Taekwondo (a Korean Martial Art)
Taekwondo is one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the world. Over 30 million people practice Taekwondo in more than 156 countries. It is one of two martial arts represented at the Olympics (judo is the other one).
I read the definition from many books and the one that I like best comes from the book Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts (1) written by Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith. "Taekwondo is an empty-hand combat form that entails the use of the whole body. Tae means "to Kick" or "Smash with the feet," Kwon implies "punching" or "destroying with the hand or fist," and Do means "way" or "method." Taekwondo thus, is the technique of unarmed combat for self defense that involves the skillful application of techniques that include punching, jumping kicks, blocks, dodges, parrying actions with hands and feet.
As with many other martial arts, taekwondo is a combination of combat technique, self-defense, sport, exercise, entertainment, and philosophy. It developed after the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1945 and quickly spread throughout the world after the Korean War, which ended in 1953.
"The earliest records of Taekwondo practice date back to about 50 B.C. During this time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms: Silla, which was founded on the Kyongju plain in 57 B.C.; Koguryo, founded in the Yalu River Valley in 37 B.C.; and Paekche, founded in the southwestern area of the Korean peninsula in 18 B.C.."(2) Tae Kyon ( also called Subak) is considered the earliest known form of Taekwondo.
Taekwondo distinguishes itself from martial arts such as karate by its emphasis on kicking instead of the reliance on hand techniques of these other martial arts. Taekwondo practitioners believe that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to execute powerful strikes without successful retaliation. Taekwondo is very different from many such oriental martial arts. First, physically it is very dynamic with active movements that include a mirage of foot skills. Second, the principle physical movements are in simpatico with that of the mind and life as a whole. Third, it possesses dynamic poses from another perspective.
Taekwondo as a sport and exercise is popular with people of both sexes and of many ages. Physically, taekwondo develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina.
Taekwondo pursues harmonious growth and improvements of life through its unique activities. Taekwondo is a way of life.