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TAEKWONDO / TAE KWON-DO
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HISTORY

The Korean art of Taekwondo (“way of the foot and fist”) originated nearly 2,000 years ago but has only been known under this name since 1955. The mother art was called ‘hwarang do’ or ‘way of the flowering manhood’.

During the Japanese occupation of Korea between 1907 and 1945, many Japanese influences were introduced into the existing Korean martial arts. The Japanese fighting arts of karate, kendo, aikido and judo were introduced to the Korean armed forces and subsequently the Korean martial arts incorporated many adapted Japanese techniques.

Today Taekwondo is an official Olympic sport, national sport of Korea and is taught to all members of the Korean armed forces. A political divide exists within the art however with two international organisations covering the majority of practitioners – the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and International Taekwondo Federation (ITF).

STYLE

Taekwondo is a ‘hard’ or ‘external’ style of martial art requiring muscular force, fitness and flexibility. Taekwondo kicks are spectacular and have great destructive power. They are, to a great extent, the hallmark of the art.

The sport side of Taekwondo involves sparring using protective clothing, scoring points for clean kicks (above the waist) and punches to the body. Taekwondo also involves learning ‘patterns’ (similar to Kung Fu ‘forms’ and Karate ‘katas’). A pattern is a set series of combination techniques performed in a sequential order. These patterns increase in complexity as the practitioner advances through the ranks and require concentration and focus to master and demonstrate. Breaking techniques are also evident in Taekwondo.

SUMMARY

Taekwondo is a very physical martial art requiring stamina, endurance and flexibility. It is highly focused on kicking techniques.

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Date 2005-10-20 21:28:56

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