Taekwondo (태권도; 跆拳道) is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae (태, 跆) means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon (권, 拳) means "to strike or break with fist"; and do (도, 道) means "way", "method", or "art". Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as "the art of the foot and fist" or "the art of kicking and punching." It combines combat techniques, self-defense, sport, exercise, and in some cases meditation and philosophy. In 1989, Taekwondo was the world's most popular martial art in terms of number of practitioners. Gyeorugi, a type of sparring, has been an Olympic event since 2000.
Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from martial arts such as karate or southern styles of kung fu. The rationale is that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to execute powerful strikes without successful retaliation.