Definition of Tae Kwon Do

General Choi Hong Hi

People study Tae Kwon Do for a myriad of reasons: some to develop self-confidence, some to condition themselves mentally or physically, and others strictly as a means of self-defense in a hostile world. I originally studied the art for all these reasons. Since I was born frail and in poor health, it presented the ultimate exercise in conditioning my body. In later years I developed and attempted to improve on the mental aspects of the conditioning process. As a career military officer, I of course spent a great deal of time studying, teaching and perfecting fighting techniques to improve my own abilities and also to pass on these techniques to combat soldiers who might eventually need the art to save their lives and their country.

Tae Kwon Do, to me, appears to be the perfect exercise – not for the body, but also to impart the qualities of inner strength, patriotism, sense of justice, and leadership that are needed to be a leader of men.

Although recently introduced to the western world, Tae Kwon Do has for centuries been an integral part of Korean society. Not only is it an important part of Korean culture and heritage, it is also, in every sense of the word, a martial art, practiced throughout Korea on the military training fields and in the gymnasiums of all of the high schools and universities.

Translated literally, Tae Kwon Do means "way of the hand and foot." It is more than just that, however. It is the scientific use of the body in methods of self-defense, a body that has gained the ultimate use of its facilities through intensive physical and mental training. It is a martial art that has no equal in either power or technique. Though it is a martial art, its discipline, techniques, and mental training are the mortar for building a strong sense of justice, fortitude, humility, and resolve. It is this mental conditioning that separates the true practitioner from the sensationalist content with mastering only the fighting aspects of the art.