Taekwondo (Hangul: 태권도; Hanja: 跆拳道, which means "foot, hand, the way" or "the way of hand and foot") is a real-life martial art that appears in the Tekken, practiced by Hwoarang and Baek Doo San. In Korean, tae (태, 跆) means "to stomp" or "to strike or break with the foot"; kwon (권, 拳) means "to strike or break with the fist"; and do (도, 道) means "way of life". Thus, Taekwondo may be loosely translated as "the way of the foot and the hand." The name Taekwondo is also written as Taekwon-do, Tae Kwon-do, or Tae Kwon Do by various organizations.
Taekwondo combines combat and self-defense techniques with sport and sparring. It is characterized by its emphasis on speed and agility, with head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques. To facilitate fast turning kicks, Taekwondo generally adopts stances that are narrower and hence less-stable that the broader, wide stances used by martial arts such as Karate.
Characteristic of Taekwondo, all kicks can be executed as jump kicks, spin kicks, jump spin kicks or multi-rotational spin kicks, and also can be performed by both the front or rear leg in a given stance. Hand strikes are performed as a close distance in a number of ways: from standing, jumping, spinning and rushing forwards. Various surfaces of the hand may be engaged as the striking surface depending on which area of the opponents body which is being targeted.
The first unified style of Taekwondo was officially founded by South Korean general Choi Hong Hi in 1955, who unified various Kwans born after the Japanese occupation of Korea after World War II. Each of the kwans praticed his own style of martial arts, mostly based on Shotokan Karate and Taekkyeon.
Afterwards, political issues led to the birth of different "styles", different from each other more for their philosophy than for the actual fighting aspects.
- I.T.F.: The I.T.F. (International Taekwondo Federation) was founded as a means to promote and encourage the grouth of Taekwondo by general Choi, alongside twelve other masters. However, cold war politics of the 1960s and 1970s complicated the adoption of I.T.F. as a unified Taekwondo style: the South Korean government wished to avoid North Korean influence on the martial art, while general Choi Hong Hi sought support for the martial art from all quarters, including North Korea. In response, in 1973 the South Korean government withdrew his support for I.T.F. and general Choi was exiled. Afterwards, general Choi Hong Hi extabilished the new I.T.F. headquarters in Vienna and continued to promote, develop and refine his traditional style of Taekwondo until his death in 2002. Since I.T.F. pratictioners employ, to this day, Choi's style of Taekwondo, this style is often referred to as Traditional Taekwondo.
- W.T.F.: After general Choi's exile, the South Korean government's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism established the Kukkiwon as the second, new government-sponsored unified style of Taekwondo, less combat-oriented and more sport-oriented than I.T.F. style, and the W.T.F. (World Taekwondo Federation) was estabilished to promote Taekwondo specifically as a sport. Since W.T.F. competitions employ Kukkiwon-style Taekwondo, this style is often referred to as "W.T.F. style" (though in reality the style is defined by the Kukkiwon, not the W.T.F.). In 1980, the Internetional Olympic Committee recognized W.T.F. as an Olympic discipline. Since then, Kukkiwon-style Taekwondo is sometimes referred to as Olympic Taekwondo.
- Other less known styles of Taekwondo were developed, such as G.T.F., American Taekwondo, Jhoon Rhee's Taekwondo, and most notably Chuck Norris's hybrid variant of traditional Taekwondo called Chun Kuk Do.
Differences between I.T.F. and W.T.F.
- The W.T.F. claims that Taekwondo development was a collaborative effort by a council consisting of members from the nine original kwans, while the I.T.F. credits Choi Hong Hi solely.
- The patterns practiced by each style (called poomsae 품새, or teul 틀, respectively in W.T.F. or I.T.F.) are different. Patters, better known with the Japanese term "Kata", are sets of prescribed formal sequences of movements that demonstrate mastery of posture, positioning, and technique.
- There are differences in the sparring rules for competition; specifically, W.T.F. style competition (the style used in the Olympics) is generally more sport-oriented and less combat-oriented than other styles.
In the Tekken series
Since the various styles are relatively similar, it's hard to determine which Taekwondo style is praticed in-game by Hwoarang and Baek Doo San. Nevertheless, one can assume that they pratice the traditional, I.T.F. style by some little details (must be kept in mind that this is purely speculation based on hints, as no official statement has ever been given by Namco regarding their style of Taekwondo).
Hwoarang's movements are motion captured by Hwang Su-Il, a famous I.T.F. Taekwondo champion . Furthermore, Hwoarang can be seen in Tekken 3's Embu video  praticing Hwa-Rang Tul , a pattern exclusive of the traditional style. The pattern itself bears the same name as Hwoarang, perhaps on purpose. Finally, only I.T.F. style uniforms are trimmed with a black border along the bottom of the jacket, like Baek and Hwoarang's uniforms.
- Mokujin - Through mimicry.
- Tetsujin - Through mimicry.
- Unknown - Tekken Tag Tournament only; through mimicry.
- Combot - Tekken 4 only; through mimicry.
- Kinjin - Through mimicry.
- Taekwondo is praticed by various characters from other fighting games, such as Kim Kaphwan from SNK Playmore's Fatal Fury series and King of Fighters series, Juri Han from the Street Fighter series, Sonya Blade from the Mortal Kombat series, and Rig from the Dead or Alive series.
- Taekwondo at Wikipedia.