The name Taekwondo literally translates as 'the way of the foot and hand'- tae means to break or attack with the foot, kwon means to break with the hand and do translates as the art or way. It originated in South Korea and combines combat and self-defence techniques with sport and exercise. The modern form of taekwondo was not agreed upon until 1955, but the sport has its roots in various Korean forms of martial arts stretching back more than 2000 years.
If there is a difference between taekwondo as a sport and taekwondo as an art it is that the art recognises no rules for combat while the sport of taekwondo is highly regulated for the safety of its participants. As an art, taekwondo focuses on a combination of combat techniques and self-defence as well as being a good form of exercise and entertainment. In taekwondo a system of attacking and defensive movements incorporating punching, kicking and blocking techniques, as well as differing stances is done in a set sequence and is referred to as Poomsae. These basic movements bring together all the martial art skills in a graceful yet powerful manner.
Taekwondo first appeared in the Olympics as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. It is now also a Commonwealth Games Sport. It made its debut as an official Olympic Sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Since then it has also featured in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Taekwondo is certainly not limited to those in superb physical condition, anyone can take advantage of its benefits when learning proper techniques.
As well as the sporting and self-defence aspects to taekwondo the exercise one gets from martial arts training improves balance, flexibility, stamina, strength and posture. Unlike many other forms of physical activity, martial arts also have a mental element which not only improves the mind's focus but also helps provide confidence and self control. As well as those mentioned above, Taekwondo can also help with: