What is Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a versatile Korean martial art that is distinguished from other styles primarily by its dynamic long-range kicking techniques.  

Taekwondo is “the way of the hand and foot”.

Taekwondo, a significant part of Korean culture and history, originated out of the need for self-defense in the absence of weapons.  As described by World Taekwondo Headquarters, “Taekwondo certainly takes root in man’s instincts to survive by means of protecting himself from outside threat with the bare-hand fighting skills, and it was developed into a systematized martial art”.

Older forms of Taekwondo were called Subak, Hwarangdo, and Taekkyeon and included hand and foot techniques as well as philosophical elements.  The intangibles are reflected particularly in the meaning of the forms and in the Taekwondo tenants of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.  Past styles have thus contributed greatly to developing modern Taekwondo into a well-rounded discipline with application in physical combat.  

Today, people all over the world practice Taekwondo.  While different styles, approaches, and expressions of the martial art abound, Taekwondo has gained attention in a variety of contexts.  Demonstration and technique competitions highlight the stunning aerial kicking technique and often the flexibility, precision, balance and control of practitioners.  As a means of self-defense, hand and foot techniques are tailored to attack and protect vulnerable targets.  The high repetition and stand up nature of Taekwondo training can be used to enhance physical and mental fitness.  Olympic Taekwondo offers an athletic venue for practitioners to compete and win against an opponent by demonstrating techniques in a free flowing exchange.

Like many disciplines, modern Taekwondo’s techniques continue to evolve.  Built on strong kicking skills, and inspired by its military and artistic roots, which can be traced through Korea’s history, Taekwondo blends effectiveness and refinement into a dynamic martial art.


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