Most people in the U.S. have heard of tae kwon do, Korea’s most famous martial art. But did you know that it’s the national sport of South Korea?
Tae kwon do (which means “the art of kicking, blocking, and punching) was developed in Korea more than 20 centuries ago. And while self-defense and combat is a part of the sport, tae kwon do also stresses personal character as part of the sport. Kicking techniques are the emphasis in tae kwon do, which is what separates it from karate or kung fu.
A tae kwon do student wears a dobok (도복) with a belt (dti, 띠) tied around the waist. A tae kwon do school is called a do-jang (도장) and the master (senior instructor or head of do-jang) is called sa-beom-nim (사범님).
In 2000, tae kwon do became one of just two Asian martial arts to be recognized as an Olympic sport.
And right now, it’s big in our house. Our son started tae kwon do this week and is really enthralled with it. While there are many tae kwon do dojangs in our town, we wanted one with a Korean instructor and that brought the number down to three. While it’s still our first week, we’re very pleased with the one we chose. Instructions are given in both Korean and English, the master is very good with kids, and there is a good mix of students, ethnically speaking. We’re hoping this will be a connection to our Korean American community that has been lacking. I’ll keep you posted.