beginning dan. The highest dan is eight.
How do you get promoted from one rank to another?
To get promoted from one rank to another, taekwondo students usually need to complete promotion tests. In these promotion tests, they have to usually demonstrate their proficiency in various aspects of the art. Such promotion tests usually occur in front of an audience or some judges.
These tests usually consist of the execution of techniques in specific patterns, the breaking of boards to demonstrate strength and control. In the tests, self-defense, and concepts are also checked. Physical fitness is also checked by push-ups and sit-ups.
The equipment required for taekwondo usually are-
- Calf protectors, Cup protectors, and forearm
- Protective Vest
- Gloves and mouthpiece.
A taekwondo practitioner should take care of wearing all these required equipment before entering the competition area.
All other protective helmets except those approved by WTF (World Taekwondo Federation are prohibited).
Taekwondo Rules: How is taekwondo played?
Rules of Taekwondo according to the WTF areas such-
- Only Athletes with three months of sparring training are allowed to take part in the competition.
- Just like in any other sport, taekwondo athletes are too divided based on weight, age, and gender.
- On the day of the competition, the participants are weighed by the officials. The ones who failed once are permitted another chance at weighing.
- Each match is three minutes long with one-minute breaks. It’s three two-minute rounds with thirty-second breaks when 14-year-olds are concerned.
- The front outer part of the index and the middle fingers of a tightly clenched fist is used to perform fist techniques.
- The part of the leg below the ankle is used in performing the leg techniques.
- It is only permitted to hit the parts of the body which are covered by protections.
- Hitting in the spine or the back of the head is also prohibited. However one can hit the front of the face.
- Only kicking and punching is allowed. Kicking with only legs or feet is allowed.
- Kicking or punching in the head gives three points and a kick or punch into the body gives one point.
- Athletes are given penalty points too. Four penalties result in the player being disqualified.
- A participant can win by knockout, disqualification, penalties announced by the referee, and by score or reference.
- A participant can also win by the non-appearance of the other participant or by the termination of the match by the referee or the doctor.
- The area of the competition is a 10 by 10 meters flat surface covered with elastic pads.
- The competition area is on a platform 0.5 – 0.6 meters high from the base.
- The outer part beyond the limiting line should have a less than 30 degrees slope for the competitor’s safety.
In Taekwondo, the referee declares winners, losers, and all other match-related decisions.
He also decides about the ‘gamjeon’ (deduction of points), retiring, and warnings (gyeong-go).
The referee can only make decisions after they have been confirmed. The referees are supposed to wear sky blue jackets and shirts, navy blue pants, blue ties, and white shoes.
Commands in Taekwondo
|Baro||Return to Ready|
|Guryong-e majchwoseo||By the count|
|Guryong eobs-i||Without count|
|Bal bakkwo||Switch feet|
Types of Taekwondo Kicks
There are a wide variety of kicks in taekwondo. Taekwondo kicks are also called ‘Chagi’.
Mastering Taekwondo as an art requires mastering these kicks. They are essential to taekwondo and are part of its basic structure.
List of kicks
|Axe Kick||Naeryeo Chagi|
|Back Kick||Dwi Chagi|
|Crescent Kick||Bandal Chagi|
|Downward Roundhouse Kick||Dollyo Naeryeo Chagi|
|Double Roundhouse Kick||Narae Chagi|
|Front Kick||Ap Chagi|
|Hook Kick||Huryeo Chagi|
|Flying Back Kick||Twi-myo Dwi Chagi|
|Flying Side Kick||Twi-myo Yeop Chagi|
|Jumping Back Kick||Eedan Dwi Chagi|
|Jumping Front Kick||Eedan Ap Chagi|
|Knee Strike||Mureup Chigi|
|Push Kick||Meereo Chagi|
|Repeating Kick||Geodeup Chagi|
|Roundhouse Kick||Dollyo Chagi|
|Scissor Kick||Kawi Chagi|
|Side Kick||Yeop Chagi|
|Spinning Hook Kick||Dwi Huryeo Chagi|
|Twisting Kick||Bituro Chagi|
- Some schools use the words flying and jumping interchangeably. So an instructor might use the word ‘Eedan’ for a flying kick and the word ‘Twi-myo’ for a jumping kick.
- A repeating kick is a technique where you do the same kick with the same foot two or three times.
Taekwondo Vs Karate
Karate which originated from Japan and Taekwondo might seem similar to each other when viewed from a superficial perspective.
The similarities between Taekwondo and karate are that both teach patience and discipline and offer a full-body workout. In both martial arts, the participants learn various stances and techniques to kick, punch or block an opponent.
The differences between both of these martial art practices are as follows-
- Karate uses hand attacks more whereas Taekwondo involves more kicking, jumping, and spinning. Taekwondo is thus more focused on the lower body than karate.
- In Karate, kicks are used more as backups and in Taekwondo the hands play the role of the backup.
Taekwondo is one of the two Asian martial arts sports that are included in the Olympic program.
It is an Olympic sport that is usually conducted in the Summer Olympics. Both men and women compete in separate weight classes at four events. The weight classification is-
The number of entries every year is 128. The bronze medal is shared by two competitors.
- In the 2012 London Olympics, Hwang Kyung-Seon became the first woman ever to win three Olympic medals (2 gold, 1 bronze).
- Hadi Saei, Steven López, Huang Chih-Hsiung of Chinese Taipei are the only three athletes to have won medals at multiple weight categories.
- Adriana Cerezo of Spain is the youngest athlete to win a medal at the age of 17 years and 242 days.
- Hadi Saei is the oldest to win a medal at the age of 32 years 2 months 13 days.
- South Korea has been the most successful nation in Olympic, winning 22 gold medals (12 golds, 3 silver,7 bronze).
Taekwondo is one of the most popular and practiced martial arts in India. It was introduced by Master Puran Andrew Gurung after he returned to India from Hong Kong.
It is gradually getting prominent in India as several Taekwondo coaching institutes are being set up in the country.
Best Indian Taekwondo players
|2||Aruna Singh Tanwar|
|8||Aman Kumar Kadyan|
|14||Syed Taha Bhukari|
Taekwondo Federation Of India
Taekwondo was officially introduced in India by Jimmy R. Jagtiani in 1975. He was an 8th Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo.
TFI was established in India on 2nd August 1976.
It was given affiliation by the WTF in 1978. It is also recognized by the Asian Taekwondo Union, the Indian Olympic Association, the South Asian Taekwondo Federation, and The Department of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Grand Master Kiranpal has been working for this sport as a referee since the inaugural 1988 Summer Olympics. Another international referee and coach who began his career in 1988 was Atul Pangotra who qualified in the top 50 officials at the 2020 Summer Paralympics.
India has won one bronze medal in the Asian Games until now. The bronze came from Surendra Bhandari in the flyweight category at the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
Some of the best quotes are mentioned below-
- “Cowards never start. The weak never finish. Winners never quit”
- “When you get in taekwondo, it teaches you the life skills of respect, self-control, discipline that’s why I love it. I really attribute those skills to really getting over my dad’s death. If I didn’t have that, I would have lost it.”
- “Pain is the best instructor, but no one wants to go to his class.”
-Choi Hong Hi
- “Of those who start Taekwondo training, only about 5% stick with it until they achieve the Black Belt Rank. Then perhaps 80% of those who earn a Black stop there.”
-Duk Sung Son