Here you can find educational resources to support your training. If there is additional information which you think would be of benefit to TCGB members, please get in touch.
- New to Taekwondo?
- The Five Tenets of Taekwondo
- Taekwondo Belt System
- Taekwondo Terminology
- Taekwondo Etiquette
- The Heart of Taekwondo
New to Taekwondo?
If you are new to Taekwondo, you may have noticed there are specific routines in the class and numerous unfamiliar terms used by Instructors. This can be a daunting experience for beginners, but you will quickly come to appreciate it is primarily about respect for others and the traditions of the martial art. We suggest you speak with the Instructor prior to joining in at your first session, openly expressing any reservations and medical conditions to ensure your safety. You must register with British Taekwondo via the Hub, which the Instructor help you with. All members of TCGB must be members of British Taekwondo, the National Governing Body for World Taekwondo in the UK. This membership is renewed annually and also provides you with individual insurance and access to competitions.
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and, therefore, the commands used in class are regularly spoken in Korean. The room used for training is called the ‘dojang’ and the uniform worn by all Taekwondo practitioners is called a ‘dobok’ (also see Taekwondo Terminology section). The WT approved dobok is a v-neck top with the WT logo about the solar plexus (previously World Taekwondo Federation, or WTF). Bowing is fairly frequent within a Taekwondo lesson and is considered a sign of respect between students and their Instructor. To find out more about appropriate etiquette and the expectations of behaviour in a Taekwondo class, see the section on Taekwondo Etiquette.
There are a number of elements to Taekwondo. This includes sparring, patterns, self-defence, pre-arranged sparring (also known as one-step sparring) and breaking. For sparring, WT-approved protective equipment is worn. If you need to purchase any personal equipment for training your Instructor will let you know. The different aspects of Taekwondo are assessed during gradings, used to determine your progression and set targets for your continued training.
(1) Wear casual, loose fitting clothes (e.g. tracksuit bottoms, t-shirt).
(2) Speak to the Instructor, let them know you are a beginner.
(3) Get membership (insurance) with British Taekwondo, ask the Instructor.
(4) Take a water bottle, it’s thirsty work!
(5) Most importantly, enjoy yourself!
The Five Tenets of Taekwondo
There are five tenets of Taekwondo to which all practitioners should adhere:
Etiquette is about learning the rules and traditions of Taekwondo, how to conduct yourself inside and outside of the Taekwondo environment and to show respect to others. There are many codes of conduct in Taekwondo, students should be upholding of these and set a good example to others.
Modesty is realising that no matter how hard you train, how skilful, strong and confident you feel, or how far you progress in the ranks of Taekwondo, you are still not the best. There is always more to learn. Students should be humble in their pursuit of perfection.
Perseverance is the effort you put in, whether it is improving flexibility, practicing difficult techniques or training for a grading. You must persevere, not give up. Perseverance also requires practice. Your goals and ambitions can only be achieved if you persevere, but you must be patient.
Self-control means exercising caution and control in all techniques, using skill appropriately to encourage junior students, not to intimidate or humiliate them. The techniques learned in Taekwondo can be very dangerous, particularly if abused and used outside of training other than for self-defence purposes.
Indomitable Spirit is having the will to overcome any obstacles you may face. Even if you feel the situation is impossible, you must take part and give it all you can. In competition, it is not always the winning, but having the spirit to take part. Only by training hard will you capture the true spirit of Taekwondo.
Taekwondo Belt System
The relative position of practitioners within Taekwondo is recognised by the colour of the belt worn around the waist. The level of attainment is accredited with an official title, such as Student or Instructor. The belt system consists of two main strata, namely coloured belts (Kup grades) and Black Belts (Dan grades). The Grade and Status are shown below.
- Coloured belt holder (Student): 10th Kup to 1st Kup
- Black belt holder: 1st Dan to 3rd Dan
- Master: 4th Dan to 7th Dan
- Grandmaster: 8th Dan to 10th Dan
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and Instructors tend to use Korean commands in the class. Knowing the common terms means you can train anywhere in the world. Click here for a list of commonly used words in English and Korean (phonetic). As these are the phonetic spellings, you will find variations across different sources.
Good etiquette and courtesy to others are expected of students and Instructors in the Taekwondo dojang (training hall). Below are guidelines for how you should conduct yourselves as a Taekwondo practitioner.
Inside the Dojang
Keep your personal equipment clean and sanitary, especially your dobok (uniform). Ensure your dobok is worn properly. Be well groomed at all times: clean and cut fingernails, toenails and use deodorant if required, etc.
Address instructors as Mr/Ms (surname) or Sir/Ma’am. Never argue/backchat your instructor. If you arrive late and class has begun, stand at the side until the instructor gives you permission to join – then bow, and join the back of the class. Ask permission if you must leave the dojang – leave quietly and bow.
- Entering and leaving the dojang (training hall) even if only for a moment.
- First seeing the instructors; and again when leaving.
- Beginning and ending a class session.
- Beginning and ending practice with a partner.
- Exchanging training equipment with a partner.
- Beginning and ending of poomsae.
If called by an instructor answer – “Yes sir/Yes ma’am” only. Do not answer – “yes?”, “what?”, or “who’s callin’ me?”
Be punctual for class. Visitors must have permission from the instructor to stay. Be courteous and inform an instructor when you can’t make class for an extended period.
Line up promptly when asked by the instructor. Remember your place to make things easier at the end of the session. Turn away from the instructor, classmates or flag when fixing your uniform.
Focus when a technique is being demonstrated. If you miss part of the technique you will only hurt yourself or someone else. Watch and learn. If you are unable to perform a technique, carefully observe instructors/other students and practice. If you are still struggling, be sure to ask for assistance.
No food in the dojang – only water, if necessary. Ensure the dojang is clean. This is everyone’s responsibility. Remove all jewellery before entering the dojang. Treat all training equipment with respect.
Do not laze about the dojang. Sit cross legged or stand upright away from walls. No unnecessary noise. Keep chatter for after class. Be mature and do not attack each other/play fight. The dojang is not a playground. No profanity, insults or otherwise undesirable remarks. Set good example for junior belts. Never make fun of a fellow student.
Never misuse techniques taught. Use control during one-step and free sparring. If you can’t control a technique, do not use it.
On dismissal the words “Tae-Kwon” will be said by each student in response to the head instructors lead. A short round of applause will follow for the efforts shown in the session.
Ensure the above is enforced. Kindly remind those who forget.
Outside the Dojang
Be loyal, respectful, honest and polite. Stand for what is right. Finish what you begin. Be honourable – your conduct, in and out of class reflects upon your instructor, club and Taekwondo itself. Remember the tenets strive to fulfil them.
Never practice Taekwondo on friends, family or pets, but encourage friends/family to take up Taekwondo. Keep in contact with classmates outside of sessions. This helps build a stronger club spirit. Never brag or try to challenge people with your Taekwondo abilities. You will dishonour yourself, your club and the art of Taekwondo.
Practice Practice in a safe environment away from others and breakable objects. This will make your learning curve steeper and allow you to progress quicker in class. Practice often and well. Make sure you practice with proper technique. Be sure to practice all aspects of Taekwondo: basics, poomsae, kyorugi and one-step sparring. Never misuse Taekwondo.
The Heart of Taekwondo
How can a martial art enhance the quality of life? TCGB President Grandmaster Mark Biddlecombe (8th Dan), one of the highest ranked Taekwondo Instructors in the UK, has published a book called ‘The Heart of Taekwondo’ to explain what the Korean martial art of Taekwondo can do for you.
The arrangement of ‘Taegeuk’ and ‘Black Belt’ patterns are illustrated with over 450 photographs and the benefits of physical exercise, appropriate dietary intake and rest are discussed with the aid of charts and diagrams. Taekwondo has transformed from part of Korea’s culture to one of the most popular martial arts in the world, and an Olympic Sport.
The Heart of Taekwondo provides information for the novice and advanced practitioner. There are so many new aspects, features and explanations within The Heart of Taekwondo that do not exist within any other material of this type. Many aspects, thoughts and ideas are original. Taekwondo philosophy and specific techniques that have historically been shrouded in mystery are revealed – the secrets are out! Copies can be ordered by contacting Grandmaster Biddlecombe, pictured below.