Many students ask if they would be allowed to use their knowledge of taekwondo to protect themselves if attacked. Surely there should be no confusion over this - it is a matter of common sense. Take, for instance, the situation where one has no knowledge of taekwondo, but is carrying an umbrella. If provocation was slight and one over-reacted, injuring the other person, it would obviously be unjustifiable and wrong. On the other hand, if the provocation presented a definite physical threat, some action is warranted and in fact, to hesitate to use the means at one's disposal, to the degree necessary to protect oneself, would be extremely foolish.
Naturally, much depends on the nature of the attack and the relative threat posed to the victim. An attack on one person by another of similar strength and build demands a relatively small reaction on the part of the person being attacked. However, if the circumstances of the attack are such that one is placed at a distinct physical disadvantage, because of the size or number of one's attacker or attackers, the reaction needs to be much greater in order to defend oneself.
In the first instance, cited above, the knowledge of taekwondo enables one to defend oneself with minimal injury to ones attacker. In the second instance, in order to defend oneself, an effective counter-attack must be used. Depending on the degree of violence of the attack, the recipient is forced to injure the assailant to the extent necessary to control the attack. So when we examine these situations, we can see that taekwondo can actually reduce the amount of physical violence – in the first case, that of the victim on the assailant and in the second, that suffered by the victim.
It should be mentioned that knowledge of self-defence techniques is not enough by itself. The principle of counter-attack (as opposed to attack), sense of timing, balance, speed, coordination, reflexes and general physical fitness are all vital and these are developed to their utmost by rigorous taekwondo training.