Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. It is the world’s most popular martial art in terms of number of practitioners. Gyeorugi, one type of Taekwondo sparring, is an Olympic event.
In Korean, tae means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon means “to strike or break with fist”; and do means “way”/”art”/”method”; so Taekwondo is loosely translated as “the way of the foot and fist,” but some translate it as, “the art of kicking and punching.”
Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from martial arts such as karate or kung fu. The rationale is 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 has been developing with the 5000-year long history of Korea, being called by several different names in the course. In Korea, Taekwondo began as a defense martial art called “Subak” or “Taekkyon,” and developed as a way of training body and mind in the ancient kingdom of Koguryo, under the name of “Sunbae.” In the Shilla period, it had become the backbone of Hwarangdo that aimed at producing leaders of the country.
Today, Taekwondo as a martial art is popular with people of both genders and of many ages. Physically, taekwondo develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina. An example of the union of mental and physical discipline is the breaking of boards, which requires both physical mastery of the technique and the concentration to focus one’s strength.