The information below is fundamental to TaekwonDo and therefore must be learned by all DMAA students.

At Discovery Martial Arts Academy, we want your training to be both enjoyable and rewarding.

Please remember that TaekwonDo is a martial art, and high standards of behaviour are very important.

Why do we have strict rules?

TaekwonDo rules of behaviour come from a combination of oriental values including reverence to parents and respect to seniors with strict martial ranking and discipline systems. Today, the same traditional rules of behaviour are used in a milder tone to develop a higher level of courtesy and respect among TaekwonDo students. TaekwonDo also develops humility in behaviour, pride in oneself, togetherness, and respect for the community.

It is very important that these rules are followed:

  • Always bow when entering and leaving the Dojang (please learn how to bow correctly)
  • Address Instructors and Black Belts as “Sir” or “Ma’am”. Black Belts will always address their seniors in the same way.  If you are asked a question, always finish your answer with “Sir” or ‘Ma’am” (e.g. in response to being asked if you understand something the Instructor has demonstrated, say “Yes Sir/Ma’am”).
  • You may only wear DMAA approved Dobok/training T shirt and sparring equipment in the Dojang, unless previously agreed with your Instructor.
  • Your uniform must always be clean and worn correctly with your belt, properly tied.  Full Dobok must be worn at gradings, competitions, seminars and black belt training.
  • The belt must never fall, touch or be placed on the floor. Please learn to tie your belt correctly.
  • When tidying up the Dobok or belt, the student must turn 180 degrees to the left. Never adjust your uniform whilst facing the Instructor.
  • Respect your Instructors by bowing when you see them for the first time and when you leave after training.
  • Always greet guests in a friendly and courteous manner, especially visiting Instructors or grading Examiners.
  • Mobile phones should be turned off or set to silent before a training session begins.
  • Long hair must be tied back during training (to avoid injury)
  • Nails (fingers and toes) should be kept short to avoid any risk of cuts or scratches.
  • Personal hygiene is very important – remember we often train in close proximity to others.
  • No jewellery may be worn while training, for your own and other’s safety. This includes, among other things: earrings, chains, bracelets, watches, smart watches, piercing studs, rings with sharp edges/points and any other potentially harmful items. Smooth surface wedding rings are an exception, but must be taped.
  • No food or chewing gum is allowed in the Dojang. If you need to eat, please remove your belt and eat outside the Dojang.
  • Drinks are permitted only at the margins of the Dojang area (you do not need to remove your belt to drink water)
  • Always ask the Instructor’s permission to leave the Dojang during training.
  • Always try to arrive early and ready for the start of the lesson. Children should be encouraged to use the toilet before class to avoid disruption.  If you arrive late, you must stand to the side of the class until asked to join in by the Instructor.
  • Always follow the Instructor’s commands quickly (e.g. when asked to line up, run to your position)
  • Respect others regardless of age, sex, size or ability. If difficulties arise, immediately inform your Instructor in private.
  • Swearing and inappropriate language is not tolerated in the Dojang.
  • Lead by example. Earn respect rather than demand it. Actions speak louder than words.
  • If in doubt defer to your Instructor, let them guide you.
  • Always do your best in all areas of your training, not just in areas you prefer.
  • After training, remember to thank your Instructor for their guidance.

Take pride in DMAA, your fellow students, and yourself.

One of the first things the beginner notices when they start training is the unfamiliar words used in class.  Because TaekwonDo is an international martial art, we use Korean to overcome language barriers and allow teaching, learning and training for any student regardless of their nationality. After all, TaekwonDo originated in Korea; had it been London, then English would have been used. By using the Korean terminology, we can train anywhere in the world!

Please understand that you are NOT expected to be able to speak fluent Korean! However you are expected to learn the Korean terminology as part of your training.

Learning the terminology is easier for some students than others, but if you regularly hear the words and try to use them yourself, you will be surprised at how quickly they become second nature. In our experience, most young children are able to count to 10 in Korean very soon after they start training…

There are some basic terms, and also some basic theory that every student should know, and we encourage you to start learning these as soon as you can, because theory forms part of your gradings.  Parents can really help their children here by working with them to learn these terms, and it is fun to do so!

Basic Theory and Terms every student should know….

  • TaekwonDo means literally ‘Foot Hand Way’ (or art)
  • TaekwonDo is pronounced Tay-kwon-tow (the ‘k’ sound in kwon is actually a mix between a ‘k’ and a ‘g’ sound. The ‘d’ is pronounced as a ‘t’). There is no emphasis on any of the syllables – i.e. it is not pronounced Tae-KWON-do or Tae-kwon-DO.
  • Be able to count to 10 in Korean
  • Understand the Tenets of TaekwonDo
  • TaekwonDo comes from Korea
  • The founder of TaekwonDo was Major General Choi Hong Hi 9th degree Grandmaster (NB: ‘Choi’ is pronounced ‘Chay’ and ‘Hi’ is pronounced ‘Hee’)
  • TaekwonDo became an official martial art on 11th April 1955
  • The Training hall is the Dojang (pronounced ‘Toe-chang‘)
  • Your Training suit is called a Dobok (pronounced ‘Toe-bok’ (with a soft ‘k/g’ blended sound at the end)


  • 1st – 3rd degree = Boo Sabum (Assistant Instructor, Novice Blackbelt)
  • 4th – 6th degree = Sabum (Instructor, Expert Black Belt)
  • 7th – 8th degree = Sayhun (Master)
  • 9th degree = Saesung (Grandmaster)

Please always refer to your Instructor as ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ or by title and name, e.g. ‘Mr.Burdock’

When asked a question or given a command by your Instructor, please always respond with ‘Yes Sir/Ma’am”. This is part of the first tenet of TaekwonDo – Courtesy, which is so important.

For full information on correct TaekwonDo behaviour/etiquette please go to the ‘DMAA Training Rules’ tab.

The most senior student always stands in the front right position. The class then lines up in order of seniority. Lines and rows must be straight. Once in position, stand relaxed with your arms behind your back, facing front.

Common Commands (you will hear in every class)

  • Face Instructor – Sabum (or Boo Sabum) Nim Ke
  • Attention – Charyot (the ‘a’ sound is always long – so pronounced ‘chaa-ryot’)
  • Bow – Kyong ye (pronounced ‘quong-rae’)
  • Ready – Chunbi
  • In your own time – Kooryong Opshi
  • Begin – Si Jak (pronounced ‘shee-chaahk’)
  • About turn – Dwiyo torra
  • Return to Ready – Paro
  • Break (in sparring) – Hetcho
  • Stop – Goman
  • Relax – Sho
  • Dismiss – Hae San

Basic Terms

  • Training Hall: Dojang
  • Training Suit: Dobok
  • Punch – Jirugi
  • Block – Makgi
  • Kick – Chagi
  • Stance – Sogi

Parts of the Body

  • Forefist – Joomuk
  • Knifehand – Sonkal
  • Forearm – Palmok
  • Inner Forearm – An Palmok
  • Outer Forearm – Bakat Palmok

Basic Stances

  • Attention Stance – Charyot Sogi
  • Walking Stance – Gunnun Sogi
  • Walking Ready Stance – Gunnun Chunbi Sogi
  • Sitting Stance – Annun Sogi
  • Parallel Ready Stance – Narani Chunbi Sogi

All stances are measured in ‘Shoulder Widths’ – please learn the correct dimensions/weight distribution of each of these stances.

Other Basic Terms

  • Reverse – Bandae (so a reverse punch would be Bandae Jirugi)
  • Front Rising Kick (a stretching exercise) – Ap Cha Oligi

Sections & Levels of the Body

Body Sections include many different targets, and are designated into 3 areas:

  • High Section – top of the shoulder to top of the head (includes eyes, jaw, nose etc)
  • Middle Section – Shoulder to belt, or umbilicus (includes sternum, ribs, abdomen etc)
  • Low Section – Below the belt (includes groin, knees etc)

As your training progresses, it is very important to know where your target is and use the correct attack for that target, but this is something your will learn.

Levels of the body are used to describe the height of a technique – a middle punch is level with your own shoulder when delivered. A high punch is level with your eyes. A low punch is level with your umbilicus (or belt).

  • Low – Najunde (Na-jun-day)
  • Middle – Kaunde (Cow-un-day)
  • High – Nopunde (Nop-un-day)

It is incorrect to say ‘a high/middle/low section punch/block etc.’

Therefore you may hear the command: “moving forwards, walking stance, outer forearm LOW block” (in Korean this would be “Gunnun So, Bakat Palmok Najunde Makgi)

Note: The actual height of a technique will always depend on your opponent; for example you may deliver a middle punch which is level with your own shoulder, but against a shorter opponent this would land in their ‘high section’. This is why we use the body levels convention above, which is most useful in patterns (where imaginary opponents are presumed to be the same height as ourselves).

Describing any technique in Korean:

Tip: After naming the stance, always name the attacking/blocking tool first, then the height of the technique (low, middle,high), then the type of block/attack, including any specifics such as ‘inwards’ or ‘downwards’.

For example, the Korean command for inner forearm middle block would be “An Palmok (the blocking tool – inner forearm), Kaunde (middle), Makgi (block). Outer forearm low block would be: Bakat Palmok (outer forearm), Najunde (low), Makgi (block).  A reverse punch to the middle section of an opponent would be “Ap Joomuk (forefist), Kaunde (middle), Bandae Jirugi (reverse punch).

When naming the stance as part of the technique, ‘sogi’ is shortened to ‘so’. For example: walking stance, outer-forearm low block would be: ‘Gunnen so (not gunnun ‘sogi’), bakat palmok najunde makgi.

As you can see, once you learn the basic terminology, it is quite easy to be able to put it together and communicate in class using the Korean words.

Movement commands:

Stepping back into a stance: the exercise will be performed ‘on the spot’ without moving forwards or backwards.

Stepping forward into a stance: with the right leg indicates an attacking technique. With the left leg indicates a defensive technique. However, we may also use this when performing 4-directional exercises.

Bowing is the traditional way to show respect and discipline in the martial arts. Bowing is not an indication of complete submission to one’s Senior. It is a sign of mutual respect.

A bow can be used for different purposes. For example, it may be a greeting or an indication that a Junior would like to speak to his Senior. A bow can mean “thank you” or “I understand”.

The act of bowing is simple. It’s one of the first things that we learn as a student of TaekwonDo.  However, we see a surprising number of variations on such a simple thing, so please make sure you are bowing correctly.

Protocol requires that Juniors bow to their Seniors when they meet. Bowing is always initiated by Juniors, and Seniors bow in return. When greeting their Senior, Juniors must bow, unless the Senior indicates that he/she prefers to shake hands.

Come to attention

Firstly, stop moving and come to attention stance.

If you are carrying anything, put it down. If you are wearing a hat or hood, remove it.

According to the Encyclopedia, your arms should hang “naturally” by your sides, with a slight bend in the elbows. Your fists should be slightly clenched.

Your palms should more or less face the floor. Because of the bend in your elbows, your palms will be tilted upward ever so slightly. Keep the wrists straight.

Sometimes we see students standing with their palms facing forward instead of downward. Don’t do that. General Choi would correct this mistake by telling people that it looked like they were begging for change.

You should always look forwards.

The bow

To bow, bend forward from the waist, not the neck or the back. The Encyclopedia says to bow 15 degrees.

Keep your head up and your eyes on the person or thing you are bowing to.

Note: when bowing to a thing (like a flag or a photo of General Choi), don’t say “Taekwon.” We only say it this when bowing to a person.

When bowing to a senior grade, you must hold your bow until they bow to you. Once they start to straighten up, you can stand up straight as well, but not before. This is important.

When to bow

Always bow when entering or leaving the Dojang.

Always bow to your Instructor when you first see them, or when thanking them after the session.

Always bow to your Senior before asking them a question, and after the question has been answered or you have finished speaking with them.

Bow when instructed to do so (for example at the start of an exercise or sparring)

Why do we say “Taekwon” when we bow?

General Choi explained why we say “Taekwon” when we bow, rather than “Taekwon-Do”: “Taekwon” (foot and hand) represents the physical side of our martial art; so saying “Taekwon” indicates that the person is present physically.

There is no need to pronounce the word “Do” because when bowing the person’s physical posture and respectful attitude are a visible demonstration of the Do.

Reproduced from Protocol- Rules & Regulations Pages 1-17 in force of April 3rd, 2016

It is important to tie your belt correctly to stop it coming loose during training.

This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Take a look at this video:

The Tenets are guidelines for all students of TaekwonDo to live by.  General Choi felt they were so important that all 15 volumes of his encyclopaedia start with the Tenets.

  • Courtesy (Ye Ui)
  • Integrity (Yom Chi)
  • Perseverance (In Nae)
  • Self-Control (Guk Gi)
  • Indomitable Spirit (Baekjul Boolgool)

You should know the meaning of each Tenet, so that they can be understood and applied.

At Gradings, you will be asked to give examples, such as:

Courtesy’ means being polite to others and showing respect. For example, always addressing black belts as Sir or Ma’am; saying please and thank you; bowing when entering or leaving the Dojang.

Integrity’ means knowing right from wrong, being honest, both with other people and yourself.

Perseverance’ means always trying your best until you have achieved your goals; for example, practice a pattern until you are able to perform it properly, to achieve higher grades.  Also learning your theory!

Self-Control’ is self-explanatory, but should be practiced inside and outside the Dojang, in both TaekwonDo or in your personal life; for example a loss of self-control when sparring can prove disastrous.

Indomitable Spirit’ means to carry on even when things seem difficult or impossible. To always stick to your principles, to act properly when confronted with injustice.

The tenets are perhaps the most important part of TaekwonDo theory.

The belt system used by ITF TaekwonDo is designed to show the progression of a student’s training by using different colours. Once the student attains black belt level, the grade is shown by stripes or numerals on the belt.

All belt colours have a meaning, used as a metaphor for progression of training.

White Signifies innocence, that the student has no previous knowledge of TaekwonDo
Yellow Signifies the Earth, from which a plant sprouts and takes root as TaekwonDo foundation is being laid.
Green Signifies the plant’s growth as TaekwonDo skills begin to develop
Blue Signifies the Heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in TaekwonDo progresses
Red Danger, cautioning the student to exercise control, and warning the opponent to stay away
Black Opposite to white, therefore signifying the maturity and proficiency in TaekwonDo.  It is also a symbol of the wearer’s imperviousness to darkness and fear.


You should learn the meanings of each coloured belt as you progress.  For example, a 6th Kup (Green Belt) testing for promotion to 5th Kup (Blue Stripe) should know the meaning of White, Yellow, Green AND Blue.

Translated from Korean, “TAE” literally means to jump, kick or smash with the foot, “KWON” means to punch or destroy with the hand or fist and DO” means art, way or method.  Therefore TaekwonDo means foot, hand, way.

Choi Hong Hi is widely regarded as the ‘Founder of TaekwonDo’. TaekwonDo was developed by General Choi in Korea during the 1940s as a combination of Korean Taek Kyon and Japanese Shotokan Karate.

TaekwonDo is a method of unarmed combat for self-defence based on self-discipline, humility and a sense of right and wrong.

Before TaekwonDo, Korea’s first fighting system was known as Soo Bak Gi which was practiced about 600 AD in the Silla Kingdom (South Korea). Soo Bak Gi developed into Taek Kyon, the Korean art of foot fighting, which the early dynasties used for training their armed forces. Taek Kyon declined during later dynasties and in 1909 the Japanese occupied Korea and outlawed the practice of Taek Kyon and many other Korean traditions.

Choi Hong Hi was born on 9th November 1918 in Hwa Dae, in the Myong Chun district of what is now North Korea, which was then under Japanese rule. A sickly but wilful child, he was expelled from school at the age of 12 for leading a protest against the occupying Japanese.

At the age of 12 Choi started to study Taek Kyon. Choi’s father sent him to study calligraphy under Han Il Dong, who was also a master of Taek Kyon. His teacher, Han ll Dong had been secretly practicing Taek Kyon during the Japanese occupations.

Then in 1937 Choi was sent to Japan to continue his education where he studied karate. In Kyoto, he met a fellow Korean who was a karate instructor and taught Choi. Choi also learned shotokan karate under Funakoshi Gichin. Just before he had left Korea, Choi apparently had a disagreement with a wrestler named Hu, and the possibility of a future confrontation inspired him to train in karate; Choi said “I would imagine that these were the techniques I would use to defend myself against the wrestler, Mr. Hu, if he did attempt to carry out his promise to tear me limb from limb when I eventually returned to Korea”. Choi attained the rank of 2nd dan in karate.

Choi was forced to serve in the Japanese army during World War II. He was posted to Pyongyang where he was imprisoned, following an attempt to escape and join the underground Korean Liberation Army. To maintain his good physical and mental health while in prison, Choi practiced karate, alone at first, then by teaching it to the staff of the prison and the other prisoners.

Following the war Choi became an officer in the new Korean Army. He continued to teach his martial art to his soldiers as well as to American soldiers serving in Korea. From 1946 to 1951, Choi received promotions and was promoted to major general in 1954.

Choi said that he combined elements of Taek Kyon and Shotokan karate to develop the martial art that he called “TaekwonDo” (which means to kick with the foot), Kwon (to strike with the fist), and Do (art or way).

TaekwonDo was inaugurated on 11 April 1955.

In 1953, Choi formed the crack 29th Infantry Division where TaekwonDo developed into maturity. The 29 movements of the TaekwonDo pattern Hwa-Rang refer to the 29th Infantry Division.

During the 1960s, Choi led the original masters of TaekwonDo in promoting their martial art around the world. On March 22nd 1966, General Choi created the International TaekwonDo Federation (ITF). As the Founder of TaekwonDo and President of the ITF Choi spread TaekwonDo training around the world.

TaekwonDo was brought to the UK by Master Rhee Ki Ha in 1967.

ITF TaekwonDo organisations credit General Choi with starting the spread of TaekwonDo internationally by stationing Korean TaekwonDo instructors around the world, and claim that ITF-style TaekwonDo is the only authentic style of TaekwonDo

In 1972, Choi went into exile in Canada and the South Korean government formed the World TaekwonDo Federation (WTF) in 1973.

Choi lived in Toronto until he returned to North Korea in 2000.

Choi died from cancer on 15th June 2002 in Pyongyang, North Korea aged 83.

There are two different numbering systems that are used by Koreans. The first numbering system is used when counting, or when only speaking of the numbers themselves. This is what we use in class.

The first ten numbers in this system are as follows:

(The phonetic pronunciation is in brackets)

1 Ha-na (han_ah)
2 Dul (tool)
3 Set (set)
4 Net (net)
5 Da-Seot (tas_ot)
6 Yeo-Seot (yas_ot)
7 Il-gop (il_go)
8 Yeol-deol (ya_dol)
9 Ahhop (ahh_hop)
10 Yeol (yoll)


Correct pronunciation of Taekwondo terms in Korean can be tricky, especially if all we have to learn from is a textbook.

Here is a link to a series of excellent videos by Grandmaster Donato Nardizzi which go through most of the terminology you will ever need! Notice how he pronounces the words and try to use this approach in your own training. He explains that he doesn’t speak Korean, but his pronunciation is accurate.

The TaekwonDo oath is often recited before a lesson, or at the beginning of a grading.

“I shall observe the tenets of TaekwonDo
I shall respect my instructor and seniors
I shall never misuse TaekwonDo
I shall be a champion of freedom and justice
I shall build a more peaceful world”

Let us consider the purpose and meaning of the oath in more detail:

I shall observe the tenets of Taekwon-Do.

All students must swear to carefully observe, acknowledge and live by each one of the taekwon-do tenets. Here is a brief and basic explanation of each

I shall respect the instructor and seniors.

A student vows to respect their instructors and those senior to them (both in age and rank). An instructor must also act respectfully to all students and persons in order to be respected and therefore not misusing Taekwon-Do.

I shall never misuse Taekwon-Do.

One will never misuse Taekwon-Do to harm other, for their own personal gain or for any other manner that is unjust (this one is particularly important in any martial art, not just Taekwon-Do, as a trained martial artist could easily kill a person in unarmed close combat).

I shall be a champion of freedom and justice.

The 4th line, “I shall be a champion of freedom and justice” can apply to many areas of life and although many may think one would have to do something amazing to achieve this, this part of the oath can be respected by even the littlest things in ones daily activity. If one becomes more open-minded to understanding others ideologies or the way others go about their lives instead of being quick to judge, then maybe the world would be a more understanding and accepting place. Thus allowing people to have the freedom they deserve. By accepting this belief one is bringing justice to this world and therefore being a champion of justice. As we often see, conflicts can occur over common misconceptions of information. One must understand the full story and have all the facts before he can truly make a proper judgement.

I shall build a more peaceful world.

The final line of the oath is “I shall build a more peaceful world”. One can also easily obtain this goal by going about their daily lives in a more peaceful manner. If everyone did this, the world would obviously become a more peaceful place. As we often see, conflicts can occur over common misconceptions of information. One must understand the full story and have all the facts before he can truly make a proper judgement. However, this does not mean a student cannot defend themselves against aggression directed towards themselves as that would defeat some of the purpose of Taekwondo, an art of unarmed self-defence. That does not mean though however a student can provoke aggression towards another individual, as that would breaking the oath. As we often see, conflicts can occur over common misconceptions of information. One must understand the full story and have all the facts before he can truly make a proper judgement.

Source: Wikipedia

What is a Pattern?

A pattern is a set of fundamental movements, both attack and defence, set in a logical sequence designed to deal with one or more imaginary opponents. Patterns are an indication of a student’s progress, or a barometer in evaluating an individual’s technique.

Why do we perform patterns?

Patterns are practised to improve Tae Kwon-Do techniques, to develop sparring techniques, improve flexibility of movement, master body shifting, build and tone muscles and improve balance and breath control. They also enable the student to learn techniques which cannot be found in other forms of training.

Why are there 24 patterns?

The reason for 24 patterns is because the founder, General Choi Hong Hi, compared the life of man with a day in the life of the earth. He believes that people should strive to bequeath a good spiritual legacy to coming generations and in doing so gain immortality. Therefore if we can leave something behind for the welfare of mankind, maybe it will be the most important thing to happen in our lives, as the founder says:

Here I leave Tae Kwon-Do for mankind as a trace of a man of the late 20th century. The twenty four patterns represent twenty four hours, one day, or all of my life.

What do Patterns represent?

The name of each pattern and the number of movements and diagram/symbol of each pattern symbolise either a historical event or heroic figure in Korean history. These events and heroic figures are to be respected.Although the history is Korean, all people and cultures can relate to their struggle and triumphs. The messages and morals are universal and the purpose of memorising the meanings is to honour and uphold the people, actions and events, therefore representing the tenets of Tae Kwon-Do.

Points to consider when performing Patterns:

  • Patterns should begin and end on the same spot. This will indicate the performers accuracy.
  • Correct posture and facing must be maintained at all times.
  • Muscles of the body should be tensed or relaxed at the proper critical moments in the pattern.
  • The pattern should be performed in a rhythmic movement with the absence of stiffness.
  • Each pattern should be accelerated or decelerated according to instructions.
  • Each pattern should be perfected before moving on to the next.
  • Students should know the purpose of each movement.
  • Students should perform each movement with realism.