Tae Kwon Do (also known as Taekwondo) is the art of self defense that originated in Korea. It is recognized as one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world, reaching back over 2,000 years. The name was selected for its appropriate description of the art: Tae (foot), Kwon (hand), Do (the way).
“Tae” refers to the legs and lower torso, which provide the force necessary to do the hopping, jumping, and flying kicks that Taekwondo is famous for. The lower torso is also where the center of balance for the body is located.
“Kwon,” as with “Tae”, means more than just “striking with hands.” It refers to the upper body and arms as well. Finger tips, wrists, fists and elbows are also used to strike with. An inherent part of the term “Kwon” also means defense. It is the complement of attack or strike and must be explored in order to learn balance of form and technique.
“Do” means “the way.” This is the domain of the mind and indicates that more is involved than just training the body. It is not enough for the practitioner to become proficient in just the physical aspects of the art; his mind and body must work together in harmony, embodying the spirit of oneness.
Thus, Taekwondo utilizes both mental and physical development which provides a setting for emotional well-being, freedom from stress and fear, a complete system of self-defense, and a truly unique lifestyle.
There are two main branches of Taekwondo: the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The WTF style of Taekwondo is one of the two Asian martial arts that have been recognized as an Olympic sport. With its first debut as a demonstration Olympic sport at the 1988 Seoul Games, Taekwondo became an official medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Games. Since then, Taekwondo has evolved from tallying scores on paper and into an all electronic impact scoring system. With rules and regulations to better equip the athletes and provide a fair chance for everyone without discrimination, Taekwondo is still evolving very much today.