An insight into the world of taekwondo..

This martial arts sport has more to it than acrobatic kicks, chops and fists delivered spectacularly to the opponent. The adversary may either duck, block or bear the full brunt of the onslaught. However, the game with Korean history teaches much more than hurting your enemy. It teaches discipline and strengthens the spirit through the training of the body and mind. The game, which began in Korea as a defence martial art, has gained global recognition and has made its way to the list of official games in the Olympics. Can you punch and kick? You could also try your hand in Taekwondo.



Taekwondo has borrowed heavily from the martial arts of other Oriental countries such as Japan and China. The shared features result from the long evolution and the impact of the different martial arts styles featured in oriental countries. But taekwondo exhibits several differences from the oriental martial arts. Being physically dynamic, it combines active movements of the feet, hands and the mind. This sport also features a unity of the mind, soul, and body – something that other martial arts sports lack. As such, taekwondo is largely wholesome, bringing together a harmony between the body, mind, and spirit, improving the lives of the artist.

What is taekwondo?

  1. The best way to use body parts to stop fights.
  2. A way to control and calm tempers to prevent or stop fights.
  3. It creates both internal and external peace.
  4. Mostly used in self-defense.

To get a clear understanding of this art, you need to take a look at its name. Taekwondo is a combination of 3 words: “tae”, “kwon” and “do”. “Tae” means foot, or to step on, while “kwon” refers to the fist. “Do” alludes to the discipline required in this game. If you combine tae, kwon, and do, you begin to understand the concept behind the kicks, fists, and chops in taekwondo. Understand here that taekwondo is never offensive or proactive, but only comes into play for self-defense or to stop fights. It is a skill meant to foster peace, not start aggression.

Taekwondo is for self defense

Taekwondo is now almost a way of life. Its adherents pursue continuous growth and improvement of life through its diverse activities. The skill doesn’t end with overcoming an enemy. The enemy may recover and launch another attack. Even if you were to completely disable the foe, others may be lurking around the corner. Taekwondo pursues long term peace, which can be attained through the unity of the body, mind, and life. Embracing this art translates to leading more valuable and purposeful lives rather than arming ourselves for street fights. It is important to master the guiding principles of this skill to achieve permanent peace.

The history of taekwondo

Taekwondo dates back for more than 5,000 years in Korea, where it began as a defense martial art. It has changed names over time, the initial one being “Subak” or “Taekkyon”. Over time, this sport developed into a method of training the body and mind in the ancient Koguryo Kingdom where it had yet another name, “Sunbae”. During the Shilla period, taekwondo became an elite art in Hwarangdo for training leaders. Fast forward to 1945, Korean martial artists began to set up schools to train the army. These martial artists had Japanese and Chinese backgrounds, making it easier to entrench the skill.

Koguryo Kingdom
Koguryo Kingdom

  • Dates back to more than 5,000 years.
  • Had various names such as Subak and Sunbae.
  • Martial artists entrenched it in the army after World War II.

Something unprecedented happened in 1952 in South Korea. The South Korean president, Syngman Rhee, was watching a martial arts display by Choi Hong-hi and Nam Tae-hi, from the 29th Infantry Division when he misread the techniques on display as “Taekkyeon”. This simple miscalculation on the part of the president changed the course of taekwondo, as we know it today. Impressed by the fighting styles, the president directed that martial arts be officially introduced in army training. Martial arts had finally become a military affair and would be taught as a skill for both aggression and self-defense.

It was General Choi who advocated for the use of the name Taekwondo, which was closest in pronunciation to taekkyeon. This was in accordance with the view of the president, and to the fact that Kwon was being used in China to mean martial art or fist. Although the name was slow to catch among the military training officials, the army adopted it for use in its training. It also found its way into civilian martial arts schools, and its popularity grew in leaps and bounds. The entrenchment into society had begun, reeling in almost anyone who was interested.

The equipment and facilities in the history of taekwondo

  • Uniform, also known as “dobok” mainly white in color.
  • School or “dojang” – a place where training takes place.
  • Padded material for protection.
taekwondo dojang
Taekwondo class inside ‘Dojang’ with uniforms ‘Dobok’

If you are planning to become a taekwondo practitioner, you need to be familiar with some of the important facilities and equipment you would require. First, you should join a “dojang” or taekwondo school where training takes place. While you can still do it at home, a school has the requisite safety measures, such as padded flooring. You will also find taekwondo specialists ready to take you through the training with the relevant instructional materials. Besides, you will also love the decorations which include flags, the traditional Korean calligraphy, and the red-and-blue patterns on the floor.

Once you have found a school for your training, get yourself a taekwondo uniform, also known as “dobok” in Korean dialects. It constitutes a jacket and a pair of loose-fitting long trousers, often white in colour. White is the traditional colour of “dobok” though you may also come across other colours. Officials or instructors may wear yellow or some other hue. To complete the uniform, you need a belt around your waist. No other attire is necessary – you won’t need any shoes or gloves. The jacket may bear inscriptions, possible of the name of the school, or some Korean calligraphy.

  • A jacket
  • A loose-fitting pair of long trousers
  • Color of uniform is traditionally white

Taekwondo has come a long way but has not lost its initial concept: uniting body, mind and life to create a permanent peaceful environment. Unlike many other fighting skills, this sport is reactionary – it is a response to danger. So, if you ever learn a few taekwondo tricks, do not go threatening your neighbours because that would be against its principles. Use taekwondo skills to dispel danger or for self-defense. Otherwise, abide by the discipline the art instils in you, and do your best to make the world a more peaceful place than you found it.