The Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the differences between various Martial Arts?

If I don’t know anything about Martial Arts, how can I evaluate the quality of a school?

Why not just attend a course at a community center, YMCA, or Health Club?

Why not just train with the highest degree black belt I can find?

What is Taekwon-do?

What is Traditional Taekwon-do?

What are the goals of Taekwon-do?

What does Taekwon-do offer?

Who can Study Taekwon-do?

Is Taekwon-do safe?

Will Taekwon-do make my child violent?


What are the differences between various Martial Arts?

There are several different martial arts in the world. The most familiar to Americans are Karate (from Japan ), Kung Fu (from China ), and Taekwon-Do (from Korea ). Many differences in style and technique exist: some martial arts use weapons or swords while others rely on the “empty hand”; some martial arts redirect an attacker’s force (Aikido); some are practiced for their health benefits (Tai Chi). Modernized martial arts have taken on a sports orientation through emphasis on tournament competition and contact fighting with point scoring. Traditional martial arts focus on personal growth rather than interpersonal competition. They share a philosophy of non-aggression and emphasize principals of personal conduct such as courtesy, integrity, humility, self-control and the development of a strong mind.

If I don’t know anything about Martial Arts, how can I evaluate the quality of a school?

Martial arts are based on traditions, which have been passed down through the generations. The school you select should be part of a larger system, with guidance provided by an established grand master. Without such guidance, an autonomous instructor usually strays from the traditional ways. Inevitably, subtle errors creep into the forms, and the philosophical underpinnings of the art are frequently abandoned. Even if you know absolutely nothing about martial arts, let your instincts and common sense guide you as you observe and ask questions. Go and visit the schools in your area. Watch a class or two. Meet the people who will be your fellow students and ask them what they like about their school. Talk to the instructor. Observe the instructor in action.

Why not just attend a course at a community center, YMCA, or Health Club?

Classes like aerobics can be lead by any number of different instructors, and you’ll still get your dose of exercise. However, learning a martial art is more like studying music or dance. The instructor needs to see you and your development on a regular basis in order to know your strengths (to help you develop them) and weaknesses (to help you overcome them).The teacher/student relationship is vitally important to the long-term development of the student. The school you choose should be well established, and you should be confident that the same teachers will be with you as you continue your study of that martial art.Cookie-cutter franchise schools should be avoided. These are usually concerned more with student counts and making a profit than with teaching an art. Many extra colors and stripes are added to the progression of belts and the testing schedule is compressed in order to maximize revenue. Beware if someone tries to sell you a black belt program.

Why not just train with the highest degree black belt I can find?

There is no way to tell about the quality of a teacher based upon his/her rank alone. There are no international standards in martial arts. A fifth degree black belt in one style may be equivalent in knowledge and ability to a first degree black belt in another. And, while knowledge of the art is fundamental, a person’s ability to teach is usually distinct from his own technical prowess.The best way to learn about the quality of a teacher is to observe the quality of the students he is developing, to examine his teaching credentials, and of course, to watch the way he teaches. In addition to knowledge and experience, teaching style plays a large part in how rewarding the learning experience will be for you.

What is Taekwon-Do?

Taekwon-Do is an ancient Korean martial art, a form of unarmed self-defense. Taekwon-Do is also a philosophy of self-restraint, kindness and humility. Taekwon-Do is not a competitive sport, but rather is an art, which ultimately becomes a way of life for its practitioners.
The “Do” portion of the term Taekwon-Do means “the way”, or more clearly, “the way to enlightenment, self-realization and understanding”.

What is Traditional Taekwon-Do?

Traditional Taekwon-Do is the original style of Taekwon-Do. It differs from modernized forms of Taekwon-Do and other martial arts in several important ways.

  • The emphasis is on each student’s own personal self-improvement rather than on competition with others.
  • It is more aerobic than other styles.
  • No physical contact is allowed in free sparring.

What are the goals of Taekwon-Do?

Unlike sports where the primary goal is to defeat an opponent or to set a record, a traditional martial art does not emphasize competition with others. The primary goal of Traditional Taekwon-Do is to build: to help each student develop physically and mentally to his or her full potential.The black belt is not actually the goal. The belt is simply an external symbol of internal growth. Goals for all students include the development of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, self-confidence and self-defense skills.

What does Taekwon-Do offer?

Through vigorous exercise, Traditional Taekwon-Do develops physical and mental strength and aids in relaxation. The training and exercises involve movement of the entire body, promoting good health, fitness, flexibility and a feeling of well-being. In addition to improving physical fitness and providing the stress-reducing benefits found in aerobics and many sports, Traditional Taekwon-Do also promotes:

  • the development of a strong mind, enabling one to focus and concentrate in all aspects of life,
  • the skill to defend oneself, leading to an overall sense of self-confidence,
  • the ability to work toward and achieve personal goals,
  • the opportunity for family members of disparate ages, with differing athletic abilities, to participate in the same activity.

Who Can Study Taekwon-Do?

Men, women and children, young and old, can all study Traditional Taekwon-Do. Each individual works at his/her own level of intensity, appropriate for his/her fitness level.

Is Taekwon-Do safe?

The IBBCV has a strict “non-contact” philosophy. This means that when free sparring is practiced (after the student has developed the requisite control, usually at green belt), it is done without actually striking the practice partner. This was the way of all the traditional martial arts styles, and continues to be the rule in Master Kwon’s federation. In non-contact sparring, blows are stopped just short of the target.Since the target is usually the head in Taekwon-Do, this is important.Even with the protective headgear worn in many fighting styles, blows to the head are extremely dangerous. (Who wants to risk loosing a tooth or having a permanently crooked nose or even worse?) Contact sparring also leads to a lack of control and less precision in technique. It cultivates feelings of anger between students and often leads to a desire for retaliation in the next sparring match. This type of winning is counterproductive to the more important goals of kindness and self-restraint.

Will Taekwon-Do make my child violent?

Traditional Taekwon-Do teaches self-control. Children are taught that the ultimate strength is in being able to resolve conflict without violence. It takes more internal strength to walk away. The exercises in Taekwon-Do release energy in children (which might otherwise be expressed in inappropriate ways) in a positive manner. Being able to yell their loudest and kick a bag their hardest in Taekwon-Do class also helps children to relieve stress in a productive way.Children learn discipline. They are required to follow the protocols of courtesy and the rules of conduct in the school. They must continually work hard to improve their technique (relative to themselves), and this physical training also helps them to develop mental strength and self-control. The IBBCV continually emphasizes the non-physical tenets of Taekwon-Do to the children: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable will. These are the most important lessons to be learned in the do-jang.