Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that was developed in the mid-20th century as a standardised form of multiple Korean martial art styles and some Japanese influences from Karate. Due to its standardisation—and other factors—Taekwondo has become an Olympic sport that is practised across the world. Taekwondo is a martial art that is best known for its kicks. However, despite the impression that the Olympics gives, Taekwondo does include other techniques
Taekwondo includes hand techniques such as punches, although these are usually not used in competition due to factors such as kicks being worth more points, they’re a longer-range attack and punching to the face would incur disqualification rather than points. Kicks to the head are allowed but punches are not.
Taekwondo is very divisive and can provide multiple avenues for pursuit. Taekwondo can be practised as a sport and practitioners can compete in world wide completions, including the Olympics. It can be practised for health and fitness benefits or for self-defence and to protect oneself and those they care for from harm.Taekwondo usually involves many fitness exercises to promote health and fitness. A common saying that Barry Taekwondo’s chief instructor often uses is:
“If you’re not fit, don’t face the enemy” – Leon Shakespeare
Fitness is a core part of being a martial artist as it is required for fighting, tactical withdrawal, being able to practise the physical activity of Taekwondo for prolonged periods of time, health, longevity and general wellbeing. Taekwondo is an effective means of self-defence. Taekwondo teaches the practitioner how to fight and also includes self-defence specific techniques that teach the practitioner how to deal with attacks such as strangle holds and weapon based attacks.
Taekwondo has many techniques apart from simple kicking and punches. These include elbow and knee strikes (disallowed in competition), knife hand strikes (chops), stamps, blocks, throws, locks etc. Taekwondo may also help in discipline and character building.Barry Taekwondo practises Mudo style Taekwondo. This style could be described as the full package. It includes not only the aforementioned techniques but also sparring, 3-, 2-, 1 step sparring and patterns—otherwise known as forms.
These are akin to a dance routine as they consist of a pre-set sequence of Taekwondo techniques and movements which are used to practise formal techniques. 3-, 2-, 1 step sparring can be summarised as “turn based formal sparring”.This is used as a safer form of sparring that is used to practise and demonstrate technique and to teach decision making and tactical thinking—the ability to decide what technique to use. Taekwondo also includes no-, light- and full contact sparring. This is usually performed in armour. This armour can be seen in Olympic sparring and is comparable to a late medieval or renaissance period knight in full plate armour.
Taekwondo will teach the practitioner how to fight, defend themselves from serious harm by others, how to maintain a healthy life style and how to become a better human being.
OathI shall obey the tenets of Taekwondo
I shall respect my instructors and seniors
I shall not misuse Taekwondo
I shall be a champion of freedom and justice
I shall help build a more peaceful world
White beltInnocence—The bearer has no experience of the art or way of Taekwondo
Yellow beltEarth—The foundation has been laid
Green beltPlant Growth—The plant has sprouted
Blue beltHeaven—The plant is reaching to the heaven
Red beltDanger—The bearer has power but not the fine control
Black beltThe opposite of white. Therefore the bearer has progressed to proficiency over darkness and fear
Grading system description
Taekwondo uses coloured belts to depict rank. Each rank equates to a level of skill. The student goes up ranks by attending an exam called a grading where they will demonstrate their skills with the hope of gaining a higher grade.There are ten grades prior to black belt which have the suffix of “kup”. This means that white belt would be 10th-kup and black tip would be 1st-kup.
However, there are only five colours before black belt. A tag (usually a bit of coloured tape) of the next colour is added to both ends of the belt. So, if a 10th-kup graded to 9th-kup they would add a yellow tag to the end of their belt. This would be removed once they graded to yellow belt and then the next grade would be green tip and so on.
There are grades after black belt which are called degrees. The grade after black tip is 1st degree black belt. After two years the practitioner can take a grading to grade to 2nd degree black belt. Three years after that they can grade to 3rd degree black belt and so on.
There are usually somewhere around ten levels of black belt with the later grades being more bureaucratic in nature rather than being purely representative of skill. The highest grade in a martial art is the grand master and head of that school/association (usually worldwide).
A 1st-kup must however wait six months after receiving that grade before they can take their black belt grading. This is for quality insurance as black belt comes with it a certain expectation of skill and proficiency in the art and is also the grade required to become a qualified instructor.
A grading for kup grades happens every 3 to 4 months but only if there are people who can grade up. If the instructor does not think that somebody is ready for the grading then they will generally not put them forward for it and not hold one if there is no one who can grade up or for other complications such as paperwork.
Gradings also have a fee. Kup grades usually cost around £25. However, black belt grades can be significantly more expensive and cost hundreds of pounds. Please note that there is no requirement to grade up unless the practitioner wishes to become an instructor or fight in competition. This is because putting a 4th degree black belt against a white belt or having that white belt become an instructor doesn’t look very good on paper.
Barry Taekwondo is a Taekwondo club in Barry, South Wales. Barry Taekwondo is part of the British Taekwondo and Mudo Academy (BTMA) which is part of the British Taekwondo Council which is the governing body for Taekwondo in the UK.Under multiple instructors and locations Barry Taekwondo can trace its history (with some very old photographs) over many decades.
Barry Taekwondo is currently a fairly small club. This gives us the benefit of being able to focus on the individual needs of our students and at time give them one to one training with our chief instructor—Master Leon Shakespeare 6th degree black belt— or under the chief instructor of our sister club from Pencoed—Master Brian Jones 5th degree black belt. We strive to create a comfortable environment for our students and to teach them to the best of our abilities.