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Taekwondo FAQ

  1. What does "Taekwondo" mean?
  2. What is the WTF?
  3. Is it true that Taekwondo practitioners kick a lot?
  4. What is "sport Taekwondo"?
  5. Is it true that Taekwondo is thousands of years old?


What does "Taekwondo" mean?
The word "Taekwondo" is comprised of three Korean words: tae, kwon, and do. The word tae means foot, kwon means hand/fist, and do means the way. Put together, Taekwondo literally means "the way of foot and hand/fist."

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What is the WTF?
The WTF stands for the World Taekwondo Federation. Formed in 1973, the WTF is the largest martial arts organization in the world, and is the governing body for Taekwondo worldwide. The WTF is the parent organization for the United States Taekwondo Union (USTU), which is the national governing body for the WTF in the United States. The WTF is also the governing organization for Taekwondo in the Olympics.

While the WTF has remained the largest and most successful, there also are other organizations that teach different styles of Taekwondo. ITF and ATA are examples of such organizations.

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Is it true that Taekwondo practitioners kick a lot?
Yes, Taekwondo is known for its powerful and often flashy kicking techniques, and its practitioners definitely use these techniques very often. Unfortunately, many people believe that kicks are all the Taekwondo practitioners use. This is simply not true. Taekwondo practitioners do prefer to kick as their primary weapon in fighting. However, properly trained practitioners are also skilled in punching, grappling and many other self-defense techniques.

Such misunderstanding is usually caused by confusion between the art of Taekwondo and the sport of Taekwondo. While they are very different entities, most people see sport Taekwondo in tournaments and think that is what Taekwondo is all about.

It is often said that Taekwondo practitioners always use fancy spinning and/or high kicks. This is a myth. In truth, very flashy techniques are ONLY used in sport Taekwondo.

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What is "sport Taekwondo"?
"Sport Taekwondo" is but one part of Taekwondo as a martial art, and refers to controlled sparring practices. The WTF-style sparring, for example, is a full-contact fighting sport with emphasis on kicking and is controlled by sets of rules to prevent injuries. This "sport" is what many people see at the tournaments, such as the Olympics (WTF-style Taekwondo is an official Olympic sport as of the 2000 Sydney Olympics). While "sport Taekwondo" is an important part of Taekwondo, it should not be taken as the primary focus in practicing the art.

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Is it true that Taekwondo is thousands of years old?
No, this is not true. Taekwondo is actually a modern art. In fact, the word Taekwondo was created only in 1957. There had been a strong ancient fighting tradition in Korea and nearby countries, to which Taekwondo owes its heritage and roots. Nevertheless, Taekwondo as we know it today is a modern creation.

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