What is Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art. Taekwondo was developed during the 1940s and 1950s by various Korean martial artists combining and incorporating the elements of Karate and Chinese Martial Arts along with the indigenous Korean martial arts traditions of Taekkyeon, Subak and Gwonbeop.

Taekwondo is characterised by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques. In fact, World Taekwondo Federation sparring competitions award additional points for strikes that incorporate spinning kicks. To facilitate fast, turning kicks, Taekwondo generally adopts stances that are narrower and hence less-stable than the broader, wide stances used by martial arts such as Karate.


What’s Involved?

Taekwondo typically consists of the following:

  • Forms (called poomsae) – these serve the same function as kata in the study of karate,
  • Sparring (called gyeorugi) – sparring includes variations such as free-style sparring (in which competitors spar without interruption for several minutes); 7-, 3-, 2-, and 1-step sparring (in which students practice pre-arranged sparring combinations); and point sparring (in which sparring is interrupted and then resumed after each point is scored)
  • Breaking (gyeokpa) – the breaking of boards is used for testing, training, and martial arts demonstrations. Demonstrations often also incorporate bricks, tiles, and blocks of ice or other materials. These techniques can be separated into three types:
    • Power breaking – using straightforward techniques to break as many boards as possible
    • Speed breaking – boards are held loosely by one edge, putting special focus on the speed required to perform the break
    • Special techniques – breaking fewer boards but using jumping or flying techniques to attain greater height, distance, or to clear obstacles
  • Self-defense techniques (hosinsool)
  • Learning the fundamental techniques of taekwondo; these generally include kicks, blocks, punches, and strikes, with somewhat less emphasis on grappling and holds
  • Throwing and/or falling techniques (deonjigi)
  • Both anaerobic and aerobic workout, including stretching
  • Relaxation and meditation exercises, as well as breathing control
  • A focus on mental and ethical discipline, etiquette, justice, respect, and self-confidence
  • Examinations to progress to the next rank


What is the Grading System?

Students participate in practical examinations which take place at no less then 3 month intervals. Belts/grades are of two categories: Kup and Dan.

Kup Grades:

  • 9th Kup – White Belt
  • 8th Kup – Yellow Belt
  • 7th Kup – Green Tag
  • 6th Kup – Green Belt
  • 5th Kup – Blue Tag
  • 4th Kup – Blue Belt
  • 3rd Kup – Red Tag
  • 2nd Kup – Red Belt
  • 1st Kup – Black tag

Dan Grades:

Black Belt (Dan) – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th