A Korean Martial Art that is characterised by jumping and spinning kicks, high kicks and quick flurries of kicks. Taekwondo focuses on landing kicks and strikes above the waist only. It is a Martial Art that seeks to instil principles of morality, respect and the cultivation of an indomitable spirit within its practitioners.
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Following World War II and the Japanese Occupation, Korean martial artists that were skilled in many Japanese and Chinese Martial Arts, established new Martial Arts schools called kwans. Each school had begun to practice and teach its own unique fighting style.
The South Korean president at the time had seen a Martial Arts demonstration by Choi Hong Hi. He identified it as Taekkyeon and requested that a single and unified fighting style be incorporated into the South Korean military. Choi Hong Hi had moved for his fighting style to be introduced and suggested the name Taekwondo. After some resistance from the other Martial Arts schools, Taekwondo was accepted and unified by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The World Taekwondo (WT) federation was established to promote Taekwondo as a sport which was later included in the Olympic games.
Taekwondo focuses on 4 main aspects:
- Sparring – improves timing and combat experience
- Forms or techniques (Poomsae) – a set of codified self-defence techniques which are executed in a series of movements
- Self-defence – utilising the Martial Art for survival or protection of others
- Break test – the practitioner attempts to break objects such as boards or tiles with a single strike from the hand or foot
The Martial Art in Practice
Taekwondo focuses on speed, agility and landing kicks and punches in quick succession against an opponent. The Martial Art employs expansive and powerful kicks delivered in a standing position and through the air. A large variety of kicking techniques are used to inflict damage on an opponent through different angles and power generation mechanisms:
- Front kick – a straight or linear kick executed from the front of the practitioner.
- Side kick - a straight or linear kick executed from the side of the practitioner.
- Roundhouse kick – a kick that targets the side of the opponent which is meant to reach around the opponent’s guard in a circular movement. The practitioner executes this kick from outside to inside from their point of view.
- Back kick – this kick is executed whilst turning away from the opponent and looking at the opponent over the shoulder. The practitioner makes use of the body like a coil and uses the body’s momentum to generate power in the kick. The heel is used as the weapon or point of impact.
- Reverse side kick – similar to the back kick, however the impact point is the side of the foot
- Hook or crescent kick – this kick moves in the opposite direction to a roundhouse kick. The practitioner executes this kick from inside to outside from their point of view
- Axe kick – the leg is extended from the inside has high up above the opponent as possible and then drawn down towards the opponent’s collar bone with maximum force.
- Spinning kick – involves full body rotation before the kick is executed. A large variety of kicks can be executed depending on the direction and leg used for the spinning kick
- Flying kick – jumping into the air in a forward direction and executing a straight kick in mid-air
- Jumping kicks – as with spinning kicks, a large range of kicks can be executed in mid-air depending on the direction of body rotation and the leg used.
Punches, throws, joint-locks, blocks are also used in self-defence applications.
Taekwondo focuses on 5 tenets: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and an indomitable spirit.
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