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Milad Kharchegani at the 2016 Summer Olympics.jpg
Taekwondo Competition -
2016 Summer Olympic Games
Korean alphabet : 태권도
Hanja : 跆拳道
Revised Romanization : Taegwondo
McCune-Reischauer : T'aekwŏndo
Lettering "Taekwondo" in Hangeul

Taekwondo ( Korean 태권도 , including Tae Kwon Do or Taekwon-Do , shortly TKD ) is a Korean martial art ( English Korean martial arts , short KMA), often called the martial arts is exercised. The three syllables of the name stand for foot technique (tae) , hand technique (kwon) and way (do) . Although Taekwondo is very similar to other Asian martial arts, it differs from them in a number of important ways. The Taekwondo technique is designed for speed and dynamism, which is not least due to the competition. In Taekwondo, foot techniques dominate more clearly than in comparable martial arts.


Training fight with the US Air Force

The word Taekwondo is made up of the three Sinocorean syllables tae , kwon and do and can be interpreted as "The way of foot and fistfight" or as "The Dao of foot and fist technique".

General MR RR Hangeul Hanja comment
Tae Tae Tae literally means "trample", "step on something", depending on the context here for "foot techniques"
Kwon Kwon Gwon literally means "fist", depending on the context here for "hand and arm techniques"
do do do literally means "way", "path" - correspondingly "way" is to be understood as a method or goal striving, depending on the context here for "teaching", "school" - a "direction of thought"

Taekwondo developed from Japanese karate after the Japanese rule in Korea , which lasted until 1945 . (See " Tang Soo Do ", also "Tangsoodo") The similarities, for example in terms of techniques and form, are so great that Taekwondo can be seen as a karate style. The term Taekwondo first appeared in 1955 and was developed by General Choi Hong-hi (ITF) under the influence of Shotokan Karate. Taekwondo substyles later emerged. Worldwide there are mainly three Taekwondo styles (ITF traditional, ITF reformed and WT), which differ in the way they are exercised ( Hyeong , Tul and Pumsae ) and in the sporting fight. The ban on hitting the head with a fist was added to the Olympic competition system.


Taekwondo as a modern sport is divided into individual disciplines. Depending on the club or school, the training focuses differently.

Athlete in a break test
  • Elementary school ( Gibon Yeonseup ): practicing individual movements and techniques by repeating several times, without opponents.
  • Form run ( Teul , Hyeong , Pumsae - Taegeuk / Palgue ): specified techniques are carried out in a given order.
  • One- step fight ( Hanbon Gyeorugi , Ilbo Matsogi , Ilbo Daeryeon ): A practice fight with a fixed sequence of techniques against an opponent. In addition to the one-step fight , there is also the two- and three-step fight ( Ibo or Sambo Matsogi , Ibo or Sambo Daeryeon ); they are rather of secondary importance.
  • Break test ( Gyeokpa ): Destroying wooden boards, bricks or other materials using Taekwondo techniques.
  • Free fight ( Daeryeon , Matsogi or Gyeorugi ): Free Exercise fight against an opponent, often without contact.
  • Competition ( Chayu Matsogi ): light, semi or full contact fight against an opponent.
  • Self-Defense ( Hosinsul ): Self-defense against one or more unarmed or armed opponents .
  • Gymnastics ( Dosu Dallyon )
  • Theory ( ilon )


Through continuous training and conscious practice of these disciplines, the Taekwondoin , as a Taekwondo practitioner is called, should train his mind. General Choi Hong-hi, the founder of the original Taekwondo, has summarized this in five goals to be achieved, which are considered the "principles of Taekwondo":

  1. Ye-Ui , the courtesy
  2. Yom-Chi , the integrity
  3. In-nae , perseverance, patience
  4. Guk-Gi , self-discipline
  5. Beakjul-bool-gul , the invincibility

To achieve these goals, Choi Hong-hi made an oath to which all Taekwondo students should feel obliged:

  • I undertake to adhere to the principles of Taekwondo
  • I am committed to respecting my trainer and all senior officials
  • I am committed to never abusing Taekwondo
  • I am committed to advocating freedom and justice
  • I am committed to working to create a more peaceful world

Theory of force according to Choi Hong-hi

In order to achieve the necessary power and the associated resounding effect with a Taekwondo technique, the Taekwondoin makes use of certain physical principles. Choi Hong-hi called his knowledge of these physical laws “theory of force” , whereby in Taekwondo the term “force” is used synonymously with physical force and the physically related terms pressure (physics) and impulse . The "theory of force" consists of:

  • Concentration : To let the entire force act on the smallest possible area at the exact moment of the strike. Large area = small force, small area = large force.
  • Reaction force: Opposing force plus own force = force that acts on the opponent.
  • Balance : Attack becomes more effective and defense becomes more stable when the body is in balance.
  • Breathing control : Your own impact and protection of your own body are increased by tensing your abdominal muscles (exhaling and pressing) at the moment of the blow.
  • Speed : The greater the speed , the greater the effective force.
  • Mass : The greater the mass involved in the blow (hip and entire body, not just the part of the body that is hitting or kicking), the greater the effective force.



As in many countries that gave birth to martial arts, there is an ancient tradition of martial arts in Korea. Korea can look back on an independent martial arts tradition that is around one and a half millennia old, but there is no direct influence of them on Taekwondo, which emerged from Japanese karate only after 1945 . The occasional claim that Taekwondo comes from the legendary founder of the state Dangun and is thus ultimately over 4000 years old has no historical basis.

After 1910, Greater Korea was annexed by Japan . Everything that constituted the culture and history of Korea was systematically suppressed and banned. This also applied to traditional Korean forms of fighting such as Taekgyeon and Ssireum . The Japanese colonial rulers brought martial arts such as jiu jitsu , kendo , judo and karate from home. During the Korean occupation, the Japanese dispersed gatherings of more than ten Koreans with their whips. Martial arts, however, have traditionally been a social activity in Korea. Unlike in Japan, there were no forms either, so training alone was not common. How u. a. Song Dok-ki narrated for the Taekgyeon, competitions always played an important role. So, while there was no direct ban on martial arts or martial arts, the ban on gathering naturally hit Taekgyeon, Ssireum, and Gungsul just like all other Korean traditions, so that they were nearly wiped out.

The five original styles

After Korea's independence in 1945, Koreans who had learned Japanese karate in Japan and Manchuria returned to their homeland . They opened the five original martial arts schools that would later become Taekwondo. The names of these schools all ended in Kwan , which literally means “hall”.

  • Lee Won-Kuk had learned Shōtōkan Karate from Gichin Funakoshi and began to teach Dangsudo in his school, the Cheongdo-Kwan ("Hall of the True Path " - 청도 관 ; 靑 濤 館 ) in Seoul as early as 1944 . Lee fled to Japan for political reasons in 1953 and emigrated to the USA in 1976.
  • Hwang Ki probably learned karate from 1936 in Manchuria, which was also occupied by Japanese , even if he later passed the style off as a Chinese one (see the origin of karate ). In 1945 he founded the Moo Duk Kwan ("Hall of Martial Virtues" - 무덕 관 ; 武德 館 ) in Seoul . At first he also called his style Dangsudo , later, in Korea, Subakdo (mostly written Soo Bahk Do ) - 수박도 , 手 搏 道 . At the international level he kept the name Dangsudo (mostly written as “ Tang Soo Do ”, also “Tangsoodo”, TSD for short), under which his style is still practiced today, especially in the USA. Hwang Ki's martial arts school is now officially called Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan internationally, as in Korea and the USA .
  • Chun Sang-Sup had learned judo and karate while studying in Japan and in 1946 joined the Yeonmu-Kwan to the greatest Seoul judo school, where he alongside Judo also Gongsudo or Kongsoodo ( Jap. Karatedo ) taught. Chun is believed to have been lost in the Korean War . His students then changed the school name to Jido-Kwan ("path of wisdom" - 지도관 ; 智 道 館 ).
  • Yoon Byung-In returned as the highest ranking Korean Karateka from Japan, where he had achieved the 5th Dan in Shudokan Karate with Kanken Toyama (founder of the Shudokan style - 修道 舘 ) . He should in Manchuria also Kwŏnbŏp ( 권법 , 拳法 ; Sino-Korean pronunciation of the Chinese term " 拳法Quánfǎ ", also known as Japanese pronunciation " Kenpō ", literally "own doctrine fist method") have learned.
    Also in 1946 he founded the Changmu-Kwan in the YMCA in Seoul and called his style (presumably for political, that is anti-Japanese reasons) Kwon-Bop (literally "fist theory, fist method"). Yoon was probably abducted to North Korea during the Korean War .
  • Ro Byung-Jik had learned Shōtōkan karate from Gichin Funakoshi together with Lee Won-Kuk and was 1st Dan on his return. His first school - Song Moo Kwan - 송 무관 ; 松 武館 - he founded in Kaesŏng in what is now North Korea before independence , but due to lack of success, he moved to Seoul in 1946 and opened the song Mu Kwan - 송 무관 ; 松 武館 (derived from " Song Do Kwan “, the Korean pronunciation of the Japanese Shōtōkan - 松濤 館 ).

All of them initially called their style Dangsudo (Tangsoodo), "path of the ( Dang ) China hand", later after the process of the Meiji restoration as Gongsudo (Kongsoodo) - "path of the empty hand". In both cases it is the Korean pronunciation of what is read as karatedo after the Japanese pronunciation . In the early 20th century in the 1930s, after the time of the Meiji restoration in Imperial Japan, the word “karate” experienced a change in interpretation and meaning from “(Dang) China hand” to “empty hand” for reasons of nationalism in Japan (see Gichin Funakoshi , Nationalism ). In these five first Taekwondo schools in Seoul, one or the other type of karate was originally trained, and it was introduced to foreigners as "Korean Karate" until the 1960s. However, there were different standards for Dan exams between schools.

The 1950s

Even before the Korean War (1950–1953) there had been initial talks about a possible umbrella organization, but it was only during the war that the Kwan representatives in Busan agreed on the Korean Gongsudo Association . This first association disintegrated after just a few months because Hwang Ki single-handedly founded the Korean Dangsudo Association in Seoul , whereupon Son Duk-sung also left the Gongsudo Association . Son Duk-sung had meanwhile taken over the management of Cheongdo-Kwan , at that time the largest civil martial arts school.

Shortly after the war, Major General Choi Hong-hi succeeded in influencing the leadership of Cheongdo-Kwan through his students ; he himself became an honorary Kwan boss. Choi had attained the 1st or 2nd dan in karate in Japan in the early 1940s, depending on the source, before joining the Japanese army after Korea's independence. At every opportunity he trained his subordinates and colleagues in karate and met the highly talented Nam Tae-hi, who had learned dangsudo in Cheongdo-Kwan and immediately became Choi's right-hand man. Nam Tae-hi impressed Korea’s President Syngman Rhee so much during a demonstration in 1952 with a roof tile break test that he ordered gongsudo training for all soldiers. To this end, Choi and Nam founded the military -internal Odo-Kwan ("My Way") in 1953 , which over time became the most influential martial arts school, because sooner or later every young Korean had to pass the military. Thus the situation for the other Kwan worsened, because initially only the Dan grades of the Choi-submissive Cheongdo-Kwan were recognized in the military .

In the later 1950s, the situation came to a head in a power struggle between Hwang Ki and Choi Hong-hi. Hwang several organized Dangsudo -Vorführungen and tried to make his style on his pupils in the military known. 1955 organized Choi with support from the government a commission again over a union of various Gongsudo negotiated investment styles. This commission did not include all affected Kwan, but consisted of representatives of the Cheongdo-Kwan , the Odo-Kwan , the military and the government. On this occasion, on April 11, 1955, Choi Hong-hi created the name "Taekwondo", a name that, when pronounced snappy, was intended to be reminiscent of the traditional Taekgyeon, even if there was no contextual relationship to it. This name was not used outside of Choi's sphere of influence, i.e. the Cheongdo-Kwan and the Odo-Kwan , until the 1960s .

Hwang Ki also created a new name for his style after he rediscovered the old book “Muye Dobo Tongji” (for example “Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts”) from around 1790 and translated it into modern Korean: Subakdo , for example “Way of the beating hand ". In addition, he kept the name Dangsudo for his international endeavors, under which he initially organized local demonstrations and from the 1960s on international tournaments.

With the support of the Rhee government, Choi organized the foundation of the first Korean Taekwondo Association in 1959 and became its first president. Hwang Ki and others advocated the name Dangsudo , but thanks to his military authority, Choi prevailed.

The 1960s

Choi's power base collapsed in the course of the student revolution on April 19, 1960, as did the newly founded but not yet officially registered Taekwondo Association . Hwang Ki seized the opportunity: with the help of good political contacts in the ministry, he quickly succeeded in registering his own association, which he renamed the Korean Subakdo Association . So the way for Taekwondo was initially blocked, because registering a second association for the same sport was not possible.

On May 16, 1961, General Park Chung-hee staged a coup , and shortly thereafter, Decree No. 6 reorganized the Dangsudo / Gongsudo / Subakdo registration. This could have been the great hour of General Choi Hong-hi, but there were differences between the two military leaders and Choi was deported as ambassador to Malaysia . Korean Taekwondo development took place without Choi for the next four years. In exile he developed his Hyeong system (see below, " Forms ") and continued his efforts to make Taekwondo known internationally, for example among the US troops in Vietnam .

In September 1961, the Korean Taesudo Association ( Korean Taesoodo Association , or KTA for short) was founded, whereby the new name “Taesudo” (for example “Step-Hand-Way”) was agreed as a compromise between Dangsudo, Subakdo and Taekwondo . Uniform examination and competition rules were developed and show teams were sent abroad.

Korean Taekwondo Association: Choi Hong-hi returned to Korea in 1965 and was immediately elected as the new KTA President. He immediately changed the name of the art to Taekwondo - allegedly the name change was passed with a majority of one vote - and accelerated efforts towards internationalization. So Taekwondo came to Germany and in 1967 led to the founding of the German Taekwondo Association with the organization of the 1st German Taekwondo Championship. Hwang Kis Moo Duk Kwan split over the dispute over whether or not to follow Choi's KTA, and many of his students joined the KTA. Hwang Ki himself remained independent from the KTA and later founded various Dangsudo associations abroad, particularly in the USA.

Founding of the ITF: The permanent dispute between KTA President Choi and the other Kwan leaders led to Choi being forced to step down a year later and, in return, to found his own association, the International Taekwon-Do Federation , short ITF, pledged. It was carried out on March 22, 1966 in Seoul with the founding countries Arabia, Germany (West), Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, the USA and Vietnam. The first and only President until his death was Choi Hong-hi.

In the following years the conflict between the KTA and the ITF grew, so that the KTA developed its own forms, the Pumsae (first eight Palgwe, then eight Taegeuk) and the nine Yudanja (Korean pronunciation of the Japanese "Yudansha" , see below, "Form run").

The 1970s

In 1971 Kim Un-Yong was elected 6th KTA President. In the same year, South Korean President Park Chung-hee ran for re-election and, seeing a crisis coming, declared a national emergency at the end of the year . Even before that, he discovered Taekwondo as a national educational tool and on March 20, 1971 personally made a calligraphy with which he declared Taekwondo to be a Korean national sport ( Gukki Taekwondo , about "national treasure Taekwondo"). In the same year, the foundation stone of the Kukkiwon (about "exercise site of the national treasure"), the "World Taekwondo Headquarters" (so the official title), which was completed in 1972, took place. The president was also Kim Un-yong.

Separation of the associations in WT and ITF: In the same year Choi Hong-hi left South Korea, probably because of association disputes . He moved the ITF headquarters to Toronto , Canada, and began reforming his Taekwon-Do. As a result, the World Taekwondo , WT for short, was founded on May 28, 1973 in the course of the first Taekwondo World Championship in Kukkiwon , based in Seoul . Here too, Kim Un-Yong became president. KTA, WT and Kukkiwon are now working hand in hand with the support of the park government to dissolve the various Taekwondo schools (Kwan) in South Korea in order to implement a uniform Taekwondo system. Hwang Ki won various lawsuits against it, but the pressure on him and his school grew until he finally gave in and moved to the USA in 1974. In 1976 the still existing Kwan were replaced by numbers and two years later completely dissolved.

On the way to becoming an Olympic sport

Olympic Taekwondo Pictogram

The later 1970s and 1980s were shaped by the conflict between the two world Taekwondo associations and their presidents Choi Hong-hi and Kim Un-Yong. Kim was able to rely on the massive support of his government, and so he finally succeeded in 1980 the recognition of the WT as a world association Taekwondo by the IOC . At the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988 and in Barcelona in 1992 , WT Taekwondo was approved as a demonstration competition, and since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney it has been a fully fledged Olympic discipline.

End of the era of Choi and Kim

Choi went a different way and visited North Korea with a team in 1981, where ITF Taekwondo has been practiced since then. He was immediately accused of treason in South Korea. To this day, his name has been largely concealed there, and his achievements as the "father of Taekwondo" are not recognized. He died on January 20, 2002 in North Korea, Hwang Ki also in South Korea in 2002, and Kim Un-yong was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment for corruption and embezzlement in June 2004, from which he was released in late June 2005 as part of a general amnesty. Kim Un-yong died on October 3, 2017.

Associations and Organizations


Taekwondo is split up into many associations both nationally and internationally; However, two dominant organizations can be identified: the two world associations ITF ( International Taekwon-Do Federation , founded in 1966) and WT ( World Taekwondo , founded in 1973). In Germany, the German Taekwondo Union (DTU) is affiliated with the World Association of WT. The DTU is affiliated with the German Olympic Sports Confederation and is thus the official Taekwondo Association in Germany.

In addition, there are many independent schools that are more or less based on the association styles or are based on the “traditional” Taekwondo style, as it was originally developed by General Choi Hong-hi in the 1950s and 1960s. An example of this is the “Traditional Taekwondo” according to Kwon Jae-hwa , which differs significantly from the “modern” Taekwondo of the DTU, ITF and WT, especially because it does not use protective equipment during competitions. Contactless combat is practiced, punches and kicks are stopped shortly before the opponent.

The two largest associations: ITF and WT

The ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) was founded on March 22nd, 1966 in Seoul. Founding members were the national associations of Arabia, Germany, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, the USA and Vietnam. Choi Hong-hi became the first president of the ITF, and held that office until his death in 2002. In the following years numerous new regional associations were added. The ITF currently has over 100 national associations and the number of students in the millions. Two years after the ITF moved its headquarters to Toronto (1972), the first ITF TKD World Championships were held. The ITF is based in Vienna after its founder, General Choi Hong-hi, emigrated to Canada and relocated the ITF's headquarters to Toronto and then to Vienna in 1985.

The WT ( World Taekwondo ) is based in Seoul ( South Korea ), the founder is Kim Un-Yong. It was founded in 1973 in response to General Choi's emigration and the parallel relocation of ITF headquarters. The reason for this was that Taekwondo, as a Korean national sport, should definitely have its headquarters in Korea. The Olympic Taekwondo takes place under the umbrella of the WT, therefore participation in the Olympic Games is only possible as a member of the WT. The WT has 191 (as of April 2010) national associations with over 30 million members.

Style differences

For association-political reasons, different styles have developed in Taekwondo, also because the major world associations are developing in a targeted manner: Above all, the WT tries to make the sport more popular and thus the competitions more attractive. In contrast, the traditional schools rely on the traditional, which they want to preserve. The styles therefore differ mainly in the forms, in the naming of the techniques and in the type of competition. The techniques themselves are basically the same. There are obvious differences in body movement: In the more traditional Taekwondo schools, movements, similar to karate, are mostly carried out between positions with a lower and wider stance. The body's center of gravity is kept low and if possible moved in one line. The more modern, competition-oriented directions went to higher classes. The body is moved significantly more up and down between individual positions in the mold. In addition, various grandmasters also slightly influence the respective style, which means that all subordinate schools adopt this style. This applies above all to certain techniques and here in particular to the respective movement sequence. Some grandmasters demand soft, flowing movements, others angular, dynamic movements. The speed of execution of the respective technology also often differs.

Essentially, three main styles can be identified: traditional ITF Taekwondo, as it was originally practiced in the early years; the reformed ITF Taekwondo, as it was developed by Choi Hong-hi after 1972 from traditional Taekwondo; WT Taekwondo, which emerged from traditional Taekwondo after 1973. Most associations, schools and clubs, at least in Germany, can be assigned to one of these three styles in terms of their way of practicing sport.


The spelling of the term Taekwondo was even used to distinguish it. Traditionally it is called "Taekwon-Do"; The ITF has kept this spelling. The WT writes the name "Taekwondo". Some schools separate the syllables completely and write "Tae-Kwon-Do". The official transcription of the term 태권도 is "Taegwondo" in South Korea ( Revised Romanization ) and "T'aekwŏndo" ( McCune-Reischauer - Romanization ) in North Korea; however, these spellings are practically never used.

Techniques are also sometimes named differently, although they are carried out in the same way. The main result of this is that the translation of the Korean spellings into Western scripts is not entirely clear. Therefore, such terms can differ from each other (compare Taekwondo terms ).

Mold run

Forms (English: Patterns ) are defined sequences of steps and techniques. They resemble a fight against imaginary opponents and are primarily used to automate sequences of movements and train suitable breathing techniques.

The historical background is alleged that in the past it would have been far too dangerous to have a training match against a real opponent - in the event of injury or death this would have led to considerable economic problems (labor in agriculture) and corresponding acts of revenge by the victim's family. There are other theories about the origins of forms that have developed in all Asian types of fighting and in a wide variety of cultural contexts.

A distinction is made between the specified forms of movement

  • Pumsae (Taegeuk / Palge and Yudanja)
  • Hyeong (the traditional forms, compiled by Choi Hong-hi)
  • Teul (later developed from the Hyeong by Choi Hong-hi, see there)
Designation, name and relevance of the form
Association: WT z. B. ITF Relevant for:
number Pumsae 1/3 Hyeong / Teul 2
1 Il jang 4 Cheon-ji 8. Kup
2 I ak 4 Dan gun 7. Kup
3 Sam jang 4 Thu-San 6. Kup
4th Sa yang 4 Won-hyo 5. Kup
5 Oh ak 4 Yul-Gok 4. Kup
6th Yuk jang 4 Jung-Geun 3. Kup
7th Chil ak 4 Toi-gye 2. Kup
8th Pal jang 4 Hwa rank 1. Kup
9 Koryo Chung-mu 1st Dan
10 Dealing Gwang-Gae
2nd Dan
11 Taebaek Eui-Am
Go-Dang - new: Juche
3rd Dan
12 Pyongwon + Sipjin Sam-Il
4th Dan
13 Jitae + Chonkwon Yeon-Gae
5th Dan
14th Hansu + Ileyo Seo-San
6th Dan

1) The first eight forms have no names of their own, but rather the name Taeguk as a whole. The names of the individual forms Il Jang to Pal Jang merely represent a numbering in Sinocorean counting. Parallel to the Taeguk school there is also a Palgue school, also with the forms Il Jang to Pal Jang. From the 1st Dan the forms are neither called Palgue nor Taeguk, but each form has its own name. The generic term for the forms of Palgue, Taeguk, and the individually named forms from the 1st Dan onwards, which are collectively called 'Yudanja', is Pumsae .
2) There are traditionally 20 hyeongs. Then the 20 Hyeongs were supplemented by another 4 Hyeongs in order to have 24 Hyeongs symbolically for the 24 hours a day. The Hyeong Tong-Il was the 20th Hyeong and then became the 24th Hyong as it stands for the reunification of Korea. When General Choi began to modify the Hyeongs, and even developed another form to exchange for another, he renamed the Hyeongs Teul. To compare the traditional order of the Hyeongs with the order of the Teul, see this list .
3) As at: 2008.
4) Depending on the form school, the full name of these forms is '<Form school> <Number> Jang', e.g. B. 'Taeguk Pal Jang' or 'Palgue Sa Jang'.

In addition to these forms, there is the “four-sided elementary school” (Sajojirugi), which contains two techniques that are carried out in four directions. These techniques are usually the first to learn (Apkubi-araemakki and Momtong-chongwon-chirugi).


Taekwondo has developed from a Korean popular sport with its spread throughout the world, the staging of international competitions and the inclusion in the program of the Olympic Games into a modern competitive sport. According to the WT, more than 40 million athletes worldwide have been practicing dynamic full contact competitive sport, and the trend has been increasing since it was officially recognized as an Olympic in Sydney in 2000.

Military World Championships ( CISM ) in full contact competition (WT) also take place regularly .

The competition (free fight) takes place on a demarcated field and is judged by several judges, led by a referee. The competition lasts for a few minutes (Olympic three rounds of two minutes each with a one-minute break) in which the participants must try to hit the opponent using Taekwondo techniques (full contact). Depending on the body part hit (two points on the torso and 3 points on the head), points are awarded, an additional point is given for turning techniques, and penalties (point deductions) can be given for unsportsmanlike behavior. However, the competition can also be decided by a knockout. The exact fight regulations differ from association to association, but can usually be viewed on the associations' websites (see web links, below). The Olympic competitions take place in four of the otherwise usual eight weight classes for men and women according to the internationally valid competition rules of the WT. In full contact, the competitors wear precisely prescribed protective equipment (head protection, shin and elbow guards, groin guards, mouthguards, breastplates).

As a consequence of the strong competition orientation in the Olympic sport, the focus is on techniques and combinations that bring hit points in competition according to the competition rules. In contrast, the traditional schools focus on Taekwondo without competitive pressure and therefore practice the entire spectrum of techniques. Nevertheless, free fights (mostly light or semi-contact) take place here too. Here, however, the correct and aesthetic execution of the technique (s) are more important than the impact.

In addition to the free fight, form tournaments are also held, but this competitive discipline is not Olympic.


Style / association Shape designation competition
WT (Olympic) Pumsae Full contact with (soft) helmet, protective vest, mouthguard, groin guard, hand guards, forearm and shin guards and, depending on the age group, also with instep protection. The focus is on foot techniques for the body and head. Hand techniques to the head are not allowed due to the increased risk of injury, only fist techniques to the trunk. Deep foot techniques (on the legs) are prohibited.
ITF Devil Light contact with head, hand and foot protection, mouth protection and groin protection. Foot techniques in all variants and combinations are combined with real fistfighting techniques, including punching techniques to the head.
"traditionally" Hyeong Without contact or only light contact, no protection. With a few potentially very dangerous exceptions (for example the edge of the hand against the neck), all regular Taekwondo techniques are allowed. You may not touch the opponent, or only touch it lightly.

Taekwondo in Germany

Brief history

Taekwondo was also spread in German-speaking countries from 1965 by the grandmasters Choi Hong-hi and Kwon Jae-hwa (this work was later supported and continued by many other Korean grandmasters, some of whom are still based in Germany today). The longstanding DTU national trainer Park Soo-nam from Stuttgart deserves special mention , under whose direction Germany became European champions without interruption (1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984) and produced numerous medals at world level, as well as his predecessor Shin Boo-Young , was the German national coach from 1972 to 1975. Among other things, the German team won gold twice, in 1979 from Rainer Müller and 1982 from Dirk Jung , and twice bronze in Korea at the first Olympic TKD competitions in 1988 in Seoul from Markus Woznicki (European champion 1988) and Michael Arndt (world champion 1987).

The first German championships took place in Munich in 1967 . Germany's first World Cup participants won silver in Korea in 1973 from Armando Chavero and bronze from Georg Karrenberg (both lightweight). Also in Korea, Wolfgang Dahmen (featherweight) and Meinolf Lüttecken (heavyweight), as well as Hubert Leuchter (bantamweight), bronze medals in 1975 .

The first national trainer of the Taekwondo section in the German Judo Association (DJB) was Kwon Jae-hwa in 1972 , who replaced Kim Kwang-Il , who was initially temporarily employed . In the GDR, Taekwondo was officially recognized as a martial art only after 1988 and, under Gerhard Lehmann , was incorporated into the German Judo Association together with karate .

The German Taekwondo Union eV

The German Taekwondo Union (DTU) was founded in 1981 and emerged from the Taekwondo section of the German Judo Association. The DTU is a member of World Taekwondo Europe (WTE) and the world umbrella organization WT. This means that the DTU is the only association recognized by the German Olympic Sports Confederation and authorized to send athletes to the Olympic Games. Today more than 58,000 active people train in the DTU, which practice the sport in around 850 clubs. 18 regional associations belong to the DTU.

Other Taekwondo associations

The ITF-D, based in Cologne, is a German national association. It is affiliated with their European and international association. Walter Komorowski (7th Dan ) has been president since 2007  . For 17 years (1989–2007), Paul Weiler (8th Dan) played a key role as president in building up the association and the association structures, after he had taken over the ITF-D from his predecessor Lee, Ky-Yung. The origin of this association in Germany goes back to 1966. The structures have been adopted in numerous European countries. Today Paul Weiler is Vice President in one of the world associations.

Another German association is the International Taekwon-Do Federation-Germany (ITF-G) headquartered in Marburg under the presidency of Andreas Granzow (8th Dan) and Vice President Bruno Newel (7th Dan). ITF-Germany is the official German representative of the International Taekwon-Do Federation in Vienna and, in cooperation with NWTV, represents a member representation of the ITF in Germany. ITF-Germany e. V. was established in 2011 and is a member of the European EITF.

The NAG, based in Gladbeck, is another German association that was created by splitting off from the ITF-D. It is directed by Dario Fimiani (4th Dan). The reason for the split was the desired collaboration with Choi Jeong-hwa (the son of Choi Hong-hi) and his association.

Olympic Taekwondo competition

Since 2003 the Taekwondo Bundesliga has been taking place in Germany within the DTU, which determines the German Taekwondo team champion in free combat (Olympic discipline) and brings the sport closer to a broader audience at the regional level. At the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, Germany won a silver medal for the first time through Faissal Ebnoutalib (men -80 kg). Former sports soldier and three-time world champion (2 × CISM and 1995 World Championships) Aziz Acharki took 5th place (men -68 kg), and Fadime Helvacioglu (women -49 kg) was eliminated early in the women's preliminary matches.

At the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore for the first time, Antonia Katheder won a silver medal (girls –63 kg) and Ibrahim Ahmadsei a silver medal (boys +73 kg) for Germany. Both were looked after by national coach Holger Wunderlich.

In 2003 the WT World Championship took place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen . Around 1000 participants from over 100 countries took part. Germany won a total of three medals: silver for Mohamed Ebnoutalib, bronze each for Thucuc Pham and CISM gold medalist Erdal Aylanc. After the World Cup in Sindelfingen in 1979, another Taekwondo World Cup was held in Germany after 24 years.

European championships have been held since 1976 (Barcelona) and usually take place every two years, alternating with the WT world championships. After 1978 (Munich) and 1984 ( Stuttgart ), another European championship was held in Germany in 2006 in Bonn .


Young athlete doing stretching training in his Dobok

The combat suit (Dobok) is a suit made of light, white-bleached fabric, which consists of a kind of jacket (Sang-I), pants (Hang-I) and belt ( Ty ). It is hard-wearing, allows all movements and withstands light to medium tears. Protective equipment for the competition may be added to the basic clothing (see above). Any form of jewelry (rings, necklaces / anklets, bracelets, watches and large earrings) must be removed before training because of the risk of injury.

The feet are left bare. There are exceptions for athletes with foot injuries or the like, if necessary you should ask the teacher. There are special Taekwondo shoes, but they should only be worn on special occasions (demonstrations or training outdoors).

Top and pants

The top should cover the buttocks, its sleeves reach at least half of the forearm and at most to the wrists. Black border and black lapels are only permitted for Dan wearers. In traditional Taekwon-Do, the top is similar to a jacket as in judo and karate, but in the competition-oriented variants it is closed on the front so that it can be pulled over the head.

The pants are made in such a way that a lateral split is possible. It reaches at least half the calf.

Association badges and prints can also be attached to the jacket and / or trousers, which is regulated by the clothing regulations of the respective associations and schools.

A (hard-wearing) tracksuit is also permitted for trial training. However, when joining an association, the student must purchase a Dobok. Wearing the Dobok is supposed to make the students become a unit, so deviations from the dress code are undesirable.

In Taekwondo, the white dobok and the white belt also have a symbolic character. The color white is pure and can easily take on all other colors. It is like a blank slate, completely empty. A student in a white Dobok can be compared to an empty glass into which new knowledge from the masters is slowly being poured. The student should "soak up" this knowledge and ability, process it, and then put it into practice successfully. Regardless of this meaning, the white tracksuit was probably created very pragmatically from the fact that dyes used to be very expensive.

Belt and graduation system

First of all, it should be mentioned that the recognition of the rank is not the main reason that belts are worn in Taekwondo. It is much more important that the center, which is often called in Asian philosophy and is responsible for the creation of the life force (Chi), is 3 finger widths below the navel.

Tied in the right place and with the right pressure, the belt makes it possible to tense almost the entire body in a flash, for example to take a targeted kick or to “take” a hit. This phenomenon can also be observed in weightlifters who do not wear the strength belt on their stomach, but three finger widths below their navel.

The graduation or belt systems of martial arts did not emerge until the 19th century and were first introduced by Kanō Jigorō , the founder of judo. But even in historical times, different colors of clothes and belts indicated different ranks in the court hierarchy (both in Asia and in Europe).

At the beginning of modern Taekwondo there were only four belt colors: white, blue, red and black, the colors of the Korean flag. These have now been supplemented by yellow, green and brown. The modern graduation system primarily serves to represent the level of training and knowledge. For practical reasons, the list during Taekwondo training is arranged in blocks according to belt colors: the highest grade is on the front right, the lowest grade on the back left.

The belt grades are divided into pupil class ( Kup , counting down) and master class ( Dan or Poom (WT; only 1st – 3rd) for under 15-year-olds, counting up). The division of the classes is different depending on the association.

The color of the belt is also based on a symbolism:

  • The white belt is worn by beginners who are still ignorant and who are open and inquisitive about Taekwondo.
  • The white and yellow belt is a transition.
  • The yellow belt stands for fertile soil on which knowledge and skills should flourish.
  • The yellow-green belt is a transition.
  • The green belt symbolizes the first sprouts and fruits, a sign that the training efforts have paid off and that something is ripening in the student.
  • The green-blue belt is a transition.
  • The blue belt stands for the sky and thus symbolically for a limit. The student now has to show that he is able to strive for and achieve higher things.
  • The blue-red belt is a transition.
  • The red belt represents the sun, from which a great power already emanates, but also serves as a signal for the student. He is now on the verge of becoming a master and is encouraged to do Taekwondo even more intensively and persistently. Some schools use the brown belt in place of the red belt. Brown symbolizes the bark of the tree trunk, which means that the techniques have already consolidated and the student is about to become a master.
  • The red and black belt is a transition.
  • Black and also the “black belt” is the color of the masters and is reserved for them only. Black, symbol for the universe, combines all other colors and is therefore the strongest of all colors. Black is also said to symbolize the authority, knowledge and experience of the masters. Therefore, only Dan carrier Doboks allowed to wear with a black lapel, as generally all decorations on the track suit in black only entitled to the masters.

Belt colors in Germany (DTU)

designation   Belt color
10. Kup white (newcomer)
9. Kup white or white-yellow
8. Kup yellow
7. Kup yellow or yellow-green
6. Kup green
5. Kup green or green-blue
4. Kup blue
3. Kup blue or blue-red or blue-brown
2. Kup red or brown
1. Kup red or brown or red-black / brown-black
1st to 9th Dan black (for children 1st to 4th poom, red-black striped lengthways)

10. Dan is awarded by the Kukkiwon on an honorary basis

Belt colors in Austria (ÖTDV)

designation   Belt color
Beginner white (newcomer)
10. Kup yellow
9. Kup yellow or yellow-green
8. Kup green
7. Kup green or green-blue
6. Kup blue
5. Kup blue or blue-brown
4. Kup brown
3. Kup brown or brown-red
2. Kup red
1. Kup red or red-black
1st to 10th Dan black (for children 1st to 3rd poom, red-black striped lengthways)

7th to 10th Dan is awarded by the Kukkiwon

Belt colors in Switzerland (Swiss Taekwondo)

In the Swiss WT / ETU member association Swiss Taekwondo, the Kup grade is counted from the 8th Kup:

designation   Belt color
Beginner white (newcomer)
8th-7th Kup yellow
6-5 Kup green
4th-3rd Kup blue
2. – 1. Kup red
1st to 10th Dan black (for children 1st to 3rd poom, red-black striped lengthways)

Belt examinations usually take place according to a fixed scheme (examination regulations) and are approved by master degrees. They include theoretical knowledge, form flow and demonstration of techniques (agreed fight, free fight, fracture tests and sometimes street fighting).

Code of Conduct and Rules

Taekwondo has enormous potential, with a little inattention you can injure yourself and others. The teacher is responsible for the orderly course of the practice lesson. But he cannot take care of all those individuals who do not follow the rules. Therefore, it is imperative that the teacher's instructions are followed, including paying full attention to the teacher.


Depending on the style, school or grandmaster, there are different strict, strict or binding demands and requirements on the behavior or behavior of the Taekwondoins during a training session. The more traditional Taekwondo is practiced, the stricter these rules are and the more precisely they are observed. However, some rules generally apply to Taekwondo and are listed below:

  • You arrive punctually and in clean sportswear (Dobok) for training. Hands and feet are washed, fingernails and toenails are kept short to prevent injuries.
  • You are not allowed to drink or eat during a training session. Chewing gum or taking a smoke break are also not permitted. All attention should be devoted to the teacher or the practice partner.
  • If possible, you should not leave the training area during a training session. You should go to the bathroom before starting your workout. In urgent cases, you should de-register with the teacher, but you should bear in mind that any interruption disrupts the class as a whole, allows your body to cool down again and thus carries the risk of injury. In addition, dirt, stones or splinters from the corridor area can be brought onto the training area, which can also lead to problems, as many train barefoot.
  • Before the training begins, the students stand in front of the master in a fixed order according to their graduation. The highest grade is always in the front right.
  • Training begins when the teacher gives the order to line up. The trainer is usually greeted in Korean by the first student (front right), then the group bows to the teacher and the teacher to the group. Some schools attach importance to the fact that the Korean flag is also greeted at the welcome ceremony.
  • Do not chatter or laugh out loud during training. The teacher's commands must be understood at all times and must also be followed.
  • Only the teacher or high grades are allowed to teach techniques or correct the students to other students. This ensures that the techniques are learned correctly and that no uncleanliness creeps in. This is especially true for the shape of the mold, as otherwise incorrect movements can quickly spread.
  • Attacks against each other, break tests, exercises with weapons (for example in self-defense) or other difficult exercises may only be carried out with the express permission of the teacher and under his supervision. Otherwise the risk of injury is too great.
  • If the teacher commands the exercise to be terminated ( Geuman or Baro or Gallyeo command ), all exercises must be terminated immediately.

Ceremonial and respect

Respect and the preservation of form are a matter of course in everyday life, especially in Asia. This is also the case with Taekwondo.

A prominent feature of this ceremony is the bowing:
The bowing not only expresses respect for the teacher and the practice partner, it is above all a means of concentration and concentration. It should be done consciously because it indicates that one is focused on the task at hand. Concentration is an essential element in Taekwondo, it enables complex movement sequences and ensures that the partner is not accidentally injured.

With the greeting one confirms that one is shedding everyday worries and concentrating on the upcoming exercise. It signals to your partner that you respect him as a person and that you will ensure that you practice with him fairly and without danger.

"The noble bows, but does not bow." ( Confucius )

Usually one bows

  • when entering and leaving the exercise room: With this you consciously cross the threshold from everyday life to training and vice versa. When country flags are hung up (for example, the Korean next to the national one during exams), the flags are also welcomed to show respect for the country of origin and the host country.
  • At the beginning and end of the lesson: Students and teachers show mutual respect and ensure that they concentrate on the exercises.
  • before and after partner exercises: With this, the partners signal to each other that they are paying all attention to the practice of the technique so that the partner is not endangered.
  • before and after a break test: Taekwondo is intended for defense and not for destruction. Since something is to be destroyed in the break test (for example a wooden board), the trainee, bowing to the teacher or examiner, asks for permission to destroy something as an exception.

The bow is usually prepared with the command Cha-ryeot (attention!). The feet are next to each other in Moa Seogi , fists on the outstretched arm lightly next to the body, facing each other . In a renewed version of the gesture, which was approved by the WT, the hands are placed on the hips and no longer hang on the sides of the body. Schools are free to choose which bowing technique they want their students to use. The gesture is initiated with the command Gyeong-nye (greet, bow). The upper body bends 45 °, arms with fists are slightly bent. The new version also applies here, the hands remain on the hips while the body bends. A fist is no longer appropriate in this case.

Unfamiliar ceremonies or sporting etiquette

Cultural insights from a grand master

Grandmaster Song Chae-Yong reported in an interview in 1987 about his beginnings as a Taekwondo teacher in Munich and the differences between cultures (from Taekwon-Do in the West , Mönchseulen-Verlag, 1989):

That's how I did Taekwon-Do at the adult education center, in autumn 1972. I made a lot of mistakes back then. I wanted to show original Taekwon-Do and did a hard training. But people couldn't get through it. I wanted to pass Taekwon-Do on as I had learned from my teacher, in the same way, but people couldn't take it and kept going away. Then I made the training milder.
It was different for us. Discipline is very tough in Korea and a judo or taekwon do trainer in particular is considered a person of respect. They say Sahbum-Nim to a master in the Budo sports. So if a Sahbum-Nim leads the training, what he is doing is completely accepted, nobody can say anything against it. I didn't dare to do this here. Sahbum-Nim is a household name in Korea, but not in Europe, people here think: Oh, that's just a trainer! Back then in Korea we started training strictly with meditation, but I was afraid that the people here would not know that, that they would find it strange just to sit like that with their eyes closed. In Korea you weren't allowed to speak in the practice room, in the dojang, you weren't even allowed to show your teeth. Care was even taken not to step on Teacher's shadow. For us, a teacher is a person of absolute respect. When I was doing an internship at a grammar school here in Munich for my diploma as a German teacher, I was surprised by the atmosphere of the class. I didn't know that. They were 9th grade students and of course they were very cheeky. At the end of the lesson, they just packed their things and ran away without greeting. There is no such thing in Korea.
A teacher is basically a person of respect, including a sahbum-nim. But maybe you are also afraid of him, because he is a do-in, so not only a character, but also a physically trained man. So you fear him a little. For the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese, a Sahbum-Nim is a term that they understand immediately. [...] What he says, we have accepted without criticism. We would never have dared to say "Why?"

Ceremonial in the west

Asian martial arts in particular are usually considered the epitome of the ceremonial. Many Europeans or “normal” athletes make fun of it or find it uncomfortable, maybe even see religious or sectarian backgrounds.

In addition to the practical aspects (for example, bowing as a signal to concentrate on the partner and not inflicting any harm on him), there is also another interesting point of view: as unknown, as is always assumed in Europe, rules of courtesy are not at all like examples typical European sports show:

  • In equestrian sport, the formal greeting of the arbitral tribunal by the rider is strictly required and, if not observed, leads to disqualification.
  • In typical European sword sports ( e.g. fencing ) there is also a formal greeting, with precisely defined processes (e.g. using the foil to protect the face).


  • The high leg techniques of Taekwondo can lead to hip or muscle damage (strains, muscle fiber tears and scarring of the muscle tissue) in the long term if the warm-up phase is incorrect or too short and if done incorrectly, as fast stretches are performed using high-speed strength. Training that is body-conscious is very important here. High sideways kicks must be performed with the leg turned out to avoid hip damage. When properly instructed, Taekwondo is a very healthy sport, especially for the hips, as it maintains flexibility and mobility. Any physical complaints should definitely be clarified with the trainer before starting the training.
  • Toughening the skin and bones by taking appropriate measures (punching training and so on) can be harmful in the long run, but is less common in Taekwondo.
  • The trainer must ensure that kicks forward and handshakes are not carried out to the point of attachment in the knee or elbow joint . If the entire force of the blow is regularly discharged in the joint during exercises, this leads to signs of wear.
  • Some competition techniques that are defused with the bare foot, for example with the outer instep instead of the ball of the foot, can lead to injuries when performed in reality and against objects. Good training conveys a clear awareness of the differences between techniques in sporting competition and techniques as they would be used in a break test or in a real combat situation.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Taekwondo  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Taekwondo  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Song, Interview 1984, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWCLMmEH_88 and http://taekkyon.de/download/song_interview_translation_EN_DE.pdf (English and German translation)
  2. ^ Swiss Taekwondo - Training Regulations Website of the Swiss Taekwondo Association. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on December 20, 2005 .