Taekwondo – Korea's Sports Martial Art

Korea’s Olympic Sport Martial Art

Taekwondo (Tae Kwon Do) is the Korean version of Karate. A 20th century martial art, it was formed in 1955 by Major-General Choi Hong-hi, a 9th Dan black belt who organised the leading Korean martial arts experts of the time to form one system – rather like Jigoro Kano did when he founded Japanese Judo.

Korea was under harsh Japanese occupation from 1909 until the end of World War II. After the occupation was over, the Korean government was determined to re-establish their country’s unique identity as a separate entity. Tae Kwon Do was just one of the ways they chose to do this.

Tae Kwon-do spread across the world in the 1960s. I was in Hong Kong working as a cadet reporter on the South China Morning Post (SCMP) in 1966 when Korean teacher, Kim Bok Man, arrived in town and began teaching Tae Kwon Do there.

Kim’s first demonstration was on the roof garden of the old SCMP offices in Wyndham Street, Central District, Hong Kong. And I had the honor of holding some tiles while he smashed them with kicks for a staff photographer’s camera. I wasn’t even a Tae Kwon Do student; I was just a useful pair of hands.

Taekwondo became an Olympic Sport in 1988, and that has gained them considerable public exposure, even to non martial artists.

Parts of Taekwondo

Competition and Tournaments are an optional part of Taekwondo. The competitions have three sections: Sparring, Patterns and Breaking Techniques.

Sparring involves two martial artists having a mock fight under carefully controlled conditions. It allows them to develop speed, focus and timing without too much danger. Points are awarded for hits to target areas on your opponent.

Patterns (Katas or Forms) are a set sequence of offensive and defensive techniques performed in a fixed order against an imaginary opponent.

Breaking techniques are those where Tae Kwon Do artists smash blocks of wood, bricks or tiles to demonstrate their concentration and deep penetrating power.

Competition and Tournaments are an optional part of Tae Kwon Do. The competitions have three sections: Sparring, Patterns and Breaking Techniques.

Sparring involves two martial artists having a mock fight under carefully controlled conditions. It allows them to develop speed, focus and timing without too much danger. Points are awarded for hits to target areas on your opponent.

Patterns (also known as katas or forms) are a set sequence of offensive and defensive techniques performed in a fixed order against an imaginary opponent.

Breaking techniques are those where Taekwondo artists smash blocks of wood, bricks or tiles to demonstrate their concentration and deep penetrating power.

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