Taekwondo is the national sport of Korea and has become one of the most popular martial arts since its official establishment in 1945. The sport focuses on kicks, punches, self-defense, sparring, breaking, patterns and flexibility. However, taekwondo is unique because it develops a state of mind which is controlled, humble and kind. Students are taught how to be physically powerful, but not to misuse their skills and rather, to use them only when necessary.
If you would like to begin training in taekwondo in Korea, here is the basic information you need to know before you begin training and where to find a club or watch a performance.
The ranking system in taekwondo is represented through belt colors. There are 6 belt colors, with an intermediate level in-between each belt. Additionally, there are 9 degrees of black belt one must pass in order to achieve the highest rank. Belts are awarded to students by their instructor when they pass a new level.
Black 1st dan~ 9th dan
Taekwondo uniform is usually supplied by the organization you train with but can be purchased at Gmarket if you would like to buy one independently.
5 Tenets Of Taekwondo
Courtesy / 예의
Integrity / 염치
Perseverance / 인내
Self-control / 극기
Indomitable spirit / 백절불굴
The 5 tenets of Taekwondo should be observed by students in their training and in daily life. The tenets are fundamental to achieving progression and cultivating the right state of mind for taekwondo.
Taekwondo has become a worldwide sport and is taught in English both internationally and in many Korean clubs. However, the Korean language forms the foundation of most taekwondo clubs and it is important to learn some of these phrases before and during your training.
Taekwondo (태권도), translates to ‘the way of the foot and fist’.
Here are some basic terms to get you started:
School – 도장
Uniform – 도복
Attention – 차렷
Bow – 경례
Ready – 준비
Start – 시작
Stop – 그만
Shout – 기합
Read more about stances, belts, kicks, punching terminology here. It is also useful to learn numbers 1-10 in Korean for your training as these are often used when performing drills and exercises.
What To Expect
Taekwondo classes will include warm-up, strength training, kicking and punching techniques, patterns and form, self-defense, sparring and much more. Although taekwondo is well-known for its impressive kicks and punches, there is much more to your average class, as listed below.
Patterns are sets of moves which are performed by students to practice techniques and improve skills such as strength and balance. The patterns a student is required to learn varies depending on which organization the student is training with. A taekwondo pattern is designed to have a significant shape or total number of moves, and to be performed on an imaginary opponent.
Sparring is used to develop one’s skills through combat training. This can include non-contact sparring, and contact sparring which includes the use of protective gear. Sparring assists the development of one’s fitness, technique and responsiveness. Many students compete in sparring as well as using it to assist their training.
Training includes practical applications of self-defence. This is usually included in grading and, although it is not a key feature of the martial art, it is important for developing the ability to protect oneself without causing unnecessary damage to the attacker. Self-defense assists progression in other areas of taekwondo as well as being a practical skill.
Board breaking is not included at beginners level, but will soon become a fundamental aspect of training for students. This demonstrates power, accuracy, and determination and is required in order to pass most grades.
Flexibility and stretching is an incredibly important part of taekwondo training. A greater level of flexibility improves kicks and other techniques, as well as avoiding potential injuries.
Taekwondo Performances And Experiences
To get a taste of where taekwondo training can take you, visit a taekwondo performance or experience. These are spectacular events which will inspire you to begin the martial art, or train harder in your class.
K-Tigers Taekwondo Center | Jongno-gu
K-Tigers rose to fame after the impressive choreography in their youtube videos. The club now offers live shows which can be enjoyed by the public.
This center offers free taekwondo-related programs, in order to spread knowledge and awareness on Taekwondo. Visitors can also try a board-breaking experience and take pictures with the performers.
Location: Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 & 4), Exit 3 or 4. Walk approx. 6min. Contact: +82-2-6674-4303 (Korean, English) Webpage:hanokmaeul.or.kr
World Taekwondo Headquarters Kukkiwon | Gangnam-gu
The experience program available for international visitors is divided into a class for beginners and another one for black belt holders. Reservations can be made on the website or phone.
Location: Gangnam Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 12. Walk approx. 10min. Contact:+82-10-5334-9828 Webpage: kukkiwon.or.kr
International Kumgang Taekwondo Center | Yangcheon-gu
This center specializes in providing taekwondo experience programs for foreigners, from short-term to long-term experiences. Small group sessions and large group sessions are available.
Location: Mokdong Station (Seoul Subway Line 5). Approx. 20min by bus Contact:+82-2-2642-0692 Webpage:taekwontokorea.com
English-Speaking Taekwondo Clubs
Experience taekwondo first hand by attending classes at one of the following clubs. Taekwondo is taught all around the world but learning the martial art in Korea will provide you with a unique and authentic experience, which will fuel your enthusiasm for training wherever you go.
Taekwondo ROK Foreigners Gymnasium | Gwanak-gu
Taekwondo classes for foreigners at all levels are held from Monday through Friday 09:00-22:00.