You don’t have to be a Korean or from Asia to understand how popular taekwondo is. Arguably the most popular martial art in the world, taekwondo is the national sport of Korea. It is one of only two martial arts entered as an Olympic sport, the other being judo.
Taekwondo is a combat sport with a lot of emphasis on kicks. If you’ve seen any taekwondo match, you might have been astounded at the sight of a roundhouse kick hitting a participant.
Although taekwondo is that popular as a martial art, there are other things that casual taekwondo fans may not know about it. Here are 10 of the fun facts you should know about taekwondo:
1. It Has Ancient Roots
As an organized martial art, Taekwondo is fairly new having been named as such in 1955. However, there are archaeological evidences that the early Koreans had their own unique martial art form which can be considered as the predecessor of taekwondo.
There’s a mural painting showing figures practicing martial arts techniques found in a tomb that is said to have been built in 3 A.D. Historical records traced during the Koguryu Empire (37 B.C. to 66 A.D.) also mention about martial arts techniques and tournaments. The martial art had various names like Kwonbak Dangsoo, and Kongsoo.
Taekwondo only became organized in 1955 after Koreans were able to get the Japanese out of their country. The Japanese had introduced their own culture and martial arts in Korea from 1909 to 1945, and the Koreans wanted to have their own martial art form. This led to the birth of taekwondo in 1955.
2. It is Practiced by More than 70 Million People Worldwide
Here’s one proof how popular taekwondo is—it is practiced by more than 70 million people around the world. Four million of them are black belts. It is also said that the martial art is practiced in 188 countries around the world.
Contributing to the appeal of Taekwondo is the fact that it has been featured in different movies, starring actors like Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris.
3. It Has a Lower Injury Rate Than Mixed Martial Arts
Yes, compared to mixed martial arts, taekwondo has a lower injury rate. However it has a higher injury rate than soccer, basketball and hockey. The two most common injuries in taekwondo are leg strains and bruises.
4. Many Celebrities Have Taken Taekwondo
Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris are not the only celebrities who have taken up the martial arts. Other stars who are known to practice taekwondo are Chinese action star Jackie Chan, TV host Joe Rogan, actor Dolph Lundgren, and actor Ryan Philippe who’s a black belt.
5. The Taekwondo Uniform is Called Dobok
Typically, a taekwondo student wears a white uniform with a belt tied around the waist. White uniforms are traditionally used at formal ceremonies like belt tests and promotions. There are instances when colored uniforms are used by special teams or higher-level instructors.
6. There are Six Belt Colors in Taekwondo
There are six belt colors in taekwondo— white, yellow, green, blue, red, and black. In general, the higher the rank of the practitioner is, the darker the color of his/her belt.
7. The Place Where Taekwondo Instruction is Given Is Called Dojang
Dojang is the name of the area within the school in which taekwondo instruction takes place. It is sometimes translated as gymnasium, although the term may be loosely used to refer to the taekwondo school. Most of the contemporary dojangs have padded flooring with red-and-blue patters to reflect the colors of the taegeuk symbol. The dojang is also decorated with items like flags, belts, banners and instructional materials.
8. There are Four Categories in Olympic Taekwondo
The taekwondo competition in the Olympics is composed of four categories for both sexes. For men, these are under 58 kilograms, under 68 kilograms, under 80 kilograms, and over 80 kilograms.
For women, the categories are as follows—under 49 kilograms, under 57 kilograms, under 67 kilograms, and over 67 kilograms.
Olympic participants take part in a single-elimination tournament for the gold and silver medals. Defeated contestants would participate in a second tournament, with the winner of that bracket winning the bronze medal.
9. Taekwondo Became An Olympic Sport in 2000
The sport actually became part of the Olympics only during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. But it was a demonstration sport starting in 1988, when the Olympic games were held in South Korea.
10. Taekwondo Training is Exhausting
Taekwondo training is quite exhausting, as you would have to learn a lot of moves. Training includes a system of kicks, punches, blocks, and open-handed strikes. You’ll also have to learn different take-downs, throws, and joint locks similar to those employed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.