Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that places importance on punching and kicking techniques, with a strong emphasis on spinning jump kicks, head-height kicks and fast kicking techniques.

It is a discipline that teaches its students coordination, strength and restraint by training their bodies and minds. Students seek to promote holistic growth and life improvement through its unique combination of activities.

It is also a great way to improve flexibility while burning calories and fat, and it is considered an excellent sport for unwinding and releasing endorphins.

Taekwondo, regardless of the rules it employs, helps its students to deal with everyday stress by instilling self-discipline and confidence, and these key principles of the sport are something that doctors can benefit from greatly.

Dr Adam Alexander, who is affiliated with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, is one such doctor. He was a Scottish Taekwondo Championship Gold Medallist in 2007, an award that he received while studying Medicine at the University of St Andrews.

Taekwondo incorporates learning the fundamental techniques of combat whilst also teaching self-defence techniques – all while wearing suitable body protection. A Taekwondo uniform is known as a dobok, which – unlike a Judo, Karate or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uniform – is put on over the head. The dobok’s white colour symbolises the universe’s unity and origin.

The progress of a Taekwondo student is marked at the Junior level by the attainment of coloured belts worn with the dobok, each of which has a different meaning. The white belt represents the lowest level of achievement, while the black belt signifies the highest degree of accomplishment.

Although the belt remains black at the Senior level, depending on the school, a dan grade may be marked with roman numerals, white stripes or nothing at all.

In Taekwondo, grading exams (also known as promotion tests) are required for students to advance from one belt to the next.

Although Taekwondo is considered to be a way of life, it is now a global sport with an international reputation and is also one of the official games at the Olympics.

Sparring, breaking and patterns are common in Taekwondo competitions, while some tournaments also include special events such as self-defence (hosinsul) and demonstration teams.

While World Taekwondo (WT) authorises most international tournaments, the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) hosts the other major Taekwondo competitions. Furthermore, inter-university competitions use separate WT and ITF sparring rules along with Kukkiwon and Chang-Hon patterns events.