Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. The words “Tae Kwon Do” have different meanings in Korean.

태 (Tae): To strike or break with foot

권 (Kwon): To strike or break with fist

도 (Do): Way, Method, or Art

Taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the way of the foot and fist”. It is the world’s most popular martial art in terms of the number of practitioners. It has been an Olympic even since the year 2000. There are two main styles of Taekwondo. One comes from the 국기원 (Kukkiwon), the source of the sparring system 시합 겨루기 (Sihap Gyeorugi), which is an event at the summer Olympic Games. This is governed by the World Taekwondo Federation. The other comes from the International Taekwondo Federation.

Separate from the various Taekwondo organizations, there have been two general branches of Taekwondo development: traditional and sport. The term “traditional taekwondo” typically refers to the martial art as it was established in the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, the names and symbolism of the traditional patterns often refer to elements of Korean history. Sport Taekwondo has evolved in the decades since then and has a somewhat different focus, especially in terms of its emphasis on speed and competition. Traditional Taekwondo tends to emphasize power and self-defense.

The oldest Korean martial art was an amalgamation of unarmed combat styles developed by the three rival Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje,where young men were trained in unarmed combat techniques to develop strength, speed, and survival skills. Those who demonstrated strong natural aptitude were selected as trainees in the new special warrior corps, called the Hwarang. 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 academics 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. The Hwarang set up a military academy for the sons of royalty in Silla called Hwarang-do, which means “the way of flowering manhood.” The guiding principles of the Hwarang warriors were based on Won Gwang’s five codes of human conduct and included loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness, valor and justice. Taekkyeon was spread throughout Korea because the Hwarang traveled all around the peninsula to learn about the other regions and people.