Does TaeKwondo have Weapons Training?

Nunchuks for Taekwondo

The American TaeKwondo Association is one of the only and biggest TaeKwondo organizations to include weapons training to their curriculums. The World TaeKwondo Federation(WTF) is strictly a sport TaeKwondo based curriculum and the International TaeKwondo Federation(ITF) just teaches patterns and sparring.

Keep reading below as we answer commonly asked questions regarding TaeKwondo and weapons training. Is weapons training a part of traditional TaeKwondo and what were the reasons for ATA implementing weapons training. Then we’ll end with listing all of the certified weapons that are used in ATA TaeKwondo programs.

Is Weapon Training A Part Of Traditional TaeKwondo?

The short answer is no. Weapons training is not part of traditional TaeKwondo training. 

TaeKwondo was founded as a strictly hand to hand fighting martial art. Many older TaeKwondo instructors would only teach TaeKwondo in their academy.

There are three specific reasons why TaeKwondo instructors started to add weapons training to their curriculum.

  1. Teach Self Defense For Weapons
  2. Weapon Form Competitions
  3. Money

Self Defense For Weapons: The goal of TaeKwondo like many other martial arts is to learn self defense. It is a form of self defense for hand to hand combat. There are however techniques taught that include techniques against attackers with weapons.

If you’d like to know about these techniques, you can see them in This is a PDF of the book TaeKwondo: Defense Against Weapons written by one of the founders of TaeKwondo, Supreme Master Kim Bok Man.

While it is good to know self defense against weapon attacks, there are arguments you can make that there are flaws in these techniques.

TaeKwondo practitioners that also practiced in weapon training saw these flaws in the techniques taught. For many that do weapon training, the only way you can learn to defend against a weapon is first knowing how to use it.

By training with weapons, you will have a better understanding they are used and what to watch out for. Your self defense abilities would be more well rounded by learning how to use weapons.

Weapon Forms/Patterns Competitions

Like in Karate organizations, TaeKwondo organizations like ATA have added weapon form competitions to their events. These weapon forms/pattern competitions are similar to normal form competitions, but with ATA recognized weapons.

Competitors sit in front of a group of judges and go through their routine with the weapon of their choice. They are graded on a list of different requirements and the competitor with the best form wins.

Watch here to see what a common ATA weapons form looks like.

Combat Sparring

ATA does have a sparring competition with weapons they call “combat sparring.” In combat sparring it is similar to normal, point sparring, but with a weapon included.

The weapon is similar to a Escrima stick, but padded with foam. Competitors try to land strikes on one another with the same basic rules and format of a point sparring match.

On the mat there is a referee and two judges to decide on points. Watch below to see how a combat sparring competition is done.

Weapons Used In Taekwondo Training

Here is a complete list of all of the weapons that are certified for use in an ATA school. We’ll also give a description of each one along with its history and how it is used.

Quick fact about these weapons. You’re going to notice a pattern of these weapons doubling as everyday tools. This was usually because the people that wielded these tools/weapons were generally poor and sometimes couldn’t legally have weapons. 

Sshang Jeol Bong(Nunchaku)

This is the famous weapon that is always associated with Karate and the Ninja Turtles. The Sshang Jeol Bong is the Korean name for the Nunchaku.

It is  two sticks connected together that was originally a tool used in farming for harvesting grain. Poor farmers that didn’t or couldn’t own swords would double this farming tool as a weapon.

Originally they were just two wooden sticks connected together with a rope. Updated versions of the Sshang Jeol Bong or Nunchaku are either made of types of sturdy metal connected with a chain.

This weapon is great for attacking the enemy while still keeping them at a distance. It requires concentration and coordination as you move it side to side and hand to hand. This weapon has a painful learning process as you will definitely hit yourself as you learn to use it.

Bahng Mahng EE(Escrima Stick)

The official martial art of the Philippines also has its techniques taught in TaeKwondo. In Korean, the name for the escrima stick is the bahng mahng ee.

The original weapon was just a stick early Filipinos would use as a tool. It would be used for everything from opening stuck doors or for laundry. In the martial art these sticks are made from rattan that’s a stem from a common inexpensive Southeast Asian vine.

There is a difference between how Escrima and TaeKwondo train with these weapons. In TaeKwondo, they only use these to parry and remove an attacker’s weapons with no striking your teammate. With Escrima, they train to hit each other with force while wearing face and chest protectors.

Jahng Bong(Bo Staff)

Another well known martial art weapon that is used by multiple forms with various names. Most know it as the bo staff and it is a long stick that has various advantages.

It is a long range weapon that is like an extension of your limbs. It’s great for thrusting and swinging strikes, as well as being fantastic for blocking. Being able to easily block an enemy throwing various types of attacks.

On top of attacks and blocks, the bo staff is great for sweeps and entrapment. The way you move with a bo is just like you would be punching and blocking attacks. Turning your wrists and keeping your hands up in your defense.

Being such a diverse weapon is why ATA TaeKwondo added it to its authorized weapon list.

Sahang Naht(Kama)

The Sahang Naht or kama is another well known weapon that is commonly used in form competitions. Just like many other weapons on the list this one was also used as a farming tool.

Farmers then and now still use it to clear land and cut different types of crops. The farmers from generations back would also learn to defend themselves with this weapon.

Trained martial artists that use kamas to slash, block, trap, and disarm an attacker’s weapons. Kamas are a diverse weapon and the reason why they’re so popular to train with.

The blades of these weapons would be kept razor sharp and would slash through an attackers defense. Luckily for training, the weapons they use are blunt and for form competition only, so training accidents will hurt way less.

Gumdo(Kumdo) Swords

The Gumdo sword is a wooden sword used in practice sword fighting sparring. They are actually used in a separate Korean martial art called Kumdo, which has an interesting origin story of its own.

During Japan’s occupation of Korea, they attempted to erase Korean culture and substitute it with their own. Kendo, the Japanese sword fighting martial art was one of these martial arts introduced.

After Japanese occupation ended, Koreans kept the ideas of Kendo, made it into their own art and called it Kumdo. Kumdo or Gumdo is the Korean that means “way of the sword.”

This sword wielding martial art plays like a game between sparring partners. It is similar to the European sword art of fencing, where the competitors try to land precise blows on one another. The art of Kumdo takes patience, precision, and coordination rather than athletic prowess.

It meshes very well with many of the principles of TaeKwondo. Both rely on being strategic and use predominantly long distance attacks.

According to the website TaeKwondo Fandom claimed the art of Kumdo was popular with older TaeKwondo students. We can’t confirm if this is still the case,  the Gumdo sword training does have benefits that would translate well to TaeKwondo.

Let’s Review

Traditional TaeKwondo is a hand to hand fight martial art. There are no formal weapons training in a traditional TaeKwondo curriculum, but the American TaeKwondo Association did adopt it into their curriculum.

Today it is very common for ATA students to learn proficiency in using weapons to go along with their weapons training

This is one of the main reasons ATA TaeKwondo schools offer weapons training in their curriculums. They want their students to be better prepared for anything that can happen in their lives and always be ready to act.

A final note of caution: Weapons like these are only for practice and should never be carried with you since its illegal in many parts of the United States. You should check where you live before carrying any of these weapons with you.