This martial art was widely practiced in Koryo in the 14th century DR. Indeed, all men and boys in this battle-ready society were trained in some form of tae kwon do to some degree. It was considered an honorable martial art, that is, unlike dishonorable ninja techniques.
There were ten do jang in Koryo that taught honorable martial arts such as tae kwon do. One of the most prestigious was the Do Jang of Won Kwang in Pyong Do. Here, students spent their afternoons being instructed and supervised in tae kwon do and weapons use by school masters. At this time, students underwent testing to achieve new grades.
As was common for practitioners of tae kwon do, students of the do jang wore training uniforms, or do bak, consisting of white pants and a short white robe, tied with a belt whose color and tips denoted their grade, or gup. Beginners, known as neophytes, started at 10th gup and achieved lower gups with higher grades, denoted as follows:
- 10th gup: white belt
- 9th gup: white belt with yellow tips
- 8th gup: yellow belt
- 7th gup: yellow belt with green tips
- 6th gup: green belt
- 5th gup: green belt with blue tips
- 4th gup: blue belt
- 3rd gup: blue belt with red tips
- 2nd gup: red belt
- 1st gup: red belt with black tips
These colors each bore special significance. White represented innocence. Yellow represented the earth, in which the seeds of tae kwon do were planted; this plant sprouted and took root here. Green represented the plant growing and unfurling; new skills were acquired like leaves were grown. Blue represented the sky and Heaven; as the plant matured with training, it reached to the sky and heavens. Red warned of danger to would-be foes, and indicated agility, balance, and knowledge of all combat techniques taught in the do jang. At this point, the student was expected to train only to perfect their physical and spiritual nature.
After this point, a student achieved the rank of master and a black belt. Black represented an imperviousness to darkness and fear, and indicated maturity and proficiency. As they advanced, black belts could learn special techniques and maneuvers. However, as none could be truly perfect, there were different degrees of black belt, or dan, ascending through 1st dan, 2nd dan, and so on. Each do jang marked these degrees in different and even secret ways.
As its name suggested, Foot and Fist focused on kicking and punching, though its primary means of attack was the foot. It was considered a "hard" form, with a number of hard techniques, but also a few "soft" techniques. It was an offensive style, inflicting more injury with less personal protection than other martial arts, and with few attacks.
There were various styles and forms of tae kwon do.
The martial art comprised a number of kicking, blocking, and punching techniques. It focused on skills in leaping and tumbling, cultivating strength, and attacking with power. There were a number of hard and soft special maneuvers a practitioner could learn, as follows.[note 2]
The Circle Kick (hard) was a potent and flashy spinning kick. The practitioner span in a full circle, increasing force and momentum, before kicking the body or head from the side. However, failure left them unbalanced. The Roundabout Kick was very similar, but was made as a quick follow-up after already dealing a serious impact.
The Flying Kick (hard) was the most remarkable kick, allowing a practitioner to leap into combat. With a run-up of at least 5 feet (1.5 meters), the practitioner jumped high and through the air, delivering an overwhelming kick to the head (assuming a foe of comparable height). However, if they failed, they fell to the ground.
The Backward Kicks (hard and soft) allowed a practitioner to attack a foe behind them, either simply kicking directly backwards or even throwing a foot over and behind their own head, without turning around. It was unimpressive but very hard to master.
The Iron Fist (hard), also called Fists of Iron, was a technique for punching with additional force. In training, the practitioner performed a number of special exercises designed to toughen and strengthen their hands, until they were as hard as steel. Thereafter, they could make more damaging strikes, though they might be limited in how often they could do this.
Great Throw (soft) was a throw that put a foe to the ground some distance away. The practitioner used leverage and an attacker's momentum to grab and hurl them some feet away, more if the attacker was charging, even in a chosen direction. The downed foe could be hurt by the impact. However, if the practitioner failed, the attacker could counter and knock them over in process.
The Leap (soft) was a preternatural feat of jumping. The practitioner channeled their internal energy (such as ki) and with the power of their mind made their body very light, even as a light as a feather. They could then spring greater distances, whether up or forward, and much further if they had a running start. They could even perform flips in mid-air and turn themselves around. This ability could be used to leap over a foe and attack from a surprise direction.
When one attained mastery of Foot and Fist, they possessed enormous expertise in jumping, tumbling, and ability to maintain their balance.
In Wa, the itinerant monk Nan-kuo practiced tae kwon do. The pilgrim monk Yaemon was also proficient in tae kwon do. Members of the Kata ninja clan were all highly trained in tae kwon do, including their leader Asahi.
- ↑ For 1st edition, Oriental Adventures and Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms: Volume II present the real-world martial art tae kwon do for Koryo. However, for 3rd edition, "Kara-Tur: Ancestor Feats and Martial Arts Styles" in Dragon #315 says the Koryoans practice the generic "Foot and Fist" style outlined in the later Oriental Adventures. The two martial arts for 1st and 3rd editions have very similar techniques and descriptions; indeed, tae kwon do may be translated as "the way of kicking and striking". Thus this article assumes they are the same martial art across editions.
- ↑ These techniques merge a number of often very similar special maneuvers from the 1st-edition Oriental Adventures and feats and a mastery from 3rd-edition Oriental Adventures.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 James Wyatt (January 2004). “Kara-Tur: Ancestor Feats and Martial Arts Styles”. Dragon #315 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 63.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 120. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 (1989). Kara-Tur Trail Map. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-88038-783-7.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 80–81. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 101–102. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 62, 65; errata 1–2. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 122. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Jon Pickens and others (1986). Night of the Seven Swords. (TSR, Inc), pp. 24, 25, 42. ISBN 0-88038-327-5.
- ↑ David "Zeb" Cook (1987). Blood of the Yakuza (Encounter Construction Booklet). (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-88038-401-8.
- ↑ Nigel Findley (1990). Ninja Wars. (TSR, Inc), p. 65. ISBN 0-8803-8895-1.
- ↑ Nigel Findley (1990). Ninja Wars. (TSR, Inc), pp. 73, 75, 76, 77. ISBN 0-8803-8895-1.
- ↑ Curtis Smith and Rick Swan (1990). Ronin Challenge. (TSR, Inc), pp. 95, 96. ISBN 0-88038-749-1.