Top 12 Best Taekwondo Books to Read

taekwondo training

Why should you read Taekwondo books?

Most newcomers to Taekwondo are interested in learning martial arts for physical reasons. Perhaps they are looking for a way to defend themselves or simply a good way to get in shape. 

Regardless, reading books about Taekwondo isn’t typically at the top of their study list. 

However, as you dive deeper into Taekwondo training, you’ll begin to more fully understand the mental side of your training. Mental training can be greatly improved by adding the best Taekwondo books to your reading list. 

Wondering where to start? Let’s take a look at this list of the best Taekwondo books. 

1. Black Belt Tae Kwon Do

The Ultimate Reference Guide to the World’s Most Popular Black Belt Martial Art.

With a name like that, one would expect a complete manual to help you learn Taekwondo. Well, the Black Belt Tae Kwon Do book by Yeon Hwan Park and Jon Gerrard doesn’t disappoint.

This 272-page book is designed to augment all aspects of Taekwondo training. The book contains more than 700 photographs illustrating techniques and routines, strategies for sparring, and black belt forms designed to complement your physical training. 

Full descriptions and explanations of philosophical elements serve to stimulate the mental side of things. Plus, there are extensive appendices detailing everything from competition rules to governing bodies to glossaries of Korean and English Taekwondo terms.

This Taekwondo training manual is the only book of its kind endorsed by both the World Taekwondo Federation and the United States Taekwondo Union. 

2. Complete Taekwondo Poomsae

The Official Taegeuk, Palgwae and Black Belt Forms of Taekwondo. 

Are Taekwondo forms getting you down? Maybe you need some in-depth written instruction that will help improve your form. 

Complete Taekwondo Poomsae by Sang H. Kim and Kyu Hyung Lee is the perfect book to pick up. 

The 464 pages of this thick book are packed with information about the 25 official World Taekwondo Federation Poomsae. Readers are presented with detailed instructional text and precise images detailing and displaying every move in the 25 official forms. 

Supplementing this is detailed information about the philosophy and thought behind each technique. 

Additionally, you’ll learn the principles of Poomsae performance as well as how to apply the techniques to real-life situations. There’s no point in having a killer knife-hand strike if you don’t know where to place it for maximum effect. 

This is one of the best Taekwondo books for any student serious about taking their Poomsae training to the next level.

3. Ultimate Flexibility

A Complete Guide to Stretching for Martial Arts.

Taekwondo artists are known for their fast and powerful kicks. A great deal of flexibility is required for artists to perform these techniques. 

However, being flexible enough to kick your target in the face is a challenge for many people. This is especially true if your target is considerably taller than you!

If you find yourself struggling with flexibility, Ultimate Flexibility by Sang H. Kim is a great resource. 

The book contains 304 pages of information on stretching. Learn about the different types of stretching and the best methods for beginners. Understand when you can move on to more advanced techniques and how your body works for or against you during training. 

Check out the special bonus sections for great information such as:

  • 10 tips for full splits
  • 20 tips for high kicks
  • 10 workouts for specific martial art types

You’ll even learn the types of stretching exercises you should avoid!

4. Competitive Taekwondo

For those who want to dive into the competitive world of Taekwondo training, Competitive Taekwondo by Yong Sup Kil will be your guide. The 224-page book is filled with tips, techniques, strategies, programs, and more that will help lead you to victory as a Taekwondo competitor. 

Improve your fighting skills with the conditioning drills presented in the book. Learn how to understand your opponent and adapt your fighting style accordingly. Fortify your own weaknesses and learn to take advantage of your opponent’s with the practical strategies in this book. 

The book also discusses technique subtleties — such as foot angle and timing — that can make or break a fight. 

In other words, this is one of the best TKD books for improving your chances of becoming a champion!

5. A Killing Art: The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do

How much do you know about the history of Taekwondo? Probably not many of the darker and more obscure details that you’ll find in A Killing Art. 

Taekwondo is based on other forms of Korean martial arts that go back hundreds of years. However, the martial art known as Taekwondo officially was formed only a few decades ago in 1938 over a nearly deadly poker game. 

The story has dark and not-so-flattering details centering around the rivalry between Choi Hong-Hi and his enemy Kim Un-Yong. Choi became known as the Father or Founder of Taekwondo and Kim went on to develop the Olympic style and become one of the most powerful men in sports. 

You probably won’t hear a lot of what you’ll read in this book in your local Taekwondo dojang. The details are too sordid. But you will have a deeper appreciation and understanding of how the sometimes vicious art of Taekwondo came to be. 

6. Taekwondo: Defense Against Weapons

Have you ever wondered about Taekwondo’s effectiveness against weapons? This is one of the best TKD books for learning more about the subject. 

Kim Bok Man, the author of Taekwondo: Defense Against Weapons, worked closely with Choi Hong Hi in developing the first Taekwondo curriculum. The book was originally published in 1979 including techniques taught to military and law enforcement officials. An updated version was published in 2011 to address a more modern audience. 

Through the 432 pages of this book, students of every level will find value. Beginners will understand how the techniques they are learning can be applied in actual weapon defense. Advanced students will sharpen their skills using techniques that have been thoroughly tested in the field. 

7. Taekwondo: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Warrior

One would expect that a list of the best Taekwondo books would include a title like this. Taekwondo: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Warrior by Doug Cook is full of advice and information that will greatly benefit the mental aspect of your Taekwondo training. 

The author takes a deep dive into the philosophical tenets of Taekwondo. Plus, you will understand how to integrate the Taekwondo principles of honor, dedication, and perseverance into your daily life. 

Learn how the philosophical concepts behind the art make it so much more than a method of self-defense. And how the ancient wisdom will enhance your life for the better if you are willing to let it. 

Other topics in the book include:

  • What having a black belt really means
  • Meditation techniques
  • The difference between the art and sport of Taekwondo

Though only 240 pages long, readers will find that the book packs an amazing amount of quality information between its covers!

8. Taekwondo Kids: From White Belt to Yellow/Green Belt

Trying to get your kids into Taekwondo? Taekwondo Kids: From White Belt to Yellow/Green Belt by Volker Dornemann and Wolfgang Rumpf can help.

The wording and illustrations in this practical guide are aimed to interest children and youths. The simple language and clear directions helpfully supplement your child’s Taekwondo training. 

This 140-page book is the perfect complement to accompany your child as they study the white through yellow-green Taekwondo belts. 

9. Parting the Clouds

The Science of the Martial Arts: A Fighter’s Guide to the Physics of Punching and Kicking for Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu and the Mixed Martial Arts.

Will the physics nerds please stand up? This is the book for any science person who also loves studying martial arts. 

Parting the Clouds by Grenville Harrop takes a very practical, unbiased approach to martial arts techniques. To a certain extent, it puts an end to discussions about which techniques (or which way to execute a technique) are best. 

It cuts away the mysticism and opinion and goes straight to the physics of it all. 

For Taekwondo students on any part of their journey, this book is a powerful resource. Once you understand the why and how of augmenting your body’s strength, your techniques will become so much more powerful. Put the laws of physics to work for you and the results will amaze you. 

10. The Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do Patterns, Vol. 1

Looking to improve your ITF-style Taekwondo forms? The Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do Patterns, Vol. 1 by Stuart Paul Anslow is the perfect resource. 

This is the first book in a 3-part series that dives in-depth into the 25 official patterns created by General Choi and his first masters. Also included are the 3 Saju exercises, Grandmaster Park’s 6 Global Taekwondo Federation patterns, and Grandmaster Kim, Bok Man’s Silla Knife Pattern. 

With all this information, these are the most complete ITF Taekwondo books of their kind. 

Vol. 1 covers all the patterns from white belt to 1st-degree black belt that students are required to learn. This makes it one of the best Taekwondo books for beginners. 

The book is highly detailed, featuring over 1600 photographs that precisely show every perfectly executed move of each pattern. If you have ever had a question about a Taekwondo pattern, you will likely find the answer in this book. 

Once you’ve “mastered” the Vol 1 patterns, Volumes 2 and 3 are ready to accompany you on the more advanced stages of your Taekwondo journey.

11. Modern Taekwondo: The Official Training Manual

Are you deep in the trenches of learning World Taekwondo Federation-style Taekwondo? This official training manual by Soon Man Lee and Gaetane Ricke is the perfect accompaniment. 

The book has 272 pages and over 1200 photographs detailing the intricate forms and techniques you are learning on your Taekwondo journey. 

The book was published in 1999, just before Taekwondo made its 2000 debut as an official Olympic sport. We’re a few years past that at this point, but the book is still a rich resource for World Taekwondo students around the world. 

In addition to the techniques, the book details some of Taekwondo’s history, symbols, philosophy, contestant qualifications, and so much more. 

12. Taekwondo: Traditions, Philosophy, Technique

If there is one book that contains everything you ever wanted to know about Taekwondo, this is it. In Taekwondo: Traditions, Philosophy, Technique Marc Tedeschi combines over 8,600 photos of renowned Taekwondo masters demonstrating over 700 Taekwondo techniques.

Everything is included in this book from basic stances and footwork to jump kicks and breaking techniques. Self-defense sparring and Olympic-style sparring  250 pages are dedicated to detailing 49 forms and patterns for both the ITF and World Taekwondo styles. 

In fact, nearly all Taekwondo styles are represented in this text. Traditional and modern approaches to Taekwondo as well as sport and self-defense styles of the art are all included. 

The book is a little more expensive than the others on this list but well worth the cost. In fact, this is the “one book to rule them all” when it comes to TKD books!

The Best Taekwondo Book List

Taekwondo is a beautiful journey that will affect every area of your life. The physical aspects of the sport change your body and the philosophy changes your mind for the better. 

Deepen your mental understanding of Taekwondo by taking a peek into the minds of the masters. These TKD books have been written by some of the best Taekwondo minds that have ever lived. You would do well to remember their wise words.

And remember the best list of Taekwondo books for you is the one that inspires you to greatness!

Curious about more reading material? Check out our articles offering the top 10 Karate books or the top 10 BJJ books that will broaden the horizons of your martial art!

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Cara Koch
Cara Koch
Hello! My name is Cara, and I hail from the great state of Washington up there in the Pacific Northwest. While there, I trained for and earned my 1st degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do at the Bonney Lake College of Martial Arts. My interest in martial arts, however, didn’t wane. I hope you enjoy the content on The Karate Blog and are impassioned and empowered by what you read here.