Taekwondo (/ˈtɛˈkwɒnˈdoʊ/) is a Korean martial art.
Taekwondo was developed during the 1940s and 1950s by various Korean martial artists combining and incorporating the elements of Karate and Chinese Martial Arts along with the indigenous Korean martial arts traditions of Taekkyeon, Subak, and Gwonbeop.
The oldest governing body for taekwondo is the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA), formed in 1959 by a collaborative effort by representatives from the nine original kwans, or martial arts schools, in Korea. The main international organizational bodies for taekwondo today are the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), founded by General Choi Hong Hi in 1966, and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), founded in 1973 by the KTA. Gyeorugi ([kjʌɾuɡi]), a type of full-contact sparring, has been an Olympic event since 1992. The body known for taekwondo in the Olympics is the World Taekwondo Federation.
In our classes we will be applying the forms and styles of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).
Taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques. In fact, World Taekwondo Federationsparring competitions award additional points for strikes that incorporate jumping and spinning kicks. To facilitate fast, turning kicks, taekwondo generally adopts stances that are narrower and hence less-stable than the broader, wide stances used by martial arts such as karate. The tradeoff of decreased stability is believed to be worth the commensurate increase in agility, particularly in Kukkiwon-style taekwondo.
Theory of power
The emphasis on speed and agility is a defining characteristic of taekwondo and has its origins in analyses undertaken by Choi Hong Hi. The results of that analysis are known by ITF practitioners as Choi's Theory of Power. Choi based his understanding of biomechanics and Newtonian physics as well as Chinese martial arts. For example, Choi observed that the power of a strike increases quadratically with the speed of the strike, but increases only linearly with the mass of the striking object. In other words, speed is more important than size in terms of generating power. This principle was incorporated into the early design of taekwondo and is still used.
Choi also advocated a relax/strike principle for taekwondo; in other words, between blocks, kicks, and strikes the practitioner should relax the body, then tense the muscles only while performing the technique. It is believed that the relax/strike principle also increases the power of the technique, by conserving the body's energy. He expanded on this principle with his advocacy of the sine wavetechnique. This involves raising one's center of gravity between techniques, then lowering it as the technique is performed, producing the up-and-down movement from which the term "sine wave" is derived. The sine wave is generally practiced, however, only in some schools that follow ITF-style taekwondo. WTF/Kukkiwon-style taekwondo, for example, does not employ the sine wave and advocates a more uniform height during movements.
The components of the Theory of Power include:
While organizations such as ITF or Kukkiwon define the general style of taekwondo, individual clubs and schools tend to tailor their taekwondo practices. Although each taekwondo club or school is different, a student typically takes part in most or all of the following:
Equipment and facilities
A taekwondo student typically wears a uniform, often white but sometimes black (or other colors), with a belt tied around the waist. White uniforms are considered the traditional color and are encouraged for use at formal ceremonies such as belt tests and promotions. Colored uniforms are often reserved for special teams (such as demonstration teams or leadership teams) or higher-level instructors. There are at least two major styles of dobok, with the most obvious differences being in the style of jacket: (1) the cross-over front jacket (ITF style), (2) the V-neck or Y-neck jackets (no cross-over) typically worn by Kukkiwon/WTF practitioners. White uniforms in the Kukkiwon/WTF tradition will typically be white throughout the jacket (black along the collars for dan grades), while ITF-style uniforms are trimmed with a black border along the bottom of the jacket (for dan grades).
The belt color and any insignia thereon indicate the student's rank. Different clubs and schools use different color schemes for belts. In general, the darker the color, the higher the rank. Taekwondo is traditionally performed in bare feet, although martial arts training shoes may sometimes be worn.
When sparring, padded equipment is worn. In the Kukkiwon/WTF tradition, full-contact sparring is facilitated by the employment of more extensive equipment: padded helmets called homyun are always worn, as are padded torso protectors called hogu; feet, shins, groins, hands, and forearms protectors are also worn.
The school or place where instruction is given is called the dojang (도장, doh'-jang). Specifically, the term dojang refers to the area within the school in which martial arts instruction takes place; the word dojang is sometimes translated as gymnasium. In common usage the term dojang is often used to refer to the school as a whole. Modern dojangs often incorporate padded flooring, often incorporating red-and-blue patterns in the flooring to reflect the colors of the taegeuk symbol. Some dojangs have wooden flooring instead. The dojang is usually decorated with items such as flags, banners, belts, instructional materials, and traditional Korean calligraphy.
The grandmaster of the dojang is called a gwanjangnim (관장님, gwon'-jong-nim); the master (senior instructor or head of dojang) is called sabeomnim (사범님, sah'-bum-nim); the instructor is called gyosannim (교사님, gyoh'-sah-nim); and the assistant instructor is called jogyonim (조교님, joh'-gyoh-nim).
World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)
In 1972 the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) Central Dojang opened in Seoul in 1972; in 1973 the name was changed to Kukkiwon. Under the sponsorship of the South Korean government's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism the Kukkiwon became the new national academy for taekwondo, thereby establishing a new "unified" style of Taekwondo. In 1973 the KTA established the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) to promote taekwondo as a sport. The International Olympic Committee recognized the WTF and taekwondo sparring in 1980. For this reason, Kukkiwon-style taekwondo is sometimes referred to as Sport-style taekwondo, Olympic-style taekwondo, or WTF-style taekwondo, though technically the style itself is defined by the Kukkiwon, not the WTF.
In Kukkiwon/WTF-style taekwondo, the word used for "forms" is poomsae. In 1967 the KTA established a new set of forms called the Palgwae poomse, named after the eight trigrams of the I Ching. In 1971 however (after additional kwans had joined the KTA), the KTA and Kukkiwon adopted a new set of color-belt forms instead, called the Taegeuk poomsae. Black belt forms are called yudanja poomsae. While ITF-style forms refer to key elements of Korean history, Kukkwon/WTF-style forms refer instead to elements of sino-Korean philosophy such as the I Ching and the taegeuk.
WTF-sanctioned tournaments allow any person, regardless of school affiliation or martial arts style, to compete in WTF events as long as he or she is a member of the WTF Member National Association in his or her nation; this allows essentially anyone to compete in WTF-sanctioned competitions.
''Poomsae'' is the term officially used by Kukkiwon/WTF-style and ATA-style taekwondo.
Exhibition of taekwondo students at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City Taekwondo ranks are typically separated into "junior" and "senior" sections. The junior section typically consists of ten ranks indicated by the Korean word geup 급 (also Romanized as gup or kup), sometimes called colored belts. Geup rank may be indicated by stripes on belts or by solid colored belts. Students begin at tenth geup (often indicated by a white belt) and advance toward first geup (often indicated by a red belt with a black stripe). The "color belts" in taekwondo are white, white yellow, yellow, yellow green, green, green blue, blue, blue red, red and red black. (White yellow is a white belt with yellow stripe, yellow green is a yellow belt with a green stripe, and etc.). Another way for organization is white, yellow, level one green [green belt w/ white strip], level two green [solid green], level three green [ green w/ black strip, level one blue [blue belt w/ white strip], level two blue [solid blue belt], level three blue [ blue belt w/ black strip], and so on through the brown and red belts. Another ranking system ranks up from white, yellow, green, purple, brown, and black. Yet another ranking system proceeds: white, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, red, high red (red with a brown stripe), brown, and high brown (brown with a black stripe).
The senior section is typically made up of nine ranks. Each rank is called a dan 단, also referred to as "black belt" or "degree" (as in "third dan" or "third-degree black belt"). Black belts begin at first degree and advance to second, third, and so on. The degree is often indicated on the belt itself with stripes, Roman numerals, or other methods, but sometimes black belts are plain and unadorned regardless of rank. Each degree has four levels, indicated under the stripes on the belt (which run across the belt, rather than along it as with junior belts) and demarcated as L1, L2, L3, L4.
To advance from one rank to the next, students typically complete promotion tests in which they demonstrate their proficiency in the various aspects of the art before their teacher or a panel of judges. Promotion tests vary from school to school, but may include such elements as the execution of patterns, which combine various techniques in specific sequences; the breaking of boards to demonstrate the ability to use techniques with both power and control; sparring and self-defense to demonstrate the practical application and control of techniques; physical fitness usually with push-ups and sit-ups; and answering questions on terminology, concepts, and history to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the art. For higher dan tests, students are sometimes required to take a written test or submit a research paper in addition to taking the practical test.
Promotion from one geup to the next can proceed rapidly in some schools, since schools often allow geup promotions every two, three, or four months. Students of geup rank learn the most basic techniques first, and then move on to more advanced techniques as they approach first dan. Many of the older and more traditional schools often take longer to allow students to test for higher ranks than newer, more contemporary schools, as they may not have the required testing intervals.
In contrast, promotion from one dan to the next can take years. The general rule is that a black belt may advance from one rank to the next only after the number of years equivalent to their current rank. For example, a newly promoted third-degree black belt may not be allowed to advance to fourth-degree until three years have passed. Some organizations also have age requirements related to dan promotions, and may grant younger students poom 품 (junior black belt) ranks rather than dan ranks until they reach a certain age.
Black belt ranks may have titles associated with them, such as "master" and "instructor", but taekwondo organizations vary widely in rules and standards when it comes to ranks and titles. What holds true in one organization may not hold true in another, as is the case in many martial art systems. For example, achieving first dan ( black belt) ranking with three years' training might be typical in one organization, but considered too quick in another organization, and likewise for other ranks. Similarly, the title for a given dan rank in one organization might not be the same as the title for that dan rank in another organization.
In the World Taekwondo Federation, Students holding 1st-3rd dan are considered an Instructor, but generally have much to learn. Students who hold a 4th - 6th dan are considered Masters. Masters who hold a 7th - 9th dan are considered a Grand-Master. This rank also holds an age requirement of 40+.