Taekwondo History

Taekwondo originated in ancient times when people had no means other than bare hands and body to defend themselves; so they naturally developed the bare-hand fighting techniques from their experiences of fighting against beasts whose defensive and offensive motions were also the subject of analysis.

Taekwondo originated in the history of the Korean peninsula, when there were the three tribes Koguryo, Paekje and Silla, always rivaling among themselves for the hegemony. As a result, youth warrior corps were organized, such as "Hwarangdo" in Silla and "Chouisonin" in Koguryo, which both adopted the martial art training as one of the important subjects of learning. It is believed that this was the exact grounding of today's Taekwondo, whose techniques have descended from "Subak" and "Taekkyon".

Silla was a kingdom founded in BC 57 on the southeastern part of Korea and Koguryo founded in BC 37 on the northern part of Korea, both making great efforts to raise their youngsters into strong warriors called "Hwarang" and "Sonbae" respectively. "Hwarang" in Silla has the same meaning as the word "Sonbae" in Koguryo by indicating both the youth Warrior's corp.

Later a history book on the Chosun dynasty described the life of Koguryo days, saying, "People gathered on March 10th every year at a site of ritual, where they enjoyed a sword dance, archery and Subak contests", implying that the Subak was one of the most popular events for the ritual in the Koguryo days.

In the middle ages the Koryo dynasty, which reunified the Korean Peninsula after Silla, had developed the Taekkyon more systematically and made it a compulsory subject in the examinations for selection of military cadets. However, the Koryo dynasty in its latest years had gunpowder and new types of weapons available, slowing down its support of martial art training. Therefore, the "Subakhui" remained as the folkloric games to be transmitted as such down to the modern Korea, Chosun.

In the Modern times of Korea, which cover from the Chosun dynasty, to the Imperial Korea and the Japanese Colonial rule until 1945, Taekwondo was rather called "Subakhui" than "Taekkyon and suffered an eventual loss of official support from the central government as the weapons were modernized for national defense, although the Subakhui was still popular in the early days of Chosun.

Later the Japanese colonial government completely prohibited all folkloric games including Subakhui in the process of suppressing the Korean people. The martial art Taekkyondo had been secretly handed down only by the masters of the art until the liberation of the country in 1945. Some of them, (who are still alive with the age over 80) testifies that his master was reputed for his excellent skills of Taekkyondo,"jumping over walls and running through the woods just like a tiger".

In recent history, upon liberation of Korea from the Japanese rule, the people began recovering the thought of self-reliance and traditional folkloric games, which resumed their popularity. Song Duk-Ki, master of Taekkyondo, presented a demonstration of martial art before the first Republic of Korea president on the occasion of his birthday, thus clearly distinguishing the Taekwondo from Japanese Karate which had been introduced by the Japanese rule.

Martial Arts experts began opening their Taekwondo Gymnasiums all over the country and after the end of the Korean war (1953), Taekwondo was popularized among the Black Belts within the country, at the same time about 2000 Taekwondo masters were dispatched to more than 100 countries for foreigner's training.

After all, following the nomination of Taekwondo as a national martial art in Korea in 1971, the present Kukkiwon was founded in 1972 to be used as a central gymnasium as well as the site of various Taekwondo competitions. Then a year later on May 28, 1973 the World Taekwondo Federation was founded, currently having 108 countries as its members. In 1974, Taekwondo was admitted to the Asian Games as an official event.

The WTF became an IOC-recognized sports federation in 1980, making Taekwondo an Olympic Sport. The adoption of Taekwondo as an Official event was followed by the World Games in 1981, the Pan-American Games in 1986, the 1988 Olympic Games in Soul, Korea, the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain and finally the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Taekwondo In The USA

  • 1956- The first Korean instructor arrives in Texas to introduce Taekwondo to USA.
  • 1960- The first Taekwondo school was founded in New York.
  • 1972- American Collegiate Taekwondo Association was founded.
  • 1985- Taekwondo became an U.S. Olympic festival event.
  • 1987- Taekwondo became a Pan-American Games event.
  • 1988- USA female team won first place at the 1988 Olympic Games.
  • 2000- First official U.S. Olympic team trials.
  • 2000- USA wins Olympic Gold Medal in Taekwondo.

Taekwondo Around The World

  • 1973- The World Taekwondo federation, WTF, was founded.
  • 1974- Taekwondo became an official event at the Asian Games.
  • 1980- WTF became an IOC recognized sports federation, making Taekwondo an Olympic Sport.
  • 1981- Taekwondo became an official event at the World Games.
  • 1986- Taekwondo became an official event at the Pan-American Games.
  • 1988- Taekwondo became a demonstration sport at the 1988 Olympic Games in Soul, Korea.
  • 1992- Taekwondo was a demonstration sport at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
  • 2000- Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport.

Taekwondo Today

Taekwondo is an ancient Korean martial art. It is a method of self-defense without weapons, which incorporates both physical and mental training. Literally translated from Korean, "Tae" means to jump or kick or smash with the foot; "Kwon" translates into a fist, denoting punching or destroying with the hand; and "Do" means an art or a form. Collectively, Taekwondo is a martial art form of unarmed combat for self-defense, involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, and blocks, resulting in both defensive and offensive maneuvers.

Taekwondo is not just a sport or physical fitness program, however. It is an investment for life. Through development of both the mental and physical capabilities of the individual, Taekwondo offers a renewed sense of confidence, peace of mind and security. It increases stamina, muscle tone, strength and coordination, and helps to control weight. Thus, training in the martial arts is an investment in both your present and your future.

Taekwondo is the martial art through which one can develop proficiency in self-defense in a relatively short time. It is the art of self-defense that has been scientifically calculated for maximum efficiency for motion and therefore proven to be highly effective for self-defense. With sufficient practice, the entire body of the practitioner becomes a weapon. When this level is achieved, quick reaction becomes second nature and a true sense of self-confidence is attained.

The tremendous physical training is only part of the ultimate goal of Taekwondo training. The true focus is on the harnessing of human potential, the power each of us possess, but rarely ever taps. If Taekwondo is to be called an art of self-defense, then its goal is best described in this manner. The best self-defense is that of a serene, self-contained person, at peace with him- self and the world around him. This type of personal development emphasizes but is not limited to the development of mental discipline, emotional self- restraint, and a philosophy of kindness, humility and strong moral character. One who has mastered Taekwondo is a powerful but gentle individual.

Taekwondo is now a medal event in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Prior to that, Taekwondo had been a demonstrative event at the Olympics. Taekwondo has endured for centuries and is today experiencing extremely rapid growth because it offers a multitude of benefits that can be enjoyed by all people regardless of age, sex, or culture.

Today, Taekwondo is being taught and practiced in over 144 countries. "Knowledge in the brain, honesty in the heart, and strength in the body" is a motto that martial artists around the world share. Taekwondo's quest is to spread its logic, goodness and philosophy for the cause of world peace.