A to Z of Taekwondo

A.... is for Attentive. Taekwondo kids are very attentive. For them to learn complicated taekwondo kicks and moves. They must concentrate hard. By being attentive and focus, their attention span gets longer. And longer.

Taekwondo Kid : Little Masters

Children who are in tune with their bodies and who are comfortable with their physicality are generally more confident and self-assured than other children. The discipline and respect inherent in Taekwondo prevents this confidence from developing into unchecked arrogance and aggression.

Taekwondo Kicks - Is Relaxation The Key To Your Kicking Success?

Have you ever watched top taekwondo players kick? I always notice how relaxed they are. Their shoulders are down and back. Their arms are loose. And their legs seem to work totally independently of their bodies.

A Guide To Taekwondo Belt Colors

The belts and their colors that are used with Taekwondo aren't just a random assortment of colors that are used to separate the ranks in the martial art. In Taekwondo, each belt color has a meaning that lets fighters known about their advancement

Sparring Drills Are A Vital Part Of The Learning Experience In Taekwondo

My favorite sparring drills were working on powering my kicks, and working on my speed. These techniques are vital in Taekwondo. You must have power and speed to succeed. My instructor had also given me a few combinations to practice regularly with my sparring partner and alone.

What you need to know before taking Taekwondo classes.

Taekwondo has become VERY popular over the last decade or so. It is the martial art that most kids go into and it is also an official Olympic sport! Those two reasons are enough to make it worth your while to want to train in it!

But is it the right martial art for you?
Or is it just a bunch of hype?

Let's look into the history and see just exactly what taekwondo really is :

Taekwondo (also spelled tae kwon do or taekwon-do) is a martial art originating in Korea. An amalgamation of Chinese, Japanese, and traditional Korean fighting styles, taekwondo has become the world's most commonly practiced martial art, and is the national sport of Korea as well as an Olympic sporting event.

In Korean, derived from hanja, tae means "to strike or smash with the foot"; kwon means "to strike or smash with the hand"; and do means "art of" or "way of". Hence, taekwondo is loosely translated as "the art of hand and foot" or "the way of the foot and the fist". Taekwondo's popularity has resulted in the divergent evolution of the art.
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Senior A...Image via Wikipedia
But more practially speaking, the art really came into its own after the Korean War. The South Korean president at that time ordered that all the martial arts schools be unified and train under the same organization.

Taekwondo also became the countries national sport as well. As other martial arts before it, taekwondo moved its way over to North America and started to catch on and become very popular.

This art is distinct amongst the other traditional arts via the fact that it places a major emphasis on kicking and defending yourself using kicking techniques. Once you learn these techniques correctly, they can become very deadly and are a very effective form of self-defense.

Taekwondo also puts a lot of focus on conditioning and stretching. Because the legs are the largest muscle in the body, you need to make sure they are properly stretched at all times and conditioned.

Because taekwondo is an Olympic sport, most schools focus on sparing and tournament fighting. This is a big part of most schools. The downside of this is, the style of fighting in tournaments is different then the style you would use in a self-defense situation.

Is taekwondo better then karate or the other traditional martial arts?

The focus is different as more emphasis is placed on kicking and tournaments. But any martial art is only as good as the person training in it.

The best way to discover if it is for you is to go and take a few free classes at schools in your area and see for yourself if taekwondo is for you!

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How to tie your Taekwondo Belt

It is very important for Taekwondo students to know "How to tie Taekwondo
" properly.

Taekwondo students should have pride and respect for their Dobok(suit) as they have for all areas of Taekwondo.

How to tie Taekwondo belt


If you have to wrap your belt around your waist more than once,then follow the diagrams from start to finish. If your belt only needs to go around your waist once, start at diagram 5 to the end.


The Taekwondo Belt Ranking System

There are traditionally ten color belt levels.

They are called gup (or kup) ranks. The nine black belt levels are called degree or dan ranks.

Each color of belt, namely white, yellow, green, blue, red, black, have a particular meaning. For example, white signifies innocence; it signifies the student who is just starting with no previous knowledge of taekwondo.

The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) uses a system of 10 kup ranks and nine dan ranks. The colour belt ranks run from 10th kup to 1st kup.

The black belt ranks run from 1st dan to 9th dan.
ProForce® Embroidered Taekwondo Satin Black Belt
The 1st to 3rd dan have the title of Assistant Instructor (Boo-Sabum).

The 4th to 6th are have the title Instructor (Sabum).

7th and 8th are Master (Sahyun).

And the 9th degree as the Grand Master (Saseong).

The first Grand Master was General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of Taekwon-Do. The second Grand Master was Rhee Ki Ha, who was promoted to 9th dan by General Choi at the 1997 World Championships in Russia.

At present, there are probably about 20 Grand Masters.

According to General Choi, the reason for nine black belt degrees, is that the number three is a powerful number in the orient. For that reason, three threes must be the most powerful.

It can be noted that the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) has 10 dan grades instead of nine.

The traditional belt colors recognized by the Kukkiwon (headquarters of the World Taekwondo Federation) are white, yellow, green, blue, and red.

Between solid colors, a central stripe down the middle of the belt reflecting the next full belt color is added to indicate progress in Gup level. For instance, from white the next belt would be white with a yellow stripe.

Some schools instead place a "tip" or belt-end stripe of the next color on a student's belt to signify a rise in rank.

Other schools opt for two-tone belts, reflecting both the lower rank and the next rank. For example, between the white belt and the yellow belt would be a belt half white, half yellow.

Some schools opt to use a solid color alternative instead of stripes. A common belt-color scheme is: white, yellow, gold, orange, green, purple, blue, brown, red.

There is no standardization in belt colors in the United States or elsewhere.

In Australia, many schools use white, yellow, blue, red and black. In these schools progression through gup levels is signified by white stripes near the tip if the belt, so white or yellow I, yellow II & III, blue I, II & III, red I, II & III, then red belt with black tip for Cho Dan Bo (sort of black belt in-training) and black for Cho Dan (1st Dan).

Another system in use in Australia is White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Brown, Black, with intermediate kups/gups being indicated by a stripe of the higher color. This is usually 1/4 to 1/2 inches wide and is going across the belt, close to one of the end.

This is usually called a 'tip'. For example, 3rd kup is blue belt, brown tip.

Rank advancement records are kept by the school of origin and often by the style's association headquarters.

Black Belt ranks are recognized as:

1st - 3rd, Instructor.

4th - 6th, Master.

7th - 9th, Grand Master.

In the past, tenth dan has been reserved as a posthumous award. But in recent years it has seen presentation to a few living, Korean recipients.

The Strategic Science In Taekwondo Sparring

Looking from the outside, taekwondo sparring may look like random kicks and punches thrown ruthlessly with the objective of injuring the opponent.

But from the inside, a sparring match is like a chess game.

In chess, you cannot win a game by unthinkingly moving around the pieces anymore than one could win a sparring match by involuntarily throwing techniques.

Strategy. The prerequisite to chess as well as to taekwondo sparring!

Taekondo sparring strategy comes in two main forms:
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Macro or Overall Strategy.

Macro strategy is composed of overall and generalized aspects about any sparring match that will make you spar one person one way and another person another way.

There are several things that will affect your macro strategy:

1. The setting or main goal of the match.

If you are sparring someone who is taking his or her belt exam or if you are sparring in a tournament, your main purpose and strategy for sparring will be different.

Before you spar, ask yourself, “What is my goal? What do I wish to accomplish in this match?”

2. Your own personal strengths and weaknesses.

These are very important factors affecting how you spar. If you feel really comfortable with turning back kick, and not with turning hook kick, then you should stick with the turning back kick.

You are likely score if you use a technique with which you are very comfortable.

3. You and your partner’s contradictory physical attributes.

These will greatly define the way in which you spar your partner. You should know which strategy to use to your advantage.

Micro or Exchange Strategy.

Micro strategy is the strategy that is used for dealing with each of the tiny exchanges that make up a sparring match.

Types of micro strategy are:

1. Open Stance and Closed Stance:

When two people spar each other, each person is in a particular sparring stance: either left foot lead or right foot lead.

When both competitors have the same lead, this is known as closed stance.

If both competitors have different, it is called open stance.

The stances you choose determine which techniques that you can use against your partner to get a clear shot. The whole idea of sparring is to strike your partner where he or she is open.

When attacking or counter-attacking, you must be aware of the stance in which you are fighting. If you ignore the stance, then your attack or counter-attack will be ineffective.

2. The attack.

In an Olympic-style taekwondo sparring, you will have noticed that the competitors’ average sparring distance from each other is out of range for any technique to successfully land on either partner.

The whole idea of attacking is to close the distance between you and your partner so that you will be close enough to land a technique.

The most effective attack relies heavily upon footwork and faking and not just mere kicks.

3. The counter-attack.

Most of all points scored in taekwondo competition come from the counter-attacks executed.

The idea of the counter-attack is to surpass your partner’s attack. In other words, you want your counter-attack to be superior to and more devastating than your partner’s attack.

If your partner lands a technique on you, it is imperative that it is immediately counter-attacked with several more devastating techniques.

This way, you will be awarded the point.

What Is Taekwondo Class Got to Do With It ?

The ultimate goal of every taekwondo class is to input the teachings and principles behind taekwondo. Not to mention, realizing every students’ dream of having that black belt.

How do taekwondo classes go about teaching the sport?

Some merely require the display of techniques learned since last testing. Others mandate the testing of cumulative knowledge. Testing might necessitate performance in sparring, self defense or do the taegeuk movement own their own time.

Some schools test the students on their staying power, requiring many physical activities over prolonged periods of time.
Last Taekwondo Class 012Image by A. Dawson via Flickr
The amount of time and level of commitment required to achieve black belt varies from style to school to classes. Some offer regular testing that allows students to advance at a faster pace, sometimes achieving black belt in less than two years.

Others require a minimum commitment of five or more. Also, there may be minimum age requirements for children to receive a black belt.

Tuition can vary greatly for different taekwondo schools. Some hold classes through nonprofit organizations and charge lower fees, depending on the program provider.

Some have store front training halls that require higher tuition and possibly contracts. Contracts can offer a lower monthly fee in exchange for a longer term commitment.

Before putting in your signature, be sure to read the terms of the contracts carefully. Some contracts do not allow premature termination, even in the case of illness or job transfer.

They may be worded to allow the student "up to one class a day", which basically means that there will not be any classes on a particular day.

Try to get a feel of how each taekwondo class go about.

Do you approve of the instructors’ teaching methods? Watch how they interact with the other students.

Remember that the race or gender of the instructor, as well as the physical size, is not important.

Being Asian is not the basis of a good instructor. Keep in mind that classes that teach the same style may be different in their philosophies, teaching manner and even the techniques themselves.

Be absolutely sure to visit numerous schools before making your decision. It is recommended that you observe at least one class and participate in at least one class before signing any contracts.

You can find excellent schools not only in the store-front training halls, but through your local recreation centers, high school, universities and colleges as well as your town's health clubs.

Here are some questions you might consider asking in taekwondo classes.

1. Do the instructors teach each class? Or do they administer an assistant instructor? Are the classes divided by their ability?

2. Does the school emphasize self defense as well as the art?

3. What type of contact is made during sparring classes and training? If any, what safety gear is required for sparring?

4. How much is tuition and are there contracts?

5. Does the school attend tournaments?

6. How often are classes held? What is the fee for each class? What are the requirements for each?

7. What is the instructor's background, credentials as well as affiliations?

8. Do the classes fit your schedule? How many classes can you attend each week or month for your tuition?

Before or after the taekwondo class, ask for some time from the instructor and ask these questions or other questions that concern you the most.
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