Taekwondo is a popular Korean martial arts that is focused primarily on kicks and punches & strikes. This martial arts is best known for its spectacular kicks (i.e. tornado kick and spinning hook kick). Taekwondo is one of the few martial arts that competes at the Olympics.
Taekwondo schools provide instruction for basic self-defense, sparring, breaking, joint locks, Korean terminology and some grappling techniques. At most Taekwondo schools, students also learn either WTF Taekwondo forms or ITF Taekwondo patterns.
The largest global Taekwondo organizations are the World Taekwondo (WT) and International Taekwondo Federation (ITF). Nevertheless, there are other growing Taekwondo associations such as the ATA (American Taekwondo Association), ICTF (International Chang-Hon Taekwon-do Federation), TA (Taekwondo America), USCDKA (United States Chung Do Kwon Association), etc.
FYI – In 2017, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) changed its name to World Taekwondo (WT). This has led to a little confusion regarding what are WTF and WT forms but they are the same thing. The forms were not changed. The organization simply changed its name to avoid the negative connotation associated with “WTF”.
What does Taekwondo mean?
Taekwondo consists of the following Korean words; Tae “to strike with the foot”, Kwon “to strike with the hand” and Do “the way”. Therefore, in Korean, Taekwondo means “the way to strike with foot and hand”.
Wiki – Best Taekwondo Books
Taekwondo Forms & Patterns – Instructions
- WTF or WT Taekwondo Forms (Taegeuk) – WTF or WT Taekwondo forms such as Sam Jang. These are the “new” Taegeuk forms that replaced the older WTF Palgwe forms (see below).
- Taekwondo Black Belt Forms – This section covers WTF Taekwondo black belt forms such as Koryo.
- ITF Taekwondo Patterns – ITF Taekwondo patterns such as Chon-Ji.
- Palgwe Taekwondo Forms – Palgwe are the “old” WTF forms used before most WTF schools switched to Taegeuk forms (see above). Nevertheless, Palgwe forms are still used by some Taekwondo schools.
- Taekwondo America Forms
Taekwondo Form & Patterns – Meanings
Main Elements of Taekwondo – Click on each section below for videos & detailed instructions.
- Taekwondo Kicks – List of Taekwondo kicks (Chagi) with Korean names.
- Kicking Techniques – Instructions for a wide variety of martial arts kicks.
- Taekwondo Punches – List of Taekwondo punches (Jireugi) with Korean names.
- Punches & Arm Strikes – Instructions for a wide variety of martial arts punches and strikes.
- Taekwondo Strikes – List of Taekwondo strikes (Chigi) with Korean names.
- Taekwondo Stances
- Taekwondo Blocks
- Taekwondo Sparring – Instructions & videos to assist students with competition sparring.
- Taekwondo Step Sparring
- Martial Arts Weapons such as Bo Staff Techniques
- Taekwondo Breaking Techniques
Misc. Taekwondo Elements
- How To Tie Your Belt In Taekwondo
- Traditional Taekwondo Hand Conditioning Drills
- Traditional Taekwondo Shin Conditioning Drills
- Taekwondo Sine Wave – Information on ITF Taekwondo’s Sine Wave.
- Tenets of Taekwondo – The five basic tenets that serve as a guide for all students in the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF)
According to the World Taekwondo Federation, “In the latter part of ancient times on the Korean peninsula, three kingdoms were rivaling among them for the hegemony. They were Koguryo, Paekje and Shilla all indulged in growing national strength with trained warriors. Therefore, the Korean history tells that there were military personalities among the well-known prominent national leaders of the three kingdoms, which proves the military tendency of ruling hierarchy. As a result, youth warriors were organized, such as “Hwarangdo” in Shilla and “Chouisonin” in Koguryo, which both adopted martial art training as one of the important subjects of learning. A known martial art book of the days, called “Muyedobo-Tongji” wrote “Taekwondo is the basis of martial art, enabling one to build strength by using the hand and foot freely and training arms and legs as well as the body to adaptable to any critical situations,” which means Taekwondo was already prevalent in that age. Thus, it can be easily assumed that Taekwondo was originated from the days of tribal communities on the Korean peninsula.”
In this day and age, there are reportedly over 70 types of Taekwondo. However, they all originated from the following five types of Taekwondo:
- Song Moo Kwan
- Chung Do Kwan
- Moo Duk Kwan
- Chang Moo Kwan
- Yun Mu Kwan
Taekwondo School Curriculum
Taekwondo schools use forms/patterns/poomse to teach kicking combinations, build endurance, improve balance & coordination. However, different Taekwondo federations and associations teach different forms and patterns (i.e. schools in the International Taekwondo Federation teach ITF Taekwondo Patterns and World Taekwondo schools teach WT Taekwondo Forms). Forms/patterns/poomsae are ritualized patterns were students combine various strikes, kicks, stances and blocks. Knowledge of and solid execution of forms/patterns/poomsae is part of a Taekwondo’s school belt testing system.
Beyond the difference in forms and patterns, most Taekwondo federations and associations teach similar techniques (i.e. kicking). For example, in many Taekwondo schools, beginners learn basic kicks such as the front kick and push kick. Intermediate color belts learn kicks such as the side kick and back kick. High colored belt students learn more advanced kicks such as the spinning hook kick. Once you become a black belt, you will work on perfecting these kicks (i.e. improving their power and accuracy), joining them together into effective combination kicks and learning additional advanced kicks (i.e. the flying back kick).
Underlying Taekwondo Principles
Many traditional martial arts have a set of underlying principles and/or basic martial arts philosophy that helps to guide a student’s behavior and progress. Students who belong to the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) rely on five basic tenets as a guide for their behavior and progress.
Taekwondo Breaking Demonstration
Image provided by Wikimedia Commons