Introduction to Taekwondo

Taekwondo is one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts, teaching more than just physical fighting skills.

It shows ways of enhancing spirit and life through training the body and mind.

The word taekwondo is one word in Korean. "Tae" means foot, leg or to step on. "Kwon" means fist or fight. "Do" means the way or discipline. As one word, it means "way of kicking or strking".

There are two important concepts behind taekwondo:

  • the correct way of controlling parts of the body - the fists and feet
  • a way to control or calm down fighting, keep the peace and build a more peaceful world

Taekwondo has developed over 5,000 years in Korea, beginning as a defensive martial art called "subak" or "taekkyon" and becoming a way of training body and mind.



Korean history relates that the prominent leaders of the three ancient tribal kingdoms had a military background. As a result, martial arts training became one of the important subjects of learning.

"Taekwondo is the basis of martial art, enabling one to build strength," states an ancient book, showing that taekwondo was prevalent in the time of the Shilla and Koguryo kingdoms, founded some 2,000 years ago.

In 1955, a group of Korean martial arts leaders chose taekwondo as the definitive Korean martial art to promote its development internationally.

In 1973, the Korean government recognised the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) as the legitimate governing body. The first world championships were held that year.

Taekwondo was featured as a demonstration sport in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, becoming an official medal sport at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Taekwondo first became a competitive event in the 10th Asian Games in 1986, in Seoul, Korea.



The competition area comprises two contest areas measuring 14m x 14m each, including the attention area, covered with an elastic mat, installed on a podium 0.5m high.

All contestants must wear a taekwondo uniform (dobok) and protectors recognised by the WTF. Before entering the contest area, contestants should be wearing the following:

  • trunk protector
  • head protector
  • forearm and shin guards (inside the taekwondo uniform)
  • mouthpiece
  • groin guard as required (inside the taekwondo uniform)

Fist movements are allowed with a closed hand only, while only the parts of the foot below the ankle bone are permitted in kicking techniques.

Attack by fist and foot techniques on the areas covered by the trunk protector are permitted. Attacks on the part of the back not covered by the trunk protector are prohibited. Only foot attacks to the head are allowed.

Points are awarded when permitted techniques are delivered accurately and powerfully to the legal scoring areas of the body. A successful attack on the head is worth two points; an attack on the trunk gets one point, with one additional point if the opponent is knocked down.

Evading by turning the back to the opponent, falling down, avoiding/stalling the match, grabbing, holding or pushing, attacking below the waist, pretending injury, butting or attacking with the knee and hitting the opponent's face with the hand are all banned and result in penalty points.