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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Taekwondo (also spelled tae kwon do or taekwon-do) is a hard martial art originating in Korea. Having become the most widely practiced martial art in the world, it is the national sport of Korea as well as an Olympic sporting event.

In Korean, derived from hanja, tae (跆) means "foot"; kwon (拳) means "fist"; and do(道) means "way" ." Hence, taekwondo is loosely translated as " hand, foot way" or "the way of the hand and foot". 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, 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 hand strikes and blocks, but generally does not emphasize grappling until the higher belt levels.

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. [1] 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.
Taekwondo practitioners demonstrating their techniques.

As the Goguryeo kingdom grew in power, the neighboring Silla dynasty 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-do. 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.[2] Remnants of traditional martial arts such as Soobak and Taekyon were banned from practice by the general populace and reserved for sanctioned military uses although folk practice by peasants still persisted into the 19th century.[1]

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. Teaching and practice of the art nearly vanished, and 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 Manchuria and 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.

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,[3] The Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA) was formed in 1959 to facilitate the unification.[4] Shortly after, taekwondo made its debut in North America, where Jhoon Rhee was teaching Karate in Texas, General Choi convinced Rhee to begin calling it Tae Kwon Do. However, the unification effort 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 practice for the sake of tournaments.


The largest taekwondo tournament organization is the World Taekwondo Federation, headquartered in South Korea. Although the terms "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. 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 taekwondo.
Four concrete paving bricks broken with a knife-hand strike. Breaking techniques are often practiced in taekwondo.

Outside of the World Taekwondo Federation 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 & North Korea. There are also other organizations such as ATF, ATA, ITA, UTF, USTF, WTU, ICTF & ITF. 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.


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.
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 anerobic and aerobic workout, including stretching
  • Self-defense techniques
  • Poomse, or patterns (also called forms) -- either tul, hyung, palgwe, or taeguk
  • Kyorugi (Sparring), including step-sparring and/or free-style, arranged, hoshinsul and 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.
  • Side Kick (yop 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.
  • Roundhouse Kick or Turning Kick (op-dollyu chagi or dollyu chagi): The practitioner raises their knee, turns, and extends the kick horizontally across his target usually at a 45 degree angle.
  • Hook Kick (hoorye cha kee): 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. This is also known as the front hook kick.
  • Axe Kick (Naeryo 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.
  • Crescent Kick (Bandal 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.
  • Spin Kicks (dora 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.
  • Jump Kicks (ee dan 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.

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.

See also: List of taekwondo techniques, Kick

Ranks, belts, and promotion

Like many martial arts, taekwondo has ten student ranks (called a gup, also romanized as geup or kup) and nine or ten black belt ranks (dan). 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[5].

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.

Gup/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,[6] 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[7] are:

The student pictured here is testing for promotion.
The student pictured here is testing for promotion.

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. 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. 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 is a very rare rank, generally awarded posthumously only to persons who have made great contributions to taekwondo. It should not be confused with the honorary dan. The Kukkiwon has only awarded four standard 10th dan to the following men: 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[8]. The WTF, 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[9], up to a maximum promotion of 7th dan.

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

For those who have passed the sabum test at the Kukkiwon Academy, these are the official sabum classifications:

  • 4th and 5th Dan "Sabum 3rd Class": Graduate of 3rd Class Course
  • 6th and 7th Dan "Sabum 2nd Class": Graduate of 2nd Class Course
  • 8th and 9th Dan "Sabum 1st Class": Graduate of 1st Class Course

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

  • 1st Dan/Poom - 5th Dan: "Master"
  • 5th Dan - 9th Dan: "Grandmaster"

In America, the following is an example of how schools may assign titles to Dan ranks:

  • 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[10].

ITF schools use a different 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[11], 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.

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.
Rachel Marcial of the US Armed Forces team (blue) competing in a taekwondo match.

The official, current WTF competition rules can be found at the WTF website.[12] These rules govern many aspects of tournament sparring, summarized below:

  • The competition area measures 12m x 12m.
  • 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. This has a lot to do with impressive kicking techniques used in taekwondo.

Among Hollywood films, one of the best and purist 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.

In Not Another Teen Movie a white boy pretending to be Asian makes a racist statement to a Korean student, who promptly side kicks him in the face.

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 the Mortal Kombat franchise, characters Sonya Blade, Mokap, and Nightwolf use taekwondo as part of their fighting style.

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.

General competition

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.


  1. ^ a b Taekwondo: The Spirit of Korea by Dr. Steven D. Capener, edited by H. Edward Kim, photos by Suh Jae Sik
  2. ^ Cummings, B. Korea's Place in the Sun, W.W. Norton, New York (2005).
  3. ^ History of Taekwondo
  4. ^ Korean Taekwondo Association
  5. ^ Poom to dan conversion
  6. ^ Meaning of Belt Colors
  7. ^ History of Belt Colors
  8. ^ WTF Awards Honorary Kukkiwon 10th Dan
  9. ^ a b Kukkiwon Shortened Time Requirements
  10. ^ Instructor training at the Kukkiwon
  11. ^ Explanation of Kukkiwon "Master" and "Grandmaster"
  12. ^ WTF competition rules

See also

  • International Taekwondo Alliance
  • International Taekwondo Federation
  • World Taekwondo Federation
  • Taekwondo at the Summer Olympics

External links

Look up Taekwondo in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


  • Official site of the WTF World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)
  • Kukkiwon World Taekwondo Headquarters
  • USA Taekwondo United States Taekwondo Union (USTU)
  • ETU European Taekwondo Union
  • BTCB British Taekwondo Control Board (WTF)
  • TBN Taekwondo Bond Nederland (WTF)
  • Chungdokwan UK
  • UTF UK
  • WTF Patterns
  • TKD CDK GB Taekwondo Chungdokwan GB
  • Kyorugi Times UK Taekwondo Forum (WTF)
  • Combat Canada Canadian WTF TKD news, photos, and discussion (WTF)
  • United States Taekwondo Han Moo Kwan Association
  • Israeli Taekwondo Israel Taekwondo
  • Tel Aviv Taekwondo Tel Aviv University Taekwondo
  • WTF Taeguk forms Kukkiwon Poomsae


  • Official site of the American Taekwondo Federation


  • Official site of the International Ch'ang Hon Taekwon Do Federation


  • / Online Martial Arts Magazine
  • Official Sites of International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF): Site 1, Site 2, Site 3
  • All Europe Taekwon-Do Federation Official website of the AETF
  • ITF New Zealand Official ITF New Zealand website.
  • ITF Taekwondo in Australia Resource index for Taekwondo practitioners in Australia.
  • TAGB Taekwondo Association of Great Britain
  • Obituary of General Choi Hong Hi from the UK Guardian
  • General Choi's "Encyclopedia of Taekwondo"
  • All 24 diagrams of ITF-style Forms
  • Cornwall Tae Kwon-Do (traditional ITF) UK


  • Global Tae Kwon-Do International (traditional ITF) UK, Republic Of Ireland


  • GTF Taekwondo


  • The Official Site of the ITA International Taekwondo Alliance (ITA)


  • Official site of the American Taekwondo Association


  • Taekwondo Times Magazine
  • Taekwondo Australia
  • General Taekwondo Information
  • TaekwonDo-Legacy Origin and history of ITF Taekwondo; video clips of General Choi.
  • The Martial Arts Resource
  • The_Dojang email discussion forum, a forum for Taekwondo and other KMAs
  • The Korean Martial Arts FAQ
  • A History of the Korean Martial Arts
  • The Shamelessly Unofficial Taekwondo Resource Descriptions of all ITF and Kukkiwon patterns, as well as other resources related to Taekwondo.
  • An account of present-day Taekwondo training in South Korea

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