DEFINITION OF TAEKWONDO
Literally translated, the Korean word, "TAE" means "to kick or squash with the foot". "KWON" implies "a hand or fist to block, punch, strike, or destroy". "DO" denotes an "art" or a "way". Thus, "Tae Kwon Do" means "the art of kicking, blocking and punching". TaeKwonDo is also a way of combining and controlling one's mind and body.
TaeKwonDo is a system of symmetrical body exercises (or a system of techniques) designed for self-defense and counterattack in unarmed combat, making use of the hands and feet as weapons. However, TaeKwonDo is not merely a physical fighting skill-it is rather, a way of thought and life. Through strict discipline TaeKwonDo trains both the mind and body, placing great emphasis on the development of moral character. In other words while becoming physically strong, control of the mind, self discipline, kindness and humility must accompany the physical grace.
TaeKwonDo training consists of hardening the body through practice of the various attack and defense forms. This system of unarmed combat involves the skillful application of punching, jumping, kicking, dodging, blocking and parrying actions, directed toward the goal of neutralizing an aggressor. Its techniques are essentially linear motions, but also include the use of circular movements, throwing and falling techniques (and the study of some weapons). An essential characteristic used in meeting an opponents attack is the mastery of breathing and the development of Jip Jung (power gathering) to unify your force.
THE ART OF TAEKWONDO
According to USA TODAY (7/29/85) TaeKwonDo is "the sport of the 90's ... the fastest growing sport in the world today."
Although true, it is also true that Sport TaeKwonDo is a mere shadow of the art of TaeKwonDo. The art exists independently and transcends the sport.
TaeKwonDo was created in Korea and developed there over the course of 2,000 years. However, due to the suppression of Korean culture during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-45) and then the Korean War, TaeKwonDo was not introduced to the U.S. and the rest of the world until the late 1950's.
By this time the word "Karate" had become a generic term for all martial arts. This is why, even though TaeKwonDo is now practiced by more people than all of the other martial arts combined, it is still sometimes referred to as "Korean Karate".
Why is TaeKwonDo So Popular?
TaeKwonDo has endured for centuries and is today experiencing extremely rapid growth because it offers a multitude of benefits than can be enjoyed by all people regardless of age, sex, or culture. Today, TaeKwonDo is being taught and practiced in over 200 countries.
TaeKwonDo is the martial art through which one can develop proficiency in self-defense in a relatively short time. It is the art of self-defense that has been scientifically calculated for maximum efficiency of motion and therefore proven to be highly effective for self-defense. With sufficient practice, the entire body of the practitioner becomes a weapon. When this level is achieved, quick reaction is second nature and a true sense of self-confidence is attained.
TaeKwonDo, The Ultimate Fitness
However, many, if not most, people do TaeKwonDo primarily because it is the most complete system of exercises. TaeKwonDo promotes the strength and coordination of the whole body, as well as providing maximum aerobic fitness and flexibility.
As one article in the New York Times stated, "In one hour and 15 minutes of TaeKwonDo class you will get the equivalent of 45 minutes of aerobics, 45 minutes of calisthenics and the stretch of 45 minutes of Yoga, plus the most effective means of self-defense.
Fitness of Mind, As Well As Body
The tremendous physical benefits are only part of the ultimate goal of TaeKwonDo study. The true focus is on the harnessing of human potential, the power each of us possess but rarely ever tap. If TaeKwonDo is to be called an art of self-defense, then it's goal is best described in this manner: the best self-defense is that of a serene, self-contained person, at peace with himself and the world around him.
TAE KWON DO
GRANDMASTER H.K. LEE ACADEMY OF TAE KWON DO
465 Herndon Parkway, Herndon, VA 20170 * (703) 437-5111 * www.HKLeeTKD.com