If you are visiting, welcome! We hope you find this information useful. And feel free to ask anyone if you have further questions!
What is Taekwondo?
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques in addition to an array of hand techniques. “Taekwondo” literally means “foot and hand way”. The name was coined around 1959 with the establishment of the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA). In 1973 the KTA supported the establishment of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) to promote Taekwondo specifically as an international sport. Taekwondo has its roots in open-hand (weaponless) martial arts which can be traced back for hundreds of years. Most strikes in Taekwondo have the power to break bone, and even defensive blocks have the power of strikes. Students of all ages benefit from studying Taekwondo for its excellent cardiovascular workout, its self-defense techniques, and its contribution to one's personal improvement. Taekwondo became a demonstration event at the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul, and became an official medal event at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney.
Who are you folks?
We’re United Tae Kwon Do, Inc. of Pelham NH. We are a non-profit, traditional Taekwondo school located at 49 Bridge Street, Pelham NH. We’ve been at that location since 1990.
What are we going to see today?
We’re going to show you some aspects of our sport of Taekwondo. This will include choreographed sequences of moves called poomsae, some sparring, self-defense techniques, board-breaking, and some special routines that are original. Everything we do is based on practical and powerful strikes and defensive blocks.
What do your colored belts mean?
Every student starts with a white belt. After a few months, students may take their first test. They are tested on basic technique, forms, breaking and sparring. The sequence of belt colors are different in the many schools. In our schools the sequence is Yellow, Green, Blue, Red. Between each color is a half-step represented by a stripe of the next color. There are two steps after Red. Then comes Black.
What does “Dan” mean? What are the bars on the black belts?
When a student first earns a Black Belt, they have earned their first “Dan”, sometimes recognized as “degree”. In our school, a First Dan must wait one year prior to being eligible to test for Second Dan. A Second Dan must wait two years prior to testing, and so on. So, when you see a 7th Dan Black Belt, they have been a black belt for a minimum of 6+5+4+3+2+1=21 years!
What are the age limits for becoming a Taekwondo student?
There are none. Most young students are older than six years old. One of our local Grandmasters is over sixty. We’re not saying who.
Is there any worldwide standard for ranks in Taekwondo?
Our school is affiliated with the World Taekwondo Federation, which is also known as the Kukkiwon. It is also the Olympic governing body for Taekwondo. The Kukkiwon sets standards for black belts, while colored belts are regulated by the local school. Our black belt certification comes directly from the Kukkiwon in Seoul, Korea. We actually have photo IDs issued by the Kukkiwon, usually used for registering for competitions. There are other world organizations, with their own standards, but WTF is generally regarded as the largest.
Why do you break wooden boards?
Board breaking demonstrates correct technique. Some board breaking can get pretty complex with powerful strikes. A kick or hand strike that can break a 1-inch thick pine board can break a bone. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME! Attempting to break a board with poor technique can result in serious injury.
Is Taekwondo really effective for self-defense?
Yes. We take the self-defense aspect very seriously. Several of our students have stories of using their training in defending themselves or others. It is explicitly part of our curriculum.
Are you guys a bit too serious?
We are very serious about Taekwondo, but we have a good time at every class. We’re often laughing out loud, and don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Is this really healthy for kids?
Yes. We teach the Taekwondo tenets of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. We have students that joined as kids and persevered through their black belts. They are really good people, and we think Taekwondo helped. And it’s really fun having the whole family involved!
Can you be injured? Are injuries common?
Like any sport, injuries are possible. By teaching correct technique as a first priority, injuries are minimized. We make sure we warm up, cool down, and emphasize good body mechanics.
Is it a good cardio workout?
Oh, yes. You get out of it what you put into it. And most classes you’ll have the opportunity for an excellent cardiovascular workout.
Is it expensive? Are there are hidden costs?
Our school is a non-profit organization and a registered Charitable Trust in the State of New Hampshire. All our instructors are volunteers and teach because they love Taekwondo. Because of this our school fees are kept very low (see our About page), with a small fee per test. There is a discount for additional family members. All these funds get rolled back into the school for rent, equipment and our annual holiday party.
How do you segregate classes? By age? By rank?
Nearly all classes are mixed-age, mixed-rank. The instructor manages the class depending upon which students are present. This is actually more challenging for the instructor, but results in opportunities for higher belts to help lower belts by example and direct assistance. Many of our classes have men, women, boys, girls, and ages six to sixty.
Are there special belts for juniors?
No. The requirements for ranks are not changed on the basis of age or gender. In our school, every belt is earned. There is ONE track for advancement, and our black belts are recognized world-wide.
Does Taekwondo use only feet?
No. Taekwondo literally means “Foot and Hand Way”. While it uses more kicks than most other disciplines, hand techniques play a very significant role.
I don’t understand some of the commands you are shouting. What are you saying?
Almost all of our commands are in Korean, as is traditional. If we are doing an exercise, the instructor may count in Korean, too. All of our forms have Korean names. But, a yell before an attack or board-break is just a yell, called a Kiyup (kee-up). And we pick our own Kiyup.
What is a stance?
How we position our feet and body at any time is called a “stance”. There are many type of stances. Some of the ones you may see are:
What are blocks?
A “block” is to counter a strike. In Taekwondo, every block is also a strike. Blocks may be closed-hand or open-hand.
Some common blocks:
What are the types of hand strikes?
Hand strikes may be closed hand, open hand or have special finger positions.
Some of the closed-hand strikes you may see are:
Open-hand strikes may include:
What are the types of kicks?
There are many kicks in Taekwondo. Some of the more common ones you may see are:
And there are jumping and spinning versions of all of the above!
Can you tell me more about the uniform?
Dobok is the Taekwondo uniform. Do means "way" and bok means "clothing." The Taekwondo Dobok consists of pants, top and Tti (belt). Except for the belt, the pants and top are white in color. This is to symbolize the purity of the martial art. All students should wear the same Taekwondo uniform in order to better express their technique and individuality.
The jacket of the Taekwondo uniform has two sides, the left side represents Yanggi and the right side represents Umgi. Yanggi represents the mind and Umgi represents strength.
In our school, the V-neck has black trim for Black Belt level practitioners.
(excerpted from the Kukkiwon website)
Can you tell me more about the belt?
The Tti (belt) represents the purpose of the training and the degree of technique according to its color. The comparison of movement between people who have Dan (black belt) or Kup (colored belts) represents the difference in the body movement and mind. The belt that is tied around the waist connects the upper part and lower part of Taekwondo uniform and covers the center of the body. To wear the belt can help to deliver the power to the muscle that connect Meongmunhyul (acupunture point) of waist and body center of lower abdomen.
(excerpted from the Kukkiwon website)
Which is correct, taekwondo or tae kwon do?
Either way is correct. The proper English translation would be as one word taekwondo, however you will often see the syllables separated as tae kwon do for ease in reading by English speakers.