Simply the most powerful form of self-defence ever devised.
Defined by General Choi Hong Hi, the Founder of Taekwon-Do as:
“The scientific use of the body for self-defence, utilising every available blocking and attacking tool to bring about the rapid defeat of one’s opponent!”
“Tae” means to smash or break with the foot…
“Kwon” means to smash or break with the fist…
“Do” means art, way or method.
Taekwon-Do means “The Art of Hand and Foot”
Taekwon-Do is composed of fundamental movements, patterns, dallyon, sparring and self-defence techniques that are so closely related that it is impossible to segregate one phase of instruction from another. Fundamental movements are necessary for sparring and patterns, while both patterns and sparring are indispensable for perfection of fundamental movements.
There is, in fact, like the Deity, no beginning or end. A student will find that he will have to return time and time again to the beginning fundamental movements to perfect his advanced sparring and self-defence techniques.
Each fundamental movement, in most cases, represents and attack or defence against a particular target area or definite action of an imaginary opponent or opponents. It is necessary to learn as many fundamental movements as possible and fit them into complete proficiency so the student can meet any situation in actual combat with confidence. The pattern actually places the student in a hypothetical situation where he must avail himself to defence, counterattack, and attack motions, against several opponents. Through constant practice of these patterns, the attack and defence become a conditioned reflex movement. Power and speed must be developed to such a high degree that only one single blow is needed to stop an opponent, so the student can shift stance and block or attack another opponent. Each pattern is different from the other in order to develop reaction against changing circumstances.
Once the basic patterns are mastered, the student then begins to physically apply the skill obtained from fundamental patterns and movements to sparring against actual moving opponents.
Collaterally with sparring, the student must begin to develop his body and toughen his attacking and blocking tools so he is able to deliver maximum damage in actual combat. Once a student has applied himself to fundamental movements, patterns, sparring and dallyon, then the time has arrived for the student to test his coordination, speed, balance, and concentration against spontaneous attacks: ie. self-defence. The student will constantly find himself returning, however, to his fundamentals even when he has achieved the highest possible degree of self-defence techniques. As in military training, Taekwon-Do progression follows a certain parallel:
- Fundamental Movements = Individual soldier’s basic training
- Dallyon = Maintenance of equipment
- Patterns = Platoon tactics
- Sparring = Field exercises in simulated combat conditions
- Self-defence = Actual Combat
- A pattern is a series of fundamental movements set together in a logical sequence of defence and attack against one or more imaginary opponents. The pattern is most commonly used to allow the student to be assessed at their grading examination. There are a total of 24 patterns from the beginner to 6th Dan black belt. One pattern must be mastered for each grading up to 1st Dan black belt then 3 patterns for each black belt examination. Each pattern has a link with history and culture of the Korean people, through its name and diagram it scribes on the floor during its performance.
- During sparring the imaginary opponent is replaced with a real opponent so that the student can actually defend themselves against a live attack and counter to an exact target presented by an opponent. To start with, the student learns the procedure of very strictly controlled sparring in the form of 3-step, 2-step and 1step sparring. These form the basis for an effective self-defence against a moving target with few parameters guiding where and how to attack. It tends to be very fast and teaches the student how to move in a defence and attack situation. It also promotes tenacity and courage.
Power Test (Wee Ryok):
- Taekwon-Do is reputed to be the most powerful of all the Martial arts and therefore must be controlled; thus no contact is allowed, unless senior grades wish to participate in light contact with consent from the instructor. The students needs an alternative target; therefore, Taekwon-Do provides a choice of replacements for the human opponent. A student can strike raw materials such as wood, tiles, bricks, or, more commonly, a specially developed plastic focus board. This allows the student to test and perfect full power techniques against measured resistance. The practice of ‘Breaking’ is designed to give confidence to the student that their techniques work and provide an examinable test for the instructor.
- Taekwon-Do cannot simply be copied, it has to be studied; as described in the definition in the first paragraph,Taekwon-Do is a science. In the theory section, the student learns a code of conduct, or tenets that should become part of their life. The tenets are as follows: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control and Indomitable Spirit.
- The student also learns the history of Taekwon-do and its institutions.Taekwon-do, as a science, has been written down in an encyclopaedia explaining all the tenents, techniques, theories and methods of movement within its pages. These are very advanced techniques utilising multi-target attacks which are designed for demonstration purposes. These techniques clearly show the superiority of the Taekwon-Do student over and above all other Martial Artists.