Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do

Early history of Martial Arts that is practiced in Korea dates back to about the 50 B.C.  These early form of martial arts are known as “Taek Kyon”. Tombs and wall painting show evidence of martial arts; some wall paintings show two opponents in a fighting stance. Some people reject this evidence stating that the men could be just dancing. 


At this time there were three kingdoms: 

The Koguryo (37 B.C. - 668 A.D.) 

The Paekje (18 B.C. - 600 A.D.) 

The Silla (57 B.C. - 936 A.D.)


The Silla was the kingdom that unified all the kingdoms after they won the war against the Paekje in 668 A.D. and the Koguryo in 670 A.D. The Hwa Rang Do played a very important role in this unification. The Hwa Rang Do were an elite group of young noble men, who were devoted to cultivation of the mind and body and to serve the kingdom of Silla. The best known translation for HwaRang means "flowering youth" (Hwa ="flower", Rang ="young man"). The HwaRang Do followed an honor-code, and they practiced various forms of martial arts, which included Taekyon and Soo Bakh Do. This old honor-code of HwaRang is today the philosophical background of the modern Taekwondo.


A time of peace followed, which resulted in the HwaRang turning from a military organization, into a group that specialized in music and poetry. During 936 A.D. Wang Kon founded the Koryo dynasty; this is an abbreviation of Koguryo. Korea’s name is derived from the name Koryo.


The sport Soo Bakh Do, a military training method, became popular during the Koryo Dynasty. However, during the Yi-dynasty (1392 A.D. - 1910 A.D.) this change and the emphasis on military training no longer applied. King Taejo, who was the founder of the Yi-dynasty, replaced the state religion of Buddhism with Confucianism. Confucianism tenets promote that the higher classes should adopt a more spiritual lifestyle instead of military and therefore they read poetry and played music instead. Martial arts thus became utilized by inferior or the common man.


Many different martial arts styles influence the modern-day Taekwondo, and the most important one of these arts is the Japanese Karate. The reason for this is Japan dominated Korea during the period 1910 until the end of World War II. It was during WWII that a lot of Korean soldiers were given training in Japan. During the occupation of Korea, the Japanese did their best to erase all of Korean culture, and that included martial arts. The Japanese influence on Taekwondo is the very quick, straight-line movements that characterize of the various Japanese systems.


Several Kwans arose after World War II, when Korea gained independence, among these kwans were: “Moo Duk Kwan”, "Chung Do Kwan", "Yun Moo Kwan", “oh Do Kwan”, "Chang Moo Kwan", "Ji Do Kwan", “song Moo Kwan”, and "Chi Do Kwan". These Kwans during 1955 united as Tae Soo Do. During the beginning of 1957, the name Taekwondo was then adopted by the several Korean martial arts masters, this was chosen because of its similarity to the name of Tae Kyon.


General Choi Hong-hi made it a requirement that the army train in Taekwondo, thus, the first Taekwondo students were the Korean soldiers. The air-force and police also had to train in Taekwondo. At this time, Taekwondo was just a Korean version of Shotokan Karate.


During 1961, the Korean Taekwondo Union, developed from two associations, the Soo Bakh Do and the Tae Soo Do. During 1962, the Korean Amateur Sports Association then acknowledged the Korean Taekwondo Union and then in 1965, the name was then acknowledged as the Korean Taekwondo Association (K.T.A.). General Choi at that time was president of the K.T.A. and he was asked to start the I.T.F. to be the international branch of K.T.A. The southern government was then overthrown during 1961. Two years later General Choi Hong-hi left Korea for America and then established the I.T.F. (International Taekwondo Federation), Taekwondo, this became a separate entity.


There were many demonstrations all over the world but it took a quite while before any real progress was made, however, eventually, during 1973, the “World Taekwondo Federation” (W.T.F.) was then founded.


During 1980, the W.T.F. Taekwondo was then recognized by the International Olympic Comite (I.O.C.) and was recognized as a demonstration sport at the1988 Olympics Games. There were quite a few attempts at unifying I.T.F. and W.T.F. Taekwondo, however these attempts did not succeed. During 2000 the W.T.F. Taekwondo went Olympic.

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