The way of the foot and the hand
Taekwondo, also spelled Tae Kwon Do, is a Korean martial art. In Korean, tae means “to strike or break with the foot”; kwon means “to strike or break with the fist”; and do means “way of life”. Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the way of the foot and the hand.” It combines combat and self-defense techniques with sport and exercise.
Though Taekwondo may trace its traditions back almost two thousand years to Tae Kyon and the kingdom of Koguryo, it is still an essentially modern martial art based on modern principles of biomechanics. Taekwondo was developed by a variety of Korean masters during the 1940s and 50s. After World War II. Korea wanted to eliminate outside influences in martial arts and began to unite the various martial arts schools and styles into a single style and national sport. In 1965, the name Tae Kwon Do was chosen to represent this unified style of Korean martial arts. Kukkiwon (Korea’s national academy for Taekwondo, also called the World Taekwondo Headquarters) is the traditional center for taekwondo and was founded in 1973 by Dr. Kim Un Yong. Kukkiwon-style Taekwondo has been an Olympic event since 2000 and is governed by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).
The art in general emphasizes kicks and punches thrown from a mobile stance. Training generally includes a system of blocks, kicks, punches, and open-handed strikes and may also include various take-downs or sweeps, throws, and joint locks. It is characterized by the use of high standing and jump kicks as well as punches and is practiced for sport, self-defense, and spiritual development. “Do” represents the moral path we choose as trained martial artists to live a life of discipline and respect. To only use our skills in self-defense as a last resort.
We teach our students the balance found in Taekwondo by developing speed, strength, stamina and coordination mixed with the philosophical side of the art. This is taught by reinforcing positive behavior and goal-setting. Taekwondo pursues harmonious growth and improvements of life through its unique activities. This is why one could say it is a way of life. To ultimately enable ourselves to lead more valuable lives, we would do well by finding the guiding principles deeply hidden in Taekwondo.