Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way," "method," or "art." Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as "the art of the foot and fist" or "the art of kicking and punching". Taekwondo combines combat techniques, self-defense, sport, exercise, meditation, and philosophy.
Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from martial arts such as karate or southern styles of kung fu. The rationale 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. Historically, the Koreans thought that the hands were too valuable to be used in combat.
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