Taekwondo is a distinctive Korean martial art that requires no weapons — the word translates literally to the way of kicking feet and striking hands. It has been practiced for over 2,000 years by kings, soldiers and civilians as a form of instinctive self-defense and to improve one’s physical fitness, health and inner peace.
The name says it all. Tae refer to the lower body, everything below the belt, particularly the legs (i.e.: running and jumping, strength and power, spinning and kicking). Kwon refers to the torso and is concerned with everything done by the arms and hands (i.e.: striking and blocking, speed and snap). Together, Tae & Kwon represent the physical aspect of Taekwondo.
Do is the philosophical foundation of Tae & Kwon. It refers to everything from the neck up. It represents the spiritual nature of Taekwondo. It is concerned with the mind which in turn governs the body. Together, Tae, Kwon & Do form a harmony of mind and body. There cannot be any separation of these elements.
“Principles of physics underlying its many techniques… how the momentum leads to the force of the blow… and how angular momentum is important to the generation of power and force in turning kicks.”
Only those who consider its philosophical character can hope to elevate themselves to the mastery which makes Taekwondo an art rather than a mere assortment of physical techniques.
The Taekwondo concept is heavy on discipline. It is an art form that has been developed over the past 2,000 years on sound scientific principles. It is a totally systemized form where the patterns of stance are derived from the axioms of geometry. There are 50 or more hand movements and more than 200 kicks, all brought together by form, technique and proper breathing.
Taekwondo has spread across western cultures as a Korean Martial Art, a form of scientific self-defense, and as an amateur sport now recognized by the International Olympic Committee as an official medal event at the Olympic Games.
About 2,000 years ago there were 3 warring tribes dwelling in the Korean peninsula who developed a martial art both to improve their combat skills and to protect themselves against dangerous animals. According to Korean history research, Taekwondo originated from those ages.
The spirit of Taekwondo at this time developed on a firm base of three qualities: bravery, courtesy and loyalty. This spirit was evident in their ceremonies.
Taekwondo, as the fully developed art we know today, has assumed many different names over the centuries. Various mural paintings, dating between 3 A.D. and 427 A.D. and statues from the 7th century depict the practice of Taekwondo. Kingdoms established between 57 B.C. and 18 B.C. were forced to rely on the martial arts as a form of security from each other, becoming an integral part of their lives, synonymous with their survival. The belief that survival depended upon a strong body and spirit, achieved through continuous exercise was therefore strengthened and enforced as a result of the dangerous circumstances.
Over the centuries, Korean Martial Arts experienced both a waning and resurgence as both culture and politics impacted its practice and influence. After the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1909 the practice of martial arts were ruthlessly suppressed.
In the 1960s, the ancient Korean martial arts were brought under one system and named Taekwondo. The art of Taekwondo has become the national sport of Korean (much like hockey is in Canada) and continues to gain popularity throughout the world.
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