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Taekwondo is one of the most systematic and scientific of Korean traditional martial arts. It is a discipline that not only emphasizes physical expertise, but also enhances the practitioner’s spirit and life through training body and mind. Although developed throughout Korean history, it is also a modern sport that has gained an international reputation and is now included among the official sports in the Olympic Games.

What does the word Taekwondo mean?
The word is composed of three parts - Tae means foot, leg, or to step on. Kwon means fist or fight. Do means the way or discipline. These three parts together form the two important concepts behind taekwondo.

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 measures 10m x 10m.
• The contestant shall wear the trunk protector (hogu), head protector, groin guard, forearm guards, shin guards, and a mouthpiece.
• The duration of the contest is non-stop three rounds of two minutes each, with a one-minute rest period between rounds. In case of a tie score after the completion of the 3rd round, a 4th round of two minutes will be conducted as the sudden death overtime round.
• Points are awarded when permitted techniques deliver full force, abrupt displacement and trembling shock to the legal scoring areas of the body. Points may be awarded by judges for a successful technique as follows:
o One point for attack on trunk protector.
o Two points for attack on the head.
o One point if a punch is thrown and stops the opponent in their tracks.
o One additional point if the opponent is knocked down and the referee counts.
o Declared winner if knock-out of the opponent with foot kicking to the legal area of head and face.

Taekwondo today is similar to the martial arts in other Oriental countries and shares many features with them. In the course of its evolution, it has gained from many different styles that existed in the martial arts of the countries surrounding Korea, like Japan and China.

The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) with its headquarters in Seoul was established as a rival organization in 1973 and despite several attempts at unification Taekwondo has not been a unified sport since then. The WTF places greater emphasis on sparring than the more traditional ITF and it is the WTF version that is practiced as an Olympic sport. Both styles incorporate graceful kicking techniques and the breaking of wood as a test of both correct form and concentration, though the ITF observes the so-called 'semi-contact' style of Taekwondo, while the WTF practices the so-called 'full-contact' style.


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