WHAT IS TAEKWONDO?
Taekwondo is one of the most systematic and scientific
of Korean traditional martial arts. It is a discipline
that not only emphasizes physical expertise, but also
enhances the practitioner’s spirit and life through
training body and mind. Although developed throughout
Korean history, it is also a modern sport that has gained
an international reputation and is now included among
the official sports in the Olympic Games.
What does the word Taekwondo mean?
The word is composed of three parts - Tae means foot,
leg, or to step on. Kwon means fist or fight. Do means
the way or discipline. These three parts together form
the two important concepts behind taekwondo.
Korean history relates that the prominent leaders of
the three ancient tribal kingdoms had a military background.
As a result, martial arts training became one of the
important subjects of learning.
"Taekwondo is the basis of martial art, enabling
one to build strength," states an ancient book,
showing that taekwondo was prevalent in the time of
the Shilla and Koguryo kingdoms, founded some 2,000
years ago. In 1955, a group of Korean martial arts leaders
chose taekwondo as the definitive Korean martial art
to promote its development internationally.
In 1973, the Korean government recognised the World
Taekwondo Federation (WTF) as the legitimate governing
body. The first world championships were held that year.
Taekwondo was featured as a demonstration sport in the
1988 and 1992 Olympics, becoming an official medal sport
at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Taekwondo first became a competitive event in the 10th
Asian Games in 1986, in Seoul, Korea.
• The competition area measures 10m x 10m.
• The contestant shall wear the trunk protector
(hogu), head protector, groin guard, forearm guards,
shin guards, and a mouthpiece.
• The duration of the contest is non-stop three
rounds of two minutes each, with a one-minute rest period
between rounds. In case of a tie score after the completion
of the 3rd round, a 4th round of two minutes will be
conducted as the sudden death overtime round.
• Points are awarded when permitted techniques
deliver full force, abrupt displacement and trembling
shock to the legal scoring areas of the body. Points
may be awarded by judges for a successful technique
o One point for attack on trunk protector.
o Two points for attack on the head.
o One point if a punch is thrown and stops the opponent
in their tracks.
o One additional point if the opponent is knocked down
and the referee counts.
o Declared winner if knock-out of the opponent with
foot kicking to the legal area of head and face.
Taekwondo today is similar to the martial arts in other
Oriental countries and shares many features with them.
In the course of its evolution, it has gained from many
different styles that existed in the martial arts of
the countries surrounding Korea, like Japan and China.
The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) with its headquarters
in Seoul was established as a rival organization in
1973 and despite several attempts at unification Taekwondo
has not been a unified sport since then. The WTF places
greater emphasis on sparring than the more traditional
ITF and it is the WTF version that is practiced as an
Olympic sport. Both styles incorporate graceful kicking
techniques and the breaking of wood as a test of both
correct form and concentration, though the ITF observes
the so-called 'semi-contact' style of Taekwondo, while
the WTF practices the so-called 'full-contact' style.