What is Taekwondo?
Taekwondo is the Korean Art of self-defense. In literal translation, Tae means 'foot', Kwon means 'hand', and Do means 'method, or way'. The 'method of foot and hand'. Foot coming before hand because Taekwondo's major strength is in its kicking techniques. Do, when associated with the martial arts, means much more than method, it really means a way of life.
Origins of Taekwondo
The history of Taekwondo, like most other martial arts, is not totally known or understood. Taekwondo was founded by General Choi Hong Hi in the late 1940's. It was given the name of Taekwondo and was recognized as the Korean national martial art in 1955. This art has been developed from both the many martial arts that already existed in Korea, and Japanese Shotokan Karate.
The history of Korean martial arts dates back to over 1300 years ago. At the time, the country was divided into three kingdoms. The smallest of these kingdoms, Silla, was constantly harassed and invaded by the two larger kingdoms. The Silla kingdom fought back hard and was able to fend off the invasions. The kingdom was able to fight back mostly because of an elite warrior corps called the Hwa-rangdo. This corps not only trained themselves in weaponry, but also hand and foot fighting. This hand and foot fighting developed over the years into several different martial arts such as Hapkido, Tang Soo Do, Taek kyon, and Kuk Sool Won.
General Choi began studying Taek Kyon at the age of 15. In addition to studying Taek Kyon, he also studied Shotokan Karate while imprisoned in Japan and during the Japanese occupation of Korea. General Choi developed Taekwondo so Korea could have its own national martial art.
The color of the belt is an indication of the skill level of a Taekwondo student. Sometimes belts can be gained by winning competitions, the common way is by completing an exam.
Taekwondo uses a ranking system called 'Geup', meaning degree. In WTF Taekwondo there are 10 Geups. Once a Black Belt is attained, further progression is measured by "Dans", meaning phase.
White Belt (10th Geup)
The color white indicates that a person is "innocent", has no knowledge of the sport Taekwondo. The white-belt is automatically gained by taking Taekwondo classes.
Yellow Belt (8th Geup)
The color yellow indicates that the person is getting to know the basic techniques, this stadium is compared to a plant growing its roots.
Green Belt (6th Geup)
The color green indicates that a student is growing as a Taekwondo student. The color of the belt is compared to a plant growing its leafs.
Blue Belt (4th Geup)
The color blue indicates that a student is reaching higher, like a plant that is growing towards the sky.
Red Belt (2nd Geup)
The color red indicates danger. The student is warned to practice the control of his/her movements. The color red also warns an opponent.
Black Belt (1st dan)
Black is the opposite of white and means the maturity of the student in the art. It also is an indication of being impenetrable for fear and darkness.
A black-belt has to know all the aformentioned. There is also a special pattern for black-belts. The patterns follow the Poomse Taeguks as well as the Poomse Palgwes.
1st Dan - Poomse Taeguk 1-8
2st Dan - Poomse Koryo
3rd Dan - Poomse Keumgang
4th Dan - Poomse TaeBaek
5th Dan - Poomse Pyongwon
6th Dan - Poomse Sipjin