Taekwon-Do is principally a striking art, the name translates, approximately, to: "the art of smashing with the feet and striking with the fist".
The art is recognised for its vast array of technically advanced kicking techniques, and also for the flexibility and explosive speed of it's proponents.
Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit - these are the five tenets that General Choi, the founder, integrated into his art. Choi believed that his martial art must have a solid code of ethics taught alongside the physical abilities, so that Taekwon-Do would be a benefit to the greater good of society.
Taekwon-Do training revolves around 3 core elements; fundamental movements & traditional forms (tul), sport sparring, and self defense.
The fundamental movements and tul are trained to perfect good form, i.e. the best possible use of leverage and momentum while maintaining balance and mobility in attack and defense.
Taekwon-Do sparring is combat sport. The practitioners wear padded gloves, boots and headguard to protect both themselves and their opponent.
Targets are limited to the front of the body and head, and attacking tools are limited to kicks and punches. In this way the more dangerous techniques of Taekwon-Do are removed from the sporting arena and the resulting sport involves snappy techniques delivered with speed and precision.
Strikes with the elbows, knees, fingertips and various other tools found in the traditional forms are part of the self defense aspect of the art, which is trained separately from the sport.
The roots of Taekwon-Do lie in post World War II Korea, where the largest martial arts kwans (schools) were brought together to create a new national martial art. The most prominent driver of this unification was a founding member of the South Korean Armed forces, General Choi Hong Hi.
A former Japanese prisoner of war and karate enthusiast, Choi created the name Taekwon-Do as a reference to Korea's native kicking game Taekyon, and further developed the art from the Korean karate practiced in most of the original kwans. His goal was to create a visually impressive and athletic martial discipline with a strong code of ethics, an art that drives its practitioners to surpass their own physical limits while ingraining the universal virtues of courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and indomitable spirit.