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What is Taekwondo?

Taekwondo (also written as taekwon-do, tae kwon-do, or tae kwon do) is one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts that teaches more than physical fighting skills. It is a discipline that teaches ways of enhancing one's life and spiritual wellbeing through training and mastery of the body and mind. Today, it has become a global sport with an international reputation, and is one of the official games in the Olympics.

Let's take a closer look at the meaning of the word "Tae Kwon Do." It is composed of three parts as shown in the English spelling, though it is one word in Korean. "Tae" means "foot," "leg," or "to step on"; "Kwon" means "fist," or "fight"; and "Do" means the "way" or "discipline." If we put these three parts together, we can see two important concepts behind "Tae Kwon Do".

First, Taekwondo is the right way of using Tae and Kwon "fists and feet," or all the parts of the body that are represented by fists and feet. Second, it is a way to control or calm down fights and keep the peace. This concept comes from the meaning of Tae Kwon "to put fists under control" (or "to step on fists"). Thus Taekwondo means "the right way of using all parts of the body to stop fights and help to build a better and more peaceful world."

Taekwondo can be characterized by unity: the unity of body, mind, and life, and the unity of the pose (or "poomsae") and confrontation, and cracking down. When you practice Taekwondo, you should make your mind peaceful and synchronize your mind with your movements, and extend this harmony to your life and society. This is how in Taekwondo the principle of physical movements, the principle of mind training, and the principle of life become one and the same. On the other hand, the right poomsae lead to the right confrontation, which will eventually produce great destructive power.

Trial Promo

Sparring, or "gyeorugi," at the Olympics