What is Traditional Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a martial art and sport developed in Korea in the mid 1940's through a fusion of Japanese Karate and Judo, Chinese martial arts, and Traditional Korean fighting arts. The original tradition of Taekwondo was to develop skilled and well rounded martial artists who were capable of defending themselves in violent confrontations. Over time sport rules were developed and in 2000 Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport. Taekwondo can be grouped by these two classifications; Sport (modern) Taekwondo and Traditional Taekwondo.


Sport, or Modern Taekwondo is the more popular system of Taekwondo and focuses on training athletes for competition. Sport Taekwondo favors training kicks as the rules of the sport award more points for kicks and do not allow for punches to the head. Sport Taekwondo often favors training jump kicks, spin kicks, and quick foot movement while often sacrificing stability in order to increase speed to score more points in competition. Take-downs, joint locks, and head strikes are not allowed. 

Traditional Taekwondo is focused purely on applying the techniques of the art in a way that is practical as a method of combative self defense. While traditional systems often train similar kicking techniques and footwork in order to develop speed and power as their sport counterparts, they also allow for techniques that are banned in the sport version. To the surprise of many, Traditional Taekwondo includes the use of and defense against take-downs, joint locks, trips, and head punches. Since the main goal of Traditional Taekwondo is protective combative techniques kicks are often thrown at lower targets and spin and jump kicks are used less often. 

Traditional and Sport Taekwondo are not mutually exclusive but rather two parts of one whole. Some schools may focus on one system over the other, some schools will balance both sport and traditional and find a way to combine the two.