What exactly is Taekwon-Do?

Put simply, Taekwon-Do, or the 'Art of Hand and Foot' is a Korean martial art which utilises scientifically devised hand and foot techniques to provide a unique system of unarmed self defence. Taekwon-Do was originally developed using a combination of techniques from Japanese Karate and the ancient Korean arts of Taek Kyon and Soo Bahk Do. The founder of Taekwon-Do, General Choi Hong Hi, refined and developed these movements and through extensive scientific research and development, Taekwon-Do has evolved into one of the most effective martial arts in the world.

The worldwide governing body for the art, the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) was established in 1966. The art was introduced to Ireland in 1968 by Grandmaster Rhee Ki Ha and in 1972, the Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association (RITA) was set up as the National Governing Body for ITF in this country.

Today, Taekwon-Do has become one of the most popular martial arts in the world because anyone, regardless of age, sex, and size, can benefit from it's training, and the RITA instructors are proud to continue to teach authentic Taekwon-Do as taught by the founder. As outlined below, Taekwon-Do offers a wide array of physical and mental benefits for both young and old

Benefits of Taekwon-Do

For Young People
In today's society, the ability of a young person to defend him/herself is very important. But far more important are the tools the young person will need to develop into a well-rounded adult. Therefore, children learn respect, courtesy, and self-control while participating in a good exercise programme. As students of Taekwon-Do, they build self-confidence and self esteem while they progress in the art. Each of these characteristics improves attitudes and it has been shown time and again that children who train in Taekwon-Do tend to improve in their studies due to the concentration and self discipline that is developed. Our objective is to help young people improve in all facets of their lives. As they successfully accomplish and reach for new goals, their confidence level grows, their self-esteem is enhanced and the need to be self disciplined becomes an accepted standard as part of their training.

There are visible rewards as well as these intangible benefits for students. The visible rewards include different coloured belts that are symbols of ever increasing proficiency in Taekwon-Do, the encouragement to continue when things seem difficult and the verbal acknowledgement of goals achieved and awards earned. Each of these enhances the young person's character and contributes to his/her self worth as well as promoting a sense of responsibility and maturity.

For Adults
Many people believe that the martial arts are just for children. This could not be further from the truth. Because of it's origins in the Orient, Taekwon-Do is based on the principles of integrity, humility, respect, patience, perseverance, and loyalty. This philosophy is the cornerstone of the conduct indicative of a genuine Taekwon-Do practitioner. However, Taekwon-Do is much more than an effective method of self defence, offering many physical and health benefits as outlined below, and also providing a way to relieve the stresses of modern life. Psychologists recognise that where stress is concerned, a change is better than a rest and many are recommending martial arts as an antidote to the problem. Some way to relieve the pressures that regularly occur is needed. The total concentration employed while in a Taekwon-Do class effectively 'blows away the cobwebs' giving the student a complete break from the worries and tensions which gradually sap people's energy and drive. Students commonly arrive for class feeling drained after a tough day and leave feeling refreshed and revitalised.

Health Benefits of Taekwon-Do

As well as the self-defence aspect, Taekwon-Do also promotes general health and well being. The training helps to strengthen and tone the muscles of the body without producing large bulky muscles. The high repetition-low resistance movements develop a longer, leaner, and more flexible musculature. As well as increasing cardiovascular fitness, the training serves as an invaluable tool for improving flexibility, co-ordination, sharpening reflexes and controlling weight. Since the body sets it's own limits, injuries and strains are rare and the student's physical condition paces himself/herself automatically. The entire muscle system of the body from the fingers to the toes is brought into play.

Aspects of Taekwon-Do

Taekwon-Do provides the student with an excellent method of self-defence. It enables them to defend themselves against an attacker from a distance as well as at close range. By using the many kicking techniques available, the Taekwon-Do practitioner can prevent the attacker from grabbing or striking them. If the attacker is able to grab them, then there are a variety of close range techniques, which include joint locks, releases, pressure points, throws, and takedowns that the student can use. Therefore, a well-trained student will feel confident and prepared to defend himself or herself in any situation.

Patterns are a series of pre-arranged blocks, kicks, and strikes, against imaginary opponents. The purpose of patterns is to develop technique, balance, breath control, co-ordination, and power. In these patterns lie the true beauty of Taekwon-Do - combining power and grace. There are twenty-four patterns in Taekwon-Do which range from 19 to 72 movements each. The novice learns one pattern at each colour belt level while black belts learn up to three at each degree stage.

There are many different forms of sparring in Taekwon-Do, including pre-set, semi-free, and free sparring. They all place students against each other with the purpose of improving distance, timing, balance, speed, and strategy in a controlled environment. The students are allowed to execute a wide variety of attacking and defending techniques against each other. Contact in sparring is not permitted due to the power developed in the techniques.

The purpose of breaking is to enable the student to develop confidence, focus, power, and concentration while properly executing a technique. Breaking also allows the student to see the amount of power that they are capable of developing through training in Taekwon-Do. The more advanced breaks demonstrate the beauty and difficulty of the flying and kicking techniques that separate Taekwon-Do from other martial arts.

Although, Taekwon-Do is primarily a martial art, there is also an optional sporting side to the art. The RITA runs regular local and national tournaments are held each year, catering for all ages and grades, and the highlight of the year is the National Championships. At black belt level, the opportunity is available to compete in the ITF European and World Championships.

Philosophy of Taekwon-Do

Taekwon-Do promotes peace, harmony, and ultimately a better society. Unfortunately, many people believe that the martial arts spawn violence. When properly and responsibly taught, this is not true. The Taekwon-Do student is trained to avoid conflict at all costs and only to use their skills when all other measures have been exhausted. The philosophy of the art can be summed up by the 5 tenets of Taekwon-Do:

  1. Courtesy
  2. Integrity
  3. Perseverance
  4. Self Control
  5. Indomitable Spirit

Taekwon-Do is fun!

Taekwon-Do is an extremely enjoyable activity, and the classes are not only great fun, but Taekwon-Do is a great way to meet new people and make new friends.

We hope that the above information has given you a better understanding of Taekwon-Do as taught at our schools. Whether your reasons for learning are for self-defence, physical fitness, stress release, or for pure enjoyment, our instructors will provide you with the best possible guidance and training. It's all up to you - Take the first step towards a positive future!

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