Understand Taekwondo Terminology for Beginners

Understand Taekwondo Terminology for Beginners, taekwondoking.com
Understand Taekwondo Terminology for Beginners

My name is Ehatasamul Alom. I finished a Taekwondo diploma program, and I am a Taekwondo competitor at both national and international levels, as well as a coach, 3rd Dan black belt owner, and national referee. Throughout the years, I have accumulated vast knowledge and skills in the practice of Taekwondo. For those just starting in Taekwondo, grasping the vocabulary is essential for advancing and achieving goals. This article intends to give a summary of important Taekwondo terminology that beginners should be familiar with.

Basic Taekwondo Terms

1. Taekwondo (태권도):

Taekwondo, often translated as “the way of the foot and the hand,” is a Korean martial art that focuses on high, fast kicks and powerful hand strikes. It emphasizes both physical and mental discipline.

2. Dojang (도장):

A Dojang is a place where individuals who practice Taekwondo receive training. It is a location where respect and discipline are valued, and students must adhere to appropriate behavior during their training.

3. Dobok (도복):

The Dobok is the uniform worn by Taekwondo practitioners. It typically consists of a white jacket, pants, and a belt that signifies the practitioner’s rank.

4. Belt (띠):

The belt, or “ti,” indicates the rank of a Taekwondo practitioner. The color of the belt represents the student’s level of knowledge and skill, with white being the beginner level and black representing advanced proficiency.

5. Kihap (기합):

Kihap is a loud yell or shout made by Taekwondo practitioners during techniques. It is used to focus energy, intimidate opponents, and strengthen the power of the technique.

Taekwondo Stances (Sogi)

1. Charyeot (차렷):

Charyeot is the command for attention stance. In this stance, the feet are together, the hands are by the sides, and the body is straight. This stance is used for formal greetings and showing respect.

2. Joonbi (준비):

Joonbi means “ready stance.” In this stance, the feet are shoulder-width apart, and the fists are held in front of the body. This stance signifies that the practitioner is ready for action.

3. Ap Sogi (앞 서기):

Ap Sogi, or walking stance, is a basic stance where one foot is placed forward, and the weight is distributed evenly on both feet. It is commonly used in Taekwondo forms and techniques.

4. Dwi Sogi (뒤 서기):

Dwi Sogi, or back stance, involves placing most of the body weight on the back leg, with the front foot lightly touching the ground. This stance is used for defensive techniques and quick movements.

5. Kkoaseogi (꼬아 서기):

Kkoaseogi, or crossed stance, is a stance where one foot crosses over the other, creating a stable and balanced position. It is often used in forms and advanced techniques.

Taekwondo Strikes and Blocks

1. Jireugi (지르기):

Jireugi refers to punching techniques in Taekwondo. The most common types of punches include the straight punch (ap jireugi), reverse punch (bandae jireugi), and uppercut (olgul jireugi).

2. Chigi (치기):

Chigi refers to striking techniques using parts of the body other than the fists. Examples include elbow strikes (palgup chigi) and hammer fist strikes (me jumeok chigi).

3. Makki (막기):

Makki means blocking techniques. These are used to defend against incoming attacks. Common blocks include low block (arae makki), middle block (momtong makki), and high block (olgul makki).

Taekwondo Kicks (Chagi)

1. Ap Chagi (앞 차기):

Ap Chagi, or front kick, is one of the most basic kicks in Taekwondo. The kick is executed by raising the knee and extending the leg forward to strike with the ball of the foot.

2. Dollyo Chagi (돌려 차기):

Dollyo Chagi, or roundhouse kick, involves turning the body and striking with the top of the foot. It is a powerful and versatile kick used in both offense and defense.

3. Yop Chagi (옆 차기):

Yop Chagi, or sidekick, is executed by raising the knee, turning the body sideways, and extending the leg to strike with the heel. It is known for its strength and effectiveness.

4. Dwi Chagi (뒤 차기):

Dwi Chagi, or backkick, involves turning the body and kicking backward with the heel. It is a powerful kick used to counterattack and surprise opponents.

5. Nare Chagi (나래 차기):

Nare Chagi, or double kick, is an advanced technique where two kicks are performed in quick succession. It requires speed, balance, and precision.

Taekwondo Forms (Poomsae)

1. Poomsae (품새):

Poomsae are predefined sequences of movements that simulate combat situations against imaginary opponents. Each Poomsae has a specific pattern, rhythm, and purpose. They are essential for developing technique, balance, and coordination.

2. Taegeuk (태극):

Taegeuk refers to a series of eight Poomsae that are practiced at the color belt level. Each Taegeuk represents different philosophical concepts and levels of difficulty, preparing students for higher-level forms.

3. Koryo (고려):

Koryo is the first black belt Poomsae in Taekwondo. It represents the spirit of the Korean people and is characterized by strong, powerful movements.

4. Keumgang (금강):

Keumgang, meaning “diamond,” is the second black belt Poomsae. It emphasizes stability, strength, and precision, symbolizing the immovable nature of a diamond.

5. Taebaek (태백):

Taebaek is the third black belt Poomsae. It represents the sacred mountain Taebaek and focuses on fluid, graceful movements combined with strength and control.

Taekwondo Sparring (Kyorugi)

1. Kyorugi (겨루기):

Kyorugi, or sparring, is a controlled combat practice between two practitioners. It is essential to Taekwondo training, allowing students to apply techniques in a dynamic and realistic setting.

2. Hogu (호구):

Hogu is the protective gear worn during sparring. It includes a chest protector, headgear, gloves, shin guards, and mouthguard. Hogu ensures safety while allowing practitioners to spar with intensity.

3. Daedo (대도):

Daedo is an electronic scoring system used in competitive Taekwondo sparring. It involves electronic sensors in the protective gear that register points based on the force and accuracy of strikes.

4. Kyong-go (경고):

Kyong-go is a warning given to a practitioner during sparring for minor rule violations. Accumulating multiple Kyong-gos can result in point deductions.

5. Gam-jeom (감점):

Gam-jeom is a penalty point given for significant rule violations during sparring. Receiving a Gam-jeom can affect the outcome of a match.

Taekwondo Commands and Etiquette

1. Charyeot (차렷):

Charyeot is the command for attention stance. Practitioners stand with their feet together, hands by their sides, and body straight. It is used to show respect before and after training sessions.

2. Kyungnae (경례):

The word Kyungnae translates to “bow” in the Korean language. It is a sign of respect done at the start and end of training sessions, upon entering or exiting the Dojang, and when greeting teachers and fellow students.

3. Sabum (사범):

Sabum is the Korean term for instructor or master. It is a title of respect given to black belt holders who teach and guide students in Taekwondo.

4. Gyeong-rye (경례):

Gyeong-rye is the command to bow. It is a sign of respect and courtesy, and practitioners bow to instructors, fellow students, and the training area.

5. Dojang Manners:

People in the Dojang are required to adhere to certain customs, like bowing when they come in or out, speaking to instructors with respect, and keeping the training space neat and organized.


Beginners need to grasp Taekwondo terminology to effectively progress in their training. By getting to know these terms, you will be more prepared to understand directions, interact with other practitioners, and be fully involved in the vibrant Taekwondo culture. As you advance in your training, these terms will become automatic, improving your overall experience and bond with the art. 

Don’t forget, that Taekwondo is about perfecting techniques and embodying the principles and values it instills. You can experience significant success and personal development on your Taekwondo journey with dedication, respect, and perseverance.


Are there any Korean terms used in Taekwondo?

Yes, Taekwondo terminology is heavily influenced by Korean. Here are some common examples:

  • Sa rang: Beginner (literally “new student”)
  • An nyong ha se yo: Hello/Goodbye (formal greeting)
  • Kamsahamnida: Thank you
  • Kuk Sool Won: National Martial Arts Association (often used in schools)
  • Sabonim: Teacher/Instructor

Where can I learn more Taekwondo terminology?

Here are some resources to expand your Taekwondo vocabulary:

  • Your Taekwondo instructor: The best resource is your instructor! They can explain terms in detail and answer your questions.
  • Online glossaries: Many Taekwondo websites or forums have glossaries with definitions and pronunciations.
  • Taekwondo books and manuals: Books for beginners often include sections on terminology.

Should all the Korean terms be remembered?

Although learning a few Korean terms demonstrates respect for Taekwondo’s roots, it is not necessary to memorize every term right away. Concentrate on mastering the English terminology for methods and adhering to your teacher’s instructions. As you advance, you can slowly learn additional Korean vocabulary.

How will learning terminology help me in Taekwondo?

Understanding Taekwondo Terminology helps you:

  • Follow instructions: Your instructor will use these terms to explain techniques and drills.
  • Communicate with other students: Sharing knowledge and experiences becomes easier with a common vocabulary.
  • Appreciate the culture: Knowing some Korean terms shows respect for the art of Taekwondo.

What does “Taekwondo” mean?

The term “Taekwondo” translates to “the way of the foot and the hand” in Korean and refers to a martial art. “Tae” refers to using the foot to kick or strike, “kwon” refers to using the hand to punch or strike, and “do” means path or way, symbolizing a lifestyle centered on physical and mental discipline.

What is a “dojang”?

A “dojang” refers to a place where Taekwondo is taught and practiced, such as a training hall or school. It is where students are taught Taekwondo skills by an instructor, and practice them. The dojang is seen as a place where respect and discipline are important.

What is a “dobok”?

A dobok is the customary outfit that Taekwondo artists put on. It includes a coat, trousers, and a waistband (ti). The dobok is commonly white, representing purity and a novice’s mentality.

What is the meaning of “belt colors” in Taekwondo?

Belt colors in Taekwondo signify a student’s rank and level of proficiency. The progression typically starts with a white belt (beginner) and advances through various colors such as yellow, green, blue, red, and black. Each color represents different stages of knowledge and skill.

What is a “kihap”?

A “kihap” is a strong vocalization performed by Taekwondo practitioners while executing moves. It has various functions like channeling energy, threatening rivals, and aiding breathing techniques. Kihaps aid in enhancing the strength of hits and sustaining focus.

What does “poomsae” mean?

“Poomsae” are the structured sequences or routines that are performed in Taekwondo training. These are established patterns of movements that consist of different kicks, punches, blocks, and stances. Poomsae assists students in enhancing technique, balance, and coordination.

What is a “sabeomnim”?

A “sabeomnim” refers to a Taekwondo teacher or expert. The term is utilized to demonstrate reverence and recognize the instructor’s expertise and power. During classes and training sessions, students refer to their teachers as sabeomnim.

What are “stances” in Taekwondo?

Stances in Taekwondo are essential positions that offer stability, equilibrium, and strength for different moves. Typical stances consist of “juchum seogi” (horse stance), “ap seogi” (walking stance), “dwit seogi” (back stance), and “kkoa seogi” (cross stance). Every position has distinct uses and advantages.

What is the purpose of “blocking” techniques?

Defensive strategies in Taekwondo are employed to protect oneself from an adversary’s strikes. They entail using arms, hands, or legs to block and disable incoming attacks. “olgul makki” (high block), “arae makki” (low block), and “momtong makki” (middle block) are examples of typical blocks.

What does “sparring” entail in Taekwondo?

Sparring, known as “kyorugi” in Taekwondo, is a controlled combat practice where students apply techniques dynamically and interactively. It allows practitioners to develop timing, distance, speed, and strategy in a safe environment. Sparring can be non-contact, light-contact, or full-contact, depending on the level and rules.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *