Learning a martial art is a serious commitment. Studying one can take years or even a lifetime to see through.
Many people are taken in by the glamor of the martial arts world through the images they see on movies and T.V., without realizing that a single martial art takes years to learn and years more to achieve mastery. Deciding which martial art to study is a big commitment.
However, they are still a worthwhile endeavor because they sharpen the mind and strengthen the body. Martial arts training has a variety of health benefits, both mental and physical.
Taekwondo is one of the world’s most popular martial arts for this reason. Although the exact figures aren’t known, it’s estimated that there are tens or even hundreds of thousands of Taekwondo black-belts worldwide. There are currently 49 taekwondo practitioners who have achieved the rank of grandmaster, the highest achievement awarded by international taekwondo institutions.
Don’t be discouraged, though. Anyone can learn Taekwondo, it just requires willpower and the determination to learn.
Here are some taekwondo moves that you can use to get started as a beginner.
Can I Learn Taekwondo at Home?
Short answer: yes you can. Longer answer: yes, but that won’t be enough.
It’s important to understand that practicing taekwondo at home is not an adequate substitute for in-class training.
Taekwondo moves are complex and require guidance to achieve mastery. For this reason, martial arts practice is best done under the supervision of a trained instructor, to make sure that you don’t injure yourself and that your technique is correct.
With that being the case, practicing taekwondo at home is a great way to refine your skills outside of the classroom.
Here are some tips to help you set up a practice space.
Find an Ideal Practice Space
Most guides recommend that you use a spacious room such as a basement or garage as a practice area. Taekwondo requires space to move around in.
Ideally, you want a space that’s quiet and isolated, where you won’t be distracted and where you can practice in peace.
Here are a few items you may need:
- Matts: Taekwondo is traditionally practiced barefoot. It’s preferable to practice on a carpet, or better yet on a foam padding, so that you don’t damage your feet.
- Mirror: Having a mirror in your space is ideal to help you perfect your form and your stances. Taekwondo requires precision.
- Punching bags: Getting a punching bag would also be a good idea. It’s best that you get a bag that you can move around. Taekwondo involves a lot of kicking rather than striking with the hands, so for that reason it may be best to get a free standing bag.
- Weights Putting some free weights or dumbbells in your room will help with your strength conditioning.
Made4Fighters provides taekwondo equipment ranging from shirts and helmets to belts and mouthguards to help you practice at peak efficiency. We also provide taekwondo uniforms.
Terminology of Taekwondo
Taekwondo is an art form native to Korea, with roots going back 2,300 years. For this reason, Taekwondo instructors are encouraged to use the original Korean terminology for moves, stances, forms and commands when conducting a training session.
Here are some common Korean words and phrases you’re likely to hear in a typical Taekwondo class.
Do-Jang: Training area
Taekwondo: The way of the fist and foot
Taekwondoin: A term referring to one who practices the art of Taekwondo.
Dan: Black belt rank/degree
Baro: Return to starting position
Bang hyang bakoogi: Changing direction
Bahl mahk: Ankle
Bahlbong oh ri: Arch of foot
Taekwondo Rules of Etiquette
Much like many martial arts, Taekwondo is not just a sport or even an art, but a lifestyle. The practice of Taekwondo is guided by a belief system that adheres to five basic tenants:
- Courtesy: This refers to the application of correct etiquette and respect for other people, at all times.
- Integrity: This refers to the wisdom to distinguish right from wrong, and the courage to stand up for what is right. It commands practitioners to be honest and have strong, moral principles to guide their actions.
- Perseverance: A taekwondoin must be dedicated enough to struggle against all odds to reach their goal.
- Self-Control: To have control over your thoughts, as well as your actions.
- Indomitable spirit: This is a uniquely Korean concept that doesn’t translate neatly into other cultures. Essentially, to have indomitable spirit means to fight for your beliefs and convictions against all odds.
The beginning of every Taekwondo class begins by reciting the student oath, which reads as follows:
- I shall observe the tenets of Taekwondo
- I shall respect the instructors and seniors
- I will never misuse Taekwondo.
- I will be a champion of freedom and justice.
- I shall build a more peaceful world.
The Rules in a Taekwondo Competition
Taekwondo is also an Olympic Sport with an international audience, with 128 medalists to its credit.
The object of a taekwondo competition is to land as many kicks and punches in the scoring zone of your opponent - namely, the torso and the head. Actions such as punching to the face and attacking with the knee are penalized.
Taekwondo, the way of the hand and foot, is done via kicks with punches - mostly with kicks.
The scoring system is as follows:
- One point awarded to a punch to the torso
- Two points for a kick to the torso
- Four points for a spinning kick to the torso
- Three points for a kick to the head
- Five points for a spinning kick to the head
- One point for the opponent for every penalty
There are penalties awarded to the opponent for every foul move executed by the initiator, known as a gam-jeom. These include:
- Punches to the head or below the waist
- Attacks with the knee or the head
- Falling to the ground
- Delaying or avoiding the match
- Pushing or grabbing
Forms help a student to practice their techniques and moves without the need of a master. The Korean term is Poomsae, similar to a Kata in Japanese Karate.
Poomsae are used to improve a student’s physical conditioning, muscle memory, and concentration. They’re essentially done by pretending you are fighting an imaginary opponent.
Students need to properly execute poomsae in order to achieve ranks - or Taegeuk - and a corresponding color belt.
Each Taegeuk takes several poomsae to achieve. Every taegeuk corresponds with a belt - white, yellow, green, blue, red, and black.
Basic Blocks in Taekwondo
Blocks are self-explanatory - their intent is to deflect attacks away from you. Here are few of the basic Taekwondo blocks every white belt should know.
Knife Hand Block
This block is meant to parry, catch, grab and deflect.
Execute this block by having your guards up and your hands open. Your fingers are pressed together - resembling a knife. This block deflects punches away from your face.
Closed Hand Block
With this block, your hands are closed into fists. Your hands resemble guards in boxing. Your hands frame your face, and your arms deflect your opponents strikes. This stance is meant to deter attacks to your head.
Outer Forearm Block - Bakat Palmok Makgi
Your front arms snap into a horizontal frame and held out in front of you. This move can be performed high, middle, or low, and is usually performed in walking or L-stance.
Low Block - Arae Makgi
This block is performed with your outside arm to protect your legs against lower body strikes. It’s executed by a snapping motion downward from your shoulders.
High Block - Ulgool Makgi
This block deters attacks like kicks to your face and head. With one arm pressed to your side, you extend the other arm upward with your palm facing out.
Inner Forearm Block - An Makgi
Perform this block by stepping forward and making a chopping motion. Your arm is extended vertically with your palm inward.
The inside of your arm absorbs the blow of the attack.
Rising Block - Chookya Makgi
This block is designed to protect attacks to your head, or to your shoulders.
Raise your arm horizontally to cover your head, while your inner forearm absorbs the shock of the strike. This is a good block to defend from attacks from above.
Basic Taekwondo Stances
The purpose of a stance is to give your moves and technique structure and form. They form the foundation of different offensive strikes and defensive postures.
The major stances can vary in name, foot angle, and width of your stance across the two major Taekwondo Federations: World Taekwondo and the International Taekwondo Federation. However, many stances are common to each.
Attention Stance - Charyot Sogi
In this stance, your feet are splayed at a 45 degree angle, with both hands closed into fists by your side. Your arms hang down at your side, and your eyes look forward.
Ready Stance - Joon Bi Seogi
Start at attention, move your left foot forward, and stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
Your head and body are facing forward. As you’re standing straight up, bring your fists to chest height, make a fist with your hands, and move them down to belt level.
Your fists should be a fist-size length away from your waist.
Horse Stance - Jo Choom Seogi
This stance resembles the action of riding a horse, hence the name. It’s mostly for leg training, but it can also be used as an offensive stance.
In this position, both your feet are parallel, both legs are slightly bent and two feet apart, and your knees are parallel with the ends of your feet.
Your torso, your knees and your shins should be upright. Your body and head are facing your target, your back is straight, and your fists are on your belt.
Back Stance, or L-Stance - Dwi Kubi Seogi or Dwitgubi
Back or L-Stance is a defensive stance meant to avoid strikes to the chest and move away from your opponent.
Your feet are in an L-shape in relation to your body, your front foot is forward, your back foot is at 90 degrees. 70% of the pressure is on your back leg, and 30% on the front leg, as your chest is angled sideways to your opponent.
Fighting Stance - Gyoroogi Seogi
This is an offensive stance commonly used in sparring. Your feet are shoulder width apart, with both feet in line with one another. Your chin is down, your hands are up, and you are ready to strike.
Taekwondo Basic Kicks
Although strikes are included in Taekwondo techniques, this martial art mostly makes use of attacks with the legs, and prominently features kicking.
Front Kick - Ap Chagi
The front kick is executed with speed, more than with force. This is one of the first kicks you learn as you train in Taekwondo. It’s also among the most powerful moves you can learn.
To perform this move, you raise the knee of your kicking leg to your waist, and push forward with your foot towards your target, striking them and pushing them away from you.
Side Kick - Yeop Chagi
The side kick is generally a lower kick meant to connect with the torso.
When you perform a side kick, you rotate your body 90 degrees, and exert force by extending your leg. Build momentum from your torso and waist, and connect with the target with the outside edge or the heel of your foot.
Crescent Kick - Bandal Chagi
This is a well-known kick and is featured in both Taekwondo and Karate.
This kick is performed in a crescent or axe motion, and is aimed at the head. There are two major variations: inside-to-out, and outside-to-in.
The foot connects with the edge of the foot or the heel to the head in a sweeping, crescent motion.
Roundhouse Kick - Dollyeo Chagi
This is a very powerful kick that’s been featured in a plethora in Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris movies.
The kick is done by pivoting on your standing leg, turning your hips, and extending your leg while pivoting. You connect with your opponent using either the ball or the instep of your foot.
Taekwondo features mostly kicking, spinning kicks, roundhouse kicks, crescent kicks etc.
However, punches are essential for any student of Taekwondo to master. In the competitive Taekwondo space, combatants often put too much effort into kicks and neglect their hand strikes - both executing them and defending against them.
Here are a few of the ones you should know about if you’re going to take your study of Taekwondo seriously.
Jabs are used to measure distance, throw your opponent off guard, keep them away from you, and make openings for power striking. You can also use it to bait opponents into attacking, making them vulnerable.
The jab is done with a quick flick of your wrist with your forward arm. Your knuckles turn to the ceiling as your arm extends outward.
The uppercut is a very powerful technique. It’s good for close-combat, and strikes at the opponent's jaw or body.
This move is thrown vertically, from close-in. Turn your body to load the punch, and send it upward at your opponent.
This punch is used if you have missed with your straight punch, to reorient yourself. It’s used as a finisher meant to disorient an opponent.
This punch is similar to a jab, but is done with the back of your hand.
A variation, the spinning backfist, is given extra momentum with a forward spin. It’s a more advanced version of the backfist which can catch your opponent off guard.
Straight Punch/Cross Punch
This is a power strike done with the back of your hand. As you rotate your body to generate power, you strike with your rear arm and hit your opponent with your first two knuckles.
This is a good move to use if your opponent is advancing towards you.
Wrapping It Up
Taekwondo is a life skill, it’s both good exercise for your mind and body, and a sport that teaches you self-reliance and self-defense.
The way of the hand and foot is rooted in a belief system that emphasizes having respect for both yourself and others, and the importance of doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. You can even refine your skill in the comfort of your own home.
Visit our Taekwondo page and get what you need to start on your path to becoming a black belt.