Tae Kwon Docan be translated simply as 'The Way of Hand and Foot', where:
Tae = means to jump, kick or smash with the foot,
Kwon= refers to the fist; chiefly to punch or destroy with the hand; and
Do= means the art, way or method.
Taking this definition into consideration, Tae Kwon Do can be literally described as the scientific method of unarmed combat, involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks, dodges and interceptions to realise the rapid destruction of an assailant.
However, it would be naive to think that this is all Tae Kwon Do encapsulates.
In addition to being a scientifically-based based approach to self-defence, Tae Kwon Do is very much an art form. Like dancing, it serves as a means for self-expression through beautiful and skilful movements, giving the practitioner much more than the mere prospect of fighting to consider. In truth, senior students of Tae Kwon Do will find that their abilities far exceed what is ever required in a fight. For example, breaking timber or tiles at a height of nine or ten feet in the air would hardly seem relevant to a self-defence situation. Such feats however stand testament to both the potential of the art, and the potential of average human beings through regular disciplined training.
Having said this, students will agree that the ultimate value and function of Tae Kwon Do lies far beyond its physical aspect. It also promotes a way of thinking and life based on the ethics of self-imposed discipline and moral rearmament. As one's skill level develops, so too does their self esteem and even the least confident of students begins to believe in themself.
The result is a healthier human being, both physically and mentally, who offers far more as a confident member of their community. As the late General Choi Hong Hi (the art's founder) originally stipulated, the five tenets of Tae Kwon Do are:
- Indomitable Spirit
If training is conducted with the aim of developing these ethics, students will reap not only the immediate physical benefits, but also the mental and spiritual rewards of studying Tae Kwon Do.