The Kukkiwon—the Korean and official English name of the World Taekwondo Headquarters—is the administrative, educational and spiritual heart of the global taekwondo community. Founded to promote the martial art both locally and overseas, the Kukkiwon is not only a place to see world-class taekwondo practitioners performing their art, but also where you yourself can study the incredibly popular sport, which has been an official Olympic event since 2000.
- 1. Strengthen international competitiveness of Taekwondo by establishing
the World Taekwondo Federation.
- 2. Develop ideal future leaders that are excellent physically, mentally and
- 3. Establish the Dan/Poom Promotion Test to maximize the value of
- - Goals of the Kukkiwon
The Kukkiwon was founded in 1972 with the goal of globalizing taekwondo, and in particular to promote the martial art as an Olympic sport. The previous year, then Korean president Park Chung-hee had designated taekwondo as Korea’s national sport, or “gukgi”; it’s from this that the center takes its name.
The center began its work in earnest in 1974 when it formed the Kukkiwon Taekwondo Demonstration Team, a worldwide touring team. The center had just hosted the first World Taekwondo Championships, organized by the newly established World Taekwondo Federation.
In 1983, the Kukkiwon opened the World Taekwondo Academy to train new taekwondo masters. Over the years, the World Taekwondo Academy has produced over 50,000 masters who have contributed greatly to the spread of taekwondo worldwide.
Taekwondo was selected as a demonstration event for the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, and became an official medal sport in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. By some accounts, it’s now the most popular martial art in the world—according to the Kukkiwon itself, some 8 million people currently hold Poom/Dan (rank) certificates.
‘Legend of Taekwondo’
Founded in 1974, the Taekwondo Kukkiwon Demonstration Team is the Kukkiwon’s primary tool in its efforts to promote the sport—and Korea’s national image—overseas. Composed of 70 of Korea’s top taekwondo practitioners, this team has visited over 100 countries so far. Members must have five dans (fifth-degree black belts). Last year alone, the team visited India, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, the United States, Great Britain, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Turkey, Hong Kong, Greece, Portugal and Germany.
For the benefit of foreign visitors to Korea, the Kukkiwon hosts a special performance of taekwondo, entitled “Legend of Taekwondo,” every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday (4pm to 5pm), March to November, at Namsangol Folk Village in the downtown Chungmuro neighborhood. Since the performances first began in 2007, over 100,000 foreign tourists have taken in the show, a three-act performance bringing together taekwondo, Korean dance and traditional music.
Namsangol Folk Village can be reached by Exit 4, Chungmuro Station, Line 3 or 4.
The Kukkiwon also conducts tests for taekwondo ranks, called dan (for those over 15 years of age) or poom (for those under 15 years of age). As the official adjudicator of all things taekwondo, the issuing of dan/poom certificates is in fact one of the center’s most important roles. The tests for these are usually conducted at academies in the individual student’s locale.
World Taekwondo Academy
The World Taekwondo Academy traces its history back to 1972, when the Kukkiwon established its first instructor course. The actual academy was founded in 1983, with instruction courses for foreigners starting in 1998.
The academy exists to produce the masters needed to promote and spread taekwondo overseas. So far, it has produced about 50,000 taekwondo leaders who operate in about 200 countries. Between 1994 and December 2011, about 3,420 foreign students participated in the academy’s courses.
The academy offers courses for grade 1, 2 and 3 instructors, as well as courses for the disabled, judges and referees. Courses require 40 hours of study, usually over a period of five days. Tuition for the instructor courses is US$200 (not including accommodation, which is available upon request at extra cost).
Korea’s most popular martial art traces its history back to ancient times, when warriors in Korea’s early kingdoms practiced martial arts as a means to develop strength and agility. The sport was greatly systematized following Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.
Taekwondo can be roughly translated as “the way of striking with foot and fist.” It’s an apt translation, too—unlike some other martial arts, taekwondo relies entirely on strikes and blocks using the fists and feet. Kicks feature especially prominently in taekwondo, as the legs are considered the strongest part of the body.
Taekwondo is an excellent form of self-defense—it is widely studied in both the Korean and US militaries. Taekwondo, however, is more than just a way to defend yourself. The study of taekwondo also involves the cultivation of self-control, respect for others, and other ethical and philosophical values.
The article courtesy of Seoul magazine
FYI T. (02) 567-1058~9, www.kukkiwon.or.kr
Go Exit 12, Gangnam Station, Line 2.
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