By: Garrison Wells
Publisher: Lerner Publishing
Publication Date: January 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 2012
Steve Lopez's interest in tae kwon do began at the tender age of five when he started lessons. He did so well that when he was older he was able to compete in the 2000 Olympic Games and win a gold medal. It wasn't necessary for him to be a large person. In fact, he won the competition in the "lightweight division." Tae kwon do was a family affair because his brother and sister, Steven and Diana, were also medal winners in later Olympic Games. Tae kwon do, or "way of the hand and foot," is a martial arts sport that blends both karate and "taekkyon," an "ancient Korean fighting style."
Many young people train in tae kwon do to keep fit as they learn the sport, but many also use it as a method of self-defense. Historically, the sport began in South Korea when Choi Hong Hi blended two forms of martial arts to create his own. Tae kwon do was adopted by the military when President Rhee insisted that "all South Korean soldiers got martial arts training" in the 1950s. Eventually the sport became popular and was introduced to Americans by Nam Tae Hi. Perhaps you belong to the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) if you have been taking lessons for a while.
Tae Kwon do is all around us in movies, computer games, and on television. Once you decide to take lessons you'll need some standard equipment such as the uniform or "dobok." You will start out with a white belt, but as you improve your techniques you will earn belts of different colors. The highest belt, as many know, is the black belt. In this book you'll also learn about various techniques, punches, blocks, forms, weapons, the levels of competition, board breaking, forms, self-defense, sparring, you'll read about the Olympic Games, many tae kwon do stars, and you'll learn many other interesting aspects of this amazing sport.
With the advent of mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions, there is high interest in tae kwon do, a sport that is offered in many areas. There are action-packed, full-color photographs interspersed in these pages that make it exciting and fun to read. Numerous informative sidebars are scattered throughout the book. For example, we learn about the different types of belts people can earn and what each color stands for. There is a two-page spread with "Technique How-To," basic instructions for the knife hand, side kick, front snap kick, and the roundhouse kick. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This is a fascinating overview of tae kwon do, a popular competitive sport many young people enjoy.