Taekwondo is a Korean fighting style created in the 40's based from Taek Kyeon (a traditional Korean wrestling), Karate and other traditions, in which most of the techniques are represented by kicks.
Named 'Taekwondo' by Choi Hong Hi in 1955, it has become an Olympic sport since 2000.
Taekwondo may be translated as "the way of the foot and the hand". Tae means "to strike or break with the foot", kwon signifies "to strike or break with the fist" and do corresponds to "way of life".
Its techniques are characterized by a set of blocks, kicks, punches, and open-handed strikes and includes several take-downs or sweeps, throws, and joint locks. Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on high kicking and fast hand techniques.
There are two main current associations:
- ITF - International Taekwondo Federation
It represents the martial style.
- WTF - World Taekwondo Federation
Representing the competitive style, it is the most widspread and is represented in the Olympics.
Competitions within ITF also exist, but make use of less safety equipment.
ITF credits Choi Hong Hi (also known as General Choi) as sole founder, while WTF claims that Taekwondo was a collaborative development by a council consisting of members from the nine original kwans (schools) .