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Taekwon-Do is a very ancient martial arts style, but it is not just about self-defense. Taekwon-Do culture and philosophy have two components: "Taekwon" use of hands and feet for self-defense, and the second "Do" life path, which includes moral and ethical education of the individual and intense mental training to develop higher consciousness through understanding Taekwon philosophy. That is, the essence of Taekwon-Do is the harmonious development of a person both physically and spiritually.
History and Philosophy of Taekwon-Do
In its short life, Taekwon-Do is a fairly young martial art compared to many others, has gained immense popularity, and today, Taekwon-Do is practiced by about 40 million people worldwide. Translated from the Korean language, Tae means kicks, Kwon goes for fists or punches, Do translates as the way (Tong 276). While the first part of the word makes Taekwon-Do a martial arts discipline, it is the second part that turns it into much more than that. Just like many other martial arts styles and sports originated in Asia, Taekwon-Do involves deep philosophy and its own honesty code.
As for the history of the founding of Taekwon-Do, it all started with the fact that on March 22, 1966, the founder of Taekwon-Do, General Choi Hong-hi, convened a constituent conference. The conference created a non-governmental organization to promote Taekwon-Do around the world. It was also unanimously decided to grant legal status to the newly established organization, International Taekwon-Do Federation, abbreviated - ΙTF. Therefore, when it comes to the ITF, it means that the organization represents exactly the martial art and sport created by its founder. At the same conference, General Choi Hong-hi was elected President of the ITF International Taekwon-Do Federation and re-elected every four years, remaining President of the ITF until his death in 2002 (“History of Taekwondo”). Evidently, Taekwon-Do has been developed into the sports discipline quite recently. Nevertheless, the ideas and philosophy as well as their importance were never ignored during the process of development, and they go quite deep.
The art of Taekwon-Do was created by General Choi Hong-hi as a system of self-defense for the army, and the training process itself is characterized by strict discipline. The rules of conduct in Do-Yang (the room where the training takes place) are strictly regulated, as well as the form of clothing, rituals, attitudes toward teachers and peers. Since the first students were military, Taekwon-Do had to meet a number of requirements, so they are followed with special care to this day (Tedeschi 352). It is quite plainly seen that Taekwon-Do is a rather complex discipline that makes this martial arts style extremely sophisticated adding to the spiritual component.
Teaching methods, as well as philosophy, the procedure for assigning belts and all its components, breaking, duels, basic equipment, special equipment, formal complexes, self-defense techniques, are described by the founder in a book-encyclopedia Taekwon-Do, which consists of 15 volumes. The existence of an encyclopedia, of course, can not replace the instructor, but avoids misinterpretation of classical techniques, gives everyone the opportunity to correct and improve their skills, avoiding mistakes and profanity. With the help of the encyclopedia, art has become accessible to everyone, there is no opportunity to speculate on the secrecy of the system, to hide their ignorance under the pretext of secrecy. There are no secrets in Taekwon-Do, except for one, full commitment to the training process. The student who has managed to force themselves sooner or later achieves the desired results, which to the average person may seem supernatural (Tong 279). The main reason behind such an impression would be the spiritual development of a trained person. The path of Taekwon-Do, largely like the path of any other martial arts style of Asian origin is very rich and often leads to personal growth.
The training process should be as rational as possible so that in the short term it is possible to educate the maximum number of students (formerly conscripts). Training should be suitable for people without any knowledge of martial arts, as well as for experienced masters who have a high degree in other martial arts, of which there are many in Korea. Also one of the tasks is that Taekwon-Do should be effective on the battlefield in case of hand-to-hand combat. Taekwon-Do is essentially a multi-sport consisting of five disciplines, and the competition program includes four disciplines:
In addition to competitive disciplines, the curriculum includes techniques of self-defense (hosinsul), which are the logical application of previous disciplines in real situations (Tedeschi 497). Aside from being highly philosophical and disciplined, Taekwon-Do also creates a sense of duty in athletes. They must walk the path of Taekwon-Do’s philosophy in order to become proficient in this sport. This factor plays an important motivational role so important in any discipline.
It should be concluded that the founder of Taekwon-Do managed to achieve its goals. Taekwon-Do today can be adapted for different age groups, both for men and women. Taekwon-Do mainly uses percussion techniques of hands and feet, most adapted to protect against multiple opponents. Taekwon-Do’s methodology implements the harmonious development of man both physically and spiritually for all ages and physical development.
"History Of Taekwondo". Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2022, https://www.rpi.edu/dept/union/taekwon/public_html/history.html.
Tedeschi, Marc. Taekwondo: Traditions, Philosophy, Technique. Floating World Editions, 2015.
Tong, Alex W. The Science And Philosophy Of Martial Arts: Exploring The Connections Between The Cognitive, Physical, And Spiritual Aspects Of Martial Arts. Blue Snake Books, 2022.
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