According to USA Today (7/29/85), Tae Kwon Do is "the sport of the 90's...the fastest growing sport in the world today." Although this is true, it is also true that the sport of Tae Kwon Do is a mere shadow of the art of Tae Kwon Do. The art exists independently and transcends the sport.
Tae Kwon Do was created in Korea and developed here over the course of 2,000 years. However, due to the suppression of Korean culture during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945) and then because of Korean War, Tae Kwon Do was not introduced to the United States and the rest of the world until the late 1950's. By this time the word "karate" had become a generic term for the martial arts. This is why, even though Tae Kwon Do is now practiced by more people than all of the other martial arts combined, it is still sometimes referred to as "Korean Karate."
Tae Kwon Do has endured for centuries and is today experiencing extremely rapid growth because it offers a multitude of benefits that can be enjoyed by all people regardless of age, gender, or culture. Today, Tae Kwon Do is being taught and practiced in over 150 countries.
Tae Kwon Do is the martial art through which one can develop proficiency in self-defense in a relatively short period of 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 becomes second nature and a true sense of self-confidence is attained.
However, many, if not most, people practice Tae Kwon Do primarily because it is the most complete of exercises. Tae Kwon Do 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 (5/4/96) stated, "In 1 hour and 15 minutes of Tae Kwon Do 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.
The tremendous physical training is only part of the ultimate goal of Tae Kwon Do training. The true focus is the harnessing of human potential, the power each of us possesses, but rarely ever taps. If Tae Kwon Do is to be called an art of self-defense, then its goal is best described in this manner: The best self-defense is that of a serene, confident and disciplined person, at peace with himself and the world around him.
This type of personal development emphasizes, but is not limited to, the development of mental focus, emotional self-restraint, and a philosophy of kindness, humility, and strong moral character. One who has mastered Tae Kwon Do is a powerful yet gentle individual.
"Knowledge in the brain, honesty in the heart, and strength in the body" is a motto that martial artists around the world share. Tae Kwon Do's quest is to spread its logic, goodness, and philosophy for the cause of peace.
Everybody and anyone will reap rewards from Tae Kwon Do practice. Children develop concentration and confidence which help them in school. Teens experience a sense of pride in themselves to stand up for what is right, even when faced with conflicting morals, values, temptations, and peer pressures. Adults find that Tae Kwon Do allows them to advance at their own pace, handle daily stress, and feel years younger. Everyone sets his or her own personal goals of achievement in order to become a sell-developed, graceful, and fulfilled individual.
United States Tae Kwon Do Union (USTU), Governing body of United States Olympic Committee Although the major emphasis in Tae Kwon Do is on being a champion of life and on internal competition with oneself, the external competition of sport Tae Kwon Do can also be beneficial to develop character in many practitioners. Sport Tae Kwon Do is very exciting to watch and in recent years has come far.
Tae Kwon Do was admitted into the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) of the United States in 1974 and recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1978. It is now also a Junior Olympic sport and part of the Pan American Games. The International Olympic Committee designated Tae Kwon Do as a demonstration sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and also in the 1992 Barcelona, Spain, Summer Olympic Games as well as the 1st official summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, September 2000.
Poomse (pattern of form) is a choreographed demonstration of the various kicks, blocks, and hand techniques of Tae Kwon Do which the student utilizes with an imaginary opponent or opponents. Observing a skilled practitioner is like watching a ballet, since both are very graceful as well as calculated and controlled. Froms are used to develop concentration, balance, precision, reflex action, power, speed, and agility.
Kyorugi (sparring or fighting) is the practical application of various forms against an actual opponent. In this type of competition cooperation, self-control, concentration, respect for yourself and your partner, speed, skilled technique, precision, and confidence are the deciding factors. (you will learn safely through a step-by-step systematic method of gradually learned sparring strategies – this is easy to learn and is a lot of fun)
Kyukpa (breaking) is done to practice and illustrate the formidable power, precision, and great mental concentration of the Tae Kwon Do practitioner. Bricks, rocks, boards, cement blocks, and such are broken since it is not feasible to use this sort of power on another person in everyday practice!
Ho Sin Sool (self-defense) is the study of how to use an attacker’s strength or skill and weapons against him or her. The practitioner learns when, how, and where to attack an assailant using "pressure points" (areas of the body that when pressed cause intense pain), grappling and joint-locking techniques and throws.
Jung Shin Tong Il (often called meditation) is for the purpose of concentration practice in order to focus the mind and body to work together for developing precision and maximum strength, visualizing goals and listening to the conscience for internalizing important truths and moral standards.
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