Taekwondo (Korean 태권도 [跆拳道]) is a Korean martial art. It combines combat and self-defense techniques with sport and exercise. Gyeorugi, a type of sparring, has been an Olympic event since 2000. Taekwondo was developed by a variety of Korean masters during the 1940s as partial combination of taekkyeon, Okinawankarate and other traditions.
The name taekwondo was coined by Choi Hong Hi who is claimed to be the founder and creator of taekwondo by the International Taekwondo Federation. The World Taekwondo Federation claims that taekwondo development was a collaborative effort. There are two main branches of taekwondo development, although they are not mutually exclusive.
Traditional taekwondo typically refers to the martial art as it was established in the 1950s and 1960s in the South Korean military, and in various civilian organisations, including schools and universities. In particular, the names and symbolism of the traditional patterns often refer to elements of Korean history, culture and religious philosophy. Traditional Taekwon-Do may refer to International Taekwon-Do Federation. The symbolism is replicated in the Korean flag.
Sport taekwondo has developed in the decades since the 1950s and may have a somewhat different focus, especially in terms of its emphasis on speed and competition (as in Olympic sparring). Sport taekwondo is in turn subdivided into two main styles. One style is practiced by International Taekwon-Do adherents and was created in 1955 by Choi Hong Hi. The other style derives from Kukkiwon, the source of the sparring system sihap gyeorugi. This style is now an event at the summer Olympic Games and is governed by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The Kukkiwon – or World Taekwondo Headquarters – is the traditional center for WTF taekwondo and was founded in 1973 by Dr. Kim Un Yong.
Although there are doctrinal and technical differences between sparring in the two main styles and among the various organizations, the art in general emphasizes kicks and punches thrown from a mobile stance. Taekwondo training generally includes a system of blocks, kicks, punches, and open-handed strikes and may also include various take-downs or sweeps, throws, and joint locks. Pressure points, known as jiapsul, are used as well as grabbing self-defense techniques borrowed from other martial arts, such as Japanese judo, or Korean hapkido, or Korean wrestling or ssireum.
In Korean, tae (태, 跆) means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon (권, 拳) means “to strike or break with fist”; and do (도, 道) means “way”, “method”, or “path”. Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the way of the foot and the hand.” The name taekwondo is also written as taekwon-do, tae kwon-do or tae kwon do by various organizations.
United States Chung Do Kwon Association (USCDKA)
Edward B. Sell is the founder of the United States Chung Do Kwan Association (USCDKA) and the only non-oriental to be recognized by the World Tae Kwon Do Federation as a 9th Dan Black Belt in the Chung Do Kwan school of Taekwondo, making him the highest ranked non-Asian Tae Kwon Do practitioner in the world. Grandmaster Sell was a member of the United States Air Force from 1959 to 1967. For much of this time, he was stationed at Osan Air Base in Korea, where he began to study Tae Kwon Do. In 1963, he was the first American to compete in the 1st Taekwondo National Championship, Seoul, Korea. In 1973, he was certified as an International Referee at the 1st International Referee Course held at the Kukkiwon. Sell was also on the original committee accepting the World Taekwondo Federation and the Kukkiwon. He was a USA Team Coach (1973), and on the WTF Technical Committee (1975). On August 18, 1967 he formed the U.S. Chung Do Kwan Association. In 1969 he published America’s first Tae Kwon Do training manual, Forces of Tae Kwon Do, and he has been featured on the cover of the Tae Kwon Do Times twice, in September 1988 and June 1997. In the fall of 2011 Sr. Grandmaster Sell was declared as an ” American Living Legend” by the South Korean government and will be included in the Taekwondo Park, Seoul, South Korea.
In 1967 Sell began the “Korea Tae Kwon Do Association of America” in Trenton, Michigan. In 1974, he renamed his organization the “United States Chung Do Kwan Association” and relocated it to Lakeland, Florida. Its current president is Sell’s wife, Brenda J. Sell, a 9th Dan Black Belt and the only recognized female American Tae Kwon Do Grandmaster. The USCDKA derives its roots from the World Chung Do Kwan Association and World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). It currently contains nearly 250,000 members and over 4,000 black belts, and is considered the oldest Taekwondo organization in the United States.
The USCDKA is known for its development of the Instructor’s Degree System. Degrees of black belts, or dan, are earned separately of instructors’ ranks. Each black belt is immediately eligible to earn an instructor degree upon earning their respective rank, but first must complete various training seminars (called NCITs), pass background checks, and demonstrate techniques in a manner similar to previous instructors. This is done to promote a sense of uniformity among schools, which are located all over the United States and Canada.