12 Countries (Places) Where Taekwondo is Popular (Worldwide)

WTF World Taekwondo Championship MUJU
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Did you know that Taekwondo is practiced in over 200 different countries? It is incredible just how many people practice Taekwondo! If you are just getting into it or intrigued by it, you might want to know in which countries Taekwondo is popular. Taking a look at some of the top performers at the World Taekwondo Championships gave us a good idea.

Of course, there are many places where Taekwondo is popular, but the nations on the below list are among the most prosperous in international Taekwondo competitions.  

I wanted to know when and how Taekwondo made it to each of these countries and how long it took each to rise to the top. I took the time to do a bit of research and digging around, and here’s what I found. 

12 countries (places) where Taekwondo is popular:

1. South Korea

The Taekwondowon is a taekwondo(Korean traditional martial arts)venue
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It comes as no real surprise that Taekwondo is popular in Korea. Korea is the very country where Taekwondo originates from. The martial art was developed over 1,000 years before it was honed in the 1940s and 1950s to be suitable as a global sports practice and introduced to the Western world. 

One of the reasons the martial art is so prevalent in South Korea is that it forms part of Korean soldier’s combat training. In fact, it’s officially South Korea’s national martial art. Taekwondo is a highly effective form of self-defense. 

While it started out as a form of self-defense, it has since become the country’s national sport. On the International stage, South Korea is by far the most successful nation with about 250 medals in the World Taekwondo Championships.

2. Spain

Taekwondo is said to have made its way to Spain in the 1970s. In the beginning, the practice was first a demonstration, and then a form of self-defense taught only to select groups in the country. However, it soon later became available to the general population as a self-defense teaching as well as a form of exercise. 

The country is among the three most successful nations in terms of World Taekwondo Championships medal, with well over 100 medals in total.  

Puerta del Sol square is the main public space in Madrid taekwondo
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3. Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)

Taekwondo is learned by many students across Taiwan, starting from the youngest children to the older generation. There are many Taekwondo schools, and the practice seems to be ever-growing in popularity. For having a relatively small population, Taiwan is a strong contender in the World Taekwondo Championships; they, currently, have around 80 medals. 

4. Turkey

Most people don’t even know that Taekwondo is popular in Turkey – now you do! 

Taekwondo training actually became available in Turkey in the 1960s. The official formation of the Taekwondo organization took place in Turkey in 1968. Ever since it has become an extremely popular sport, and form of self-defense keenly learned and practiced by Turkey’s population. At the World Taekwondo Championships, the nation has a total of around 70 medals.

5. Iran

It is said that a Korean Master named Kim Soo Ryon took Taekwondo to Iran in 1970. Many believe that it has been bridging South Korea and Iran for about haft a century, by creating a link between the two countries. When it was first introduced to the country, the military and police started using Taekwondo in their training. It has been extremely useful for agility training and defense mechanisms.

Azadi Tower with flasgs of Iran, Tehran, Iran taekwondo
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At the World Taekwondo Championships, Iran is at the top of the ranks, having won about 60 medals. 

6. United States

It comes as no surprise that Taekwondo is vastly popular in the United States. It has been steadily gaining popularity since its first introduction to the country. There are millions of people in the United States currently practicing Taekwondo.

Taekwondo first made its way into the United States in the 1950s – 1960s. It was first used at military training bases in America to train U.S. soldiers. It quickly picked up and was soon also available for civilians to learn as a form of self-defense and exercise. At the World Taekwondo Championships, the U.S. has obtained little less than 90 medals, and about 15 of them are gold medals.   

7. China

The Chinese nation has truly welcomed Taekwondo with open arms, and it seems that over the years, the popularity of the practice has steadily grown. With hundreds of Taekwondo schools in China, the majority of the population practices the art among various other forms of martial arts. In 1994, the sport was adopted by the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission as a new addition to the Chinese Olympic and sports program.

8. Germany

Brandenburg gate at sunset taekwondo
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When did Taekwondo make it to Germany? It seems that Germany was a little behind in the adoption of Taekwondo. Most online resources show that Taekwondo was founded and widely practiced in Germany since 1981. Since then, it has become an extremely popular sport and self-defense practice used across the country.  

9. France

The French Federation of Taekwondo was founded in 1995, but it is believed that the art was being practiced in the country long before this. There are many Taekwondo training schools currently operating in France, and the popularity of the sport is certainly gaining momentum. While France hasn’t brought home as many medals as the top 5 performing countries did at the World Taekwondo Championships, they are still doing quite well with a total of about 35 medals.  

10. Mexico

Taekwondo is not a new sport in Mexico. In fact, it has been readily practiced in the country for many years already. Taekwondo was introduced to Mexico in 1968 by Moon Dai-Won, just one year after he arrived in the country from Korea. There are millions of people that practice Taekwondo in the country, as well as thousands of Taekwondo schools. At the World Taekwondo Championships, Mexico has won around of 70 medals.

Paseo de la Reforma at El Angel taekwondo
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 11. Great Britain

Taekwondo was first introduced in Great Britain in 1967 by Rhee Ki Ha, a South Korean Grand Master who is fondly referred to as “Father of British Taekwondo”. He was ranked 5th dan at the time of his arrival in London and only planned to stay for a year or two. After being promoted to the rank of 7th dan in 1974, it seemed he was set to stay and continue the spread of Taekwondo in Britain. At the World Taekwondo Championships, Great Britain has won about 25 medals.

12. Thailand

Taekwondo is extremely popular in Thailand and can be taught and practiced in schools as well as gymnasiums. Sources trace the first introduction of Taekwondo in Thailand to the early 1970s. This apparently happened when Korean martial arts experts traveled the globe seeking to develop Taekwondo on a national scale. Ever since Thailand has enjoyed teaching and practicing Taekwondo to both old and young.

To sum up

professional taekwondo black belt degree (Dan)
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While Taekwondo is vastly popular in over 200 countries worldwide, this list mentions some of the ones that have seen the greatest success at the World Taekwondo Championships. If you live in any of these places, you are bound to be able to enjoy a healthy dose of Taekwondo. If you haven’t watched the Championships of the past, make sure that you mark the next one on your calendar – they are typically held every 2 years.