Before embarking on the physical engagement of martial arts one must recognize that each style of martial arts training stems from steep traditions. In the case of taekwondo, there are two different approaches that classes offer: (i) traditional katas and self-defense movements, and (ii) the sport sparring version of martial arts. Each is important for growing as a martial artist, as form bears a different focal point in the physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Therefore, it is crucial that one is in tune with the two main benefits of learning taekwondo so that he or she may become an all-rounded practitioner.
The first type of taekwondo is known as “traditional taekwondo” began thousands of years ago in the Korean Military. This style of martial arts emphasizes the elements of Korean history, intellect, and culture. Often at the beginning of each class, students repeat a code of conduct, one that reflects the vitality of self-restraint and modesty. This dates back to the concept of Confucianism, which held the ideals that a superior man should never show off. In addition, traditional taekwondo emphasizes the importance of the spiritual journey; it allows each student to go through his or her voyage to spiritual and personal improvement. Also, there are a number of technique differentiations between sport taekwondo and traditional.
Sport sparring technique is geared more toward the physical aspect of the participant. Overall, it promotes a more westernized style of teaching. The movements taught in traditional training use an older style kick and involve a lot of movement; whereas the sport version teaches movement and technique that is centered around competition. Also, the sparring in traditional taekwondo is not meant to necessarily hit the opponent hard, where sport sparring is geared around hard hitting, scoring, speed, and quick footwork.
It has been said that traditional taekwondo utilizes customary patterns, hand movement, and technique; while sport taekwondo focuses less on the traditional movements by adjusting them to a combat situation. Therefore, one should be aware of his or her ultimate goals before deciding which from best suits them. As the majority of martial arts are based on traditions, taekwondo is one of the arts that has branched out into two facets and many prefer the traditional style of it.
As the traditional style will stay true to the Korean values that it was based on, the concept of patterned movements and light sparring and sport sparring will focus more on combat situations and defeating an opponent. Ultimately, it depend on the journey that the student desires to take, be it traditional or sport, the art of taekwondo will be discovered.
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