What is Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that requires focus and discipline, and yields benefits that go far beyond physical conditioning.

The History of Taekwondo

On April 11th, 1955, the name Taekwon-Do was officially adopted for the martial art General Choi Hong Hi had developed using elements of the ancient Korean martial art of Taek Kyon and of Shotokan karate, a martial art he had learned while studying in Japan.

The philosophical values and the goals of Taekwon-Do are firmly rooted in the traditional moral culture of the Orient. On the technical side, defensive and offensive tactics are based on principles of physics, particularly Newton´s Law, which explains how to generate maximum force by increasing speed and mass during the execution of a movement.

Wanting to share the results of his philosophical reflections and his technical experiments, General Choi planned and wrote a unique reference work, the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do. In its fifteen volumes, he explained in detail the rules and practices of this art.

Always striving for excellence, General Choi presented Taekwon-Do as in a state of continuous evolution, open to changes that would improve its effectiveness. He wrote that anyone who believes he has fully discharged his duty will soon perish. Likewise, any undertaking that is perceived to have reached its objectives is likely to lose momentum, stagnate, and die.

Since the beginning, Taekwon-Do has never stopped evolving, driven by the strong will and a lot of hard work by its Founder. The leaders of the ITF today also recognize the need to evolve and they are equally passionate about the future of the organization.

The Benefits of Taekwondo

Young and old, male and female, and in some cases even handicapped persons are able to practice Taekwon-Do. Physical strength, weight and body build are of no consequences. A 60 year old, 85 pound, one armed woman can derive as much personal satisfaction, along with marked improvement in her mental and physical state of health, as an 18 year old Olympic decathlon champion.

Patterns may be chosen according to a student’s limitations and since Taekwon-Do boasts a myriad of techniques, those best suited for an individual student can be chosen or modified. A word of encouragement for those who are physically underdeveloped; the majority of Taekwon-Do masters today were not initially endowed with physical strength or natural coordination. In fact, an instructor usually prefers an underdeveloped student not only becasue of the personal challenge, but because this type of student will usually work much harder and become the most dedicated student.

In some ways, Taekwon-Do is similar to gymnastics. A student has merely to repeat what the instructor has demonstrated with occasional corrections on proper technique. Also a student with even limited training can introduce another beginner to techniques the student himself has already mastered.

Although a practice suit is a prerequisite in classroom training as an aid for mental and spiritual conditioning, one can just as easily train in shirts, track suit, or even street clothes.

To train or harden an attacking or blocking tool, straw rope wound around a piece of wood, a bag filled with sand or a piece of cloth or paper suspended by a string can suffice if the regular training aide is not available.

Since Taekwon-Do can be practiced in a cleared space in your back yard or even public park in the absence of training hall, the student has the convenience of training by himself any time it suits him.

Tenacity and perseverance will help students of all ranks avoid two common pitfalls:

Boredom There is a common tendency among beginners to tire of repeating the same techniques over and over. Boredom will usually set in between the third and sixth month for a beginning student. This is the period when a student is building his Taekwon-Do foundation by learning fundamental technique and building power.

Impatience, lack of self-confidence, inability to perceive improvement and just plain physical fatigue combine to cause a psychological and physical ennui. After the seventh month, however, the student develops physically and fatigue is reduced. The student begins to learn techniques that he can use to gauge his rate of advancement; and through breaking techniques and sparring the student develops confidence. The best way to combat boredom is to attend classes regularly and develop resolve to attain a specific goal.

Lack of Thoroughness Too often the students sacrifice thoroughness in the learning process, because they tend to lose patience and insist on progressing to a higher technique before mastering the previous one. Students should realize that it is extremely important for them to know thoroughly one single technique until it becomes reflexive before advancing to the next.

The secret of becoming a black belt is a simple one; learn thoroughly each technique, especially patterns, step by step, not only developing a physical reflexive action, but developing mental concentration as well.

© 2009-2013 International Taekwon-Do Federation. Used with permission.