Originated in Korea, Taekwondo is a martial art of self-defense in which the competitors use both their hands and feet. In ancient times, Koreans practiced Taekwondo as a mandatory preparation for war.
With the passage of time, Taekwondo gradually became a folk sport. In 1971, it was designated as Korea’s national sport. In 1973, the 1st World Taekwondo Championship were held in Seoul, and in 1980, the IOC adopted it as an official event of the Olympic Games. It has grown into an international sport with around 100 million participants globally.
Muju, Jeollabuk-do Province, where Taekwondowon was established, hosted the 2017 Muju WTF World Taekwondo Championships.
Taekwondo stresses the importance of spiritual discipline, and for this reason, it enjoys popularity among both men and women. The South Korean government assists with the dispatching of Taekwondo masters worldwide. Active UN Peacekeeping Forces teach Taekwondo to local residents in disputed territories, where they are stationed. In many parts of the world, Taekwondo is viewed as a symbol of South Korea. As for its educational effects associated with spiritual discipline and tenacity, Taekwondo is emerging as an option for the treatment of young people suffering from addictions.
One of the surviving traditional martial arts developed in Korea, Taekkyeon, which is quite different from Taekwondo, used to be known by several different names such as Gakhui (“sport of legs”) and Bigaksul (“art of flying legs”), although such names suggest that it is related with the movement of kicking. Like most other martial arts in which weapons are not used, Taekkyeon is aimed at improving one’s self-defense techniques and promoting physical and mental health through the practice of orchestrated dance-like bodily movements, using the feet and legs in particular. Contestants are encouraged to focus more on defense than on offense and to throw the opponent to the ground using their hands and feet or jump up and kick him in the face to win a match.
Source: Korean Culture and Information Service 'Facts about Korea'
Image source: Korea Open Government License