The Martial Art of Taekwondo
In prior months we have covered some other common forms of martial arts like karate and kickboxing. Today we’d like to talk about another one, which you’ve no doubt heard about in many movies, TV shows, and probably even within your personal friend group: taekwondo.
What Does Taekwondo Mean?
Like many similar martial arts, taekwondo is a sport developed in Asia, though its history does not go back as far as the more traditional styles like karate. Starting in Korea after the Second World War, the name roughly translates to “The Way of the Trampling Fist”, and was brought into being as many separates styles in different schools across Korea.
Who founded taekwondo?
In 1952 the South Korean president saw a demonstration of the style in a match between ROK officers Choi Hong-Hi and Nam Tae-Hi, which he misinterpreted as an ancient Korean fighting discipline, taekkyeon. He began advocating for a unified single fighting form like it to be taught in the army, and in 1955 the nation’s most prominent dojo teachers were putting this plan in motion. Soon, the schools had begun to unify their teachings and combine old and new techniques very effectively, eventually settling on the name taekwondo.
What is the taekwondo uniform?
Practitioners of many Korean martial arts, including taekwondo, are required to wear a dobok, which are the typical white robe-style garments you think of when you imagine a martial arts sparring match. They are usually white or black, though they can appear in other colours, too, and are fastened along the front and around the waist with a belt, called a tti. These belts are coloured depending on the level of the student.
Is there a special taekwondo belt tie?
There is a specific way that students are taught to tie their belts, which are long and can hang low and pose a hazard if tied improperly. Tying it correctly means that it stays in place and is secure upon the waist. There’s even a WikiHow video about it if you need to brush up on your technique!
Do I need special taekwondo shoes?
Historically, taekwondo was done in bare feet, but modern students use shoes to help protect the feet. Getting the right pair to prevent injury is important, though. They should be properly fitted, protective, and breathable, while not being too hard for kicks against opponents. Good shoes also keep students covered in the absence of suitable floor mats and during long practice sessions. Nobody likes blisters from friction burns on hard studio floors!
Is Taekwondo Popular?
While slow to gain popularity in the 1950s, the Korean military was committed to using the discipline as their standard for hand-to-hand combat. By the 1960s, new associations and federations were established and spreading around the world – including the International Taekwondo Federation (also known as ITF and pictured performing above along with World Taekwondo) in Toronto. In 2000, it was added to the Olympic Summer Games as one of only two martial arts, alongside judo, and today it is popular in many countries with many offshoot styles.
How is Taekwondo Different From Other Martial Arts?
While some martial arts are all about redirection of momentum, stance ability, blocks, and so on, taekwondo is well known for its emphasis on kicks of all kinds. Fighters can jump and spin, landing kicks with plenty of force to all parts of the body, including the head – in fact, World Taekwondo competitions award extra points for strikes of those type. Though there is an emphasis on fast, manoeuvrable movements, taekwondo kicks are just one part of this agile and adaptable sport.
Taekwondo Forms: The Theory of Power
You might have also heard of their Theory of Power, which is the idea that speed is more important than actual size when it comes to how powerful a strike can be. Taekwondo’s form is recognizable by the amount of rotation and turning its fighters do when striking, in order to counterbalance the striking force and create an even bigger hit. The discipline also believes strongly in considering equilibrium, breath control, concentrated strike areas, reaction force, and mass with every strike. They emphasize the practice of breaking boards or bricks as a test of how accurate, quick, and powerful a fighter’s blows can be.
Can You Use Weapons in Taekwondo?
Formally, it is not a weapon-based martial art, and weapons are not part of the curriculum of most programs. With that said, some schools do incorporate training with staffs, sticks, or knives, adding even more skills to a formidable list.
The Five Tenets of Taekwondo
Though there are many different styles and practices of modern taekwondo, the core beliefs of all of them refer back to the Five Tenets of Taekwondo:
These five concepts guide how all students are to act and train as they become more educated, and reflect the idea of an ultimately peaceful society as an overarching goal for taekwondo in the world. In this way, the sport is very much like all martial arts in how it manifests – including our very own kung fu.
What is the Taekwondo Belt Order?
We all have that friend that brags about having a “30th degree black belt”, but the grades between different levels can vary between schools, styles, and teachers. (And tell your friend that black belts only go up to 10!)
A common ranking of taekwondo belt colours starts with white and moves through yellow, green, blue, red, and black. Within these, each colour may have different levels (called geup or gup), ranging from 10 in the initial white belt to 2-3 for each intermediate colour, and then 10 dan levels within the taekwondo black belt. These are awarded based on the demonstration of technical ability, discipline, form, and fighting prowess.
Where Can I Get Started with Martial Arts?
This looks like a lot of information, but it’s just the beginning for dedicated students who are starting their fighting sports journey. If you want to know more about the benefits and advantages of studying martial arts in Calgary like taekwondo, judo, or kung fu, call us today and we will guide you in the right direction.