Frequently asked questions:

All your questions about taekwondo, it’s history and our club are answered below.

We also have separate pages that contain membership and cost information.

If you still can’t find an answer to your question, then drop us a line using the contact form below and we’ll do our best to help you.

What is Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art. It has its roots in the ancient fighting practices of the Koreans but was formalised as a sport and martial discipline a little over 50 years ago. It was introduced to the Olympics as a demonstration sport at the Seoul 1988 games before becoming a full Olympic sport in 2000 at the Sydney games. TKD is renowned for its dynamic kicking styles and the high level of fitness it entails.

Can you join as a beginner?

Yes, many of our members join with no taekwondo, martial arts or combat sport experience whatsoever. Some of our members have been very successful whilst starting at CUTKD, going on to have international level success.

Can you join without being a student?

Yes, while you cannot compete at BUCS or Varsity*, you may train as normal and there are always regional taekwondo competitions throughout the year, which we can send teams to if there is sufficient interest.

*Non-students may compete on Varsity B-teams with approval from the Oxford team.

How often do you train?

We run three core training sessions each week. These are our Traditional class, Poomsae class and Sport Taekwondo class. We now also have a Beginners’ session and dedicated ITF sparring session for a total of five sessions a week.

What is WT and ITF and which is CUTKD?

World Taekwondo (WT) and the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) are the two major styles of taekwondo, though some smaller styles do exist. They have different patterns and slightly different sparring rules, but at the end of the day are both focused on kicking. Sometimes WT is referred to as Kukkiwon and ITF is referred to as Chang Hon. WT sparring is the style played in the Olympic games.

We teach WT style taekwondo to complete beginners joining CUTKD, but we also welcome those with previous experience in ITF or other styles to continue training in their style whilst with us. Even though our sessions are more geared towards WT, our previous ITF members have found benefit from all our sessions with the occasional style adjustments. We also have a specialist ITF session.

How do I progress in Taekwondo?

Gradings are the formal progression system in taekwondo for students to earn their next belt. During the grading CUTKD students are assessed by Head Instructor Pete on their ability to perform a list of techniques and forms outlined in the syllabus(Link). We recommend that students wishing to grade train at least twice per week.

At CUTKD we hold gradings at the end of every full term, typically on the last Tuesday session in term time. We ask that students spend some time in sessions with Pete prior to grading so that he has an idea of your ability level, and can teach required parts of the syllabus. We also ask that any potential graders inform the committee of their wish to grade so that they can be best supported. 

Grading prices are as follows:

  • Up to Green Belt: £15 for a single grade, £30 for double grade
  • Green Belt to Red Belt: £20 for a single grade, £35 for a double grade
  • Red Belt to Black Tag: £25 

After successful gradings, a committee member will coordinate acquisition of new belts, please note that this may be a changing of hands between the existing belts of the graders.

We do not charge for unsuccessful gradings.

Can I compete?

Yes, students are eligible to compete at BUCS and Varsity and all CUTKD members are eligible to compete at regional taekwondo competitions. Taekwondo competitions are usually full-day events, with some action but mostly waiting for your turn and watching the current events. For BUCS we aim to send a minibus of students for a fun and supportive experience, let’s try and get those cheers heard!

Is Taekwondo a Blues sport?

Taekwondo is a full blue sport and each year we can award two full and five half blues each for men and women these are awarded on the basis of grade, performance at competitions and competing at varsity. Exact blues criteria can be found here:

What is Varsity?

Varsity is our annual match against Oxf*rd University Taekwon-Do , usually occurring in Lent term. Nominally four teams of five athletes (mens and womens, A and B teams, subject to availability) compete in sparring matches against their Oxfordian counterparts. As Oxf*rd is an ITF only club, and we are primarily WT, the ruleset is a hybrid of standard ITF and WT rules, to facilitate competitors of either style.

What sessions should I come to?

Feel free to try out the full range of our sessions before deciding what area of taekwondo you enjoy the most. Taekwondo is a multifaceted martial art, and the different sessions offer very different experiences.  

Tuesdays are our most traditional class, featuring paddlework, sparring drills and linework, the quintessential taekwondo experience. This session is likely a similar experience to your home clubs. 

Fridays are an informal, student run conditioning and patterns session, invaluable for grading or tournament preparation. It is also the session that works the most on your strength and flexibility, this is where you go if you want those head height kicks!

Sundays are our sport taekwondo sessions, for those yellow belt and up, with paddle drills, conditioning and sparring with the full gear. Here you’ll learn sparring tactics and get to throw kicks at your friends, in a safe environment of course.

Beginners sessions also take place on Sundays and this is where we will teach the kick mechanics and hand technique basics. If you are a complete beginner, start here! We also will teach required syllabus techniques here in preparation for gradings.

Wednesdays are small student run classes primarily for ITF members who want to practise sparring with the ITF ruleset, though anyone curious is welcome to try it out! We also encourage anyone looking to spar at Varsity to get some experience sparring against ITF practitioners.

Is sparring mandatory and will I get injured?

Attending sparring sessions is not mandatory and contact is kept to a level both participants are happy with. Everyone must be in full sparring protective gear before any sparring takes place, which greatly reduces the chance of injury. We also ask that our members grade at least to yellow belt before they attend sparring sessions so you will have some taekwondo experience already. 

Most experienced members of the club are happy to spar more gently with beginners, and in fact as they are more experienced, are able to pull their kicks to reduce any chances of injury whilst still maintaining accuracy. Don’t be too afraid to face off with a black belt, they will be nice to you!

As with all combat sports there is a risk of concussion, but with the padded helmets, gum shields and reduced contact level compared to boxing or kickboxing, this is largely mitigated.

What do I need to buy and wear?

The traditional uniform is called a dobok, you will need to buy one before your first grading. We expect that experienced CUTKD members wear either a full dobok or dobok trousers with a suitable t-shirt in training, but new members will be perfectly alright in normal sportswear. 

Please be aware that you will be required to train barefoot. If the floor in the sports hall is uncomfortable barefoot, then you may buy and wear taekwondo shoes.

In sparring sessions, the club has an amount of sparring gear that we can lend to new members in each session, however these are communal and have been passed through many hands. We do require that anyone joining sparring classes has insurance, their own groin guard and a white or clear gum shield.

We recommend that anyone looking to continue sparring buys their own set of sparring protective gear. This includes:

  • A helmet (This is optional as the club can supply these easily at sessions and higher grades do not require their own for competitions)
  • A white or clear gum shield 
  • Arm guards
  • Shin guards
  • A groin guard
  • Hand protectors 
  • Feet protectors
  • Hogu (Body protector – this is optional as the club can supply these easily at sessions and higher grades do not require their own for competitions)

We have an equipment order in Michaelmas at highly subsidised student prices, so look out for information regarding this to order your own kit!