WHAT IS TAE KWON-DO?
Tae kwon-do (also spelled Tae Kwon Do or TaekwonDo) is the most popular of the Korean martial arts and is the Korean national sport. It is also one of the world's most commonly practiced martial arts. It’s famed for its employment of kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from martial arts such as Karate or certain southern styles of Kung Fu. The rationale is that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to strike without retaliation.
Tae kwon-do as a sport and exercise is popular with people of both sexes and of many ages. Physically, Tae kwon-do develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina. An example of the union of mental and physical discipline is the breaking of boards, which requires both physical mastery of the technique and the concentration to focus one's strength.
The five tenets of Tae kwon-do (courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, indomitable spirit) reflect that Tae kwon-do is a mental discipline as well as a physical one. Tae kwon-do helps students develop improved awareness, confidence, focus, discipline, memory, and respect. Some schools even have student creeds or oaths that describe Tae kwon-do's goals for personal improvement.
Stretching during warm-ups is one way Tae kwon-do develops flexibility. Although each Tae kwon-do club or school will be different, a
Tae kwon-do student can typically expect to take part in most or all of the following:
- Learning the techniques and curriculum of Tae kwon-do
- An aerobic workout, including stretching
- Self-defence techniques
- Poomse, or patterns -- either tuls, hyongs, palgwes, or taeguks
- Sparring, including step-sparring and/or free-style
- Relaxation exercises
- Breaking (using techniques to break boards for martial arts demonstrations)
- Exams to progress to the next rank
- Focusing on discipline, honour, etiquette, respect, and self confidence.
Some of the most well known Tae kwon-do techniques include:
Front Kick: This is a very linear kick. The practitioner raises his knee to his waist and snaps his foot at an opponent.
Side Kick: A very powerful kick that has somewhat fallen out of favour as competition has become progressively faster. Again the practitioner raises his knee, but this time thrusts his foot out to the side.
Turning kick: The practitioner raises his knee and spins his kick horizontally across his target.
Hook Kick: A less popular kick traditionally, it has found increasing favour in modern competitions. The practitioner raises the knee in a fashion similar to the side kick, then extends the foot in a dorsal arc (would be clock-wise for the right foot) with the heel as the intended striking weapon.
Axe Kick: Another kick that has increased in popularity due to sparring competitions. The knee is raised in front of the body, the leg then extended and pulled down with the heel pointed downward. It is typically targeted toward the head or shoulders and requires significant flexibility to employ effectively.
Spinning Kicks: These involve a full rotation of the body before the kick is released. Spinning kicks include the spinning side kick, spinning hook kick, spinning axe kick, and a number of other kicks of varying popularity.
Jumping Kicks: There are also a number of kicks that involve jumping before their execution. These include jumping front kick, jumping side kick, flying side kick, jumping roundhouse (sometimes referred to as butterfly kick, although this term is at times used for a distinct kick separate from the jumping roundhouse), jumping spinning hook kick, and jump spinning side kick.
Some Tae kwon-do instructors also incorporate the use of pressure points as well as self-defence techniques borrowed from other Korean arts, such as Hapkido and Yudo.