Taekwondo as evolved through the years. At its inception, it was a combination of styles and it gradually gained it own individuality. Early competition kicks were basic linear kicks. Spinning and aerial kicks were considered flashy and ineffective. Modern training techniques, starting children at younger ages, and individual superstars have changed many sports, such a Pele in soccer. Taekwondo also evolved as younger practitioners became bored with traditional kicks and began experimenting with new kicks. Young people are no longer accepting traditional ways as being the best, they are questioning old techniques and developing new ones.
Traditional Taekwondo kicks
Traditional Taekwondo kicks are singular, linear, and powerful, with the emphasis on power. Modern kicking techniques use combinations kicks that drive the opponent back with basic kicks and then finish with a jump or jump-spinning kicks. Linear kicks are relatively easy to deflect or avoid and leave the kick exposed to counterattacks. Kicking emphasis has shifted from sheer muscle power to kinetic efficiency, where kicks take advantage of the laws of kinetics and physics.
Traditional Taekwondo patterns use exaggerated low stances. Such low stances hamper quick movements and limit height when jumping. To attempt a spin kick from a low stance, a large weight shift must be made, which telegraphs the intent of the kicker. When attempting a jumping kick from a low stance, the wide base of the stance limits the amount of force that may be applied to the jump. Using a more upright stance permits quick movement needed for spin kicks and allows the legs to propel the body upward enough to perform jump kicks.
Traditional Taekwondo fighting stance were relatively stationary. Through the years, Taekwondo has adopted the continuous movement used by other fighting arts such as boxing. These changes involved quick shifts of foot positions and stances. Quick footwork is now used to change ranges and confuse opponents. The use of rapid combinations can create openings that permit the use of jump and spin kicks. Also, protective equipment, especially chest protectors, has become lighter and less restrictive, making it easier to jump and spin quickly through a greater range of motion.
Sport Taekwondo kicks
Change is inevitable!.The globalization of Taekwondo, modern training techniques, the prevalence of risk taking behavior, and scientific study of individual techniques and movements has lead to the development of new kicks and new kicking movements. As more women and children have entered Taekwondo, kicking techniques have evolved from an emphasis on power to an emphasis on flexibility and speed. As more weight divisions have been added to competition, which as increased the number of lighter competitors since they will be fighting opponents of equal size, smaller competitors have developed quick, snappy techniques are more appropriate to their body type.
With these cultural changes and innovations, new kicks and new ways to use old kicks developed. Since using a spin side kick in completion exposes more more target area top the opponent, it evolved into a spinning back kick where more of the illegal back area is exposed while the front legal target area is protected. the spin heel kick is powerful and has a long reach, but is awkward since the leg must remain straight throughout the kick. It is also chambered low, which makes it easier to block and makes it more difficult to kick to the head, where more points are awarded. This led to development of the spin hook kick, which is chambered high to make it more difficult to block and o make it easier to kick to the head. The high chamber deceives the opponent since from this position the kick can be executed to low, middle, or high target with ease. However, it has slightly less range. The once popular spin crescent kick is less used today since it presents more scoring area to the opponent and require the user to be in close range. However, it is not a useless kick. Some competitors use it very effective both as a primary attacking kick and in combination.The differences between the spin side kick, spin back kick, and back kick are the pivoting of the support foot, chambering position of the leg, rotation of the hips, and the angle of the upper body. In the spin side kick, the leg is chambered high and the hips are rotated 180°, exposing the upper body to the opponent. In the spin back kick, the leg is chambered low and tucked in under the hips with the hips rotating only about 90°. In the back kick, the leg is chambered as in the spin back kick, but the hips are rotated less than 90°, which protects the front of the body during and after execution.The back kick and spin back kick are commonly used as follow-up attacks in a combination since they expose less of the upper body and head to the opponent than the spin side kick. With the spin back kick, your back is turned to the opponent and your upper body out of counterattack range. However, timing and accuracy are essential, since, if you kick too late or too early and miss your target, your opponent may take advantage of your awkward body position and counter.
The back kick is even more powerful and faster than either of the other kicks, since you save time by not spinning, To execute a back kick, slightly rotate your hips backward, pivot your support foot, and thrust your rear leg to the target. There is no chamber since the kicking foot travel from the floor to the target in a mostly straight line. The back kick is an excellent counterattack against an aggressive opponent, such as when in a closed fighting position and opponent attacks with a lead leg round kick, the back kick turns your back to the attack and scores to the opponent's midsection.Since these kicks expose target areas to counter attacks during or immediately after the kick, a new type of kick evolved, the spin whip kick. Although the exact development of the spin whip kick is unknown, it's roots can be traced to three kicks: the spin heel, spin hook and spin crescent kicks. The spin whip kick uses the power of the spin heel kick, the speed and deception of the spin hook kick, and the close range of the spin crescent kick while protecting target areas. In the early days of competition, the spin heel kick was popular because its power was difficult to block. To execute a spin heel kick, from a low sitting stance, pivot of the hips, swing rear leg behind the body, and strike opponent's body with the back of the heel.
The spin heel kick is powerful, but it is also cumbersome, since the kicking leg remains straight from beginning to end. An improvement came with the spin hook kick. It is faster and more deceptive than the spin heel kick, and just as powerful. To perform the spin hook kick, from a fighting stance, pivot, chamber, and kick similar to the spin side kick, except the foot is aimed beside the target and the the heel is pulled through the target by the knee and the snapping of the heel back toward the hip.The spin crescent kick is ideal for close range attacking because, unlike any other spin kick, the body is kept upright and compact throughout the kick. However, as fighters learned to read and counter the kick, it fell out of favor in full contact sparring.To perform the spin whip kick, the upper body rotates around its vertical axis while the lead foot rotates until the heel points at the opponent. Once the body is coiled, the rear foot shoots straight out to the side of the target and the body uncoils to whip the kicking leg through the target. The kick is quick, powerful, and may be used at close range. Since the chamber may also be used for a spinning hand technique, the kick can be deceptive. With the body kept upright, you have the opportunity to also attack with a hand combination. If the body leans back to keep the head out of range of a counterattack, your hands will be out of attacking range.The most recent kicking innovation is the spin 360° round kick. Prior to the mid-1980's, the 360° round kick was unheard of outside of Korea.
With the immigration of a new generation of Korean competitors and instructors to the U.S. and Europe, the turn kick gained widespread popularity in less than five years. When attacking, spin and step rear foot forward and then perform a round kick using the other foot. Range is controlled by how far the spinning foot steps forward. When defending, the kick may be perform in place by placing the spinning foot just in front of the kicking foot in a hopping motion. When used in a counter, the spinning foot spins around the kicking foot to it original spot in a hopping motion. When attacking with a spin side, spin hook, or spin back kick, if the opponent reads the kick and back up, step through and fire the round kick. To use as a counter, instead of stepping forward into the kick, step down in a sort of hopping motion and the fire the round kick.Taekwondo has evolved since its inception and it continues to evolve. Is the evolution good or bad? There are differences in opinion as to whether the changes are true to the art or are merely just to make kick more eye-catching and entertaining. Either way, evolution happens and cannot be stopped, although it may be controlled so the traditions of Taekwondo may survive.