Taekwondo is a well-known form of martial art which has its roots in Korea; it is also South Korea's national sport. In Korean language, the word tae means "to break or strike with foot"; the word kwon means "to break or strike with fist"; and the word do means "method", "path" or "way". Hence the word taekwondo may be somewhat loosely translated as following: "the way of hand and foot." Taekwondo can also be written as tae kwon-do, taekwon-do, or as tae kwon do. Different organizations spell it in different ways due to varying philosophical, historical, or political reasons.

Taekwondo combines fighting techniques, self-defense, exercise, sport, as well as philosophy and meditation in some cases. In the year 1989, Taekwondo was world's most popular form of martial art based on the number of practitioners. Since 2000, a form of sparring known as Gyeorugi has been a part of the Olympic event.

There are 2 main branches of taekwondo's development, both of which are not mutually exclusive:

The "Traditional taekwondo" generally refers to the form of martial art that was established during 1950s and 60s in South Korean military as well as in numerous civilian organizations, schools and universities. The symbolism and the names that are used in the traditional patterns of taekwondo frequently refer to the various elements of Korean culture, history, philosophy and religious beliefs. At present, the World Taekwondo Headquarters or the Kukkiwon is Taekwondo's traditional center in Korea.

Taekwondo Photo The "Sport taekwondo" has gradually developed over the decades since 1950s and is usually characterized by a rather different focus. It mainly gives importance on competition and speed, like in case of Olympic sparring. The Sport taekwondo is again subdivided into 2 main styles, one of which is derived from Kukkiwon, and the other form is derived from ITF or International Taekwon- Do Federation. The sparring game sihap gyeorugi that is a part of summer Olympic Games is derived from Kukkiwon and is governed by WTF or World Taekwondo Federation .

Even though there are many technical and doctrinal differences between the 2 main styles as well as among the numerous organizations, the art of Taekwondo in general puts stress on kicks that are thrown from a moving position, using the greater power and reach of the leg compared to the arms. The training of Taekwondo usually involves a system of kicks, blocks, punches, different open- handed strikes, sweeps, take-downs, joint locks and throws. Some instructors of taekwondo also incorporate the usage of jiapsul or pressure points and numerous grabbing self-defense methods that are borrowed from other forms of martial arts like judo and hapkido.

The Philosophy of Taekwondo

As the practice of taekwondo has developed in numerous different kwans, numerous different forms of taekwondo philosophy has come into expression. For instance, the followers of International Taekwon-Do Federation primarily aim to champion the causes of justice and freedom as well as focus on building a peaceful world. Several forms of Taekwon-Do are based on the 5 tenets of Taekwon-Do, which are Courtesy, Self Control, Perseverance, Integrity and Indomitable Spirit.