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Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on high kicking and fast hand techniques, which distinguishes it from other popular martial arts and combat sports such as karate. However, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) believes that because the leg is the longest and strongest limb a martial artist has, kicks thus have the greatest potential to execute powerful strikes without successful retaliation.
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Acquisition of skill

Taekwondo Breaking Techniques

The acquisition of skill requires practice. Merely repeating a task alone, however, does not ensure the acquisition of a skill. Skill acquisition is achieved when an observed behaviour has changed due to experience or practice. This is known as learning and is not directly observable. The information processing model, which incorporates this idea of experience, proposes that skills develop from the interaction of four components central to information processing. These components include: processing speed, the rate at which information is processed in our processing system; breadth of declarative knowledge, the size of an individual's factual information store; breadth of procedural skill, the ability to perform the actual skill; and processing capacity, synonymous with working memory. The processing capacity is of importance to procedural memory because through the process of proceduralization an individual stores procedural memory. This improves skill usage by linking environmental cues with appropriate responses.

One model for understanding skill acquisition was proposed by Fitts (1954) and his colleagues. This model proposed the idea that learning was possible through the completion of various stages. The stages involved include:

  • Cognitive phase
  • Associative phase
  • Autonomous phase (also called the procedural phase)

Cognitive Phase

At this point in Fitts' (1954) model of skill acquisition individuals come to understand what an observed skill is composed of. Attention at this point in the process is significant for the acquisition of skill. This process involves breaking down the desired skill to be learned into parts and understanding how these parts come together as a whole for the correct performance of the task. The way an individual organizes these parts is known as schemas. Schemas are important in directing the acquisition process and the way an individual comes to choose schemas is described by metacognition.

Associative Phase

The associative phase of the Fitts (1954) model involves individuals repeated practice until patterns of responding emerge. At this part in the model, actions of the skill become learned (or automated) as ineffective actions are dropped. An individual's sensory system acquires the accurate spatial and symbolic data required for the completion of the skill. The ability to differentiate important from unimportant stimuli is crucial at this stage of the model. It is held that the greater the amount of important stimuli associated with a task, the longer it will take to complete this phase of the model.

Autonomous Phase

This is the final phase in Fitts' (1954) model, and it involves perfecting skill acquisition. The ability to discriminate important from unimportant stimuli are made quicker and less thought process is required because the skill has become automated. Important to this phase of the model is experience and factual knowledge store for the observed skill.

Alternative View: "the Predictive Cycle"

Another model for understanding skill acquisition through procedural memory has been proposed by Tadlock (2005). The model is significantly different from Fitts' 1954 view in that it does not require conscious understanding of a skill's components. Rather, the learner is only required to maintain in conscious awareness a concept of the desired end result. Tadlock has applied the view successfully to reading remediation (Scott et al., 2010). The stages involved include:

  • Attempt
  • Fail
  • Implicitly analyze the result
  • Implicitly decide how to change the next attempt so that success is achieved

The stages are repeated over and over until the learner builds or remodels the neural network to guide an activity appropriately and accurately without conscious thought. The context for this view is similar to how physical therapy works to help brain-injured patients recover lost functions. The patient maintains the desired end result (e.g., control over hand movement) while making repeated attempts, without conscious awareness of the neural activity required to make the hand move. The patient continues to make attempts until movement is achieved. In the case of brain injury, how much progress is made depends upon the extent of the injury and the "mental force" or "will power" applied by the individual. Most individuals with reading problems have brains unaffected by brain injury, but negatively affected by an undefined problem with early learning in the area of reading. Because the brain is otherwise healthy, Tadlock has used highly structured methods associated with the Predictive Cycle to successfully remediate individuals with mild to severe reading problems (including dyslexia).


Practice is clearly an important process for learning and perfecting a new skill. With over 40 years of research, it is well established in both humans and animals that the formation of all forms of memory are greatly enhanced during the brain-state of sleep. Furthermore, with humans, sleep has been consistently shown to aid in the development of procedural knowledge by the ongoing process of memory consolidation, especially when sleep soon follows the initial phase of memory acquisition. Memory consolidation is a process that transforms novel memories from a relatively fragile state to a more robust and stable condition. For a long time it was believed that the consolidation of procedural memories took place solely as a function of time, but more recent studies suggest, that for certain forms of learning, the consolidation process is exclusively enhanced during periods of sleep. However, it is important to note that not just any type of sleep is sufficient to improve procedural memory and performance on subsequent procedural tasks. In fact, within the domain of motor skill, there is evidence showing that no improvement on tasks is shown following a short, non-rapid eye movement (NREM; stages 2–4) sleep, such as a nap. REM sleep following a period of slow-wave sleep (SWS; combined stage 3 and 4 and the deepest form of NREM sleep), has shown to be the most beneficial type of sleep for procedural memory enhancement, especially when it takes place immediately after the initial acquisition of a skill. So essentially, a full night (or day) of uninterrupted sleep soon after learning a skill will allow for the most memory consolidation possible. Furthermore, if REM sleep is disrupted, there is no gain in procedural performance shown. However, equal improvement will take place whether the sleep after practice was at night or during the daytime, as long as SWS is followed by REM sleep. It has also been shown that the enhancement in memory is specific to the learned stimulus (i.e., learning a running technique will not cross over to improvements in biking performance). Subject performance in the Wff ’n Proof Task, the Tower of Hanoi, and the Mirror Tracing Task has been found to improve following REM sleep periods.

Whether a skill is learned explicitly (with attention) or implicitly, each plays a role in the offline consolidation effect. Research suggests that explicit awareness and understanding of the skill being learned during the acquisition process greatly improves the consolidation of procedural memories during sleep. This finding is not surprising, as it is widely accepted that intention and awareness at time of learning enhances the acquisition of most forms of memory.


There are five tenets defined in the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and several more in World Taekwondo (WT).

Indomitable spirit ( Baekjul Boolgool / 백절불굴 ): "To have indomitable spirit means to have the courage to stand up for what you believe in, no matter what odds you are up against, and to always give 100% effort in whatever you do." View Taekwondo Tenets »

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Procedural_Memory", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.






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