Friday, August 27, 2010

Taekwondo Information, History and Definition


Taekwondo is an officially acknowledged international sport that originated in Korea and is today practiced worldwide. Taekwondo uses the whole body, particularly the hands and feet. It not only strengthens one's physique, but also cultivates character via physical and mental training. Coupled with techniques of discipline, taekwondo is a self-defense martial art. 
The evidence of taekwondo's existence as a systemized defense operation using the body's instinctive reflexes can be traced back to ceremonial games that were performed during religious events in the era of the ancient tribal states. During religious ceremonies such as Yeonggo and Dongmaeng (a sort of thanksgiving ceremony), and Mucheon (Dance to Heaven), ancient Koreans performed a unique exercise for physical training. This exercise was the original inception of taekwondo. 
With this historical background, taekwondo (also known by its older name, taekkyeon) secured the status of Korean's traditional martial art. During the Three Kingdoms period, taekkyeon became a required military art; the martial art was emphasized to enhance national defense and battle capabilities, and was practiced in the Musadan (a military organization) that was responsible for national defense.Examples of Musadan are the Seonbae of Goguryeo and the Hwarang of Silla. Seonbae, which was founded during the era of King Taejo of Goguryeo, practiced taekkyeon (also called taekgoni) to strengthen their country's defense capabilities. Supporting this claim is a mural in Muyongchong (Tomb of the Dancers) in southern Manchuria. Drawn on the ceiling of the burial chamber and the master chamber of the tomb was a vivid scene of a taekkyeon match. Taekkyeon was practiced in Silla in order to reinforce national development, and was the basic martial art of the Hwarang (Flower of Youth Corps). Evidence attesting to taekkyeon's role during the Silla period can be found in the Geumgangyeoksasang (a guardian of a temple gate), which is now housed in the Gyeongju National Museum.
The aforementioned traditions were continuously superseded and further developed during the Goryeo period. The value of taekkyeon as a martial art for the defense and prosperity of the nation was acknowledged, and as a consequence, its standards were raised, leading to further systemization and popularity. Among King Uijong's writings is a record stating that Yi Ui-min was promoted because of his outstanding taekkyeon techniques. The record also shows that Choe Chungheon threw banquets and let strong men from the Jungbang (Council of Generals) compete against each other in taekkyeon matches; winners from the match were awarded with government posts. Finally, there is a record about Byeon Anyeol's winning matches against Im Gyeonmi and Yeom Heungbang and being promoted from assistant-head to head of the Royal Secretariat as a reward. Such evidence implies that the value of taekwondo as a martial art was acknowledged in the Goryeo Dynasty at the national level, while also confirming the existence of clear judging criteria for competitions. 
Based on this information, it can be deduced that taekwondo, as a military art, had reached a level sophistication during the Goryeo period. A number of written entries, such as "the rafter was moved when Yi Uimin hit the pillar with his bare fist," or "the wall was broken when Du Gyeongseung hit the wall with his fist" substantiate the high and sometimes lethal level of taekwondo standards at that time. Another record states, "Yi Uimin punched a man's backbone and killed him." With the advent of explosives and the appearance of new weapons by the end of the Goryeo era, however, taekwondo, which was highly supported at the national level during the beginning and middle periods of the Goryeo Dynasty, received a steadily declining level of support. As a result of its weakened function as a martial art, the sport was transformed into a folk game at one point. According to records in the Goryeosa (History of Goryeo, 1454), people who gambled on taekkyeon for money or material goods were punished by 100 strokes of a paddle; a house owner who provided boarding or gambling money to gamblers also received the same number of paddles as punishment. Such records imply that taekkyeon was enjoyed as a folk game by many people and was deeply rooted in Koreans' lives.
Later, during the Joseon era, military arts regained their prominence due to political circumstances in the early period of the Dynasty's foundation and the need for national defense. People who were skilled in taekkyeon received preferable treatment, and taekkyeon was chosen as a military art. Documents show that during the selection of military soldiers by the Uiheungbu (a military command) during the 10th year (1410) of King Taejong, persons who had beaten three rivals in taekkyeon matches were selected to become bangpyeguns (shielding soldiers). In the following year, skills in taekkyeon were applied as a major criterion for recruiting soldiers. This practice attracted to the military service many of the gwanno, male provincial government slaves, who by virtue of their work were mostly well versed in the martial art.
Once the country's organizational structure was solidified, nonetheless, the importance of the martial art was again deemphasized due to the unavoidable strengthening of the power of the literati. However, this trend was reversed when the country experienced severe difficulties such as the Imjinwaeran (the Japanese invasion of Joseon) in 1592 and the Byeongjahoran (the Manchu invasion) in 1636. At the national level, the Hullyeondogam (Military Training Command) was established to support martial arts. Muye dobotongji, a text of martial arts, was written by Yi Deokmu and Bak Jega. Such national support enabled taekkyeon to regain its vitality as a martial art and folk game.

In Donggungnyeojiseungnam (Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea), it is stated that in one of the towns in Eunjin-hyeon in Chungcheong-do province, people from the Chungcheong-do and Jeolla-do provinces gathered around on Buddhist All Souls' Day to compete in taekkyeon matches, while in the pungsokhwa (genre pictures) of that period scenes of taekkyeon can often be found. Based on this evidence, it is clear that taekkyeon was quite popular and deeply rooted in the daily lives of Koreans.

With time's passage, methods of national defense changed, along with peoples' altitudes. Consequently, taekkyeon became primarily a folk match or game rather than a military art. With Japan 's undisguised intention of invading Korea , however, taekkyeon emerged as a national pastime. The fact that it was already established as a folk game, coupled with the Koreans' consciousness of being a homogeneous nation distinct from the Japanese, fueled their passion for the art.

During the period when Japan controlled Korea , taekkyeon was suppressed. Nevertheless, it was secretly passed on among certain taekkyeon masters even during this period.

After national independence in 1945, taekkyeon's revitalization began once again, aided by restored personal freedoms. It was during this period that a new word, "taekwon," was coined and began to be widely used. Concurrently, the characteristics of the master-trainee relationship in taekwondo changed to emphasize the characteristics of taekwondo as more of a sport than a martial art. With the foundation of the Korea Taekwondo Association in September of 1961, taekwondo officially became a sport .

In 1962, the Korea Taekwondo Association became a member organization of the Korea Amateur Sports Association, and the following year taekwondo was chosen as a regular entry for the National Sports Festival. In 1971 taekwondo's outstanding value was acknowledged, and taekwondo was recognized as a national sport; today there are about 3,700 taekwondo practice halls and approximately 10,000 masters in Korea , along with 3,000,000 grade-holders and 3,500,000 trainees.

In 1971, the Korea Taekwondo Association established etiquette criteria to guide those practicing taekwondo. The criteria include the areas of etiquette and attitude, articles to follow in daily living places and in practice halls, dress code and personal appearance guidelines to be followed when conversing or visiting someone. The Gukgiwon was opened in 1972 to function as the central practice hall and competition stadium for taekwondo.

The first World Taekwondo Championship was held in Seoul during 1973, at which time the World Taekwondo Federation was founded. The World Taekwondo Federation eventually became a member of the GAISF (General Association of International Sports Federations), and was chosen as an official entry by the Committee for the International Soldiers Meet (CISM) in 1976. Today, the World Taekwondo Federation has 153 member countries, and 3,000 masters have been dispatched to these countries to instruct approximately 50 million trainees worldwide.

The sport's steady progress and growth were responsible for taekwondo's selection as a demonstration sport for the Olympic Games at the General Assembly of the International Olympic Committee on July 15, 1980. During the General Assembly of the International Olympic Committee in 1981, taekwondo was also chosen for inclusion in the 10th Asian Games. Having been selected as a demonstration sport for the 1988 Olympic Games, taekwondo firmly established its presence in the international sports arena.

The First International Taekwondo Academic Conference, which was held in Seoul in December 1983, was another event which greatly contributed to the development of taekwondo. Partially as a result of the heightened worldwide interest in taekwondo demonstrated by this event, it was decided during the International Olympic Committee meeting held in Sydney , Australia , that taekwondo would become an official entry in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

The training methods of taekwondo can be differentiated into gibondongjak, pumse, gyeorugi, dallyeon, and hosinsul. The gibondongjak (basic movements) refer to the use of the hands and feet and are the basis of taekwondo. They include chigi (striking) techniques by use of fists and the outer side of the hand. Pumse refers to training that is done alone with an imaginary counterpart. Following the drill line, one practices to master effective techniques of attack and defense movements so as to improve one's readiness, muscular power, flexibility, ability to shift one's center of power, control of breathing, and speed of movement. Types of pumse include Taegeuk (1-8 jang) and Palgwae (1-8 jang) for non-grade-holders, and Goryeo, Geumgang, Taebaek, Pyeongwon, Sipjin, Jitae, Cheonggwon, Hansu, and Ilyeo for grade-holders.

Gyeorugi, an application of Pumse to an actual situation in order to demonstrate techniques of attack and defense, is divided into two parts: machueogyeorugi and gyeorugi. Machueogyeorugi refers to a synchronized demonstration of given attack and defense techniques, while gyeorugi refers to the free application of those techniques to an opponent's vulnerable areas. The latter enhances one's spirit of fighting and courage.

Dallyeon involves strengthening body parts such as one's hands and feet, through the use of various equipment, in order to increase one's power for attack and defense, while hosinsul consists of techniques to defeat a rival's attack and effectively counterattack.

Taekwondo matches are held according to weight categories. These categories include finweight, flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, welter-weight, middleweight, and heavyweight. The time allotted for a match is three three-minute rounds, with a one minute rest between rounds.

The competition floor is a square with sides of a total length of eight meters. A mattress is placed on the floor. For the safety of the competitor, protective pads for certain parts of the body, such as the torso and head, are worn over the competition outfit. Judging is carried out by one examiner, one chief referee, and four sub-referees.

Brought to you by: and 

No comments:

Post a Comment