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File:Flag of South Korea.svg
The Taeguk, one of the major symbols in Taekwondo, represented in the flag of South Korea
Tae Kwon Do
File:Taekwondo Fight 01.jpg
Taekwondo sparring match
Also known as Tae Kwon Do, Taekwon-Do
Style Kicking, Punching
Country of origin Flag of South Korea Korea
Parenthood Historic
Olympic Sport Since 2000


Taekwondo (also spelled tae kwon do or taekwon-do) is a martial art originating in Korea. Having become one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the world, it is the national sport of Korea and one form of sparring, shihap kyeorugi, is an Olympic sporting event.

In Korean, derived from hanja, tae (跆) means to kick or strike with the foot"; kwon (拳) means "fist or to strike with the hand"; and do (道) means "way". Hence, taekwondo is loosely translated as "the way of the foot and hand". Taekwondo's popularity has resulted in the divergent evolution of the martial art. As with many other martial arts, taekwondo is a combination of combat technique, self-defense, sport, exercise, entertainment, and philosophy.

Although there are great doctrinal and technical differences among public and private taekwondo organizations, the art in general emphasizes kicks thrown from a mobile stance, using the leg's greater reach and power to disable the opponent from a distance. In sparring, turning (roundhouse), 45 degree, front, axe, reverse turning and side kicks are most often used; advanced kicks include jump, spin, and skip kicks, often in combination. Taekwondo training also includes a comprehensive system of blocks, punches, open-handed strikes, various take-downs or sweeps, throws, and some joint locks.


The development of taekwondo

Taekwondo is very much a reflection of Korea's tumultuous yet dynamic history and culture. Accordingly, the development of taekwondo must be carefully understood within proper historical and cultural contexts.

Traditional roots

The oldest ancestor of taekwondo is an amalgamation of unarmed combat styles developed by three rival kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje. <ref name="SPIRIT">Taekwondo: The Spirit of Korea by Dr. Steven D. Capener, edited by H. Edward Kim, photos by Suh Jae Sik</ref> Young men were trained in unarmed combat techniques to develop strength, speed, and survival skills. The most popular of these techniques was subak, with taekkyon being the most popular of the segments of "subak".

Taekwondo practitioners demonstrating their techniques.

As the Goguryeo kingdom grew in power, the neighboring Silla kingdom became comparatively weaker, and an effort was undertaken among the Silla to develop a corps of special warriors. The Silla had a regular army but its military training techniques were less advanced than those of the Goguryeo, and its soldiers were generally of a lesser caliber. The Silla selected young men, some as young as twelve, and trained them in the liberal arts. Those who demonstrated strong natural aptitude were selected as trainees in the new special warrior corps, called the Hwarang. It was believed that young men with a talent for the liberal arts may have the grace to become competent warriors. These warriors were instructed in academic as well as martial arts, learning philosophy, history, a code of ethics, and equestrian sports. Their military training included an extensive weapons program involving swordsmanship and archery, both on horseback and on foot, as well as lessons in military tactics and unarmed combat using subak. Although subak was a leg-oriented art among in Goguryeo, Silla's influence added hand techniques to the practice of subak.

In spite of Korea's rich history of ancient and tradition martial arts, Korean martial arts faded into obscurity during the Chosun Dynasty. Korean society became highly centralized under Korean Confucianism and martial arts were lowly regarded in a society whose ideals were epitomized by its scholar-kings.<ref>Cummings, B. Korea's Place in the Sun, W.W. Norton, New York (2005).</ref> Remnants of traditional martial arts such as Subak and Taekkyon were banned from practice by the general populace and reserved for sanctioned military uses although folk practice by the common populace still persisted into the 19th century.<ref name="SPIRIT"/>

Much of Korea's traditional martial art heritage became further endangered at the end of the Chosun Dynasty which was hastened by Japanese invasion and occupation of Korea. The Japanese occupation of Korea was marked by brutal repression of Korean culture and identity. Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names and vestiges of Korean identity were banned such as the use of the Korean language and hangul.

External influence

During the Japanese occupation (1910-1945), the practice of taekyon was also banned. Although practice of the art nearly vanished, Taekyon survived through underground teaching and folk custom. As the Japanese colonization established a firm foothold in Korea, the few Koreans who were able to attend Japanese universities were exposed to Okinawan and Japanese martial arts with some even receiving black belts under Gichin Funakoshi. Koreans in China were also exposed to Chinese martial arts. By 1945, when the Korean peninsula was liberated from Japanese colonization, many martial arts schools were formed and developed under various names such as Tang Soo Do reflecting foreign influence.

At the end of World War II, several Kwans arose. They were: Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Jidokwan(or Yun Moo Kwan), Chang Moo Kwan, Han Moo Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Jung Do Kwan, Kang Duk Won, and Song Moo Kwan.

Modern taekwondo

By the end of the Korean War, nine martial arts schools (known as kwan) had opened, and South Korean President Syngman Rhee ordered that the various schools unify under a single system. A governmental body, selected a naming committee's submission of "tae-kwon-do," submitted by Choi Hong Hi, a general in the South Korean army and the founder of the Oh Do Kwan, for the new unified form. Following taekwondo's official creation on April 11, 1955,<ref>History of Taekwondo</ref> The Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA) was formed in 1959 to facilitate the unification.<ref>Korean Taekwondo Association</ref> Shortly after, taekwondo made its debut in North America. Standardization efforts in Korea stalled, as the kwan's continued to teach different styles. Another request from the Korean government for unification resulted in the formation of the Korea Tae Soo Do Association, which changed its name back to the Korean Taekwondo Association in 1965 following a change of leadership. This new leader was General Choi Hong Hi who ended up falling out of favor in South Korea following a goodwill trip to communist North Korea. This resulted in Choi's separation from the KTA and the founding of a new, private organization, the International Taekwondo Federation, in 1966.

In 1972, the Korea Taekwondo Association Central Dojang was opened. A few months later, the name was changed to the Kukkiwon, which means "National Technique Center." The Kukkiwon remains the World Taekwondo Headquarters to this day. The following year, the World Taekwondo Federation was formed. The International Olympic Committee recognized the WTF and taekwondo sparring in 1980, and the sport was accepted as a demonstration event at the 1988 Seoul and the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympic Games. It became an official medal event as of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Taekwondo is one of two Asian martial arts (judo being the other) in the Olympic Games.

The public WTF and private ITF, the two largest taekwondo organizations, operate and train in hundreds of nations and teach the martial art to millions of people each year. Although competition has always been a significant feature of Taekwondo, in recent years the increase in the discipline's sport orientation has led those with less interest in competition to seek more "traditional" dojang in order to focus on practice for the sake of practice, rather than practice for the sake of tournaments.


The largest taekwondo tournament organization is the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), headquartered in South Korea. Although the term "WTF" and "Kukkiwon" are often mistakenly used interchangeably to refer to this organization, the "Kukkiwon" is the physical building that contains the administrative offices of World Taekwondo Headquarters (aka Kukkiwon), a completely different organization which trains and certifies instructors and issues official Dan and Poom certificates worldwide. Olympic taekwondo competition is administrated by the World Taekwondo Federation, and WTF rules are used for Olympic taekwondo competition.

Four concrete paving bricks broken with a knife-hand strike. Breaking techniques are often practiced in tae kwon do.

Outside of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and its sanctioned events, a large number of smaller private organizations exist, the most well-known of which is the International Taekwon-do Federation, which is headquartered in Canada, Austria & South Korea. There are also other organizations such as American Taekwondo Federation™, ATF®, ATA, PUMA, ITA, UTF, USTF, WTU, CTF, ICTF, ITF, UITF, and Oulundsen's TKD. The first is the ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) founded by General Choi during the Korean war. Grandmaster Han was trained by General Choi. He then started the UTF. These organizations require that students belong to a member club or school. Events and competitions held by such organizations are sometimes closed to other taekwondo students. The World Taekwondo Federation allows any person, regardless of school affiliation or style, to compete in World Taekwondo Federation events, and is a member of the IOC, making it a public sports organization. There are over 200 private taekwondo organizations in the world. The major technical difference among these many organizations revolves around the poomsae, a set of prescribed formal sequences of movements that demonstrate mastery of posture, positioning, and technique, sparring rules for competition, and philosophy.

In addition to these private organizations, the original schools (kwan) that formed the organization that would eventually become the Kukkiwon continue to exist as independent fraternal membership organizations that support the WTF and the Kukkiwon. The official curriculum of the kwans is that of the Kukkiwon. The kwan also function as a channel for the issuing of Kukkiwon dan and poom certification (black belt ranks) for their members. Each kwan has its own individual pledge of tenets and manners that describes the organization's goals for personal improvement. For example, the tenets of oh do kwan have become very popular, and many taekwondo schools use them even though their roots are not originally from oh do kwan. The oh do kwan tenets are: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit. In contrast, the jidokwan manners are: view, feel, think, speak, order, contribute, have ability and conduct rightly.


See also: List of Taekwondo techniques and Kick

Taekwondo is famed for its employment of kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from martial arts such as karate or certain southern styles of kung fu. The rationale is that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to execute powerful strikes without retaliation successfully.

Taekwondo as a sport and exercise is popular with people of both sexes and of many ages. Physically, taekwondo develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina. An example of the union of mental and physical discipline is the breaking of boards, which requires both physical mastery of the technique and the concentration to focus one's strength.

Stretching to increase flexibility is an important aspect of Taekwondo training.

Although each taekwondo club or school will be different, a taekwondo student can typically expect to take part in most or all of the following:

  • Learning the techniques and curriculum of taekwondo
  • Both anaerobic and aerobic workout, including stretching
  • Self-defense techniques
  • Poomse, or patterns (also called forms) -- either tul, hyung, palgwe, or taeguk
  • Kyorugi (Sparring), including 3,2 and 1 step-sparring and/or free-style, arranged, point, hoshinsul and much more
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Breaking (using techniques to break boards for testing, training & martial arts demonstrations)
  • Exams to progress to the next rank
  • A focus on mental & ethical discipline, justice, etiquette, respect, and self confidence.

Some of the best-known taekwondo techniques include:

  • Front Kick (Ap chagi): This is a very linear kick. The practitioner raises their knee to their waist, pulls their toes back and quickly extends their foot at an opponent. It is also known as the snap kick. The front kick is one of the first kicks learned in TKD, if mastered it can become one of the most powerful.

Example of Front Kick

  • Side Kick (Yup chagi): A very powerful kick, first the practitioner raises his knee, rotates their body 90 degrees, extend their leg striking with the side or heel of their foot.

Example of Side Kick

  • Roundhouse Kick or Turning Kick (Ap dol-lyuh chagi or Dol-lyuh chagi): The practitioner raises their knee, turns their hips, and extends the kick horizontally, into their target at a 90 degree angle.

Example of Round House Kick

  • Hook Kick (Hoo-ryuh chagi): A less popular kick traditionally, it has found increasing favor in modern competitions. The practitioner raises the knee in a fashion similar to the roundhouse kick, then extends the foot in a dorsal arc (would be clock-wise for the right foot) with the heel as the intended striking weapon.
  • Axe Kick (Nae-ryuh Chagi): Another kick that has increased in popularity due to sparring competitions. The knee is raised in front of the body, the leg then extended and pulled down with the heel pointed downward. It is typically targeted toward the head or shoulders and requires significant flexibility to employ effectively. Due to the way that the Axe Kick is set up it requires the attacker to be within 1 to 2 feet of the opponent to land an effective blow on the shoulders or head.

Example of Axe Kick

  • Crescent Kick (Ban-dal Chagi): There are two variations of this kick; outer crescent and the inner crescent. In outer, the practitioner raises the extended leg as high as they can, and slightly up across the body, (a bit across the centerline of the body), then sweeping outward to the side, in a circular movement. For the inner, the motions are the same but the direction of the kick changes, this time originating from the outside of the body, heading towards the inside, or centerline of the body. These kicks are also called "Inside Kick" and Outside Kick" by some TaeKwonDo schools.
  • Spin Kicks (Bande dol lyuh chagi): There are a number of spinning kicks that involve the rotation of the entire body and head, before the kick is released. Spinning kicks include the back pivot kick (dweel cha kee), spinning hook kick (dweel hoorye cha kee), spinning axe kick, returning kick, 360 turning kick, and a number of other kicks of varying popularity.

Example of Spin Kick

  • Jump Kicks (Ttwi-uh chagi): There are also a number of kicks that involve jumping before their execution. These include jumping front kick (ee dan ap cha kee), jumping side kick (ee dan yop cha kee), flying side kick, jump roundhouse (ee dan dol ryu cha kee) jump spinning hook kick, butterfly kick or "shuffle jump kick," jumping (or counter) back kick, and jump spinning side kick.
  • Advanced Kicks : There are variety of kicks that can be used in combination or stem out from a simple kick to create more difficult ones. Some of these include 540 Kick (One spins 1 1/2 times in mid-air and does a kick, usually back spinning hook kick) and Triple Aero Kicks (One does round house kick, back spinning hook kick, and another round house kick in mid-air). More of these Advanced Kicks can be seen here

Some taekwondo instructors also incorporate the use of pressure points, known as ji ap sul as well as grabbing self-defense techniques borrowed from other martial arts, such as Hapkido and Judo.

Ranks, belts, and promotion

Like many martial arts, taekwondo has ten student ranks (called a gup, 급, also romanized as geup or kup) and nine or ten black belt ranks (dan, 단) or (degree). New students begin at 10th gup (white belt) and advance down in number to 1st gup. At many schools, students then advance into an intermediate rank called cho dan bo or dan bo, meaning "black belt candidate". After some prescribed amount of time has passed, the student takes a dan test, after which the student becomes a 1st dan.

Dan ranks then increase to a maximum of either 9th dan (ITF) or 10th dan (Kukkiwon). The Kukkiwon does not allow students under 15 to attain dan ranks. Instead they earn poom ranks, or "junior black belt". Underage students may earn up to 4th Poom, and all poom ranks convert automatically to dan ranks when the student comes of age and passes his or her next promotion<ref>Poom to dan conversion</ref>.

The grading in taekwondo consists mainly of patterns, techniques and theory. The patterns are a display of punching and kicking techniques, and may also contain others such as breathing and stances. Theory is displayed verbally and expresses information on Korean words, vital information (such as vital points and rules) and a general understanding and knowledge of taekwondo.

Kup ranks and belt colors

The colored belt system is an artifact of Japanese influence on Korea during the occupation, and thus ultimately from Jigaro Kano, the founder of judo. Some organizations' leaders, like General Choi Hong Hi, assigned meanings to the various colors of the ranks,<ref>Meaning of Belt Colors</ref> representing the progression of a student from white, the innocence of a beginner, into the maturity of the black belt, who is impervious to darkness and fear. The interpretation of the colors of the belt vary from school to school, and are sometimes omitted from instruction, as they did not have meaning when they were originally chosen. Neither the World Taekwondo Federation nor the Kukkiwon assign official meanings to the colors.

The correspondence of belt color to Gup varies drastically from school to school, and can even change within the same school over time. Belt colors are most useful in allowing students and instructors within a school to quickly determine rank. The traditional and most common rank-color correspondence found in both Kukkiwon and ITF schools<ref>History of Belt Colors</ref> are:

The student pictured here is testing for promotion.
Kup Kukkiwon Belt Color ITF Belt Color
10th White Belt White Belt
9th varies White with Yellow Stripe
8th Yellow Belt Yellow Belt
7th varies Yellow with Green Stripe
6th Green Belt Green Belt
5th varies Green with Blue Stripe
4th Blue Belt Blue Belt
3rd varies Blue with Red Stripe
2nd Red Belt Red Belt
1st varies Red with Black stripe

In most schools, the method by which colors are assigned for intermediate belt rankings (odd-numbered Gup) is far less uniform. The three most common approaches are: creating a new color for each odd rank (such as a purple or orange belt for 7th Gup), marking the increase of rank with a stripe on the belt, or wearing a "mixed" belt blending the two neighboring even-numbered colors together. There is little uniformity between schools in the new created colors, or how the "mixed" belts are created.

Even the typical even-numbered Gup colors are sometimes altered or omitted, and even the names of the same color can vary from school to school (for example, calling it a "gold belt" instead of a yellow belt). Because of this large variety in color naming systems, for clarity, taekwondo practitioners should always refer to their rank by number ("7th Gup") instead of by belt color.

The time required to advance in each Gup level also varies from school to school, but typical rates are quarterly or monthly. Not all students advance at each promotional testing, and students at advanced gup ranks often wait one or more testing periods for their next promotion. Students with good attendance and strong aptitude may earn faster promotions than those with irregular attendance or effort. Gup rank advancement records are usually kept by the school of origin, and sometimes by the association headquarters.

Dan belts

The black belt system is more formal and standardized across the different schools of taekwondo. Generally, a dan(단/段)black belt is either an unadorned black belt (the same for all ranks), or has a stripe across the tip for each rank (usually gold, silver, red or white). For example, a 5th dan could have five lateral gold stripes across the end of the belt. Some schools instead write the Dan degree in Roman numerals. Many black belts also have the name of the school on the right side of the belt, and the taekwondo practitioner's name on the left. The names can be written in any language, though having the school's name in Korean and the practitioner's name in his native language is common.

In the ITF, the maximum rank is 9th Dan; in the Kukkiwon, it is 10th Dan. According to General Choi, "The reason for nine black belt degrees is that the number three is a powerful number in the orient, and therefore three threes must be the most powerful." The 10th dan in the Kukkiwon is a very rare rank, generally awarded posthumously only to persons who have made great contributions to taekwondo. It is not the same as an honorary 10th dan. The Kukkiwon has only awarded five standard 10th dan to the following men: Un Yong Kim (living), Byong Lo Lee, Chong Soo Hong, Il Sup Chun, and Nam Suk Lee. The WTF has also awarded two "honorary" Kukkiwon 10th dan, both to individuals who were members of the IOC<ref>WTF Awards Honorary Kukkiwon 10th Dan</ref> - IOC Presidents Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge. The WTF Member National Associations and the Kukkiwon issue many honorary dan to political and non-political persons who make a contribution to the growth of taekwondo.

Generally speaking, one must wait one year per current dan level to progress to the next level. For example, a 3rd dan must wait three years before he can progress into 4th dan. There can also be an age requirement. For example, one must be at least 30 years old to qualify for 6th dan in the Kukkiwon. The Kukkiwon allows shortened promotion times for exceptional accomplishments. For example, a practitioner who wins the World Championships is accorded an 80% discount on both the minimum time to advance and minimum age requirements<ref name="prom">Kukkiwon Shortened Time Requirements</ref>, up to a maximum promotion of 7th dan.

Time & Age Limits for Poom or Dan Promotion <ref name="prom"/>
Poom/Dan Minimum Time Required

for Promotion

Age Limits for Promotion
Start from Dan Start from Poom
1st Poom N A N A Less than 15 Years Old
1st to 2nd Poom 1 years N A Less than 15 Years Old
2nd to 3rd Poom 2 years N A Less than 15 Years Old
3rd to 4th Poom 3 years N A Less than 18 Years Old
1st Dan N A 15 years and above N A
1st to 2nd Dan 1 year 16 years and above 15 years and above
2nd to 3rd Dan 2 years 18 years and above 15 years and above
3rd to 4th Dan 3 years 21 years and above 18 years and above
4th to 5th Dan 4 years 25 years and above 22 years and above
5th to 6th Dan 5 years 30 years and above 30 years and above
6th to 7th Dan 6 years 36 years and above 36 years and above
7th to 8th Dan 8 years 44 years and above 44 years and above
8th to 9th Dan 9 years 53 years and above 53 years and above
9th to 10th Dan N A 60 years and above 60 years and above

For Kukkiwon practitioners, all ranks of 1st dan and above must be registered with the Kukkiwon if the black belt wishes for his rank to be acknowledged at other dojangs, or if he wishes to participate in the Olympics. A "wallet certificate," which looks like a photo identification card, is often carried by practitioners to prove their rank when they attend tournaments or transfer schools.

The Kukkikwon requires special promotion tests to advance to the 8th dan and beyond. These tests must be taken at the Kukkiwon. For lower dan in category 2 nations of the World Taekwondo Federation, tests can generally be administered by any Kukkikwon-certified black belt of at least 4th dan who is also at least one dan rank higher than the person testing. However, in category 1 nations, only the National Taekwondo Association of the WTF can apply to Kukkiwon for the dan/poom test.

Dan titles

Officially, the Kukkiwon recognizes the following titles for dan ranks:

  • 1 to 5th Dan: "Master"
  • 6 to 9th Dan: "Grandmaster"

Officially, the Kukkiwon assigns the following instructor ranks, which are seperate from Dan ranks.

  • 3rd Class Sabum Certificate
  • 2nd Class Sabum Certificate
  • 1st Class Sabum Certificate

However, titles at schools are often more fine grained, in practice. The following is an example of how titles might be assigned to Dan ranks at a school.

  • 1st Dan - 2nd Dan: "Assistant Instructor"
  • 3rd Dan - 4th Dan: "Instructor"
  • 5th Dan - 7th Dan: "Master"
  • 8th Dan - 10th Dan: "Grand Master"

"Assistant Instructor" and "Instructor" are unofficial rank titles, and although dan holding these titles often help with instruction, this arrangement is independent of the Kukkiwon's official "Instructor" program in which one receives certified training in conducting taekwondo classes. The certified instructor program (which must be taken before one can establish a new taekwondo school in Korea), is only offered to practitioners who are certified 4th dan and who have passed a week-long course held annually at the Kukkiwon<ref>Instructor training at the Kukkiwon</ref>.

ITF schools use a standard ranking system:

  • 1st Dan - 3rd Dan: "Assistant Instructor" (Boo-Sabum)
  • 4th Dan - 6th Dan: "Instructor" (Sabum)
  • 7th Dan - 8th Dan: "Master" (Sahyun)
  • 9th Dan: "Grand Master" (Sasung)

Modes of address

The word "Master" carries a different connotation in Korean than it does in English. While in Korean the term is often used for all dan grades, in America, the term is often only applied to those of the 4th dan and up. While a 1st dan could technically (by Kukkiwon rules) refer to himself as a "Master" in English<ref>Explanation of Kukkiwon "Master" and "Grandmaster"</ref>, he would likely meet with disapproval if he did so.

In the United States, black belts at the Instructor level and lower are usually addressed as "Sir" and those of the Master level are called "Master". Dan of the Grand Master level are called "Grand Master" or "Grandmaster", often with their last name appended for additional formality ("Yes sir, Grandmaster Jeong!"). However, students who train directly with a Grandmaster often simply use the address "Master", reserving "Grandmaster" for more formal occasions. In Korea, and the rest of the world, the word sabum is often used ("Jeong sabum"), for Master or Grandmaster level.

Title Meaning
Panjanim Higher Ranking Student
Sunbaenim Senior Student
Kyosanim Assistant Instructor
Sabumnim Teacher
Kwanjangnim Head of a Kwan (not School)
Kuk Sa Nim National Teacher

Korean commands

In Taekwondo, Korean forms of commands are often used.


  • charyot - Attention.
  • kyong ye - Bow.
  • sabum Nim kyong ye - Bow to the Instructor. (Only when bowing to a blackbelt or instructor.)
  • ap koobi - open stance
  • dwi koobi - back stance
  • ap seogi - walking stance
  • Baro - return
  • Swiyo - at ease
  • Kiap- Yell (Usualy said at the end of a combo)
  • Moon Yom - meditation
  • Hae Si Jak San - dismiss
  • Ye Ui - Courtesy
  • Yom Chi - Integrity
  • In Nae - Perseverance
  • Guk Gi - Self-Control
  • Baekjul Boolgool - Indomitable Spirit


  • joonbi - ready
  • si jak - begin
  • kal-ryeo - break
  • gae-sok - continue
  • keu-man - finish

General competition

An axe kick is thrown during a taekwondo sparring match in the UK.

Although only sparring is contested in the Olympics, breaking and poomse are also contested frequently in other competitions. All three are parts of a traditional taekwondo curriculum. Olympic style sparring consists of 3 non-stop rounds of contact with rest in between. Colored belts fight in one minute rounds with a 30 second break while black belts fight in 2 minute rounds with 1 minute breaks. Olympic style sparring count as points only full force kicks or punches that make contact with the opponents hogu, mid-section cover that functions as a scoring target, or any full force kick to the head and face. Points must be clearly scored and make solid contact that causes abrupt displacement of the body or head. Head kicks are worth 2 points. Head kicks that result in an 8 count are 3 points. Punches or kicks to the body are 1 point, body strikes that result in an 8 count earn 2 points. Knockout wins the match. There are many knockouts in Olympic Style Taekwondo competition. No punches may make contact with the head, and no attacks are legal below the belt. Winners score more points than their opponent and if one fighter is up by 7 points, the match is awarded to him/her. If one person scores 12 points then the match will also be awarded to them. In the event of a tie, there is a one minute overtime round, where the first point wins.

This differs from the ITF sparring rule set (which is not an Olympic sport). The main differences are that punches to the head are allowed (1 point for a punch regardless of target), and that flying techniques do not score higher than grounded techniques (2 points for a kick to the body, 3 points for a kick to the head). Points are scored for proper technique to the front of the body above the belt. There is no hogu as used in the Olympic style sparring, but most tournaments make it complusory to wear mouth guard, helmet, foot guards and groin guards, along with forearm and shin guards.

Olympic competition rules

The sparring regulations of the WTF, adopted by the International Olympic Committee, emphasize full contact blows, allow knockout and other logistics of the Olympic sports. These rules are different from taekwondo sparring based on poomsae technique, grabbing self-defense. There are over 18 different types of taekwondo sparring.

Rachel Marcial of the US Armed Forces team (blue) competing in a taekwondo match.
Official WTF trunk protector (hogu), forearm guards and shin guards

The official, current WTF competition rules can be found at the WTF website.<ref>WTF competition rules</ref> These rules govern many aspects of tournament sparring, summarized below:

  • 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.
  • Permitted and prohibited techniques:
    • Fist techniques are only allowed with a closed hand, and only with the leading part of the hand (no backhand or hammer techniques).
    • Foot techniques are only allowed by using the parts of the foot below the ankle bone (no shin or knee techniques).
  • Permitted areas
    • Trunk: Full force attack by fist and foot techniques on the areas covered by the trunk protector are permitted. Attacks on the part of the back not covered by the trunk protector are permitted so long as they are not direct hits to the spine.
    • Head: Full force, knock out attack to the head is only allowed by foot techniques. Attack to the back of the head is prohibited, as are all hand techniques to the head.
  • 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 as follows:
    • One point for attack on trunk protector.
    • Two points for attack on the head.
    • One point if a punch is thrown and stops the opponent in their tracks.
    • One additional point if the opponent is knocked down and the referee counts.
    • Declared winner if knock-out of the opponent with foot kicking to the legal area of head and face.
  • Deduction of points. Two types of penalties may be assigned for prohibited acts, "kyonggo" (warning penalty) and "gamjom" (deduction penalty). Two "kyonggo" deduct one point, rounded down (an odd "kyonggo" is not counted in the grand total), and a "gamjom" deducts one full point. When a contestant has been deducted four points, the referee shall declare him/her loser by penalties.
    • "Kyonggo" penalties include: evading by turning the back to the opponent; falling down; avoiding/stalling the match; grabbing, holding, or pushing; attacking below the waist; pretending injury; butting or attacking with knee; hitting the opponent’s face with the hand.
    • "Gamjom" penalties include: attacking the opponent when the round is stopped; attacking a fallen opponent; intentionally attacking the opponent’s face with the hand.
  • In the event of a tied score after the sudden death round, the judging officials decide the match based on the initiative shown during the final round.

Media depiction

Despite martial arts movies being seemingly dominated by Japanese and Chinese martial arts, taekwondo is actually one of the most popular martial arts employed in film, largely because of the impressive kicking techniques used in taekwondo.

Among Hollywood films, one of the best and purest depictions of taekwondo can be found in the film Best of the Best and the sequels, although the art is referred to as karate throughout. Possibly the most famous superkickers of Hong Kong martial arts cinema (e.g. Hwang Jang-Lee) are practitioners of taekwondo. Hwang and many other Korean taekwondo practitioners have been in Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee films and have profoundly influenced martial arts kicks in the media. Taekwondo is also seen in Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Tony Jaa movies, as well as many Hong Kong action films.

Taekwondo is also fairly common among fighting video games. In the Tekken series, the character Hwoarang uses taekwondo as his fighting style and can be seen doing sections of ITF forms, such as won-hyo tul and hwa-rang tul. His master, Baek Doo San also utilizes the style in a more Moo Duk Kwan variation of taekwondo.

In the Mortal Kombat franchise, characters Sonya Blade, Mokap, and Nightwolf use taekwondo as part of their fighting style. These styles, however, aren't a completely authentic depiction of taekwondo.

Some of SNK's franchises such as King of Fighters and Fatal Fury ("Garou" in Japan) also have plenty of taekwondo fighters in their rosters, most notably probably being Kim Kaphwan; his sons, Kim Jae Hoon and Kim Dong Hwan; his top students, May Lee and Chae Lim; his "test subjects", Choi Bounge and Chang Koehan, and his rival, Jhun Hoon.

In the Squaresoft game's The Bouncer, Kou Leifoh is a Tae Kwon Do fighter. Also, in the Ehrgeiz game, Han Daehan is a Tae Kwon Do fighter.

See also


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External links

Look up Taekwondo in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

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Original Source

Original content from Wikipedia under GNU Free Documentation License. See full disclaimer.