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Taekwondo to be Taught to US Soldiers?!?
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Taekwondo may be required for US Soldiers
By Ryu Jin
The 8th U.S. Army (EUSA) command is considering making taekwondo, South Korea’s national martial art, compulsory for all of its soldiers as early as next year, officials said on Friday.
``The command is in the initial stage of investigating a proposal of making the Korean sport compulsory,’’ Ha Haeng-ja, spokesperson for the 8th Army, told The Korea Times.
``The martial art, which incorporates kicks and punches and teaches speed, strength and confidence which is crucial in combat, is believed to enhance the American soldiers’ fighting capability and help them understand Korean culture better,’’ she added.
Taekwondo has been an obligatory part of physical training for soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division, the 15,000-strong flagship U.S. unit located near the border with North Korea, since November 2000. They take at least one-hour taekwondo training session each week.
Some 37,000 American troops are stationed on the peninsula, including the 28,000-strong 8th Army along with some airmen and marines. Another official said taekwondo lessons could be expanded to all of the 37,000 U.S. soldiers.
The proposal was made by Kim Mu-nok, a Korean taekwondo grandmaster who oversees the 2nd Infantry Division program. The 8th Army command will look into its feasibility, according to officials. Currently, individual units make their own decisions about sports programs.
Taekwondo became an official event at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. It has a total of 11 degrees, or skill levels, with the highest level represented by the black belt.
About 30,000 division soldiers have earned the lowest 10th- and 9th-degree yellow belts and just 100 obtained black belts so far, according to the U.S. Forces Korea.