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Taekwon-Do is the Korean Art of Self defence:

Tae, meaning jump, kick, or smash with the foot.
Kwon, meaning to punch or destroy with the fist/hand
Do, meaning Art or way.

So the literal translation would be the Art of Foot and Hand.

Taekwondo (Tae Kwan Do), "the way of foot and fist," is based on ancient Korean methods of self-defense. It emphasizes flexibility and kicking techniques, but hand techniques are also widely employed. A means of self-defense, physical conditioning, recreation, and mental discipline, Taekwondo is recognized not only as a martial art, but also as an exciting sport with powerful kicks and punches that emphasizes continuous action, endurance, skill, and sportsmanship.

This rapidly developing martial art has become a major international sport. Introduced to the Olympic games in Seoul, Korea, in 1988, Taekwondo will be at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia, as a medal event.

The five original Korean Kwans ("schools") were: Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan (the art of Tang Soo Do), Yun Moo Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, and Chi Do Kwan. These were founded in 1945 and 1946. Three more Kwans were founded in the early 1950's - Ji Do Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, and Oh Do Kwan.

After fifty years of occupation by Japan (which ended in 1945) and after the division of the nation and the Korean War, Korean nationalism spurred the creation of a national art in 1955, combining the styles of the numerous kwans active within the country (with the exception of Moo Duk Kwan, which remained separate - therefore Tang Soo Do is still a separate art from TKD today).

Gen. Hong Hi Choi was primarily responsible for the creation of this new national art, which was named Tae Kwon Do to link it with Tae-Kyon (a native art). Earlier unification efforts had been called Kong Soo Do, Tae Soo Do, etc. Many masters had learned Japanese arts during the occupation, or had learned Chinese arts in Manchuria.

Only a few had been lucky enough to be trained by the few native martial artists who remained active when the Japanese banned all martial arts in Korea. Choi himself had taken Tae-Kyon (a Korean art) as a child, but had earned his 2nd dan in Shotokan Karate while a student in Japan.

Taekwon-Do involves the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks, dodges and interception with the hands, arms and feet to defend oneself against one or more opponents. The emphasis here would be DEFEND as Taekwon-Do is not an aggressive Art, quite the opposite in fact. It is best described in Grand Master Park's own words in the following paragraphs.

"Most people have a misconception of a martial art and can't see beyond the visible physical aspect, but the benefits of training in the Art of Taekwon-Do are much more than the eye can see.

Many of the values we learn as part of Taekwon-Do philosophy will help us in everyday life. As we learn self-discipline and self-control, we become more tolerant of others and this is necessary with today's fast changing attitudes of societies world-wide, in which ideologies are being blended to create a new world philosophy.

Awareness on all levels, developed through concentration and technique proficiency, will assist us in avoiding negative situations as we become more alert and cautious. Through the positive energy we generate,our self confidence is felt by others, as our actions demonstrate confidence in our ability to defend ourselves. Knowing that we have the knowledge and skill to defend ourselves in any situation, builds self-esteem and gives us an exhilarating feeling of self worth.

The serious practitioner discovers the true spirit of Taekwon-Do through respect and integrity, which are probably the two most important principles of TaeKwon-Do training. The respect for rank and one's achievements is a basic element of Taekwon-Do training. Without it, there could be no chain of command or distinct levels.

To promote mutual respect, practitioners must be courteous to one another and encourage fair play at all times to ensure justice and peace. The Integrity of a practitioner will undoubtedly say a lot by his/her representation in relation to rank and attitude. Through respect and integrity, we will build trusting relationships which will develop into strong friendships."
History | Way of Life | Ancient Martial Arts | The Birth