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Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do (or “TKD”) is a standup art, meaning most of it takes place while on your feet. It’s translation “the way of the foot and the fist” shows that it incorporates punching and kicking more than it does ground/grappling methods. (ground/grappling methods are similar to wrestling) As compared to Karate (a similar style to TKD), Tae Kwon Do generally involves more kicking while Karate is more punches. Keep in mind that there are many variations of TKD and Karate that may not fit this description.


Translation: Tae –“Foot”, Kwon –“Fist” Do – “Way”
Literal Translation: “The way of the foot and the fist”
Origin: Korea
Major Influences: Japanese Karate – because of its occupancy


Believed to have existed for more then 2000 years, Tae Kwon Do evolved to be known as Taekkyon by the 1300s. When Korea was invaded and occupied by Japan (1910 – 1945) the practice of Taekkyon was prohibited, so Koreans had to train in secrecy. At the conclusion of WWII, several “Kwans” (styles or schools) arose; therefore in 1955 they were united under one name – Tae Soo Do. Two years later the South Korean government adopted the name Tae Kwon Do because of its similarity to Taekkyon.


Korean Recognized Kwans

(A “kwan” can be a school or a style of Tae Kwon Do)

  • Chung Do Kwan: means “blue wave school”. Heavily influenced by the Japanese art Shotokan, which means “pine wave school”.
  • Moo Duk Kwan: One of the main schools of Korean martial arts at the end of Japanese occupancy, Moo Duk Kwan means “school of martial virtue”.
  • Yun Moo Kwan
  • Change Moo Kwan
  • Oh Do Kwan
  • Ji Do Kwan
  • Chi Do Kwan
  • Song Moo Kwan

TKD Associations

Currently, there are 3 main Tae Kwon Do associations to which most TKD schools belong:

A word of Caution

Due to TKD’s popularity, there are a lot of different types of TKD schools out there. While most of them are very upstanding and will give you an excellent education, be cautious of schools that seem to have an unusual number of blackbelts or promist you a timeframe to achieve your blackbelt. No one knows how long it will take you to achieve black belt status. Work hard, be patient and enjoy the journey.

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