The Basics of Tae Kwon Do

By Ceara Kerwin

How Tae Kwon Do Started

Tae Kwon Do, meaning “the way of the foot and the fist,” is said to have been around since roughly 2333 B.C. However, the first actual recorded and named forms of Tae Kwon Do developed around 35 B.C. in the Koguryo kingdom in modern day Korea. Some of the early schools of the art were: T’ang-su, Taek Kyon, Tae Kwon, Kwonpup and Tae Kwonpup. Also, there was some influence from other exsisting martial arts such as Judo, Karate, and Kung-fu. The martial art spread from Koguryo across Korea when a few people in Koguryo passed it on to people in the kingdom of Silla. The people in Silla, later called the Hwarang Warriors, modified it into their own art. The Hwarang Warriors spread the early art of Tae Kwon Do across Korea, to the other kingdom of Paekje. Then, from Korea, it slowly spread across the world. The first official Tae Kwon Do associations were established in the United States in the mid 1900s.

The Hwarang warriors had five main principles which were called the Five Codes of Human Conduct. They were integrated into the Eleven Commandments of Modern Tae Kwon Do. The Five Codes of Human Conduct were:

  1. Be loyal to your king
  2. Be obedient to your parents
  3. Have honor and faith among friends
  4. Have perseverance in battle 
  5. Justice never to take a life without cause

The modern art of Tae Kwon Do is partly based off of these principles.

Lessons From Tae Kwon Do

  • Respect
    Respect is the most important value listed here. In Tae Kwon Do, it is extremely important for all of the ranks to respect each other. This shows through in that every time we are finished working on something, we bow to whoever it is we are working with no matter the rank.
  • Perseverance
    Perseverance is a big part of what is done at Tae Kwon Do. You need perseverance to be able to achieve whatever goals you set. Perseverance is required to keep yourself going to class and getting better.
  • Reliability
    You have to be reliable to participate in Tae Kwon Do. The instructors have to know that you will do what they ask well and without complaining. Your partners also have to rely on you not to hurt them.
  • Hard Work
    Hard work is required in all things, and that includes Tae Kwon Do. Some people think that Tae Kwon Do is a fun thing that you do on the side, and yes, it is fun, but it still requires hard work.
  • Patience
    Patience is not only necessary in learning, it is also required in teaching. To learn you have to be patient and be able to do things over and over and over to learn and understand them. In teaching, you also have to be patient. Many of the student are younger kids, and they have a hard time learning.


White Belt: For some, white belt is one of the hardest of all of the belts to get past. This is because you have just started and have no idea what you are doing at first.

Yellow Belt: Yellow belt is a big step up from white belt because at yellow belt you are expected to learn things and remember them more quickly than as a white belt.

Yellow Stripe: Yellow stripe is like the introduction to the harder belts because you learn knife hands and 1 step, which are more complex then the things you have learned before.

Green Belt: Green belt is harder than Yellow Stripe because you must be serious about what you are doing and learn it well, or else you will not be able to test. This sometimes results in people taking longer to test for blue belt.

Blue Belt: At blue belt you learn Pyong Sam Dan, which is an introduction to sanchins, and you get to do 5 pressure points. Also, at blue belt you learn how to spar 1 on 2 (although for some people this is review) and you learn harder board breaks.

Blue Stripe: Blue stripe focuses on Pyong Sa Dan, which is a hard form to learn. There are some moves used in it that you don’t see much or at all in other parts of Tae Kwon Do. At blue stripe you learn your first weapon form, which in my experience is a big and important thing.

Red Belt: Red belt is when you really have to start working. You have to practice everything. When you are a Red Belt, you have to start thinking about whether or not you want to keep going.

Red Stripe: Red stripe is pretty much past the point of no return. At red belt I wanted to quit, but after I tested for red stripe I decided that I wasn’t going to give up.

Red Double Stripe: Red double stripe is when Tae Kwon Do starts becoming a big part of your life, and you have to practice and come to class even more often. Red double stripe is really difficult because you have to start acting like you are going to be a black belt.

Black Belt: Black belt is the highest belt that you can achieve. It has ten levels that come after first Dan.


Morris, Glen R. “Taekwondo History: A Report for Recommendation Black Belt Testing 1994.” Taekwondo History. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2015

N.a. “The code of the HwaRang.” THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR. June 1st, 2010 N.p. Web. 11 Sept. 2015

Mitchell, Richard L. “The Hwarang and the Tenets of Tae Kwon Do.” Se-Jong Tae Kwon Do. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2015.

N.a “Taekwondo: introduction and historical roots” THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR. N.p June 1st, 2010. Web. 11 Sept. 2015