TaeKwonDo (TKD) was launched to the world on April 11, 1955 by General Choi Hong Hi. The primary focus is on utilising the hands and feet for self-defence. Movements have been developed to maximise power and speed by using the most efficient and effective techniques. This art was designed for the Korean military and the structure, style and discipline of the art bears these hallmarks.
Along with the development of one’s physical ability (co-ordination, strength, reflex, endurance, speed etc.) are the mental aspects to. A stronger mind leads to greater self belief and confidence and this is reinforced reciting the 6 Tenets (doctrine of belief) of TaeKwonDo. The application of them in everyday life is what makes one a true practitioner of the Art.
Sparring is used as a testing ground to safely practise the techniques taught in class. Sparring helps develop fitness, mental strength and builds up muscle memory. Put simply the more times you defend against an attack the better you will be at responding to it. It is no good knowing the theory of self-defence if you can call upon it when most required.
As our greatest fear usually stems from a fear of pain, sparring lets us express ourselves and face our demons in order to conquer them. The varying builds, reflexes and styles of our opponents lets us learn to recognise the 'shapes' of an attack and hone our responses and skills.
People often ask if these skills deliver when it counts or if certain techniques would ever be used in a 'real-life' situation. This is largely dependent on the practitioner’s mindset and ability and the situation they find themselves in. We believe that we will patiently and safely develop our student's under pressure so that their responses are not mechanical but instinctive.
We also participate in competitions based on the ITF guidelines and hold large tournaments within the association throughout the year.
Safety is key and all competitors must wear ITF approved sparring helmets, groin guards and hand and foot pads. Gum shields are encouraged and each bout is referred by a black belt with four black-belt corner judges for scoring. A first-aider is always ready to treat any injuries also.
The sparring rules are designed to let everyone participate safely and enjoy themselves and BUTF competitions categorise competitors by age, gender and weight to suitably match participants. Further safety rules include no strikes below the belt, to the eyes, throat, back and groin of the opponent. No elbow or knees are permissible nor is brawling or grappling.
Patterns, or tul (틀) in Korean, form an important aspect of training in TaeKwonDo. They are equivalent to the kata in Karate. The majority of the patterns start with a defensive move that emphasizes Tae Kwon-Do's defensive nature. All of the patterns start and end at the same location. This ensures that the practitioners' stances are correctly balanced and measured which then feeds into the practical side when judging distancing in sparring.
Patterns aid in the co-ordination of the body, improve breath control and strengthen muscles and techniques. They are also designed to improve grace and fluidity and teaches how to relax the body whilst keeping the mind totally focused on its goals.
The 24 Patterns in TaeKwonDo ITF are:
Colour Belt Patterns Black Belt Patterns
Chon-Ji (19 Movements) Po-Eun (36 Movements)
Dan-Gun (21 Movements) Ge-Baek (44 Movements)
Do-San (24 Movements) Eui-Am (45 Movements)
Won-Hyo (28 Movements) Choong-Jang (52 Movements)
Yul-Gok (38 Movements) Juche (45 Movements)
Joong-Gun (32 Movements) Sam-Il (33 Movements)
Toi-Gye (37 Movements) Yoo-Sin (68 Movements)
Hwa-Rang (29 Movements) Choi-Yong (46 Movements)
Choong-Moo (30 Movements) Yon-Gae (49 Movements)
Kwang Gae (39 Movements) Ul-Ji (42 Movements)
Moon-Moo (61 Movements)
So-San (72 Movements)
Se-Jong (24 Movements)
Tong-Il (56 Movements)
As a student progresses through the ranks they will be expected to demonstrate the ability to break boards, using the correct technique and part of the hand or foot. This is not just an exercise in brute force but also timing and targeting. This is not expected of students until they reach Green belt (middling colour belt rank) and so they will have ample time to develop their confidence, technique and strength.
As they progress destruction will need to be demonstrated on both legs to prove total body development. The BUTF prides itself on this particular requirement as no student will gain the coveted BUTF black belt without successfully executing this feat.