Taekwondo is a Korean Martial Art. Translated, it means “the way of the hand and the foot”. Traditionally, students studying taekwondo will wear a white uniform, or dobok, and a belt. Students start out with a white belt and progress through belts until reaching black belt. Between white and black there will be several belt colors in between, usually around six or seven. The order of the belts in the middle will usually vary slightly from school to school. Training does not stop at black belt, however. There are several degrees of black belts that can also be achieved.
Originally there were only two belts. Students started out with white belts and studied and trained towards a black belt. The way a student earned a black belt was by working hard during classes. The harder one worked, the more sweat they produced, causing the white belt to get dirty. The belt was, and still is, never to be washed. Once all of the sweat turned the belt black, the student finally earned their black belt.
Taekwondo is equal with upper and lower body techniques. This makes taekwondo an excellent martial art for women to study. Women are are naturally stronger on with their lower bodies than their upper bodies, so taekwondo allows women to take advantage of their stronger areas.
Taekwondo teaches blocks, strikes, weapon training, sparring, and self-defense. The blocks, strikes, and kicks are arranged into forms or patterns of movement known as poom sae. The forms increase in difficulty as you progress through the belt system. A white belt form will be significantly easier than a black belt form. Weapon training includes the sshang jeol bong. Translated, this means two ropes on a stick. This weapon is known to many as the nunchucku. There are several techniques, strikes, and forms that go along with the sshang jeol bong. Once you have mastered the sshang jeol bong, you can move on to using two.
Another weapon is the bhang mang ee, which is a single stick. Many people know this as an escrima stick. Originally the bhang mang ee was used as a laundry tool. Again, once the bahng mang ee has been mastered, you can move on to double. The bhang mang ee is a very practical weapon. The stick can be replaced with many household items including canes and umbrellas.
Another weapon is the jahng bong. This is the long stick, similar to a pool stick, generally about the height of the user of the weapon.
Sparring is what many people picture when think of martial arts. Most taekwondo practitioners, especially beginners, wear some type of protective gear, including head gear and mouth piece. Sparring allows two students to practice techniques they have learned in a real world setting. It is also a great workout.
Studying taekwondo will also expose you to self-defense techniques. You will learn and practice what to do in a variety of situations, especially being attacked. You will learn what you physically can and cannot do and learn what really works in the real world, not just an instructional setting.
Overall, taekwondo is an excellent way to get into and stay in shape. It also teaches you self-defense, which is increasingly more important.