What is Taekwondo ?

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, characterised by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques.


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In 1972 the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) Central Dojang opened in Seoul in 1972; in 1973 the name was changed to Kukkiwon. Under the sponsorship of the South Korean government’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism the Kukkiwon became the new national academy for taekwondo, thereby establishing a new “unified” style of taekwondo.┬áIn 1973 the KTA established the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) to promote taekwondo as a sport. The International Olympic Committee recognized the WTF and taekwondo sparring in 1980. For this reason, the Kukkiwon-defined style of taekwondo is sometimes referred to as Sport-style taekwondo, Olympic-style taekwondo, or WTF-style taekwondo, but the style itself is defined by the Kukkiwon, not by the WTF, and the WTF competition rule set itself only allows the use of a very small number of the total number of techniques included in the style.Therefore, the correct term for the South Korean government sponsored style of Taekwondo associated with the Kukkiwon, is Kukki Taekwondo, meaning “national taekwondo” in Korean.


In Kukki-style taekwondo, the word used for “forms” is poomsae. In 1967 the KTA established a new set of forms called the Palgwae poomse, named after the eight trigrams of the I Ching. In 1971 however (after additional kwans had joined the KTA), the KTA and Kukkiwon adopted a new set of color-belt forms instead, called the Taegeuk poomsae. Black belt forms are called yudanja poomsae. While ITF-style forms refer to key elements of Korean history, Kukki-style forms refer instead to elements of sino -Korean philosophy such as the I Ching and the taegeuk.

WTF-sanctioned tournaments allow any person, regardless of school affiliation or martial arts style, to compete in WTF events as long as he or she is a member of the WTF Member National Association in his or her nation; this allows essentially anyone to compete in WTF-sanctioned competitions.