Training the Body, Mind, & Spirit Since 1985
The Korean Martial Art of Tae Kwon Do is one known to the world, but only to a certain degree. The origin and actual purpose of this art is unfamiliar to many people, including some of its own students. The title alone defines how difficult an undertaking it is to acquire the mark of Master. In the Korean language, the word "Tae" means to jump, kick, or strike with the foot, the word "Kwon" means the fist, or to strike with the hand, and lastly, the word "Do" means the art of. When translated together, the title Tae Kwon Do means "The art of the hand and foot".
The origin of Tae Kwon Do dates back to the early 1900s when Japan occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945. After South Korea gained it's independence, they used the influence of Japanese Karate and TaeKyon, which was practiced in Korea some 2,000 years before, to develop a new style of Martial Arts called Tae Kwon Do. TaeKyon is the striking art of Subak and Subak can be translated to mean "The art of the empty hand". This new style of Tae Kwon Do focused on the legs and high spinning and jumping kicks, and would influence all Martial Arts in the years to come.
Tae Kwon Do was created for several different purposes, one obviously being self-defense; however, it is a common misconception that the Martial Arts are only used in a violent manner. Contrary to popular belief, Tae Kwon Do was created for sport, for the spiritual development of the student, to give a sense of philosophy as to how students see his or her self and the word, and also, it was created for simple exercise.
After Tae Kwon Do had been officially recognized, South Korea used their new techniques to train their police officers and their military, and when South Korea sent their men to America in 1961, Tae Kwon Do became international, and it didn't stop there. In 1959, nine Kwans formed the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association, and then in 1963 the International Tae Kwon Do Federation was established, which included Korea, USA, Uganda, Mexico, Austria, and the Republic of China. With the growing popularity of the art, there was almost no surprise when Tae Kwon Do became an Olympic demonstration sport in 1988 when the Summer Olympics were held in Seoul and in Barcelona. The main reason for this was the new style of sparring called Shihap-Kyorug, which full contact, non-stop sparring competitions. After the World Tae Kwon Do Federation approved this new style, Tae Kwon Do was allowed to enter the Summer Olympics. The overtaking was complete in 2000 when it reached full status in the Olympics in Sydney. Now Tae Kwon Do is one of the two Asian Martial Arts in the Olympics, with the other being Judo. Today in 2006, the World Tae Kwon Do Federation has about 1810 countries and about 50,000,000 members in all.
On May 20th, 1976, the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association decided to eliminate the names of the Kwans, and issued numbers
instead. The Kwans are as follows:
Each Kwan embraces its own tenets and manners. For example, the Tulsa Tae Kwon Do Academy uses the tenets Ohdokwan, which are Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit, while the tenets of Jidokwan are View, Feel, Think, Speak, Order, Contribute, Have Ability, and Conduct Rightly.
Tae Kwon Do is famed for its kicking and leg techniques, unlike the other Karates, or even Kung-Fu. While it is certain that every school has its own name for these
kicks, the Korean named them first. The Korean names are as follows:
Tae Kwon Do in itself helps the student to develop honed skills, such as strength, speed, balance, stamina, and flexibility. The breaking of boards is one of the two things that combine mental and physical aspects of Tae Kwon Do. The other is the forms. There are several types of forms in Tae Kwon Do for instance; there are Poomse, Tuls, Hyongs, Palgwes, or Taeguks. Some of the styles are more traditional, while others are a bit more modernized.
Tae Kwon Do, as well as other Martial Arts, has ten belt levels, called Gups, and ten black belt levels called Dans. After the first Gup, which in many cases in the Red Belt, the student progresses to the title of Cho Dan Bo, which just means "Black Belt Candidate". However, if the student is under the age of 13-18 (depending on the school), then the student is issued the Poom, which is Junior Black Belt. Once the student reaches the required age, he or she can advance to the next Dan when he or she tests.
The International Tae Kwon Do Federation has nine Dans while the Kukkiwon, which is the set of curriculum settled on by the 9 Kwans, has 10 Dans. The traditional
rankings of belts are as follows:
The odd number, or traditional ranks can, and do, vary according to the school. Stripes are often used to mark these transitional ranks and can be vertical, horizontal, and various colors as well. The colors of these ranks were drawn from the Japanese impact in Korea, and were ultimately from Jigaro Kano, who coincidently founded Judo.
A General named Choi had once assigned meanings to the colors of the ranks, but neither the World Tae Kwon Do Federation nor the Kukkiwon has ever settled on any official meanings. However, General Choi's interpretations are worth noting. He saw the ranks of Yellow, Green, Blue, and Red to be as changing in the skill as the seasons, so he considered them the "seasons of the student's growth". White Belt he considered to be winter, seeing as how the White Belt is the beginning rank, the student is frigid, stiff, and his skills still concealed. On the other hand, Choi saw the Black Belt to stand for Maturity; a sense of full development and knowing has now come about the student. Choi also stated that the reason there should only be nine Dans is that the number 3 is a powerful and sacred number in the Orient area, therefore, three 3's must be the most powerful any one person could get.
Although the colored ranks widely vary, the Black Belt structure is much more formal and habitual across the globe. In most cases, the indication of your Dan level is marked by gold stripes, usually at the end of the belt. Most students also have their name on the right side of their belt and the name of their school on the left, both in Korean and their native languages.
The Kukkiwon, unlike Choi's system, states there are ten Dans, but the 10th is set aside for those who have made great contributions to the art of Tae Kwon Do. This rank is usually only given after the student has passed on and the Federations have deliberated on the matter. In the history of Tae Kwon Do, the world Tae Kwon Do Federation has only granted two honorary Kukkiwon issued 10th Degree Dan Black Belts.
The titles for the Dans also vary, but this time it's from country to country, however the title "Sabum" is given to the Master and Grand Master everywhere in the world.
The Kukkiwon titles for the Dan ranks are:
The rules for Shihap-Kyorug sparring competitions never waver and are abided by every Tae Kwon Do school in existence. These unfailing rules are as follows:
However, a deduction of point can occur if either student does not comply with the rules above. There are two types of deductions. One is the Kyonggo, which is the
warning penalty, and the other is the Gamjom, which is the deduction penalty.
Tae Kwon Do has influenced America in ways people do not usually realize. Hollywood plays up the Martial Arts in movies, and to the viewers it seems as though only Chinese techniques are used, however, Tae Kwon Do is actually one of the most used of the Martial Arts in movies because of its focus on kick. Some of the best known actors are really Masters of Tae Kwon Do and they perform their own stunts. Some of these actors are Jean Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, and even Bruce Lee. Tae Kwon Do is not just about self-defense, it's about using the skills you attain to help yourself become a better person, and to handle all situations with a new-found confidence