How Effective is Tae Kwon Do in Real Life?

Many people’s interest in martial arts began through watching movies. There can be little argument about the influence that Bruce Lee exerted during the 1970s, and his legend still lives on.

Today though, martial arts of all kinds are far more in the open, and classes are easy to find and attend. Some individuals dedicate themselves to one style for their entire lives, while others dabble with two or more until they settle on one that suits them.

One of the most popular martial arts in Tae Kwon Do with over 3,500 clubs in the US, and 70 million participants worldwide.

Although the Father of Tae Kwon Do gave the modern version of this martial art to the world in 1955, like many fighting styles it has its roots much further back.

How effective is Tae Kwon Do as self defense?

In 1946, Hong Choi started to train Korean fighters in Taek Kyon. It was in 1952 however that the future popularity of Tae Kwon Do was to be cemented. It was at this point that President Syngman Rhee witnessed a Taek Kyon demonstration. So impressed was he that the martial art became mandatory for every enlisted Korean soldier.

In 1955, Tae Kwon Do was formally founded even though it can be traced back to 50 BC in different forms. Now Tae Kwon Do is as universally well known as Kung Fu, Karate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, and any other martial art you could mention.

Well-established clubs such as American Independent Taekwondo teach individuals of all ages now. The martial art can be used for self-defense, and sport and competition.

The words Tae Kwon Do translate to foot – hand – art. There is no doubt that Tae Kwon Do is an effective form of self-defense, although it is the basics of footwork, blocking, and punching that will be most useful. Forget images of flying kicks from Hollywood movies.

More than just self-defense though, Tae Kwon Do brings about many other real-life benefits.

Tae Kwon Do is a valid competitive sport

After appearing twice as an exhibition sport, Tae Kwon Do was introduced competitively at the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000. This means it is one of just six martial arts that have been allowed into the famous sporting event.

But, there are many other competitions across the states and the rest of the world where individuals compete alongside club members. These are usually known as light contact or points fighting, and they are a way to gauge skill in a controlled manner. For those with higher levels of skill, there are full-contact events, and some practitioners have tried their hands at MMA.

Tae Kwon Do can help you grow as a person

Participating in a martial art, competitively or not, can help to grow confidence. Learning new skills, and progressing through the grades or belts helps self-esteem, and gives a feeling of achievement.

Science has shown that martial arts help to develop virtuous character traits such as compassion also.

Tae Kwon Do can help improve fitness levels

While physical training needn’t be too involved in Tae Kwon Do, anyone who takes their martial arts seriously will certainly want to build their fitness levels. To be able to compete you will need stamina, and you will gain all the benefits that physical exercise brings.

You are likely to lose fat, get a flatter stomach, build muscle, and become much leaner as you develop as a Tae Kwon Do practitioner.

You could become an instructor

For those that stick with Tae Kwon Do, there is the possibility of using their knowledge to teach others in the future.

Becoming an instructor means that you could open your own club and impart all that you have learned.

How can you get into Tae Kwon Do?

With 3,500 clubs across the states, there should be no problem in finding one local to you. Some of these clubs are run independently, and some are affiliated with one of the Tae Kwon Do associations such as ATF.

With over 7 million individuals practicing Tae Kwon Do in the US, there is a good chance that you know someone who already belongs to a local class. Ask them about joining, or simply visit the club to speak to the instructor. Any Tae Kwon Do instructor will be happy to spend a few minutes answering your questions.


Tae Kwon Do isn’t just effective as a method of self defense, it has practical benefits in the real world in many other ways. By practicing Tae Kwon Do you will build strength and bolster your core muscles. This can help to stop back pain. You will grow in confidence, and develop other character strengths.

You can take Tae Kwon Do to competitive levels, or use it for your own development. And, you could realistically one day be teaching the arts yourself.

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Libby Austin

Libby Austin, the creative force behind, is a dynamic and versatile writer known for her engaging and informative articles across various genres. With a flair for captivating storytelling, Libby's work resonates with a diverse audience, blending expertise with a relatable voice.
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