Why Is Counting Important In Taekwondo?

The art of Taekwondo is relatively recent, being created in the 1940s-50s as a blend of different Ancient Korean martial arts.

Taekwondo nowadays is practiced by millions across the globe and is one of only 3 Asian martial arts in the Olympics.

Why Is Counting Important In Taekwondo

The physical benefits of taekwondo are merely a side-effect of the training, taekwondo is primarily used to promote a healthy mind through self-confidence and discipline.

As a sport, taekwondo prides itself on the mental benefits of its art. Its end goal is to help a person in character and morality.

Taekwondo follows the philosophy of the Hwarang, a group of Ancient Korean warriors who spread the practice of Taekkyeon (one of the martial arts that taekwondo is based on).

The Hwarang were known for their bravery, honor and ambition.

The founder of the International Taekwondo Federation laid out 5 tenets of Taekwondo based on the Hwarang commandments.

These tenets are:

  • Courtesy – 예의 – Yeui
  • Integrity – 염치 – Yeomchi
  • Perseverance – 인내 – Innae
  • Self-control – 극기 – Geukgi
  • Indomitable spirit – 백절불굴 – Baekjeolbulgul

These tenets are also in the Taekwondo oath written by the founder of the ITF.

  • I shall observe the tenets of taekwondo
  • I shall respect the instructor and seniors
  • I shall never misuse taekwondo
  • I shall be a champion of freedom and justice
  • I shall build a more peaceful world

The Olympic approved governing body of taekwondo, the World Taekwondo, also refers to the commandments of the Hwarang.

They believe in the development of a peaceful society and adopting the Hwarang spirit of rationality.

Now you may be thinking, what does all of this have to do with counting.

It’s about the principle of it. Taekwondo is not just one part, it is a whole and you need to understand every part to get the full picture.

The philosophy of taekwondo is about unity and mind under one sport, this includes everyone understanding each other and being able to learn together.

There are many other benefits to counting out loud when performing drills or stretching (You might also be interested in learning how to count in japanese. ).

  • Keeping a rhythm. While it may seem simple it keeps you at a good pace to count out loud. If you are also using taekwondo for the physical benefits then this is useful as a good pace helps you burn calories.
  • Discipline. By counting you are keeping track of what you have done which helps with self discipline.
  • Focus. If you are practicing in a busy room then counting out loud will drown out noise and help you focus on your own performance.
  • Memory. Many have found that by counting out loud helps you remember your drills as you have an auditory aspect to each move.
  • Unity. Even just saying numbers out loud creates a strong bond between you and your fellow students. A room of unison shouting also helps keep the energy up and builds morale.
  • Helps you remember Korean. While it is only a few words, knowing even the smallest amount of another language is always beneficial. If you ever go to Korea you will be just that little bit more prepared.

As taekwondo is a Korean sport you will find that most taekwondo schools will require you to learn some Korean words as well as kicks and punches.

These can be as simple as welcoming phrases or the names of certain techniques. The words you will find yourself most using however, are numbers.

Korean Numbers Up To Ten

Below you will find the Korean numbers up to 10.

There is the Hangul (Korean writing system), the romanized version and how to pronounce it.

  • One – 하나 – Hana “Ha-na”
  • Two – 둘 – Dul “Dhool”
  • Three – 셋 – Set “Set”
  • Four – 넷 – Net “Net”
  • Five – 다섯 – Dasot “Da-sut”
  • Six – 여섯 – Yasot “Ya-sut”
  • Seven – 일곱 – Ilgup “Eel-gope”
  • Eight – 여덟 – Yodel “Yo-dull”
  • Nine – 아홉 – Ahop “Ah-hope”
  • Ten -열 – Yeol “Yull”

Korean Numbers From Ten To One Hundred

For anything above 10 and below 20 you merely say ten and then whatever number follows it.

For example 11 will be Yeol Hana (ten and one) whereas sixteen will be Yeol Yasot (ten and six).

This format also works for all numbers up to 100. 22 will be the word for 20 then the word for 2. 75 will be the word for 70 and then the word for 5. And so on.

Below are the multiplications of ten in Hangul, romanized and the pronunciation.

  • Twenty – 스물 – Seu-Mool “Sew-mool”
  • Thirty – 서른 – Seo-Reun “So-roon”
  • Forty – 마흔 – Ma-Heun “Ma-hoon”
  • Fifty – 쉰 – Shwin “Shin”
  • Sixty – 예순 – Ye-Soon “Yeh-soon”
  • Seventy – 일흔 – Il-Heun “Ee-hoon”
  • Eighty – 여든 – Yeo-Deun “Yoh-doon”
  • Ninety – 아흔 – A-Heun “Ah-hoon”
  • One Hundred – 백 – Baek “Bek” or “Pek”

Korean Numbering In Moves

Like Japanese, Korean has 2 numbering systems, one with Chinese influence.

This is called Sino-Korean and while we don’t use it in counting it does appear in the Korean names of some forms.

Here are the Sino-Korean numbers up to ten and how to pronounce them.

  • One – 일 – Il “Ill”
  • Two – 이 – I “Ee”
  • Three – 삼 – Sam “Sahm”
  • Four – 사 – Sa “Sah”
  • Five – 오 – O “Un”
  • Six – 육 – Yuk “Yoo”
  • Seven – 칠 – Chil “Chil”
  • Eight – 팔 – Pal “Pahl”
  • Nine – 구 – Gu “Koo”
  • Ten – 십 – Sip “Ship”

Below are some moves that you might find use the Sino-Korean numbers rather than native Korean.

  • One Finger Fist – 일 지 권 – Il Ji Gwon
  • One Finger Spear Hand – 일 지관 수 – Il Ji Gwan Su
  • Two Finger Spear Hand – 이지관수 – I Ji Gwan Su
  • One Step Sparring – 일 수식 대련 – Il Su Sig Daelyeo
    This is considered the more advanced version of step sparring. There are no pre-arranged moves so the attacker and defender can use whatever moves, they may sometimes be limited to ones in previous steps.
  • Three Step Sparring – 삼 수식 대련 – Sam Su Sig Daelyeon
    This is for beginner spars. The attacker and defender spar with a set of 3 moves each. Helps you to remember certain moves and use them in a practical setting.
Christopher Anderson
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