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Attack its weak point for massive damage.
Taekwondo or Tae Kwon Do (translated as "the way of the hand and the foot") is a Korean martial art and combat sport. It is a striking art which utilizes hands and especially legs, featuring a large acumen of kicks of all sorts.

Korea's own contribution to modern martial arts, taekwondo was created after the Japanese occupation of the country, emerging from a number of different schools as a mixture of Karate and native fighting styles like taekkyon. The art's definitive shape would appear after its adoption by the South Korean army, which unified all the existent schools and gave birth to Tae Soo Do, which would be renamed Tae Kwon Do. The sport would be governed by the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA) and its more known offspring, World Taekwondo Federation (WTF, later reduced to World Taekwondo (WT) to prevent the obvious jokes with the acronym), but also by a controversially parallel body called International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), founded by Chong Hong Hi, who is called by many the true founder of the art. Over time, it became an Olympic sport and gained millions of adepts.

Practitioners of the sports are called Taekwondoin, although it's also common to hear Taekwondist or some idiomatic variation nowadays. Equipment consists in a white uniform called dobok which is a modified version of the judogi used in Judo, composed of a vertically closing jacket and long pants, either in white or black, tied by a belt called tti. Also, competition usually requires a full set of body armor, composed of head protector, chest plate, forearm guards and shin guards.

Taekwondo is quite popular in media due to the high spectacularity of its kicks. Its practitioners will jump, spin and fly, doing a heavy emphasis on agility and mobility rather than stability, and rules often endorse this kind of attack by giving points to the most complex and/or technical pirouette. It should be noted, however, that there are multiple styles of taekwondo, all of which are very stylistically separated in terms of competition, forms used, terminology, and technique emphasis, depending on which organization hosts it.

  • WT: Also known as Kukki-won (Kukki-style) and formerly World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). This style boasts the ruleset currently used in the Olympic Games and is officially supported by the South Korean government and the KTA. Fighters compete heavily armored, which counts as the target in competition: you score points on hitting your opponent's armor with at least some strength, the more awesome the strike, the more points you receive, also depending on the body part. Aside from points, it is also possible to win by knockout, superiority or by the referee's decision. Punching the head and kicking the legs are not allowed. Despite being the official successor of the KTA, it is actually the youngest style that is not an offshoot (unless you consider all taekwondo to be offshoots of the traditional styles) on the list due being formed in 1973.
  • ITF: Also known as Changheon-yu (Chang Heon-style). It was created by General Choi Hong Hi who originally founded the KTA in order to unify the various kwans into a single style. Due to fierce resistance from the kwans, along with political disagreements about teaching taekwondo in North Korea and unifying the whole Korean Peninsula, Choi broke with the KTA in 1966 and established the ITF in Canada of all places. It initially had some support from the South Korean government due to Choi and the at the time country’s President being personal friends, but that support was gone once Choi and the government later split on the issue of whether to accept North Korean influence on the martial art and in 1972 the government decided to back the Kukkiwon as the official organization representing taekwondo which led to the creation of the WT a few months afterwards. Despite this, the ITF continued to function as an independent federation (with financial support from the North Korean regime) and Choi continued to develop the ITF-style until his death in 2002. Before Choi’s death though, the ITF faced multiple splits, first in 1990, then in 2001 and finally in 2002 after his death, with three separate ITFs formed in the aftermath of the last one due to a dispute on who was supposed to be the next president of the ITF after Choi, each of which continues to operate today under the same name. In spite of the splits, they all still use the same curriculum (with variations here and there) and competition rules, which are curiously both softer and more open than WT. Punches to the face are allowed and body armor is not worn, but striking with excessive force is discouraged and you get actually disqualified if you knock out the opponent and matches either reset every time points are scored or is continuous sparring depending on which ITF organisation hosts it, which make it a sort of body fencing instead of all around fighting. The style is also known for the Sine Wave motion, named after the mathematical concept sine wave, an oscillating up-and-down motion. The intent in taekwondo is to create maximum power in one's technique by raising and lowering the body during the technique. This gives the Sine Wave style of taekwondo a very "bouncy" look and feel, though not all ITF schools have adopted the Sine Wave motion, with non-Sine Wave schools being referred to as "Traditional Taekwondo" or more accurately "Traditional ITF Taekwondo".
  • GTF: Short for the Global Taekwondo Federation. It is an offshoot of the ITF that was founded by Park Jung Tae in 1990 due to him being unable to solve the various disagreements between him and ITF founder Choi Hong Hi. His style is said to emphasizing more a smooth flow of movements compared to ITF, though they still use the same competition rules and generally keep the same forms, with six additions created by Park and keeps using the original ITF form Ko-Dang, instead of its replacement, Juche.
  • UTF: Short for the Universal Tae Kwon Do Federation. Another offshoot of the ITF that was founded by Han Cha Kyo though he left the ITF under more pleasant terms than Park Jung Tae, and it is described as a "learning organization", as such it does not have competitions. It keeps using the ITF forms, but like the GTF above, it keeps using the original ITF form Ko-Dang. It is also known for it unique approach to physical therapy called "The Han Method of Breathing" (or "The Han System of Isotrim and Breathing Exercises") or just "The Han Method" for short, which combines isometric physical therapy with Ki Gong breathing and is also known for the use of the Oxitrim and the Dynastrike exercise devices, both creations of Han.
  • Traditional: Also known as Classic. Not a style by itself, but it refers to the styles that were practiced during the 1940s and 50s by the nine kwans; which consists of the original five kwans, the first five martial arts schools to open in Korea following the end of Japanese occupation at the end of World War II and the four major schools, also known as the annex kwans, the kwans that opened after the conclusion of the Korean War but before the KTA was created and the styles of the masters who did not join the KTA (there were about 40 "kwans" before the KTA reduced them to the nine kwans). In terms of techniques and teaching methods, the traditional styles are often seen as very similar to Shotokan karate as they shared the same principles of mixing kicks with punches (which is why it was also known as "Korean Karate"), but slightly favored kicking over punching while they also include techniques like clinching with elbow and knee strikes as well as limited grappling in the form of throws, sweeps, and trips. While they do have sparring rules which are considered harder compared to the federations, they do not have competitions as the styles were only made for the self defense aspect of fighting. Before the name Taekwondo was established, these styles went by names like Tang Soo Do, Kong Soo Do, Soo Bak, Kwon Bup, and Tae Soo Do.
    • Song Moo Kwan: The first of the five original kwans, founded by Ro Byung Jick before the end of WWII with the name of his style being "Kong Soo Do" before it switched to "Tang Soo Do". Due to its founder being a black belt under Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi, the school was originally known as Song Do Kwan which is the Korean way of saying Shotokan and taught the style at the kwan before changes were made to separate his style from it, like focusing more on kicking, though despite the changes it kept very close to its Shotokan roots.
    • Chung Do Kwan: The second of the five original kwans, founded by Lee Won Kyuk and arguably coined the term "Tang Soo Do" as the name of his style. Its founder was another Shotokan black belt who trained alongside Byung Jick Ro when they were schooling in Japan and also studied several styles of kung fu when visiting Okinawa and cities in China, and was also inspired by the art of Taekkyeon from listening to old stories about it in his youth. It was once known as "The National Police Headquarters Dojang" as Lee had a good relationship with them and trained them to help deal with Seoul gangsters after South Korea's independence day. It is arguably the most influential of the original kwans.
    • Yun Mu Kwan: The third of the original kwans, founded by Chun Sang-Sup and is one of the kwans under the style name of "Kwon Bup". Originally known as Choson Yon Moo Kwan Judo Do Jang, due to it originally being a judo school started by Kyung Suk Lee and one of the few martial arts schools the Japanese occupying forces allowed to remain open during the period of their military occupation of that country until Chun took over. Chun was a college student in Japan where he studied both karate (it is generally believed that he was another student of shotokan's founder, though other sources suggest that he may have studied under Shudokan founder Kanken Toyama) and judo and taught both at the kwan. Chun taught at the Yun Mu Kwan for only a few years before he disappeared during the Korean War and the kwan closed down with his disappearance. As such it was never formally consolidated into modern taekwondo, although some people today still make use of the name to describe their own style.
      • Ji Do Kwan: A successor school of the Yun Mu Kwan that many consider its official successor and founded by Chun San Sup's students Lee Kyo Yoon, Yun Kwae-Byung, and Lee Chong-Woo. Originally called the Dae Han Che Yook Kwan, it continued the teachings of Chun before the rise of the KTA, except it cut out all judo training in order to distance itself from the grappling art. Yun Kwae-Byung was notably the first head of the influential Kanbukan Dojo in Japan, that would pioneer bogutsuki karate which would later inspire the creation of full contact karate and also came up with the concept of hogu daeryon that many styles of taekwondo use today, he also served as the kwan's first president. Despite joining the KTA, Yun became critical about the direction the younger generation of martial artist and teachers were going with Taekwondo and tried to sway Jidokwan out of the KTA, but younger members of Jidokwan led by Lee Chong-Woo voted Yun out, with Lee chosen as the new president and turning Ji Do Kwan into a modern Taekwondo school. It still exists in Korea today as a fraternal order which endorses the Kukkiwon and supports the WT.
    • YMCA Kwon Bop Bu... yes really: The fourth of the original kwans, founded by Yoon Byung-In and the other kwan under the style name of "Kwon Bup". It was established at the YMCA in the Jong No district of Seoul, which is where it got its name and is sometimes known as the Seoul Kwon Bop Bu. Yoon studied kung fu when he was still living in Manchuria, where he was born and later trained in karate under Kanken Tōyama. He also had a strong friendship with Yun Mu Kwan founder Chun Sang-Sup and even taught at his kwan right before founding his own kwan. Yoon later created his own style and called it Kwon Bop Kong Soo Do as his style incorporated a lot from his kung fu training unlike the other kwans. Similarly to Chun, Yun disappeared during the Korean War, as such his style was never formally consolidated into modern taekwondo, however unlike his friend it was discovered that he was captured by North Korean forces as a prisoner of war and later taught his style to the Korean special forces of the Moranbong which contributed to the creation of Gyeoksul, then later got sent to work at a concrete factory in Chongjin until his death from lung cancer.
      • Chang Moo Kwan: A successor school of the YMCA Kwon Bop Bu that many consider its official successor and founded by Yoon Byung-In's students Lee Nam Suk and Kim Soon Bae (who later became the lead editor for the Kukkiwon's Taekwondo Textbook), with its official name being Chang Moo Kwan Jongro Keumcheon Dojang. Originally known as Chae Shin Bu, it changed its name to honor Yoon Byung-In due to him once suggesting that his style be called Chang Moo Kwan. Today, it exists in Korea as a fraternal friendship club with its office in a youth athletic club in Seoul which support the Kukkiwon and the WT, though one school in Korea known as "Yonmujae" preserves the old style of the kwan, though it is an independent school apart from the official Chang Moo Kwan, Kukkiwon, and WT. The original style also lives on in the US as Lee Nam Suk spent his last years in Southern California in the seaside community of San Pedro teaching the style to a handful of American students, who continue teaching it today.
    • Moo Duk Kwan: The last of the original kwans, founded by Hwang Kee and is the style that is most associated with the name "Tang Soo Do". Originally known as Kyo Tong Bu Woo Association, Kee was inspired to create this style after he witnessed a man using what he believed to be Taekkyon to defend himself against a large group, though Kee says that the man refused to teach him, so he created his own system based on what he had seen and later trained in kung fu under Yang Kuk Jin, and according to some sources learned karate under Koichi Kondo, to combine them into a form he initially called Hwa Soo Do but changed it to Tang Soo So due to the former's lack of popularity. The original dojang was nearby the Yong San Railroad station, so it was also known as the "Railroad Dojang". While Kee did initially let his kwan join with the KTA, he withdrew from the unification efforts and established the Korea Tang Soo Do Association, however some of his students Hong Chong Soo, Lee Kang Ik, and Oh Se Joon continued supporting the KTA while still using the name of the kwan. To further confuse things, Kee decided to evolve his style into the style seen below while other students who disagreed with this continued under the Tang Soo Do name, though both would still use the kwan's name as part of the organization they represent. Due to the name disputes the KTA had to create the "Kwan Ri Kwan" as a way to designate Moo Duk Kwan members who were involved in taekwondo unification but were not part of the "original" Moo Duk Kwan.
      • Soo Bahk Do: Hwang Kee's evolution of his Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan style. He did this after he read the Muye Dobo Tongji and incorporated what he interpreted from a martial art called subak. It is considered by some to be the true Moo Duk Kwan school due to the founder's being the head of it until his death.
    • Han Moo Kwan: The first of the annex kwans formed that joined the KTA, founded by Lee Kyo Yoon, a student of Chun Sang Sup of the Yun Mu Kwan and a founding member of what would become the Ji Do Kwan. He had conflicts with Lee Chong Woo and left to start his own kwan while declaring that his kwan was the true successor of the Yun Mu Kwan. Today it exists as a fraternal social friendship club that endorses the Kukkiwon and supports WT.
    • Oh Do Kwan: The second of the annex kwans formed that joined the KTA, founded by Choi Hong Hi with support from Chung Do Kwan students Nam Tae Hi, Kim Bok Man, Woo Jong Lim, Ko Jae Chun, Kim Suk Kyu, Baek Joon Ki, Kwak Keun Sik, Kim Bong Sik, Han Cha Kyo, and Chung Jang Keun, and it is where the name "taekwondo" originates. It was originally founded as a school for military training as part of the Republic of Korea Army's Physical Training Program, but it eventually created a civilian version after the Korean War, with its official name being the Dae Han Taekwon-Do Oh Do Kwan Jung Ang Bon Kwan. It provided the foundation of what would become the ITF-style and when General Choi left the KTA in 1966, in order to form the ITF, about half of the Oh Do Kwan masters joined him while the rest stayed within the KTA, and eventually participated in the creation of Kukkiwon style and the WT. Today it exists as a social club and sub-style of the Kukkiwon, however, it also continues to promote pre-sinewave Ch'ang Hun curriculum.
    • Kang Duk Won: The third of the annex kwans formed that joined the KTA, founded by former students of the YMCA Kwon Bop Bu and also trained at the Chang Moo Kwan; Hong Jong Pyo and Park Chul Hee. It was formed due to the founders having personal conflicts with Lee Nam Suk and Kim Soon Bae when they were still at the Chang Moo Kwan. Stylistically, it didn't really change much of what was already at the Chang Moo Kwan and for that reason was arguably the smallest kwan among the nine kwans. Today, it exists in Korea as a social friendship club that endorses the Kukkiwon and supports the WT.
      • Suh Do Kwan: An offshoot of Kang Duk Won, founded by Suh Young Ik who originally just called it Kang Duk Won style until his successor Don Baird renamed the style after Suh. It was first established under the American Tae Kwon Do Association (ATKDA) (no relation to the ATA) as Suh was part of wave of Korean taekwondo instructors who emigated from Korea to other countries during the 1950s and 1960s, in part as a response to the KTA efforts to consolidate taekwondo within Korea into a single, unified style. For some reason it is classified as a style of kung fu.
    • Jung Do Kwan: The fourth of the annex kwans formed that joined the KTA, founded by Lee Yong-Woo, a Chung Do Kwan graduate. It functioned more as extension of the Chung Do Kwan rather than an offshoot of it and even deliberately chose a similar name to acknowledge its connection due to a suggestion from Hae Man Park. It was known for Lee's unique training program that attracted many students from other schools. It exists today as a fraternal social friendship club that endorses the Kukkiwon and supports the WT.
    • Chung Ryong Kwan: The last and unofficial "twelfth" annex kwan that joined the KTA (the "official" tenth kwan was the Kwan Ri Kwan and the eleventh was the Chong Bon Kwan, which was created to "eliminate all of the negative aspects of Taekwondo" to ease the unification efforts that would create the Kukkiwon and WT), founded by Ko Jae Chun, a graduate of the Chung Do Kwan and a founding member of the Oh Do Kwan. It basically was more of an extension of the Oh Do Kwan rather than an offshoot as its teachings were pretty much the same, but unlike the Jung Do Kwan it wasn't as popular and was eventually reabsorbed by the Oh Do Kwan, which is why there are only nine "original" kwans listed under the KTA.
    • Kuk Mu Kwan: An annex kwan that did not join the KTA, but later represented the ITF, founded by Kang Suh Chong. Also known as the Kang System or the KRS System, Kang was a senior student of the Chung Do Kwan and also studied judo. He later fought in the Korean War and became an instructor to the Headquarters of Intelligence Detachment (HID) agents and Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) operatives in the South Korean military and founded his kwan based on his war experience. In the 1970s, the KTA pressured Kang to adopt Kukkiwon style, but Kang was a friend of Choi Hong Hi and instead adopted ITF-style. Due to pressure by the KTA for his ITF support, which got him recognized as a Communist by the South Korean government, Kang relocated his school to the United States but left his top student Kim Ho Sung in charge of the kwan in Korea where is faded to obscurity. After a bit of time establishing the ATA (see below) and after Choi's death in 2002 (though he had separated from the ITF beforehand), Kang replaced the ITF forms with his own patterns and truly established his own style of taekwondo. It was for many years deliberately not well documented as Kang believed its techniques should be kept secret from non-practitioners. He also founded the American Taekwondo Federation (ATF) which later became the All American Tae Kwon Do Federation (AATF) when he was approached by other masters in Puerto Rico, which continues to promote the kwan's style today. The style is total defense system utilizing every part of the body for defense, including head strikes, hand and elbow strikes, sweeps, locks, knee strikes, kicks, trapping, grappling, throws, pressure points, joint attacks and locks.
    • Moon Moo Kwan: An annex kwan that did not join the KTA, but later represented the ITF, founded by Shin Yoon-heon, with its official name being Keuk Jae Moon Moo Kwan Yun Meng. It originally was active as a representative kwan of the ITF in the South Korean military as the kwan's masters were best known for training navy and air force soldiers and created a specialised style for the South Korean Special Forces called "MoonMooTaKyekDo (K-MT1)" before it was replaced by Teukgong Moosool. Due to the ITF founder's North Korean connections, all of the masters involved in the ITF were recognized as Communists and oppressed, with many of the kwan's masters scattered to the wind, which caused the kwan to close down, though some masters have continued the style outside Korea and set up organizations like the International Moon Moon Kwan Federation though it also cut its ties with the ITF, though at least one master named Kwak Byung Yul has a school in US that is affliated with the WT. It is also responsible for the creation of Professional Taekwondo, a full contact style of taekwondo that is more akin to kickboxing than other schools of taekwondo. See the Kickboxing page for more.
  • ATA: Short for the American Taekwondo Association (currently ATA Marital Arts). Also known as Songahm style, the organization was co-founded in 1969 in Omaha, Nebraska by Kang Suh Chong and his student Lee Haeng Ung (who served as its first president and vice-president respectively) before moving its headquarters to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1977. Whereas other taekwondo organizations (such as ITF and WT) tend to be loose federations of independent schools, ATA-affiliated schools are independently-owned and operated, but licensed by the parent company, ATA International (in other words, individual schools are franchises licensed by the ATA). For this reason, there tends to be more uniformity of curriculum from one ATA-school to the next, as compared to ITF and WT-associated schools. ATA-affiliated schools also host self-defense seminars and tend to incorporate weapons-training into their programs. Under Kang's presidency, it was originally a fusion of an early version of Kang's own style of taekwondo, the ITF style (they used slightly modified ITF forms) as Kang was a personal friend and student of the founder and the traditional style of the Chung Do Kwan, of which both Kang and Lee originally trained under, with a grandmaster of the style; Kim Myong Kil serving as an advisor to the ATA until his death in 1977. After Kim's passing, the political structure of the ATA changed with Kang resigning because he was not paid well and his expenses piled up after eleven years at president and Lee taking over as president and making major changes to the curriculum, creating the Songahm style in the process and erasing mentions of Kang's contributions to the organization out of spite. Their competitions are a form of point-stop fighting or semi-free sparring that bans hand strikes to the head (they can do more than closed fist punching except striking with finger tips) and any strikes below the waist.
  • Ho-Am style: Also known as Tiger-Rock style since their schools are now under Tiger-Rock Martial Arts International (TRMAI). An offshoot of the ATA, it was formed when masters Don Swift, Rick Hoadley, Art Monroe, Craig Kollars, and Bert Kollars broke from the ATA due to the change in political structure detailed above to form their own schools using the pre-Songahm ATA style before coming together in 1983 to form their own organization, the United States Taekwondo Alliance (USTA) and later its sister organization for schools outside the US, the International Taekwondo Alliance (ITA) before they merged under the ITA name in 2000. Then the style underwent a change around 2005 with changes such as the modified ITF forms that were used before being changed even more, which all led to the development of the modern Ho-Am style, with the name change to Tiger-Rock happening around 2009. Despite all that, competition rules are still similar to the ATA style.
  • Jhoon Rhee-style: This style was created and named after its founder Rhee Jhoon-Goo, a traditional stylist from Chung Do Kwan that came to the US in 1957, and is credited as the country's first taekwondo instructor. He later connected with Choi Hong Hi and taught his style and also was a school under the ITF for a time afterwards, but later departed due to the political controversies surrounding Choi and the ITF. He went on to develop his own style which incorporating elements of both traditional and ITF-style as well as original elements like Martial Ballet, where he synchronized some of his taekwondo forms to music. Competition rules are a form of point-stop fighting or semi-free sparring like ATA, though it allows strikes to hand strikes to the face unlike ATA .
  • Chun Kuhn style: Also called Chun Kuhn Do, it was developed by Kim Bok Man, a taekwondo pioneer who helped Choi Hong Hi create some of the original ITF forms. It combines the foot and fist fighting of taekwondo with additional grappling techniques and weapons training, making it more of a Mixed Martial Arts form than a true taekwondo style.
  • Wan Jeon Han-style: A very obscure style that was created by Alan Roberts, a former ITF stylist, hapkido black belt and brown belt in judo and is sponsored by his organization the National Taekwondo Association (NTA) based in Tucson, Arizona, with most of its affiliated schools being around the state of Arizona. Its uniqueness comes from its inclusion of Judo-like throws and joint locks, as well as weapons and self-defense training.
  • Iin Tae Kwon: Another obscure style created by traditional Chung Do Kwan stylist Lee Joon Jae in 2000 from his school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is described as an evolutionary hybrid of traditional taekwondo with additional techniques including weapon disarms, joint-locks, and take-downs.
  • Tong Che Bahk Do: Another obscure style developed in the US by Chris Guffey in Arizona. It combines traditional taekwondo with several styles of kung fu, Soo Bahk Do, karate, and kickboxing, though it later added Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in its curriculum.
  • Yun Jung Do: A style created by Yun Young Ku, a former ITF instructor and pioneer around Oceania. It is described as "the art of total human development" and focuses more on self-cultivation than combat. It uniquely features an exercise called Jungercise which is said to be similar to shadow boxing.
  • Choi Kwang Do: A style created by Choi Kwang-jo, one of the twelve original masters of taekwondo of the KTA. A former ITF instructor, injuries from trainings and demonstrations left he unable to continue practicing the style and sought rehabilitation in the US, learning methods of physical therapy that he incorporated into his style so that techniques would not harm the body and also includes breathing and stretching exercises from yoga. It is not designed for competition, but it still can be used for self defense.
  • Hup Kwon Do: An offshoot of Choi Kwang Do created by James Lim Ching Sing, a former ITF practitioner who also founded the Advanced Taekwon-do International, an ITF offshoot that keeps the ITF curriculum but lacks competitions and the allows the admission of practitioners from different taekwondo groups. It is characterized by short punches and kicks as it teaches not to extend the arms and legs fully and to keep the elbows and knees bent during a strike as it is believed to allow more natural and more rapid follow-up strikes and prevent injuries.
  • Hupkwondo: A weird style that was developed in Malaysia by Lee Seng Hock, a Malaysian ITF practitioner from Penang, Malaysia. With a subtitle of "Self Defense Martial Art" to differentiate it from the other one above, it also features techniques from Iaido, Kendo, Wado Shinpo (an obscure school of Aikido) and Karate, Kickboxing and other methods of self defense. It also has a form of competition that has three 2 minute rounds, each with its own different rules though rounds can end when one side scores three points. The first consists of kick-fighting where only kicks and blocks by the feet and legs are allowed with points awarded for kicks on the body above the waist and to the face, the second consists of stick fighting using a fiber stick covered in foam, the third consists of punching and kicking point sparring.
  • Han Moo Do: A style that later turned into its own art, it was created in Finland of all places by Hwang Soon Yoon, better known as Young Suk and the brother of Hwang Dae-Jin (who originally brought WT style to Finland). Aside from taekwondo, Young Suk also trained in Hoi Jeon Moo Sool (an offshoot of Hankido (the founders of Hankido and Hoi Jeon Moo Sool are twin brothers), which is an offshoot of Hapkido) and introduced it to Finland and due to this Suk's style includes strikes, kicks, blocks, self defense, grappling and weapons training. Not to be confused with Han Mu Do, a martial art developed in the US whose founder had a more Judo and Hapkido background that later incorporated some taekwondo techniques into his art and has no affliation with the Han Moo Kwan.
  • Nabi Su: An offshoot of Yun Mu Kwan that later turned into its own martial art. Developed by Min Q Pai, he claimed to originally be a black belt under the Yun Mu Kwan and later moved to the US and began teaching in the early 1960s at his school which he named Yun Mu Kwan Karate. He later studied several styles of karate, taekwondo (like Jhoon Rhee-style), kung fu (most notably tai chi) and Zen mediation, which caused him to change his teachings significantly until it became something very different from the Yun Mu Kwan style. It is now classified as a style of kung fu instead of karate or taekwondo.
  • American Kang Duk Won Karate: a school in the US founded by Robert C. Lawlor that teaches a hybrid of WTF-style taekwondo and Shotokan karate.
  • American Tang Soo Do: A style created by Chuck Norris, which combined his training in Moo Duk Kwan style Tang Soo Do with judo, American Kenpo, hapkido, Shito-ryu and Shotokan Karate, and Al Thomas' Budojujutsu system. It served as a predecessor to his later style Chun Kuk Do and is governed under the National Tang Soo Do Congress, which was originally dissolved when Norris founded Chun Kuk Do, but was brought back by Pat E. Johnson, who was originally its vice president in its initial run, after a "difference of opinion" led him to cut ties with Norris and served as its president until his death in 2023.
    • Chun Kuk Do: Also known as Chuck Norris System, it is Chuck Norris' evolution of his American Tang Soo Do style, with further influences from Goju-ryu, Enshin kaikan, Kyokushin, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Arnis, Krav Maga, etc. It is governed under the United Fighting Arts Federation, of which Norris serves as president.
  • Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan: A system created by Charles J. Ferraro that mixes Moo Duk Kwan style Tang Soo Do with karate, aikido, jujitsu, tai chi chuan, Shaolin kung fu, hai dong gumdo (Korean sword fighting), and kali.
  • Tang Sou Dao: A style created in Britain by Loke Meng Kwong, under the official name of Ren Yi Wu Kwan Tang Sou Dao. It mixes Moo Duk Kwan style Tang Soo Do with karate and kung fu and is for some reason identified as a kung fu style.
  • Tang Soo Tao: A style created in Australia by Robert Caputo. It mixes Moo Duk Kwan style Tang Soo Do with wado-ryu and goju-ryu karate, judo, aikido, Sib Pal Gi, Nei Gong, and buddhism.

Tropes associated with taekwondo

  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Usually averted; taekwondo tends to be represented in media more accurately than other martial arts, as it fulfills very nicely the TV requirements of a martial art being high-flying and visually impressive in order to be considered badass.
  • Extremity Extremist: Taekwondo is the main rival to Capoeira in variety and emphasis on kicking. Aside from its endless list of variants and combinations of kicks, hands strikes exist in the art and are mostly legal, but get pretty underused in competition due to them scoring less points than good ol' kicks.
  • Hurricane Kick: Plenty of them are used in chains.
  • Mirroring Factions: Before General Choi Hong Hi’s death, his organisation the ITF faced multiple splits, first in 1990, then in 2001 and finally in 2002 after his death, with three separate ITFs formed in the aftermath of the last one due to a dispute on who was supposed to be the next president of the ITF after Choi, each of which continues to operate today under the same name. In spite of the splits, they all still use the same curriculum (with variations here and there) and competition rules.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Taekwondo requires a lot of movement, bouncing to keep yourself focus and ready. Spinning also helps you in attacking the right spots.

Famous or notable taekwondo practitioners

  • Chuck Norris: A 8th degree black belt famous for his memetic roundhouse kicks.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger: Surprised? Arnold has a taekwondo black belt stuck between his bodybuilding accolades.
  • Vladimir Putin: Although he is much more known for his Judo, he is a honorific 9th dan black belt.
  • Barack Obama: Another honorific black belt.
  • Donnie Yen: Has a taekwondo black belt (among his many black belts, that is) and sometimes shows it on screen.
  • Wesley Snipes: Has taekwondo among his many kicking arts.
  • Scott Adkins: Yuri Boyka himself is a taekwondo black belt who uses a lot of spinning kicks in his films.
  • Yanin Vismistananda: Tony Jaa's female protegee started as a taekwondo competitor before training in Muay Thai.
  • Dave Mustaine: The leader of Megadeth was appointed a goodwill ambassador by World Taekwondo.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar: The former vampire slayer has a taekwondo black belt and often does her own stunts.
  • Jessica Alba: She's a taekwondo practitioner as well, and sometimes does her own stunts, though not so often.
  • Eric Roberts: Another black belt.
  • Daniel Bernhardt: Of John Wick and Atomic Blonde fame is also another black belt.
  • Dev Patel: Practiced competitive Taekwondo before he got into acting. He's used it in two acting roles. One scene with Anwar Kharrel in Skins and another time as Prince Zuko in Avatar the Last Airbender.
  • Tiger Schroff: One of Bollywood's most popular martial arts action stars.
  • Mike Moh: Korean American actor and martial artist best known for Ryu in Street Fighter: Assassins Fist and Street Fighter: Resurrection, Triton in Inhumans and Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Taekwondo in fiction:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight!: Recurring character Chae Yun-Hui is a dancer and winner of the All-American Taekwondo Open. She first appears as the actor playing the villainess K-11 in the B-Movie Fist of the Tokyo She-Beast opposite main character Haebaru Misora, a karateka, and has a few sparring matches with her. When she returns for the Tournament Arc, Yun-Hui has incorporated some of Misora's tricks of the trade into her own fighting style: for example, using blocks of incoming blows to injure the opponent. However, she loses her round of 16 match to the fighting robot Sigrun.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Kisara Nanjo is an acrobatic Kick Chick who uses Taekwondo and later creates her own variation utilizing cat-like movements.

    Video Games 
  • Taekwondo is one of the main staples of fighting styles in Fighting Games, especially when martial arts are involved (and the character in question is usually South Korean):
    • Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters: Kim Kaphwan is basically the premiere Taekwondo man within the SNK-verse. Having been around since the second Fatal Fury game, he has shown gamers various powerful kicks in rapid succession, and carries one of the creeds of a Taekwondoka to be one who fights for justice. Other Taekwondokas in this verse are usually related to Kim, ranging from his sons (Kim Dong Hwan, Kim Jae Hoon), his best friend (Jhun Hoon), his master (Gang-Il), his students (May Lee Jinju, Chae-Lim), his distant ancestor (Kim Hae-Ryong) or his distant descendant (Kim Sue-Il)
    • Tekken: The first Taekwondo practitioner is the second game's Baek Doo San, but he's largely overshadowed by his student, Hwoarang, who expands his Taekwondo repertoire vastly to go toe-to-toe with his rival Jin Kazama and his Superpowered Evil Side, Devil Jin. Baek briefly returns for certain latter games, but vanishes again later.
    • Street Fighter: Though pretty late in the whole Taekwondo business, the fourth game introduces Juri Han, a rare example of a female, villainous, and sadistic Taekwondoka who is also enhanced with ki attacks generated by the Feng Shui engine implanted on her.
  • Human Entertainment, best known for originating the Fire Pro Wrestling series, made a simulation-style fighting game based on tournament competitions, simply titled Taekwon-Do, in 1994.
  • Cataclysm has Taekwondo as one of the usable styles, with all of it's strikes being kicks, thus making it usable while wielding a weapon.