What is Taekwon-do?
Where did it originate?
TaeKwon-Do is the modernized way of an old Korean art of self-defense or un-armed combat. It was first developed 1300 years ago in Korea when it was known as "TaeKyon". TaeKyon was a form of foot fighting. Through the centuries hand techniques were introduced and the combination is now called TaeKwon-Do, however, in the more advanced techniques the use of the legs becomes more valuable. This makes TaeKwon-Do more effective and spectacular than other oriental self-defense arts because the legs can develop more power and reach farther than the hands.
TaeKwon-Do is the name of a Korean free-fighting, self-defense art that employs the bare hands and feet to repel an enemy. In earlier times, people living simple lives were small, had limited strength and weapons were not available. To compensate for limitations in their strength and lack of weapons, the people used TaeKwon-Do as a means of self protection during enemy attacks. Since TaeKwon-Do was developed in this nature, its techniques and methods are based on defensive tactics. TaeKwon-Do, as well as being a Martial Art, is also recognized as one of the most effective methods for improving health, physical fitness, flexibility, balance, agility and poise.
TaeKwon-Do is an exact system of symmetrical exercises designed for unarmed self-defense and counter-attack. The significance of this definition, however, is only physical and superficial, for TaeKwon-Do means, more importantly, a way of life. Thus, self-control, kindness and humility must accompany physical strength and skill. TaeKwon-Do develops in a person the power to kill instantly with the bare hands and feet. It is also the discipline of this art to develop in a person the ability to control himself and the devastating techniques of TaeKwon-Do. A TaeKwon-Do master is able to smash several boards or bricks with a single strike or kick, yet with the same techniques demonstrate the precise control necessary to touch a sheet of rice paper without breaking it.
TaeKwon-Do training instills the desire to handle confrontation without violence except when the safety of oneself or others in ones care is in jeopardy. When physical contact is unavoidable, TaeKwon-Do assures the safety of the student while minimizing injury to the attacker. The Korean word "Tae" means kicking, jumping, flying with the feet; "Kwon" means punching or striking with the fists, and "Do" means art, technique or "way". TaeKwon-Do, the art or kicking and striking, incorporates the abrupt, linear movements of Karate and the flowing circular patterns of Kung-Fu with its own incomparable kicking techniques to form the most effective and scientific use of the body in methods of self-defense.
What is unique about Kopperud's "Unified" system of TaeKwon-Do?
Many TaeKwon-Do schools tend to place an inappropriate emphasis on one area of training while neglecting or ignoring another. Many schools which are motivated by "competitions" in the Martial Arts tend to emphasize the "fighting" part of TaeKwon-Do. This "combat" or "sport" aspect of TaeKwon-Do training is only valuable when it is in balance with the other four areas of the art. Placing too much emphasis on one of the five components of TaeKwon-Do while neglecting or ignoring another can produce negative results and be dangerous for the student. A balance between the five areas of training combined with an overall disciplined, yet friendly instructional approach, is by far the most beneficial for the student and will likely produce a true "Martial Artist".
"Correction" is often necessary in the TaeKwon-Do educational process. While many instructors employ a negative and harsh method of correction and instruction, "Unified" TaeKwon-Do Instructors concentrate their energy on encouragement, firm friendly discipline, quality communication and positive reinforcement. Unified Schools employ a system of education which places equal emphasis on each of the five areas of training:
- Physical Fitness and Fundamental Techniques
- "Model" Controlled Step Sparring
- Art Form and Patterns
- Practical Self-Defense and Protection
- "Free" Sport Sparring
TaeKwon-Do, like many martial arts, has its roots and traditions in history. Many Instructors refuse to stray in any way from these traditions and out-of-date methods of instruction. Our society continues to advance, develop and evolve, and so should TaeKwon-Do. Unified TaeKwon-Do Schools hold dearly to the traditions of this art and its history, however, when instructional methods become out-of-date or inappropriate, or older traditional techniques or exercises are discovered to be unhealthy or dangerous, we adapt, upgrade and evolve. Unified TaeKwon-Do Instructors continue to seek the most beneficial and effective methods of TaeKwon-Do while holding on to the traditions of the art. Advances in the fields of education, communication, physiology, health and physical fitness dictate that we allow and encourage the continued evolution of TaeKwon-Do.
How long have Kopperud's Unified TaeKwon-Do Schools been around?
Kopperud TaeKwon-Do Schools began in September 1976, with one instructor, Scott L. Kopperud, and about 12 students meeting only in Camrose, Alberta. Since then the organization has grown to 31 schools serving Western Canada from Saskatoon to Whitehorse, offering over dozens of classes to over 2000 students. Kopperud TaeKwon-Do Schools Inc. has become a highly respected martial arts institution and has produced over 100 true Martial Arts Black-Belts including its founder, Grand Master S.L.Kopperud.
How many levels are there in TaeKwon-Do?
There are 10 Gup (grade) Color-Belt levels and 9 Dan (degree) Black-Belt levels. In addition to these traditional rank levels, the Kopperud TaeKwon-Do System has developed Junior Rank Levels for children. Both the Child and Adult begin at the White-Belt (10th Gup) level, however, where the Adult student would then proceed to the Yellow-Belt (8th Gup) level, the Child would proceed through the Junior Levels before transferring to the traditional rank level.
Junior levels include: Junior Level Yellow, Green, Blue, and Red, Junior Yellow-Belt, etc. The first four junior levels are indicated by colored stripes on a white belt. The Junior Yellow-Belt will have a white stripe on both ends while the adult Yellow-Belt (8th Gup) has no stripes.
The adult rank levels include White-Belt (beginner), Yellow-Belt (8th Gup), Green-Belt (6th Gup), Blue-Belt (4th Gup), Red-Belt (2nd Gup) and 1st to 9th Dan (degree) Black-Belt. 7th Gup, 5th Gup, 3rd Gup and 1st Gup rank levels are indicated by the next color stripe on the existing belt, i.e.: A yellow-belt with green stripes on the ends indicates 7th Gup which is half way between the yellow and green.
The Unified Junior Level Rank System is designed to ensure that CHILDREN DO NOT FAIL. At a minimum, children will advance one junior rank level per exam, however, if their ability dictates, they can be promoted two or even three junior rank levels at one time. i.e.: Children can earn their junior yellow, green and blue stripes in one exam. Adults seldom fail an exam either since they do not take an examination until they are ready. Occasionally, if there is a significant possibility of failure, the instructor will discourage the student from taking the examination.
Some students can attain their 1st DAN BLACK-BELT in as little as three years, however, the average length of time in the adult program is between three and four years. The 4th & 5th Dan Black-Belt levels are considered chief international instructors and must have at least ten years experience. 6th and 7th Dan Black-Belts can be considered Masters and the minimum experience necessary for 6th Dan Black-Belt is 24 years. These 24 years represent the 24 hours in a day and the 6th Dan Black-Belt is considered a Master who has reached the final level, and is ready to begin a new day. The 8th Dan Black-Belt is considered a "Grand Master" in TaeKwon-Do and is based not only on technical expertise in the art, but also dedication to the development and evolution of TaeKwon-Do and a Mastery of the curriculum. The 9th Dan Black-Belts is usually honorary, based on dedication, experience and expertise. The 9th Dan Black-Belt is reserved for the president of the international organization. This rank was reserved for General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of modern day TaeKwon-Do, the man who gave TaeKwon-Do its name in 1955 and the first to dedicate his life to the development of this art. Since the passing of General Choi, Grand Master Kopperud, President of Unified TaeKwon-Do International became eligible for the rank of 9th Dan Black-Belt. Although the 9th Dan is usually an Honorary Degree, Grand Master Kopperud chose to demonstrate his skill, expertise and dedication to the art on May 3, 2008 to a crowd of over 1,200 people.
GMK demonstrated his skill, passion and soul before being awarded his 9th Degree Black-Bel. Distinguished guests, International Representatives, Instructors, Black-Belts, Students and enthusiastic fans observed dramatic exhibitions while celebrating the completion of the Unified TaeKwon-Do Curriculum as "OMEGA", UTI's final form, was revealed. Finally, grand Master Kopperud's 9th Dan Black-Belt is presented by National, State and Provincial representatives and tightened by Instructors, Black-Belts, Students, close friends and Family.
What do I hear in a TaeKwon-Do class?
While most of the instruction in a class is in English, many commands are given in the Korean language including the following:
|Charyut - Attention||Hannuh - One|
|Gyung Ye - Bow||Tool - Two|
|Joonbi - Ready||Site - Three|
|She Uh - Relax (at ease)||Nite - Four|
|Si Jak - Begin||Tassut - Five|
|Geu Man - End||Yassut - Six|
|Dol Ji - Turn Around||Elgoop - Seven|
|Do Bok - Uniform||Yuduhl - Eight|
|Ti - Belt||Ahoop - Nine|
|Do Jang - Gym||Yul - Ten|
|Paro - Return|
|Hasan - Dismiss|
What do I see in a TaeKwon-Do class?
There are seven tenets of TaeKwon-Do: HONOR, HUMILITY, DISCIPLINE, PATIENCE, CHARITY, DISCERNMENT & PERSEVERANCE. You will see each of these displayed in a class. As an example students will demonstrate courtesy by listening, bowing when approaching the instructor and bowing when entering or leaving the dojang (gym). The "bow" is the equivalent to our North American handshake, however, it plays an important role in TaeKwon-Do training as it serves to remind the student of his dedication and respect for the art, the instructor and fellow students. In addition to protocol, you will see a variety of training regimes, drills, exercises and techniques.
Do I take Rank Examinations?
As a student of TaeKwon-Do, you are expected to display the rank appropriate to your experience and skill level. Rank examinations are formal events and follow established protocol and guidelines. Two or three weeks prior to taking an examination, students are given examination forms which indicates what they will be responsible for. The fee for taking the examination is separate from your training tuition and is indicated on the examination form. The health and safety of the student always come first and examination requirements are occasionally modified and tailored to individual abilities.
Do I compete in Tournaments?
Unified TaeKwon-Do School hosts its own TaeKwon-Do tournaments, usually twice per year. In addition, we are often invited to participate in both TaeKwon-Do and Open Martial Arts Tournaments. Participation in tournaments is optional, however, we strongly recommend you seek your instructors advice when considering entering a competition.
W.T.F.? I.T.F.? What are we?
There are three basic styles of TaeKwon-Do, the "world" style, the "international" style and the "UNIFIED" style. The "world" style emphasizes free-fighting and the sport component of the art while the "international" style places its emphasis on traditional techniques and exercises. These styles differ greatly with respect to their advantages, however, they are both limited in the way they cling to their separate traditions, policies, procedures and teaching methods. Kopperud TaeKwon-Do Schools (1976) is a charter member of UNIFIED TAEKWON-DO INTERNATIONAL (1989).
How is "Unified" TaeKwon-Do different from International and World TaeKwon-Do?
Unified TaeKwon-Do International's goal is the unification of TaeKwon-Do on a voluntary basis. Our objectives are to provide quality education, training and resources to our affiliated schools and individual members. We recognize and incorporate both the "International" and "World" techniques and methods, however, we encourage a traditional, yet progressive, approach to training and education. Unified TaeKwon-Do International is made up of dedicated Martial Artists from around the world working together to preserve the reputation and standards of TaeKwon-Do. Membership in Unified TaeKwon-Do International assures recognition and support through an international network of TaeKwon-Do Instructors and practitioners dedicated to their advancement and education. Unified TaeKwon-Do International is free from the politics which have hindered other associations.
I'm signed up; now what?
Do Jang Etiquette: The student will bow at the entrance to the dojang upon entering and/or leaving. When approaching the instructor with a question, the student will bow. The student will address the instructor by "sir", “mam” or their surname only. If late for a class, the student will approach the instructor from the side, stand at attention and request permission to join class. If the student must leave a class early, he should inform the instructor before the class begins. If the student intends to participate in class "out" of uniform, he should request permission from his instructor before hand. Shoes are not to be worn in the dojang.
Uniform (dobok): Students will wear a white TaeKwon-Do uniform to class. The solid white uniform represents purity and equality and serves to unify all practitioners. The left lapel of the jacket is worn over the right. The club/school crest is worn over the heart (left chest) and the association crest is worn on the right upper sleeve. No other crests are to be worn.
Belt (ti): The belt represents one's achievement level and distinguishes one student from another. Each color belt has a significant meaning:
- WHITE signifies innocence, as that of a beginning student who has no previous knowledge of TaeKwon-Do.
- YELLOW signifies earth, from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the TaeKwon-Do foundation is being laid.
- GREEN signifies the plants growth as TaeKwon-Do skill begins to develop.
- BLUE signifies the heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in TaeKwon-Do progresses.
- RED represents danger, cautioning the student to exercise control and to warn an opponent to stay away.
- BLACK is the opposite of white, therefore, signifying maturity and proficiency in TaeKwon-Do. It also indicates the wearer's imperviousness to darkness and fear. Conduct: Students are expected to demonstrate the tenets of TaeKwon-Do both in and out of class. Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit. Students are encouraged to practice TaeKwon-Do daily, however, misusing TaeKwon-Do outside the dojang or a self-defense situation where it is necessary is strictly prohibited. Students should memorize and observe both the five tenets of TaeKwon-Do and the student oath: (1) I shall observe the tenets of TaeKwon-Do, (2) I shall respect the Instructor and Seniors, (3) I shall never misuse TaeKwon-Do, (4) I shall be a champion of freedom and justice, and (5) I shall build a more peaceful world.
Who is Grand Master S.L. Kopperud?
After training in TaeKwon-Do for only two years, Scott Kopperud gave up hockey to pursue the dream of achieving his Black-Belt, which he did two years later. Since that time, many years ago, he has gone on to become a Canadian National TaeKwon-Do Champion three times in both Forms and Free-Fighting, and twice in Board-Breaking. Kopperud is certified in both the "world" and "international" styles of TaeKwon-Do as a Master Instructor. With over five years experience as a high school teacher in the areas of physical education, English and special needs education, Kopperud has dedicated much of his time in the past eight years to developing and refining the "Kopperud" system of TaeKwon-Do instruction. Dropping all other professional activities in 1991, he has dedicated his time solely to TaeKwon-Do, the expansion of his 24 schools and the development of Unified TaeKwon-Do International. Kopperud travels often, giving seminars and providing quality instruction and support to TaeKwon-Do instructors world wide.
Master Kopperud was examined and promoted to the rank of 7th Dan Black-Belt many years ago in the United States by a panel of 12 TaeKwon-Do and Martial Arts Masters. This examination was witnessed and endorsed by over one hundred TaeKwon-Do Black-Belts. Kopperud was the youngest North American to achieve this rank and is the first to do so in both the "international" and "world" styles.
On June 4, 1999 in Cologne, Germany, Scott L. Kopperud was promoted to the rank of 8th Dan Black-Belt Grand Master by an International Panel of TaeKwon-Do Experts, Grand Masters, Masters, Chief Instructors and Instructors. Grand Master Kopperud is the youngest TaeKwon-Do practitioner to achieve this rank which was awarded to him for dedication to the development and continuing evolution of TaeKwon-Do as well as his superior physical and technical expertise in the execution of the art.
Kopperud was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame as 2003 Canadian Grand Master of the Year in August 2003.
May 3, 2008 Grand Master Kopperud was promoted to 9th Dan Black-Belt.
GMK demonstrated his skill, passion and soul before being awarded his 9th Degree Black-Belt. Distinguished guests, International Representatives, Instructors, Black-Belts, Students and enthusiastic fans observed dramatic exhibitions while celebrating the completion of the Unified TaeKwon-Do Curriculum as "OMEGA", UTI's final form, was revealed. Finally, grand Master Kopperud's 9th Dan Black-Belt is presented by National, State and Provincial representatives and tightened by Instructors, Black-Belts, Students, close friends and Family.
Kopperud, his wife Carol Ann and their four children have been in Saskatoon since August 1991 when he opened his first Saskatchewan school. His Saskatoon school has grown from 22 to 300 members. With eight years of post-secondary education in Recreation Administration, Education and Theology, Kopperud, with a genuine love for what he does, continues to develop and refine his teaching skills in the ever evolving Martial Art of TaeKwon-Do.
Interested to find out more?
Read Grand Master S.L. Kopperud's full biography.