Tae kwon do is 42 years old or 2000 years old, depending on which way you look at it. Specifically, the name and the rules were born in 1957. In reality, the makings of the sport date back to ancient times, with murals of men engaged in unarmed combat found in the ruins of royal Korean tombs almost 2000 years old. The martial arts have remained part of Korean culture throughout the millenniums since that time. They soared to a high point 800 years ago, when a self-defense art called su-bak gained a large following. Evidence even suggests it became a sport in the truest sense, entertaining spectators.
Su-bak eventually faded from the public scene, but the martial arts survived as recreation. In the first half of the 20th century, Japanese occupation led to an attempt to wipe out Korean culture, including the country's martial arts, yet they still survived. Then, after World War II ended and Korea was liberated, interest surged again.
A group of leading Korean martial artists joined together in the 1950s and tried to unify their various art forms under a single style of hands-and-feet fighting. In 1957, they succeeded and named the unified style Tae kwon do, which means "the way of hands and feet". By the early 1960s, Korean soldiers and police were learning the art, and interest was spreading overseas.
The Kukkiwon (world TaeKwonDo Federation Headquarters)
The Secretariat of the World Tae kwon do Federation is in the Kukkiwon building. The Kukkiwon, World Tae kwon do Headquarters, is located top the hillside in Kangnam District in Seoul, Korea just five minutes walk from the intersection of the Kangnam Subway Station. This Building with beautiful original Korean style roof was constructed in 1972 to house Taekowndo related organizations and to provide Tae kwon do practitioners and contestants with modern facilities for training and contestants with modern facilities for training and competitions of Tae kwon do.
Tae Kwon Do in the Olympics
It is one of those moments of symmetry, so often unplanned. When Tae Kwon Do is introduced into the Sydney 2000 Games as one of two new Olympic sports, the games ending the second millennium will be "introducing" a sport that is 2000 years old. Taekwondo trademark was its kicking techniques, both spectacular and carrying a high degree of difficulty. The sport, consisting of sharp, strong angular moves and free-flowing circular movements, was based on a defensive strategy and originally was developed for protection against enemy attacks. Yet, it also was a technique of mental discipline that gave its practitioners self-confidence and a further advantage over an opponent. In 1973, the sport staged its first world championships. It became a demonstration sport at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and followed up with the same role in the 1992 Games at Barcelona. After an absence from the Games in Atlanta in 1996, it now becomes one of the two new official sports at the Sydney 2000 Games, along with the triathlon. More than 50 million followers in about 160 countries around the world now practice tae kwon do, and other countries have begun to challenge the original dominance of South Korea in international competition. Still, one look at - and listen to - the sport shows the unmistakable imprint of its Korean heritage.
The Olympics competition format will include four weight classes each for men and women, half the number used in World Championships. It will involve a single-elimination tournament to decide the gold and silver medals. All competitors defeated by the two finalists get another chance in a second bracket to decide the bronze. The two losing semifinalists move directly into the semifinals of that second bracket. All others who lost to the two finalists compete in single elimination within their original pools, and two survivors emerge to fill the remaining semifinal spots. Each pool's survivor then faces the losing semifinalist from the opposite pool, and the two winners compete for the bronze. Matches are scored by awarding a point for each legitimate blow and deducting a point for each penalty. Five to seven points with one deduction is typical.
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The flag of the United States popularly called the American flag, the official national flag of the United States. It consists of 13 horizontal stripes, 7 red alternating with 6 white, and in the upper corner near the staff, a rectangular blue field, or canton, containing 50 five pointed white stars.
The stripes symbolize the 13 colonies that originally constituted the United States of America. The stars represent the 50 states of the Union.
In the language of the Continental Congress, which defined the symbolic meanings of the colors red, white, and blue, as used in the flag, "White signifies Purity and Innocence; Red, Hardiness and Valor; and Blue, Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice."
Because of its stars, stripes, and colors, the American flag is frequently called the Star-Spangled Banner, the Stars and Stripes, or the Red, White, and Blue. Another popular, patriotic designation, Old Glory, is of uncertain origin.
Republic of Korea
Tae Geuk, the Korean National Flag has a very philosophical meaning. The Flag symbolizes peace, unity, creation, brightness, and infinity. The origin comes from the oriental philosophy called Eum-Yan, in Chinese pronunciation Yin-Yang, and summarizes the thoughts of I CHING (Called YEOK in Korean). Depicted in the center of the flag is the TAEGEUK, a circle devided equally and locked in perfect balance. The upper red section is the YANG, and the lower BLUE section is the YIN. The two opposites express the dualism of the universe, good and evil, night and day, hot and cold, male and female, dark and light, being and not being, and so on. The central thought in the Taegeuk indicates that while there is a constant movement within the sphere of infinity, there are also balance and harmony. As a simple example, kindness and cruelty could be considered. If a parent is kind to a child, it is good, but they could spoil and weaken the child and thus lead the child to become a vicious man and a source of disgrace to his ancestors.
The four trigrams at the corners of the flag (called KEW in korean) also represent the concept of opposites and balance. The three unbroken bars in the upper left stand for heaven (Kun), the three broken bars in the lower right stand for earth (Kon). In the upper right is two broken and one unbroken bars, this stands for water (Kam), and in the lower left are two unbroken and one broken bars standing for fire (Yi).
Belt color meanings
Represents purity. The innocence of an individual about the art itself and about the specific system that each particular Master teaches. It represents the open-mindedness that a student must have to learn anything new; to be able to understand the myriad of complexities of daily life. The white belt is symbolic of an empty cup that has nothing in it but is always ready and able to receive. The white belt has no preconceived thought to hinder any new thought being absorbed. There is abundant room for learning. A white belt is like a piece of white paper allowing anything to be written on it. There is total trust and faith in the Master that he will guide the student towards optimal development. In order to learn anything in life, an individual must possess the curiosity, openness and intensity of a white belt.
Is representative of gold, which means truth. It is important that an individual be truthful with himself as it eliminates egotism and creates personal contentment. The concept of the seed is additionally symbolized by the color yellow. It is only a quality seed that can grow into a quality plant. However, the foundation has to be solid so that future growth is possible. The planted seed cannot expect to grow into something that it is not. An apple seed cannot grow into an orange tree - we have to accept who we are as individuals and try to excel to the best of our abilities.
The green belt signifies growth. Since we live for the future, growth is necessary and essential for living. Growth is normally associated with changes and we must accept those changes even though they may cause feelings of insecurity. Memory of our own achievements in Tae Kwon Do serves many functions. As a green belt, it must serve as a reference for our development, but must not hinder our progress. For example, being a gold medallist in last year's competition should not deter you from training even harder for the next competition, so that your performance will be more polished and refined than when the gold medal was won. Therefore, growth is reflected in the individual. Green in a plant usually represents life. It reminds us that we are living, and living is experiencing the future as little bits of "present ness" occurring one after another. Re-experiencing the past continuously is not living; it is a state of stagnancy, a state of rigidity, a state of death.
The blue belt is symbolic of the sky. Although our naked eye can see only a portion of the vast heavens, it does not represent all that there is. The color of blue representatively depicts the mind and the mental depth or maturity potential of an individual. Like the sea, we cannot see how deep the water is or the continuously moving current underneath the calm surface. It is our determination that gives us the ability to conquer difficult tasks. Therefore, we should train ourselves to be strong mentally as well as physically. Tough times don't last, but a tough mind does.
Symbolizes the Earth that made the growth of the plant possible. Plants get their nourishment to spread their roots deeply into the ground to build a solid foundation. At the previous level of training the student has developed the basic skills and techniques of Tae Kwon Do. At this point the student is ready to advance to the next higher level of training. The student must develop character and understand his roots.
The red belt represents the sun - the brightness and the energy that it projects - and the physical acts of the individual. It is only through physical activity that an individual is given identity through his or her mental depth and capabilities. It is through the physical training in Tae Kwon Do that an education of the mind and re-evaluation of self occurs. By overcoming physical setback through perseverance and determination, the development of the indomitable spirit takes place - the ultimate goal of Tae Kwon Do. Acquiring the indomitable spirit through the art's physical training and the internalization of the individual's mental attitude enables the student of Tae Kwon Do to deal with setbacks and difficult situations. Through our indomitable spirit, we are capable of evaluating, conquering and bouncing back from disillusion or disappointments. The red belt also represents limitation, which is the opposite of the limitless blue belt. In contrast, limitation permits the individual to evaluate their progress. It prepares us to reach our short term goals which, in turn, leads to achieving an ultimate goal.
Recommended Black Belt
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Poomses are a set series of techniques performed as a prearranged imaginary fight or as repetitious practice to perfect the techniques. Students demonstrate poomses in different ways some like to perform it very methodically and try to make each move crisp while maintaining good form. Others try to make the form faster and show a lot of power. I allow students to perform poomses at their own speed as long as the techniques are performed correctly. I expect lower belts (white, yellow and advance yellow) to practice poomses very slowly to ensure each move is performed well. This will guarantee the development of good techniques. Forms are judged on five criteria: Power, Speed (of individual techniques, not the entire form), Technique, Enunciation, and Fluidity.
Why Do We Practice Forms?
Besides providing an opportunity to practice individual techniques, forms can develop balance, coordination, power, speed, endurance, grace and concentration. Most students make the assumption that a form has been mastered once the pattern has been memorized, this represents a only a superficial understanding of the form and of Tae Kwon Do as a Martial Art.
To some martial artist forms practice is their favorite aspect of Tae Kwon Do because it does not require a partner, because of the physical/mental challenge and it reflects the beauty of Tae Kwon Do as a martial art. To master a Tae Kwon Do form is an unattainable goal. A form can always be done with more precision, power, speed etc... Because of this some Tae Kwon Do Masters may take a lifetime to perfect a handful of forms.
Ten Guidelines of Forms Training
1. Memorize the line of movement, the sequence and direction of the techniques in the form.
2. In assuming the ready stance be calm, cautious and courageous. Even if this attitude is not outwardly expressed, it must be felt each time the form is begun.
3. In learning the form make the movements slowly accurately and precisely. As you learn the forms, gradually speed up the movements, being careful to maintain good form in the execution of the techniques.
4. The execution of each movement must be dynamic. When a yell (Ki hap) is called for, it must be a sharp and loud, reflecting the strong spirit of the performer.
5. Maintain an objective focus. Look straight forward in executing a block, punch or kick, you should see and visualize the target area but not "look at" it.. The gaze should not wander or concentrate on a specific technique or stance being executed.
6. In turning, look first then turn, remember that in the forms one defends against multiple, imaginary attackers. One must see the direction from which an attack is coming before he can defend against it.
7. In walking, maintain poise, balance and a good stance. Hips and shoulders should both move on an even plane and not up and down from one stance to the next.
8. Relax while assuming the stance and executing the technique until the instant the technique would impact the opponent. Then focus sharply on the end of the technique bringing all of the body's strength (momentarily) into the technique. One must not be tense throughout the movement as this inhibits speed and both aesthetic quality and effectiveness of the technique.
9. Be certain to practice the forms from different angles so as not to become disoriented if the form is practiced in strange surroundings. The movements should be performed one per second except when instructions call for a slow movement performed with tension.
10. Return to the ready stance, calmly, gracefully and with satisfaction. Remember that the forms are best learned from a master instructor.
One step sparring
What is One step?
What is Sparring?