If you know nothing about Taekwon-Do other than what you may have seen on the TV with coverage of the Olympics, then you probably haven't seen what we do. Imagine comparing tennis to badminton. They have their similarities (a court, rackets and a net) but they are very much different to each other. There are two main styles of Taekwon-Do and they equally very much different. We don't teach "Olympic" Taekwondo.
Taekwon-Do is a modern and dynamic martial art. It was developed by General Choi Hong Hi (1918-2002) over his lifetime. The name Taekwon-Do was and unveiled to the world by General Choi Hong-Hi on the 11th April 1955.
Korean in origin, Taekwon-Do is famous for its spectacular range of kicks and punches. The study of Taekwon-Do aims not only to develop the student physically, but mentally also, creating a well rounded and balanced individual. To achieve this aim General Choi Hong-Hi based his art on Asian moral culture and included in his art the Tenets of Taekwon-Do;
By incorporating these basic values into one’s behaviour, General Choi believed a person could become a better member of society.
Through regular practice of Taekwon-Do students can expect to achieve noticeable physical benefits including; strength, speed, coordination, balance, endurance, flexibility, weight regulation and self confidence.
A Taekwon-Do class provides a dynamic cardiovascular workout combined with strength work, conditioning and stretching to increase flexibility.
The syllabus provides for the setting of achievable short, medium and long term goals. This means that the student learns the importance of self motivation and the reward of working toward and achieving a challenging target.
The rank system in Taekwon-Do is designed so that a student training regularly can work towards grading at intervals of 3/6 months during the colour belt levels. This means that immediately after a successful grading the student then begins learning the syllabus appropriate for the next grade level, which will include more advanced patterns, fundamental movements and pre-arranged sparring etc. This system means that each individual student can develop skills at their own pace while working toward pre-determined goals and objectives.
Furthermore the challenge of learning and mastering new patterns and techniques after each grading can be viewed as a reward for one’s successful grading. This system creates and maintains a unique freshness about Taekwon-Do that one can enjoy over a lifetime.
MOST IMPORTANTLY TAEKWON-DO IS FUN!
Taekwon-Do above all else is a highly enjoyable and rewarding fun activity. Taekwon-Do clubs provide a social environment where one can make friends through a shared interest. Many of the exercises are based upon team work and a spirit of cooperation, which supports the development of effective social skills.
The Philosophy of Taekwon-Do
The last part of the name is probably the most important. Originally the name of the art was written in three words “Tae – kwon – do”.
The Korean character “Tae” stands for kicking or smashing with the foot, and jumping or flying.
The character “kwon” means to punch or destroy with the hand or the fist.
The character “do” means art, way or method.
ollectively, Taekwon – do means foot fist way.
To be a true Taekwon do practitioner, there has to be a balance between the physical aspect of the art and the mental aspect. General Choi spent his life making the martial art a truly devastating self defence system. He completed the connection between hand and foot. “Tae” and “kwon” were joined, and the art became known as “Taekwon-do” – two , not three separate words. General Choi’s mandate to the 21st century teachers of Taekwon do is to join the “Taekwon” with the “do”.
The Korean character “do” comes from the Chinese character “Doa” which means the road or the way. When you commence training you are part of a community travelling on the same road to Blackbelt and beyond. This means that as well as developing your physical self -defence skills you must cultivate your mind. The Tenets and oath give us a clue here. Use these very simple rules to live your life by – not just when you are in the training hall. Create your own personal philosophy based on high personal integrity, positive relationships, fairness, equity and being a friendly person. We all ultimately want to be healthy, happy people. “Taekwon” will help improve your physical health. “Do” will help improve your happiness.
The fundamental point here is that Taekwon do is not simply about punching blocking and kicking. It can be such a positive force in your personal development, but only if you connect your body and mind. In that way you can become a champion of freedom and justice and build a more peaceful world, as General Choi intended.
HISTORY OF ITF TAEKWON-DO
Taekwon-Do differs significantly from other martial arts. In fact, no other martial art is as advanced with regard to the application of Newtonian physics to generate power while executing a technique. General Choi’s journey to develop Taekwon-Do began with his prior knowledge of Taek Kyon, the ancient Korean art of foot fighting and his study of Karate in Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Soon after Korea was liberated in 1945, he was placed in a privileged position as a founding member of the newly formed South Korean Armed Forces. The former provided him with a definite sense of creation, and the latter gave him the power to disseminate Taekwon-Do throughout the entire armed forces, despite furious opposition.
EMERGENCE AS AN INTERNATIONAL MARTIAL ART
The emergence of Taekwon-Do as an international martial art in a relatively short period of time was due to a variety of factors. The evils of contemporary society (moral corruption, materialism, selfishness, etc.) had created a spiritual vacuum. Taekwon-Do was able to compensate for the prevailing sense of emptiness, distrust, decadence and lack of confidence.
In addition, these were violent times, when people felt the need for a means of protecting themselves, and the superiority of Taekwon-Do technique came to be widely recognised. General Choi's social stature, the advantage of being Taekwon-Do's founder and his wonderful health also contributed to the rapid growth of Taekwon-Do all over the world.
General Choi had been born frail and weak and was encouraged to learn Taek Kyon at the age of fifteen by his teacher of calligraphy. In 1938, a few days before he was due to leave Korea to study in Japan he was involved in an unexpected incident that would have made it difficult to return home without risk of reprisals.
He resolved to become a black belt holder in Karate while he was in Japan. The skills he required were sufficient protection against those who might seek to do him harm. Not only was he able to return to Korea, but he subsequently initiated the national liberation movement known as the Pyongyang Student Soldier's Incident. Like so many patriots in the long course of human history, his actions aroused the wrath of those in positions of power. He was imprisoned for a time in a Japanese army jail. In January of 1946, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the fledgling Republic of Korea army and posted to the 4th infantry regiment in Kwangju, Cholla Namdo Province as a company commander
General Choi began to teach Karate to his soldiers as a means of physical and mental training. It was then that he realised that they needed to develop their own national martial art, superior in both spirit and technique to Japanese Karate. With this in mind he began to develop new techniques systematically. By the end of 1954 he had nearly completed the foundation of a new martial art for Korea, and therefore, on 11th April 1955, it was given the name "Taekwon-Do".