Tae Kwon Do is the traditional Korean martial art which literally means the "art of foot and hand fighting". Tae Kwon Do is considered to be one of the "hard"
forms of the martial arts. Hard forms use direct and straight line techniques rather than those found in "soft" forms. Soft forms tend to move toward the flowing,
circular movements depicted in the television series "Kung Fu". The trademark of Tae Kwon Do is its devastating kicking techniques.
Although the name "Tae Kwon Do" is relatively new, the origins of the art reach far back into Korean history. The name "Tae Kwon Do" was adopted in 1955 as the
national martial art of South Korea, when nine of the existing kwans ("schools) agreed to unify under the new name. Prior to this, most of the major kwans called
their style tang soo do (China hand way) or kong soo do (empty hand way). Even though the kwans were ordered to unify by South Korea's President Syngman Rhee, not
all of them joined.
During the 6th century AD, the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms. Silla, the smallest was in constant peril of being overrun by her more powerful
neighbors for the advanced wealth, technical skills and art forms that Silla was famous for. In response to this pressure, Silla assembled an elite fighting's corps
of young member of the aristocracy which they called the "Hwarang Do" or "Flower of Youth". Legend has it that these warriors went into the mountains and along the
seashore studying the fighting techniques of nature to use to their own advantage.
The ethical spirit of modern Tae Kwon Do may be traced directly to the five pointed code of Hwarang, which emphasized loyalty to the nation, respect of parents,
faithfulness among friends, courage in battle and avoidance of unnecessary violence. There is no first attack in Tae Kwon Do. The tenets of Tae Kwon Do demand
that a student of Tae Kwon Do never initiates an attack. Therefore, most patterns begin with a block.
To consider Tae Kwon Do as simply a sport or just another way to get in shape is to deny the proud heritage of almost two thousand years. The combined thought
and experience of centuries has produced out modern art form which continues to draw strength from the past.
One of the traditional methods of training is the use of forms (kata, poomse, hyung, etc.). These are, simply stated, a sequence of techniques that fit well
together with minimum effort, producing maximum effect. Many schools today have abandoned the practice of forms. This in unfortunate and not the way things
are done at PMA. Each form teaches valuable concepts, and each series of movements have a practical application. In short, a reason for doing them.
Lower belt patterns have more fist movements and long range techniques. Higher belt patterns have more open hand movements and close range techniques.
Not all movements are intended for actual application, some are only included to condition the muscles and reflexes. So possible application of pattern movements
are open to interpretation. Higher patterns emphasize hand techniques not introduced in the color belt patterns. Therefore, if you do not progress beyond black belt,
you miss out on many hand techniques. This means that Tae Kwon Do usually does not get credit for many of its hand techniques. Movements in the patterns emphasize
the action-reaction principle. They teach how to chamber before movement which helps set the rhythm of the pattern. Each movement sets up the next movement by
using a action/reaction movement and the momentum resulting from it. Thus, the thrust of one movement leads into the next movement so transitions are smooth.