Traditional taekwondo is typically not competition-oriented and tends to focus primarily on the self-defense and traditional values of the art. However, existing taekwondo competition typically involves sparring, breaking, patterns, and self-defense. In Olympic taekwondo competition, only sparring is contested; and in Olympic sparring WTF competition rules are used.
Taekwondo is a popular Korean form of martial arts characterized by a wide array of kicks and punches. There is a strong emphasis on using the leg's great power and length to disable an opponent from a distance. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. More individuals practice Taekwondo worldwide than any other martial art making it the most popular form of martial arts. It combines combat techniques, self-defense, sport, exercise, meditation, and philosophy. There are two main styles of taekwondo. One comes from the Kukkiwon, the source of the sparring system which is now an event at the summer Olympic Games; the other comes from the International Taekwondo Federation, which was founded by General Choi Hong Hi, sometimes called the father of taekwondo.
The origins of taekwondo are under contention by a number of groups who fall into three theories. There are those who believe taekwondo is a wholly Korean martial art, while others believe it is a native Korean martial art that has been influenced by neighboring countries. The last theory is derived from Japanese martial arts learned during the Japanese occupation of Korea and only later did it gain its own identity separate from karate. The oldest Korean martial art was an amalgamation of unarmed combat styles developed by the three rival Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje. During the Japanese occupation of Korea, many aspects of Korean culture suffered greatly, but currently Taekwondo is the martial art with the greatest number of practitioners in the world.