Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Traditional Tae Kwon Do Taekwondo is one of the fastest growing disciplines in the martial arts world, and for good reason. In 1989, Taekwondo was claimed as the world’s most popular martial art in terms of number of practitioners. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and also the national sport of South Korea. It is a sport, and art form and a Self Defense System developed by the Korean Military. It is actually three Korean words put together and is also written as Tae Kwon Do. Tae means to strike or break with the foot. Kwon means to strike or break with the hand or fist, and Do means the art, or the way. Do can be considered the philosophical or ethical side of the martial art, and some consider it a warrior’s code for life. Loosely translated, however, Tae Kwon Do (abbreviated TKD) means “The way of the foot and the fist.” Tae Kwon Do is typically identified by the Olympic Tae Kwon Do Sparring, or Kyolugi. Therefore, it is identified by its “high flying kicks” and acrobatics, though this assumption only scratches the surface of what Tae Kwon Do really is. There are actually two different applications of Tae Kwon Do. Traditional Tae Kwon Do is a very efficient system of strikes, kicks, and blocks that was established in the 1950’s by the South Korean Military. However its roots trace back for thousands of years Its root is in the forms or patterns, which are characterized by elements of nature and the universe. Sport Tae Kwon Do is what evolved since the martial art was established. TKD is currently the only martial art that is an Olympic Sport, introduced into the Olympic Games in the year 2000. There are several organizations that teach Traditional and Sport Tae Kwon Do, each with their own variations to the belts, requirements, patterns (forms or Poomse), and sport, though the basic concepts remain the same. All organizations emphasize kicks from a mobile, loose stance because of the leg’s longer range, and greater strength. Known organizations, ranked from most popular by number of practitioners, are as follows: World Taekwondo Federation or WTF, is based out of Seoul, South Korea. Also referred to as Kukkiwon, WTF practitioners are taught the Tae Geuk forms. WTF sparring is the only set of Tae Kwon Do sparring rules that is recognized by the Olympic Games. International Taekwondo Federation, or ITF, is also based out of Seoul, but emphasizes the Chun-Ji series of forms. American Taekwondo Association or ATA, was founded in Omaha Nebraska, and practices the Songahm series of forms. In each of the different organizations, Tae Kwon Do competition consists of 3 different areas: Forms, Breaking, and Sparring. Forms are judged by the individual’s ability to perform with sufficient power, intensity, and most importantly, technical accuracy according to the governing body’s standards. Breaking is a competition in which a competitor demonstrates power, accuracy, and technique by breaking boards. The competitor is judged on difficulty of techniques, number of attempts to break the boards, and attitude and etiquette. Sparring is judged on a point system, with kicks and punches to the body and head awarding points. Rules, scoring, and rounds, differ greatly between all of the organizations, as well as the individual competition and the host. All in all, Tae Kwon Do is united by what the organizations have in common, and that is the Do: the philosophy that Tae Kwon Do is a force for good, for educating the soul, and for defense of self or others. There is an inner peace that can be found in practicing martial arts, and I have found mine in Tae Kwon Do. To learn from an elite Tae Kwon Do Master from your own home, click here.