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What Is Taekwondo? Definition, History, Rules, and More

What Is Taekwondo? Definition, History, Rules, and More
08 Feb 2024

Taekwondo, a Korean martial art, has gained worldwide recognition for its dynamic and powerful kicks, punches, and strikes. With a rich history and a philosophy that extends beyond physical techniques, Taekwondo has become more than just a sport—it's a way of life. 

This article explores the essence of Taekwondo, delving into its definition, historical roots, rules and regulations, techniques, ranks, and the myriad benefits it offers to practitioners.

Definition of Taekwondo

Taekwondo, often translated as "the way of the foot and fist," is a traditional Korean martial art that emphasizes kicking techniques, hand strikes, and jumps. 

It is a disciplined form of self-defense that goes beyond physical combat, incorporating mental and ethical principles. Taekwondo is not just about the physical aspects, it also focuses on fostering character development, discipline, and respect.

History of Taekwondo

History of Taekwondo

The origins of Taekwondo can be traced back over 2,000 years to ancient Korea. The martial art has been shaped by various influences, including indigenous Korean fighting styles and the martial arts practices of neighboring countries such as China and Japan. However, the modern form of Taekwondo emerged after the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1945.

In 1955, the Korea Taekwondo Association was established to unify the various martial arts schools and create a standardized system. Subsequently, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was founded in 1973, marking the global recognition of Taekwondo as an official sport.

Rules and Regulations

Taekwondo competitions are governed by a set of rules and regulations designed to ensure fair play and safety. Matches are typically scored based on successful kicks and strikes that land with precision and power. Points are awarded for kicks to the head and body, with more points given for more challenging techniques.

But there are several illegal moves in Taekwondo you have to avoid, such as striking below the belt, hitting the back of the head, and using excessive force. Matches are overseen by referees, and competitors are required to wear protective gear, including helmets and chest protectors. These rules contribute to the strategic and disciplined nature of Taekwondo competitions.

Techniques in Taekwondo

Taekwondo, known for its dynamic and diverse range of techniques, encompasses a variety of strikes, kicks, and blocks. Here are several key techniques commonly practiced in Taekwondo:

1. Front Kick (Ap Chagi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Front Kick (Ap Chagi)

The front kick is a fundamental kicking technique in Taekwondo. It involves lifting the knee and extending the foot to strike the target with the ball of the foot. This quick and direct kick is versatile and can be aimed at various levels, including the lower, middle, or upper body.

2. Roundhouse Kick (Dollyo Chagi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Roundhouse Kick (Dollyo Chagi)

The roundhouse kick is a powerful and sweeping kick in which the leg is lifted to the side and then brought around in a circular motion to strike the target with the top of the foot. This technique is effective for targeting an opponent's midsection or head.

3. Side Kick (Yeop Chagi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Side Kick (Yeop Chagi)

Executed by thrusting the knee straight out to the side, the sidekick is a fast and forceful technique. It is often used to target an opponent's torso or head. The precision and speed of the sidekick make it a formidable offensive move.

4. Back Kick (Dwi Chagi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Back Kick (Dwi Chagi)

The back kick involves turning away from the target and striking with the heel of the foot. This technique is known for its speed and surprise element, making it an effective counterattack against an opponent approaching from behind.

5. Hook Kick (Huryeo Chagi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Hook Kick (Huryeo Chagi)

The hook kick involves a circular motion where the leg is raised and then brought around in a hooking motion to strike the target with the heel or instep. This technique is effective for bypassing an opponent's defenses.

6. Spinning Hook Kick (Dwi Huryeo Chagi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Spinning Hook Kick (Dwi Huryeo Chagi)

Combining the elements of a spin and a hook kick, this advanced technique requires agility and precision. The practitioner rotates the body while executing a hook kick, creating a powerful and unexpected attack.

7. Knife Hand Strike (Sonkal Taerigi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Knife Hand Strike (Sonkal Taerigi)

While Taekwondo is renowned for its kicks, hand techniques are also integral. The knife hand strike involves striking with the edge of the hand, typically the pinky side. It can be directed at various targets, including the neck, throat, or temple.

8. Double Punch (Dubeon Jirugi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Double Punch (Dubeon Jirugi)

Taekwondo practitioners are trained in various punching techniques, and the double punch involves executing two consecutive punches with one hand after the other. It is a rapid and sequential attack that can surprise opponents.

9. Turning Kick (Dollyo Chagi)

Techniques in Taekwondo - Turning Kick (Dollyo Chagi)

The turning kick is executed while rotating the supporting foot, allowing the practitioner to deliver a powerful kick with the back leg. This technique is commonly used for roundhouse kicks but can be adapted to various kicking styles.

Ranks in Taekwondo

The ranking system in Taekwondo serves as a structured framework to assess and acknowledge a practitioner's proficiency and experience within the martial art. 

The system employs a series of colored belts and a final black belt tier, each representing different stages of skill development and commitment to the discipline. Here is an overview of the ranks in Taekwondo:

A. White Belt (10th Geup)

The white belt is the starting point for all Taekwondo practitioners. It symbolizes purity and the beginning of the martial arts journey. White belt students focus on learning basic stances, blocks, and strikes.

B. Yellow Belt (9th and 8th Geup)

Progressing from the white belt, the yellow belt signifies the first steps in understanding the foundational techniques of Taekwondo. Students at this level continue to refine basic movements and start incorporating more complex patterns. The differences between 9th and 8th Geup is:

  • 9th Geup – White Belt with Yellow Stripe
  • 8th Geup – Yellow Belt

C. Green Belt (7th and 6th Geup)

The green belt represents growth and progress. Practitioners at this stage delve deeper into the intricacies of Taekwondo techniques, including advanced kicks, blocks, and strikes. The distinctions between the 7th and 6th Geup are:

  • 7th Geup – Yellow Belt with Green Stripe
  • 6th Geup – Green Belt

D. Blue Belt (5th and 4th Geup)

Symbolizing the sky, the blue belt represents the expanding knowledge and proficiency of the practitioner. Students focus on refining their techniques, improving speed and accuracy, and gaining a deeper understanding of the art's philosophy. The differences between 5th and 4th Geup is:

  • 5th Geup – Green Belt with Blue Stripe
  • 4th Geup – Blue Belt

E. Red Belt (3rd and 2nd Geup)

The purple belt signifies a higher level of expertise in Taekwondo. Practitioners at this stage have mastered a wide array of techniques and are now refining their skills with an emphasis on precision and fluidity in movements. The distinctions between the 3rd and 2nd Geup are:

  • 3rd Geup – Blue Belt with Red Stripe
  • 2nd Geup – Red Belt

F. Red Belt with Black Stripe (1st Geup)

The 1st Geup denotes advanced proficiency in Taekwondo. Red belt practitioners continue to hone their skills and demonstrate a high level of technical prowess.

G. Black Belt (1st Dan to 10th Dan)

Achieving the black belt is a significant milestone in a Taekwondo practitioner's journey. The black belt is not the end but rather the beginning of a new phase of learning and mastery. 

  • Dan Degrees

Within the black belt tier, practitioners can advance through multiple degrees (Dans), signifying their continued growth and dedication. The higher the Dan, the more advanced and experienced the practitioner is considered.

  • Master Levels

Beyond the initial black belt degrees, individuals can attain master levels, denoting exceptional skill, knowledge, and contributions to the art. Master levels are typically represented by higher Dan degrees, such as 4th Dan (Master) and 5th Dan (Grandmaster).

Benefits of Practicing Taekwondo

Taekwondo extends beyond its physical techniques and competitive nature, providing practitioners with a diverse range of benefits. It serves as an excellent full-body workout, enhancing cardiovascular health, flexibility, and strength. 

Additionally, Taekwondo equips individuals with practical self-defense skills, fostering the ability to protect oneself in real-life situations. The martial art's emphasis on rigorous training and a code of conduct instills discipline and focus, positively influencing various aspects of practitioners' lives. 

Furthermore, Taekwondo places a strong emphasis on character development, promoting values such as respect, integrity, perseverance, and an indomitable spirit, contributing to overall personal growth.


From the disciplined training regimen to the structured ranking system and the numerous physical and mental benefits, Taekwondo offers a holistic approach to personal development. Whether pursued for sport, self-defense, or personal growth, Taekwondo continues to captivate practitioners worldwide including young generations.

The numerous physical and mental benefits, coupled with the emphasis on character development and discipline, make Taekwondo an ideal choice for young learners. If you're considering enrolling your children into a Taekwondo program, look no further than Rockstar Academy. 

As the best Sports & Performing Arts Academy, they offer a top-notch MMA program that includes a wide range of Taekwondo Classes covering all the belts as well as Muay Thai & Poomsae. 

The program is also accompanied with competition events such as RockOlympics and Taekwondo Testing that provide students with a remarkable learning experience, allowing them to compete, surpass their limits, and relish the rewards of their hard work. 

To kick-start this incredible journey, Rockstar Academy welcomes interested individuals with a free trial class. Take the first step towards a fulfilling and empowering experience for your children by contacting Rockstar Academy today.


1. Is Taekwondo only about kicks?

While Taekwondo places a significant emphasis on kicking techniques, it also includes a variety of hand strikes, blocks, and stances.

2. At what age can someone start learning Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is suitable for people of all ages. Many schools offer classes for children as young as 4 or 5 years old, and there is no upper age limit.

3. How long does it take to earn a black belt in Taekwondo?

The time required to earn a black belt varies depending on factors such as training frequency, dedication, and individual progress. On average, it may take several years of consistent training.

4. Can I practice Taekwondo for self-defense purposes?

Yes, Taekwondo is an effective martial art for self-defense. It teaches practical techniques for protecting oneself in various situations.