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Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks,
jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques.

Taekwondo is a combative sport and was developed during the 1940s and 1950s by Korean
martial artists with experience in martial arts such as karate, Chinese martial arts, and
indigenous Korean martial arts traditions such as Taekkyeon, Subak, and Gwonbeop. The
oldest governing body for taekwondo is the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA), formed in
1959 through a collaborative effort by representatives from the nine original kwans, or
martial arts schools, in Korea. The main international organisational bodies for taekwondo
today are the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), founded by Choi Hong Hi in 1966,
and the partnership of the Kukkiwon and World Taekwondo (WT, formerly WTF), founded
in 1972 and 1973 respectively by the Korea Taekwondo Association. Gyeorugi, a type of
full-contact sparring, has been an Olympic event since 2000. The governing body for
taekwondo in the Olympics and Paralympics is World Taekwondo.

Taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning

kicks, and fast kicking techniques. In fact, World Taekwondo sparring competitions award
additional points for strikes that incorporate spinning kicks, kicks to the head, or both.

To facilitate fast, turning kicks, taekwondo generally adopts stances that are narrower and
taller than the broader, wide stances used by martial arts such as karate. The trade-off of
decreased stability is believed to be worth the commensurate increase in agility, particularly
in Kukkiwon-style taekwondo.



World Taekwondo was established on May 28, 1973 at the inaugural meeting held at the
Kukkiwon with participation of 35 representatives from the world after it separated from the
International Taekwon-Do Federation because of political reasons. At that time, Un Yong Kim
was elected president for a four-year term. One of the main Constituents of World Taekwondo,
the Secretariat was formed on June 3, 1973 and began operating.

On October 8, 1974 World Taekwondo was affiliated to the General Association of

International Sports Federations (GAISF), now SportAccord. Until the 1980s, the European
(May, 1976), the Asian (October, 1976), the Pan American (September, 1978) and the African
(April, 1979) Taekwondo Unions inaugural meetings were held, while Oceania’s Taekwondo
Union was not recognized as the 5th Continental Union of World Taekwondo until July 16,

The recognition of the IOC towards World Taekwondo at its 83rd session in Moscow on July
17, 1980 was the cornerstone for their Cooperation. Thereupon Taekwondo participated in the
24th Olympic Games at Changchung Gymnasium in Seoul, Korea as well as the 25th Olympic
Games at the Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona, Spain as a demonstration sport. In recognition of
his contribution to the Olympic Movement Un Yong Kim was awarded the Order of
Commander by Prince Rainier of Monaco on September 21, 1993. Moreover, Taekwondo was
adopted as an official sport of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games at the 103rd IOC session in
Paris, France on September 4, 1994.

Half a year later, on February 15, 1995 World Taekwondo was affiliated to the Association of
Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) as a provisional member.

After the first appearance of Taekwondo as an Olympic Sport in the Sydney 2000 Olympic
Games, the IOC executive board confirms Taekwondo as an Olympic Sport for the 2004
Athens Olympic Games on December 11–13, 2000. Furthermore, the inclusion of taekwondo
in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was confirmed on November 29, 2002 at the 114th IOC
session held in Mexico City.

On February 15, 2004 the Vice President (Italy) Sun Jae Park was elected as Acting President
of World Taekwondo due to the resignation of the founding President Un Yong Kim from the
presidency of World Taekwondo. Four month later Chung Won Choue was elected as new
President of World Taekwondo at the extraordinary General Assembly on June 11, 2004.
Taekwondo was confirmed as program of the 2012 London Olympic Games on July 8, 2005.


Under World Taekwondo and Olympic rules, sparring is a full-contact event and takes place
between two competitors on a matted 8 meter octagon. At the end of three rounds, the athlete
with the most points is declared the winner. A tie, however, results in an additional round,
known as "Golden Point". If no point is scored during the Golden Point, the player with the
most registers on the PSS is declared the winner. If one athlete is knocked out, or is otherwise
unable to continue as a result of a legal technique by his opponent, the other athlete is
automatically awarded the victory.

Points are awarded for permitted, accurate, and powerful techniques to the legal scoring areas;
light contact does not score any points. Points are awarded as follows:

 1 point for a strike to the chest or when "Gam-jeom" is given to the opponent
 2 points for a standard kick to the chest
 3 points for a standard kick to the head
 4 points for a turning kick to the chest
 5 points for a turning kick to the head

The competition sparring rules were updated by World Taekwondo General Assembly in
November 2016 in order to upgrade the sport so that it "dazzles and excites." Changes include
encouraging more offensive actions with modifications to some of the point scoring and by
disallowing certain leg blocks, elimination of mid-game interruptions, and improvements that
simplify penalty assessment and foster better officiating. These new rules took effect in January

Beginning in 2009, a kick or punch that makes contact with the opponent's hogu (the body
guard that functions as a scoring target) scores one point; if a kick to the hogu involved a
technique that includes fully turning the attacking competitor's body, so that the back is fully
exposed to the targeted competitor during execution of the technique (spinning kick), an
additional point is awarded; a kick to the head scores three points; as of October 2010 an
additional point is awarded if a turning kick was used to execute this attack. Punches to the
head are not allowed. As of March 2010, no additional points are awarded for knocking down
an opponent (beyond the normal points awarded for legal strikes).

The referee can give penalties (called "gam-jeom") at any time for rule-breaking, such as hitting
an area not recognized as a target, falling, or stalling the match.

Until 2008, if one competitor gained a 7-point lead over the other, or if one competitor reached
a total of 12 points, then that competitor was immediately declared the winner and the match
ended. These rules were abolished by World Taekwondo at the start of 2009. In October 2010
World Taekwondo reintroduced a point gap rule. Under the new rule if a competitor has a 12-
point lead at the end of the second round or achieves a 12-point lead at any point in the third
round then the match is over and the athlete in the lead is declared the winner.

World Taekwondo-sanctioned events allow any person, regardless of school affiliation or

martial arts style, to compete in World Taekwondo events as long as he or she is a member of
World Taekwondo Member National Association in his or her nation. These National
Associations are open for anyone to join.

There are very specific belt rank requirements in every taekwondo style. This chart defines the
specific requirements of WTF style.

Colour belt systems vary by school. There are two different variations shown in this chart.

Minimum Term refers to the minimum amount of time that must be spent at a rank before
promotion. This time frame is based on 40 hours of training time per month.

Total Training Time refers to the minimum amount of time invested in total to achieve a given

Rank Belt Colour Minimum Term Total Training Time
10th Kup None/White 2 months none
9th Kup White/White with stripe 2 months 2 months
8th Kup Yellow 2 months 4 months
7th Kup Orange/Yellow with stripe 2 months 6 months
6th Kup Green 2 months 8 months
5th Kup Blue/Green with stripe 2 months 10 months
4th Kup Purple/Blue 2 months 1 year
3rd Kup Brown/Blue with stripe 2 months 14 months
2nd Kup Red 4 months 16 months
1st Kup Red with stripe 4 months 20 months
1st Degree Cho Dan 1 year 2 years
2nd Degree Ee Dan 2 years 3 years
3rd Degree Sam Dan 3 years 5 years
4th Degree Sa Dan 4 years 8 years
5th Degree O Dan 5 years 12 years
6th Degree Yook Dan 6 years 17 years
7th Degree Chil Dan 7 years 23 years
8th Degree Pul Dan 8 years 30 years
9th Degree Ku Dan 9 years 38 years


International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) Logo

International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) is an international taekwondo organization

founded on March 22, 1966, by General Choi Hong Hi (Korean: 최홍희) in Seoul, South

Korea. The ITF was founded to promote and encourage the growth of the Korean martial
art of Taekwon-Do.

The ITF's main functions include coordinating and approving tournaments and seminars,
setting standards for teaching (patterns, sparring, destruction), collaborating with affiliated
member organizations, and providing services members in regard to rank and certifications.


Patterns, or tul (틀) in Korean, originally called hyeong (형), form an important aspect of

training in Taekwon-Do. They are equivalent to the kata in karate. The majority of the
patterns (except Yul-Gok, Ul-Ji and Tong-Il) start with a defensive move, which emphasizes
taekwon-do's defensive nature. All of the patterns start and end at the same location. This
ensures that the practitioners' stances are the correct length, width, and in the proper

There are 24 patterns in the official ITF syllabus; this is symbolic of the 24 hours in a day.
One additional pattern, Ko-Dang (or Go-Dang), was retired/replaced by Juche in 1986 by
General Choi Hong Hi. Ko-Dang and Juche are similar, and some Taekwon-do organisations
have renamed Juche to Ko-Dang furthering confusion as to if a pattern referred to as "Ko-
Dang" is the original 39 movement or the newer 45 movement pattern. The names of these
patterns typically refer either to events in Korean history or to important people in Korean
history. Elements of the patterns may also be historical references, such as the number of
moves, the diagram, the way the pattern ends, and so on.

Patterns (tul) are performed in accordance with "The Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do" in 15
volumes written by General Choi Hong Hi, the latest edition being from 1999 (later editions
have been published, but the 1999 editions were the last General Choi Hong Hi was directly
involved with). This comprehensive work contains 15 volumes with volumes 8 through 15
dedicated to the 24 patterns and containing descriptions of the pattern movements as well as
pictures showing possible applications of some of the movements. There is also the book
entitled "The Korean Art of Self Defence" (the 1999 edition, the latest used by ITF under
Grandmaster Tran Trieu Quan and ITF under Grandmaster Choi, or the 2004 edition, the
latest used by ITF under Chang Ung), also known as the Condensed Encyclopedia, written by
General Choi Hong Hi. This is a single condensed encyclopedia of approximately 770 pages
with a section dedicated to the 24 original patterns.

There are also three fundamental exercises, named Saju-Jirugi (Four Direction Punch), Saju-
Makgi (Four Direction Block) and Saju Tulgi (Four Direction Thrust). Saju-Jirugi and Saju-
Makgi are basic defence exercises taught to beginners of the martial art. Saju Tulgi is less
well known and is generally taught to 2nd Kup students just prior to Hwa-Rang.

The 25 Patterns in Taekwon-Do ITF are:


The International Taekwon-Do Federation's sparring rules are similar to the WTF's rules, but
differ in several aspects.

 Hand attacks to the head are allowed.

 The scoring system is:

o 1 Point for: Punch to the body or head.

o 2 Points for: A kick to the body.

o 3 Points for: A kick to the head.

 The competition area is typically a 10×10 m2 in international championships. Circular

rings are also used, although generally not under competitive circumstances.

Competitors do not wear the hogu (although they are required to wear approved foot and
hand protection equipment, as well as head guards). This scoring system varies between the
different ITF organisations.

A continuous point system is utilized in ITF competition, where the fighters are allowed to
continue after scoring a technique. Full-force blows are not allowed, and knockouts result in a
disqualification of the attacker; although these rules vary between ITF organizations. At the
end of two minutes (or some other specified time) the competitor with more scoring
techniques wins. Fouls in ITF sparring include heavy contact, attacking a fallen opponent, leg
sweeping, holding/grabbing, intentional attack to a target other than allowed (for example
below the belt, attacks to the back).

ITF competitions also feature performances of patterns, breaking, and 'special techniques'
(where competitors perform prescribed board breaks at great heights).

ITF competition sparring rounds are 2 minutes and in national and international levels of
competition they hold two rounds each 2 minutes with a one-minute rest in between. Certain
rules are no strikes below the belt, no elbow strikes, brawling, no falling down, no going
outside of the ring, hit to the groin and knee strike are not allowed. The ring is a 9 metre by 9
metre (8 × 8 metre optional) ring marked by square mats or tape instead of a traditional style
kickboxing rings with ropes.

It has no sides allowing the fighter to move out of bounds. Whenever a fighter creates an
infraction of the rules the centre referee will issue a warning to the fighter who created the
infraction. 3 warnings equal to a minus point. If a fighter uses excessive contact, he or she
will be given a foul, which is an automatic minus point; three fouls in a bout results in
disqualification. ITF taekwon-do is fought in continuous point sparring. Four judges score the
fights in each of the corners in the square ring. After the fight, a judge votes for which ever
fighter has the most points and a winner is declared. In the case of a draw the fighters go to a
one-minute overtime round. If there is another draw the fighters go to a sudden death round
where the fighter who scores first is declared the winner.


The ITF ranking system consists of six solid colour belts; white, yellow, green, blue, red, and
black. Coloured belt ranks are called in English grades and in Korean geup (급) (often
romanized as gup or kup), whereas black belt ranks are called ranks/dan (단).

White Signifies innocence, that the Student has no previous knowledge of Taekwon-do.
Yellow Signifies the earth from which the plant sprouts and takes root as the Taekwon-do foundation is
being laid,
Green Signifies the planet's growth as Taekwon-do skills begin to develop.
Blue Signifies the Heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Taekwon-
do progresses.
Red Signifies danger, cautioning the student to exercise control, and warning the opponent to stay away.
Black Opposite to white, therefore signifying maturity and proficiency in Taekwon-do. It also a symbol of
the student's imperviousness to darkness and fear.



The Global Taekwondo Federation (GTF) is an offshoot of the International Taekwondo
Federation (ITF). It was founded by Park Jung Tae in 1990. Some sources cite the controversies
surrounding General Choi Hong Hi as the impetus for the split, with indications that one of the
motivations may have been disapproval of Choi's purported tendency to award high-level black
belts to people who had not earned them.

The GTF practices Choi's ITF Patterns, but in addition Park added six new patterns: Jee-Sang,
Dhan-Goon, Jee-Goo, Jook-Am, Pyong-Hwa and Sun-Duk. Also, GTF uses the original ITF
form Ko-Dang, but never its replacement, Juche. According to the GTF website, Park also
wanted GTF-style taekwondo to improve upon ITF-style taekwondo by emphasizing more a
smooth flow of movements.

The GTF is a non-political traditional martial arts organization with registered highly qualified
International Instructors committed to the legacy of legendary Grand Master Park Jung Tae,
Founder of GTF. Since his passing in 2002, the Grand Masters, Masters, Instructors and GTF
member Presidents have continued with his legacy and all contribute greatly in building the
GTF into the most respected martial arts organization in the world today. Grand Master Park
taught with a humble spirit, integrity, respect, self-control and perseverance and GTF
Instructors follow in his vision ensuring that all students get the highest training possible to
reach their fullest potential while at the same time-balancing mind, body and spirit through


Coloured belt matches are 1.5 minutes and black belt matches usually consist of a single 2
minutes round (black belt finals consist of two, 2 minute rounds). If there is no score or a score
is tied, an additional 1 minute round is allowed after a 1 minute interval (break). If a contestant
is unable to continue the match due to injury, the party responsible for the injury will be
disqualified. If no responsibility can be determined, the four judges will decide the winner.
Each of four/three judges independently determines a winner and a loser. Decisions are
indicated by a flag of the winner's colour being raised.

Points are scored with both offensive and defensive moves. For an offensive move to be
awarded points, an appropriate attacking tool must lightly touch a vital spot, and must be
delivered in a controlled manner with correct posture. For a defensive move to be awarded
points, the appropriate blocking tool must be used at the proper distance with complete balance
maintained. The block must also be powerful and accurate, and the attacker's balance must be

Within the above criteria, points are awarded as follows:

 1 point: - hand attack to mid or high section (upper torso or head), with feet on
the ground foot attack to mid-section, with one foot on the ground
perfect block with feet on the ground
 2 points: - foot attack to high section, with one foot on the ground
hand attack with both feet off the ground
jumping or flying kick to the mid-section, with feet off the ground
 3 points: - jumping or flying kicks to the high section, with feet off the ground.

Fouls: Warnings are given for stepping out of the ring with both feet, falling down, attacking
a fallen opponent, pushing, excessive contact, intentionally avoiding close contact, holding or
clawing. A minus point is assigned for every three warnings. One minus point is given for hard
(extreme) contact, loss of temper, insulting an opponent in any way, biting or scratching. Three
minus points will result in disqualification.

Contestants will be disqualified for misconduct against the referee, intentionally attacking an
illegal vital spot which disables the opponent, committing more than three fouls, ignoring the
referee's instructions for a third time, or causing a debilitating injury to an opponent.


In Global Taekwando Federation, the promotional scale is divided into 24 ranks. There are 15
grades (Gup) and 9 degrees (Dans). The colored belt scale begins with the 15th grade, the
lowest, and ends at the first grade. The black belt scale starts with the first degree and ends
with the ninth degree. In the degree scale, the number 9 was chosen because it was the highest
single digit number. It is also the number 3 multiplied by 3. In the Orient, the number 3 carries
high esteem. In China the number 3 is written as three horizontal lines, one above the other.
The upper line symbolizes heaven, the middle line symbolizes mortals, and the bottom line
symbolizes the earth. Also, in regards to the number 3, the degrees are divided into three
distinct groups. The first through third degree are novice stages of the black belt, the fourth
through sixth represent puberty while the seventh through ninth degree represent mastery of
the art.

Meaning of Colors

WHITE: Signifies innocence, as that of a beginning student who has no

previous knowledge of TaeKwon-Do.

YELLOW: Signifies the earth or the seed from which a plant sprouts and takes
root as the TaeKwon-Do foundation is being laid.

GREEN: Signifies the plant's growth as the TaeKwon-Do skills begin to


BLUE: Signifies the heavens towards which the plant matures into a
towering tree as training in TaeKwon-Do progresses.

RED: Signifies danger, cautioning the student to exercise control and

warning the opponent to stay away.

BLACK: Is the opposite of white, therefore, signifies the maturity and

proficiency in TaeKwon-Do. It also indicates the wearer's
imperviousness to darkness and fear.