Overview: Tae kwon do, or the "foot hand way," derives from ancient Korean combat styles, and began to evolve into its modern form when the Korean government encouraged its development following the nation's liberation at the close of World War II. (This is why your instructor will probably hang a Korean flag over your training floor - not because he has mistaken Chicago for Seoul.) Developed originally for the purposes of self-defense, tae kwon do has further gained renown as a competitive sport, and in the past ten years has become a medal-status Olympic event.

Physical emphasis: Tae kwon do emphasizes impressive high kicks while including hand techniques in its arsenal. It therefore promotes cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and muscle strength, with an emphasis on the lower body.

Availability: School availability is high, in urban centers as well as in suburban and rural areas.

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