WHAT IS TAEKWONDO ?
Taekwondo is the name of the martial art turned modern international sport which has been independently developed over about 20 centuries in Korea. The Main feature of Taekwondo is that it is a free-fighting combat sports using bare hands and feet to repel an opponent. All of its activities are based on defensive spirit since Taekwondo was developed as a defense against enemy attacks. Taekwondo also serves to improve health, physical fitness and poise of the people practising it.
Taekwondo-trained people are self-confident, not only in physical aspects but also in their mental discipline, because they have developed superior techniques for personal defense by using their entire bodies. For a Taekwondo person, his or her entire body is a weapon and is easily able to attack and beat off an aggressor with hands, fists, elbows, knees, feet or any other part of his/her body.
The most important fact about Taekwondo as a martial art sport is that it is not only a superior art of self-defense, but it adds remarkable bon sense to its practitioners. Self-confidence makes people generous in their attitude toward weaker people. They can stand equally against any opponent, but their code forbids unfair assaults or unnecessary use of force. The practice of Taekwondo gives an individual the mental attitude of modesty. the virtues of modesty and generosity are fundamentally based on self-confidence.
It is obvious that healthy bodies make people active and powerful. Mental and physical self-confidence is beneficial to the mental life of individuals as well as to their families, friends, neighbours and their nation.
A Taekwondo ‘Poomse’ comprises various stances, each with its peculiar nature but each blending into the other. A ‘Poomse’ consists of about two dozen stances interconnected. Blocking, punching, striking, thrusting and kicking are among Taekwondo Poomse and these are properly carried out with hands, fists and feet to the vital spot of the body or target at which they are aimed and the the stances accordingly change forward stance, back stance, cat stance and horseriding stance, etc. as the situation requires. Most typical ‘Poomse’ are Palgye 1-8, Taeguk 1-8, Koryo, Kumgang, Taeback, Pyongwon, Shipjin, Jitae, Chunkwon, Hansoo and Ilyeo.
Taekwondo training is comprised of basic training, Poomse (basic form) and Kyoruki (sparring). Kyukpa (breaking) is for demonstration and for the test of power and technique. Taekwondo requires great mental concentration and it produces almost incredible power.
It is impossible to exercise the developed power against people except at the risk of inflicting serious injury. Therefore, in the past a method was sought to test such formidable power against non-living things like wooden planks, roof tiles or bricks. We call this this Kyukpa. We must realize that anyone can become proficient in this sport because in Taekwondo anyone can properly develop and control their latent power. No special place is needed to practice Taekwondo. During any free time individuals can practice and develop Taekwondo techniques.
In modern times, Taekwondo has become an amateur sport. It has become a modern world sport with the tradition and spirit of the martial science maintained. The WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) was officially admitted into General Association of the International Sports federations (GAISF) in October 1975. Taekwondo was officially accepted by CISM as its 23rd official sport at its Executive Council Meeting in April 1976. The World Games under GAISF auspices included Taekwondo as its official program. The WTF was granted recognition by the International Olympic Committee at its 83rd General session in Moscow on 17 July 1980. International Council of Sports & Physical Education admitted WTF in 1981. General Assembly Meeting of Pan American Sports Organization (OPEPA) on August 12, 1983 adopted Taekwondo as its official sport in the Pan American Games program. The IAKS, an international organization of sports and leisure facilities, accepted WTF as its affiliated member on October 30, 1983. Propagation of unified rules and regulations is rapidly implemented through international referee seminars, instructor seminars and exchange visits and booklets under the auspices of the WTF and member national federations.
In 1996, member countries of the WTF totaled 144 and the global Taekwondo population is estimated at 30 million people. Spurred by the recognition of Taekwondo by the IOC at its 83rd General Session in 1980, Taekwondo has been rapidly developing an international sport. It was adopted as a demonstration sport of the 24th Seoul Olympics in 1988 and the 25th Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Taekwondo was adopted as an official sport of 2000 Sydney Olympic Games at the 103rd Session of the IOC held in Paris, France on September 4, 1994. Taekwondo has consolidated its position in the world sport as fast as any other martial art. Continental championships are hosted by four member regional unions of the WTF. There is World and Women’s World Championships, World Cup Taekwondo, CISM Taekwondo Championships and FISU World University Championships. Taekwondo is being played as an official sport in most international multi-sport games such as World Games, Pan American Games, All Africa Games, Southeast Asian Games and Central American Games.
The Taekwondo uniform is neither expensive nor luxurious. It is designed to fit for free body action. It is believed that the white colour of the uniform signifies the purity and origin as well as convergence. There are belts, i.e.: black, red/black, red, blue, yellow and white. Each colour designating the degree of graded proficiency possesses by the one wearing the belt. A white/yellow belt is for the beginner, a blue belt is worn by persons of the 6th to the 4th grades of Gup (blue signifies youth and ambition). The red belt is for trainees graded 3rd to 1st Gup and the black belt (signifying dignity) is for the Taekwondo expert who holds the 1st grade of Dan or higher. Red/black belt (Cho Dan Bo) is for those before black belt (preliminary black belt). The Kukkiwon is authorized to conduct promotional tests and issues certificates for 1st Dan or Poom and higher in accordance with the Rules & Regulations of the World Taekwondo federation.