[UNESCO description] Taekkyeon is a traditional Korean martial art that makes use of fluid, rhythmic dance-like movements to strike or trip up an opponent. The graceful movements of a well-trained Taekkyeon performer are gentle and circular rather than straight and rigid, but can explode with enormous flexibility and strength. The feet play as an important role as the hands. It also teaches consideration: a skilled Taekkyeon practitioner can rapidly dominate an opponent, but a true master knows how to make an opponent withdraw without incurring damage. The bout takes place with the sound of traditional Korean drums or a bamboo flute.
Earliest records of Taekkyeon were found in paintings in the Muyong Chong, a royal tomb of the Koguryo in Manchuria (Liponski 2003). As a part of seasonal farming-related traditions, Taekkyeon serves to facilitate community integration, and as a sport accessible to all plays a major role in promoting public health.
Taekkyeon was transmitted as a form of traditional games since Goryeo Dynasty. It was prohibited during the Japanese colonial era, but managed to continue since liberation. In 1983, Taekkyeon marked a significant milestone, being designated as the National Intangible Cultural Heritage 76, the first case in the field of martial arts. UNESCO recognised it as Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011.
There are approximately fifty recognized practitioners of Taekkyeon and 300 training centres nationwide at present, and the Korean Taekkyeon Association plays a significant role in the transmission and promotion of this traditional martial art.
- Taekgyeon Preservation Society - Korea Taekkyeon Association - Chungju Taekkyeon Demonstration Team
- UNESCO (n.d.). Taekkyeon - Academy of Korean Studies Press. (1989). Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. Academy of Korean Studies. - Liponski, W., Farmer, M., & Hagarty, K. (2003). World Sports Encyclopedia. Oficyna Wydawnicza Atena.
International Centre of Martial Arts for Youth Development and Engagement under the auspices of UNESCO
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