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GRASSROOTS


GRASSROOTS


For a sport with roots embedded in South Korean culture for anything up to 5,000 years, taekwondo has taken almost that length of time to come to the sporting consciousness of the British public. Trevor Baxter reports


had been a well-kept secret in the UK, until the formation of the British Tae- kwondo Control Board (BTCB) in 1982. Even globally the modern form of tae-


TAEKWONDO W


ith reputable sources sug- gesting that 70 million people practice taekwondo in 200 countries, the sport


kwondo – literally translated as the way of the foot and the fist (tae meaning to break or attack with the foot, kwon meaning to break with the fist and do translated as the art or way) – wasn’t agreed until 1955. It took another 18 years before the formation of the world governing body, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). However, for an ancient martial art that


struggled for nearly five millennia to find its niche in the modern world, the growth spurt in popularity in little more than a quarter of a century has been incredible. A major catalyst came in 1994, when


the WTF received International Olym- pic Committee (IOC) recognition. The curve upwards shows no sign of dipping


– largely due to taekwondo’s Games sta- tus. Alongside judo, it is one of the only two martial arts on the Olympic schedule.


The UK landscape There are now more than 14,000 regis- tered players in the UK, an increase of 4,000 from 2007. Including participation by other members of the taekwondo family, it’s estimated there are approxi- mately 60,000 people aligned to this particular martial art. So, London 2012 could provide the BTCB


and GB Taekwondo (the performance arm of the sport, challenged with delivering Olympics medals) with further impetus to rid itself of the ‘minority sport’ tag. A demonstration event for the first


time at the 1988 Games in Seoul, tae- kwondo was upgraded to medal status at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Even before London, there are already encour- aging signs that both base and pinnacle of the pyramid look in good shape. A record entry of more than 450 players attended the National Championships last


36 Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital


June. Youngsters from six upwards com- peted alongside world-class British stars. In 2012, it is envisaged there will be


a new exciting National Taekwondo League (NTL) with three NTL events across the country culminating in a pre- sentation evening – in conjunction with the BTCB – where the overall winners will be crowned national champions. The NTL concept is seen as a replace-


ment for the Nationals, providing athletes with more regular and high- quality sparring opportunities on the big stage. With an exciting end goal for athletes, the NTL will hopefully encour- age a take up in the number of people involved in the sport. In addition, invitations will be made to


train at the GB High Performance Acad- emy in Manchester – the spiritual home of taekwondo in the UK and host city for next year’s European Championships. Football may be king in Manchester


but in Newton Heath taekwondo has put down strong roots. The main training base at Ten Acres Lane isn’t just home


Issue 4 2011 © cybertrek 2011


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