Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that combines combat and self-defense techniques with sport and exercise. It was developed in the 1940s and used over the next few decades in the military and various civilian organizations, including schools and universities.
The sparring (sport) form of taekwondo has been an Olympic event since 2000. Although there are technical differences in techniques, the sport in general emphasizes kicks and punches thrown from a mobile stance through a system of blocks, kicks, punches and open-handed strikes. Techniques also may include various take-downs or sweeps, throws and joint locks. Pressure points are used, as well as grabbing self-defense techniques borrowed from other martial arts, such as judo, karate, hapkido or wrestling.
The names and symbolism of traditional and newer patterns often refer to elements of Korean history, culture and religious philosophy. The South Korean government has estimated there are 70 million practitioners of taekwondo (three million of whom have black belts) in 190 countries.