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Last Updated On: May 30, 2019
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Taekwondo or Taekwon-Do ("tae" – leg, "kwon" – fist (hand), "do" – art) is a Korean martial art, the peculiar feature of which is the ability to use legs in the fight for punches and throws. Unlike other Korean martial arts, no weapons are used in taekwondo. It is believed that the human body itself is a very dangerous weapon.


World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was established on May 28, 1973. The headquarters of the federation is located in Seoul (Korea).

History of Taekwondo

The history of Korean martial arts dates back more than 2,000 years. Taekwondo is the youngest of them.

Three kingdoms, including Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje, were located within the territory of the Korean Peninsula. In addition to hostility among themselves, these kingdoms still responded to attacks of external aggressors. That’s why they had to constantly improve their martial arts.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Korea was under Japanese rule, and Korean martial artists had to go underground. After the liberation of Korea from the Japanese occupation in 1945, martial arts began to emerge from the underground. But this period took its toll, some techniques stood the test of time, but the spiritual and philosophical tradition was lost. There were many gyms, and the number of instructors teaching different types of martial arts multiplied as well, but few of them seriously knew the history of their school and could explain the content part of its tradition. After the 1950–1953 war was over, there were a lot of schools in Korea that practiced martial arts with a variety of names, including taesudo, subak, subak-do, kwonbop, taegong, tansudo, taekwonbop and so on. Until the early 1960s, the state didn’t interfere in their activities. When the President Park Chung-hee came to power, there was a turning point in the state policy on this issue. During this period, the desire to put the martial arts in the service of the regime occurred for the first time. They wanted to create a single system of martial arts, which would be under control of the state, in contrast to isolated movements.

Official recognition of taekwondo was achieved only in 1955. Afterward, it began its way to the sports arenas of the whole world. Taekwondo gained incredible popularity around the world in such a short period of time. Nowadays, more than 40 million people choose to do this sport.

Taekwondo rules (WTF)

  • A match consists of three three-minute rounds with a one-minute break. In case of children up to 14 years old, there are three two-minute rounds with a thirty-second break (reduction to two rounds is possible).
  • Athletes who have been trained in a sparring technique for at least three months are allowed to compete.
  • Athletes are divided according to age, weight category, and gender.
  • The age of competitors is determined by the year of birth (rarely, by the date of birth).
  • Participants are weighed on the day before the start of the competition. A participant who was weighed once and didn’t pass the weighing for the first time is entitled to another weighing within the official weighing time.
  • Fist techniques are performed using the front outer part of the index and middle fingers of a tightly clenched fist.
  • Leg techniques are performed using the part of the leg below the ankle bone.
  • One point is scored for the efficient punch or kick into the body. 3 points are scored for the punch or kick into the head.
  • It is permitted to punch and kick the area covered by a protective vest. However, punching and kicking the spine is prohibited. It is allowed to hit the front of the face, except for the back of the head (kicks should be performed only with legs and feet).
  • Athletes may be given penalty points; if they receive four penalty points, they will be disqualified.

taekwondo rules


  • Win by knockout.
  • Win by the termination of the match by the Referee or the Doctor.
  • Win by score or preference.
  • Win by non-appearance.
  • Win by disqualification.
  • Win by penalties announced by the Referee.

Taekwondo competition area

The competition area should be 10 meters by 10 meters, have a flat surface and be covered with elastic pads.

The competition area can be installed on the platform 0.5 to 0.6 meters high from the base. The outer part of the border (beyond the limiting line) should have a slope of fewer than 30 degrees to ensure the safety of competitors.

taekwondo competition area

Taekwondo Equipment

Equipment for taekwondo:

  • protective vest,
  • helmet,
  • cup protector,
  • forearm and calf protectors,
  • gloves and mouthpieces before entering the competition area.

The cup protector, forearm and calf protectors should be put on under the Taekwondo suit. It is allowed to use only protective equipment, gloves and a mouthpiece for his (her) personal use that were approved by WTF. All other types of protective helmets for the head are prohibited (except for WTF approved helmets).


  • The referee must announce "Sichak!", "Kyman!", "Kalyo!", "Kesok!", "Shigan!" and "Kesi!", the winner and loser, penalty points, warnings, and other penalties.
  • Referees.
  • Referees (2 or 3) count the points.
  • Technical assistant monitors the scoreboard during the match, the accuracy of points, penalties and time, and immediately notifies the referee of any problems related to the match.

Belt system in taekwondo

In taekwondo, belts are conventionally divided into "color" (including white) and "black". It is customary to adhere to the following classification:

  • 10 geup – white belt
  • 9 geup – white belt with yellow stripe
  • 8 geup – yellow belt
  • 7 geup – yellow belt with green stripe
  • 6 geup – green belt
  • 5 geup – green belt with blue stripe
  • 4 geup – blue belt
  • 3 geup – blue belt with red stripe
  • 2 geup – red belt
  • 1 geup – red belt with black stripe
  • black belt

Black belts have their own levels – dans. In total, there are 9 dans in taekwondo. The holder of a red belt with a black stripe (1 geup) must keep training for at least six months before s/he can get the 1st dan. Everyone can get a black belt (1st dan) in 2.5 – 4 years, depending on the abilities, frequency of training and frequency of certifying.


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