The Art of Tae Kwon Do
Tae Kwon Do is a form of Korean martial arts. This means that in the past, Tae Kwon Do has been utilized as a systemized method of combat and self-defense, and its roots are traced particularly to the Koguryo dynasty between 37 BC to 668 AD. Despite this though, modern Tae Kwon Do bears little or no resemblance to Korean martial arts of this time. In fact, the name Tae Kwon Do did not come to pass until the 1960s after the Japanese occupation in Korea had ended.
The term Tae Kwon Do, loosely translated means the way the foot and fist strikes. This term for the Korean martial arts was chosen to unify all the martial art schools that existed in Korea after the Japanese occupation.
Actually, Tae Kwon Do is a melting pot of martial art techniques from Japan and China, combined with traditional Korean martial arts. One can probably say that Tae Kwon Do takes the best of all the martial art schools from Korea, Japan and China and masterfully blends it into the umbrella of Tae Kwon Do. This particular martial art relies on the philosophy that one's leg is his longest weapon, which he can use to strike his opponent at some distance. This is why Tae Kwon Do is characterized by its kicks especially in sparring competitions.
Remember that before the human civilization became global and highly technological, wars between and among dynasties in the eastern nations were done by soldiers through one on one combat utilizing the martial arts they were trained in. More than a combat technique, the reason why the word "art" is added in this term is because aside from combat training, students of certain martial arts schools were also taught academic lessons as well as philosophies, making martial arts a certain way of life.
Now in this modern day, martial arts are no longer taught for this purpose and instead, individuals learn martial arts as a sport or form of entertainment. In this regard, Tae Kwon Do is a very popular method of martial arts. It is Korea's public sport and it has immense presence all around the globe with federation head quarters not only in Korea but in Austria and Canada as well.
Aside from this, Tae Kwon Do is one of two martial art forms that are part of the Olympics. In Olympic competition, grappling is not allowed and instead, competitions are done by sparring, where blows to the head and spine are also not allowed. As with any other martial art school, Tae Kwon Do students show their rank and progress by acquiring different colored belts depending on their level.
While belt colors and what they stand for generally vary, it is most common to begin at the white belt level and progress nine colors further to reach the highest colored belt of black. Even at the black belt level, there are still ranks and levels that are usually signified by silver or gold stripes on the black belt.
Aside from grappling which is done only in higher levels of Tae Kwon Do, and sparring, Tae Kwon Do is also known for breaking techniques such as smashing layers of bricks and other sturdy materials. This is done for martial arts demonstrations.
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