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Taekwondo is popular for its use of kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from karate. The theory behind this is that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to execute powerful strikes without successful retaliation. Physically, taekwondo develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina.

The breaking of boards requires both physical mastery of the technique and the concentration to focus one’s strength. It symbolizes the union of one’s mental and physical discipline. A taekwondo student typically wears a uniform with a belt according to their rank, tied around the waist.

A focus on mental and ethical discipline, justice, etiquette, respect, and self-confidence is one of the major parts of this form of martial art. The phrase, “Respect Senior or older, love Junior or younger,” is used in Taekwondo training.

Taekwondo ranks are separated into “junior” and “senior” or “student” and “instructor” sections. The juniors are identified by belts of various colors. Students start with the tenth geup and are indicated by a white belt and advance toward the first geup.

To advance from one rank to the next, students have to go through promotion tests in which they demonstrate their proficiency in the various aspects of the art before a panel of judges. These tests include combination of various techniques in specific sequences; the breaking of boards, demonstration of the ability to use techniques with both power and control; sparring and self-defense, demonstration of the practical application and control of techniques; and answering questions on terminology, concepts, history, and the like, to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the art.

The Senior section includes nine ranks indicated by the Korean word Dan. Black belts begin at first dan and advance to second, third, and so on. The last Dan is ninth which is honarary and only given to true masters as designated by the International Taekwondo Federation. The degree is often indicated on the belt itself with stripes, Roman numerals, or sometimes there is no pattern present in black belts. For black belts, promotion from one degree to the next can take years. The general rule is that a black belt is promoted to the next rank only after practicing it for the number of year




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