Ever wonder about where this came from and who practices Taekwondo? Here are some stats and some good information.
Let’s begin with a definition:
Definition of Taekwondo
Taekwondo is an empty-hand combat form that entails the use of the whole body. Tae means ‘to kick’ or ‘smash with the feet’, Kwon implies ‘punching’ or ‘destroying with the hand or fist’, and Do means ‘way’ or ‘method’. Taekwondo thus, is the technique of unarmed combat for self-defense that involves the skillful application of techniques that include punching, jumping kicks, blocks, dodges, and parrying actions with hands and feet. It is more than a mere physical fighting skill, representing as it does a way of thinking and a pattern of life requiring strict discipline. It is a system of training both the mind and the body in which great emphasis is placed on the development of the trainee’s moral character.
From the book:
Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts
by Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith
Now let’s look at the history of the art: (Warning there are lots of Korean words in here, but you’ll be OK)
The earliest records of martial arts practiced in Korea date back to about 50 B.C. These earliest forms of Korean martial arts are known as ‘Taek Kyon‘. Back then there were three kingdoms: Koguryo, Paekje, and Silla. Silla unified the kingdoms after winning a war against Paekje and Koguryo. The Hwa Rang Do played an important role at this unification. They were an elite group of young noble men, devoted to cultivating mind and body and to serve the kingdom Silla. The best translation for Hwa Rang would probably be “flowering youth”. The Hwa Rang Do had an honor-code and practiced various forms of martial arts, including Taekyon and Soo Bakh Do. The old honor-code of the Hwa Rang is the philosophical background of modern Taekwondo.
What followed was a time of peace and the Hwa Rang turned from a military organization to a group specialized in poetry and music. It was in 936 A.D. when Wang Kon founded the Koryo dynasty, an abbreviation of Koguryo. The name Korea is derived from Koryo.
During the Koryo Dynasty the sport Soo Bakh Do, which was then used as a military training method, became popular. During the Joseon-dynasty this emphasis on military training disappeared. King Taejo, founder of the Joseon-dynasty, instituted Confucianism as the state religion. According to Confucianism, the higher class should study poets, read poems and play music. Martial arts was something for the common, or even inferior man.
Modern-day Taekwondo is influenced by many other martial arts. The most important of these is Japanese Karate. This is because Japan dominated Korea from 1910 until the end of World War II. During WWII, many Korean soldiers were trained in Japan. During this occupation of Korea, the Japanese tried to erase all traces of Korean culture including the martial arts. The influences Japan has given to Taekwondo are the quick, linear movements, that characterize various Japanese systems.
In early 1957, the name Taekwondo was adopted by several Korean martial arts masters, for its similarity to the name Tae Kyon.
General Choi Hong-hi required the army to train in Taekwondo, so the very first Taekwondo students were Korean soldiers. The police and air force had to learn Taekwondo as well. At that time, Taekwondo was merely a Korean version of Shotokan Karate. In 1961 the Korean Taekwondo Union arose from the Soo Bakh Do Association and the Tae Soo Do Association. In 1962 the Korean Amateur Sports Association acknowledged the Korean Taekwondo Union and in 1965 the name was changed to Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA.). Demonstrations were given all over the world. It took some time before real progress was made, but eventually, in 1973, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF.) was founded. In 1980, WTF Taekwondo was recognized by the International Olympic Committee and became a demonstration sport at the Olympics in 1988. In the year 2000 Taekwondo made its début as an official Olympic sport. . In 2021 at the 2020 (Postponed) Olympics, Anastasyja Zolotic became the first American woman to win Gold in Taekwondo Sparring.
Wow! That was pretty intense. Here are some of the weapons used in Taekwondo. There are many more, but these are the basics used by our Demo Teams.
Weapons of Taekwondo
The Demo team is an elite group who practice, practice, and do it again. It takes dedication, perseverance plus all the Taekwondo skills and attitudes you learn here at CAMA. Did we mention it is a major FUN experience?
Escrima sticks are paired cylinders about 2 inches in diameter and about 2 feet long. One of the practice drills involves partners striking their Escrima together. It is a noisy, almost musical experience. They emerged when ancient martial artists were stripped of edged weapons during political unrest. They were forced to conduct training in secret by masking it in ritual dance and music while using sticks symbolically as swords. Today, Escrima stick combat is a dynamic, fast paced sport common to both Filipino and Asian art forms.
A bo is any long stick. Think of a broom without the bristles. Or a long walking stick. The Bo and Staff were traditionally used by all members of ancient Korean society to balance water and other loads across the back. The staff was also used as a walking stick or cattle prod. Samurai, priests, and commoners alike all used the bo as its length made it an apt weapon against swordsmen. The user could remain at a safe distance while disarming the opponent. Today this weapon is used in Kata performance, and for physical conditioning to improve balance and upper body strength. Beautiful ‘dances’ are performed with the bo.
Two short sticks joined with a chain. Deadly if used properly, dangerous to the user if not used with skill. Many theories surround the origin of the nunchaku. Some say it descended from a rice flail, a night-watchman’s rattle, or maybe a tool for barking banana trees. Despite this disparity of origin, they are now defensive weapons which are said to possess a unique spirit and character.
Now you know a little bit about the art of Taekwondo and a bit of its history.