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THE HISTORY OF TAE KWON DO

A more detailed history of the development of Tae Kwon Do is present-ed at Kukkiwon, the World Taekwondo Headquarters, website.
Since 1972, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) has been the official governing body for the sport. Its history is provided on the WTF website.
Early Koreans developed unique martial art forms for unarmed self-defense to complement their skills with weapons. The first recorded evidence of what was to become modern Tae Kwon Do is about two thousand years old. A mural painting depicting figures practicing martial arts techniques was found in a warrior's tomb. Historians estimate the tomb was constructed sometime between 3 and 427 A.D. In addition, historical records from the Koguryo Kingdom (37 BC to 668 AD) mention the practice of marital arts techniques and tournaments.

The Sonbae were a group of warriors formed to protect Koguryo from hostile kingdoms. The Sonbae were best described by the meaning of the word itself, "a man of virtue who never recoils from fighting". Historians believe that the Sonbae practiced Taekkyon, a predecessor of Tae Kwon Do. Artifacts from the Chosun dynasty explain that Sonbaes were students of history and literary arts at home and spent a great deal of time constructing roads and fortresses, thus always devoting themselves to the improvement of their nation, both materially and intellectually.

The Silla Dynasty (57 BC to 935 AD) had its own version of the Koguryo's Sonbae. These warriors were called the Hwarang, which translates to "Flower Knight", and were established in 537 AD by King Jin Heung. The Hwarang, whose greatest accomplishment was helping to unify the Korean peninsula, also practiced Taekkyon. Their instructor, Won Kwang Bupsa, wrote the Sesokokye describing the principles that all Hwarang committed to living by. Though they evolved over time, these principles are still the core of the Tae Kwon Do philosophy today.

A large tribe detached itself from the Koguryo Kingdom forming the Baekjae Kingdom (18 BC to 600 AD) and created their own band of warrior protectors called Soo Sa. The Baekjae were also known for their fighting contest festivals called SooByeokTa, where the winner was sometimes rewarded with a leadership position in the military or in one of the kingdom's villages.

The three kingdoms were united when Silla conquered Koguryo and Baekjae, but their conquest created instability and the new government soon disbanded. Meanwhile, descendents from the former Koguryo kingdom were able to band together and eventually reunite the kingdoms under the Koryo dynasty (918 AD to 1392).

All military personnel practiced martial arts during the Koryo Dynasty. Competitions were even used as a means for rank promotion. Naturally, rules and judging standards were established for these competitions and many scholars consider this the birth of the sport Tae Kwon Do. The popularity of these contests eventually spread to the public and were called Subakki. As Koryo began to trade with countries from around the world, the name Korea was adopted by traders, many of which were fascinated by Subakki and helped further spread its popularity.

The final dynasty of Korea was the Chosun (or Yi) Dynasty (1392 to 1910), during which the cultural focus shifted from the martial arts to literary arts. In 1790, at the height of the dynasty, the first volume of an important martial arts textbook was published. It was called the Mooya Doba Tongjee, and its fourth volume contained illustrations of hand techniques that are nearly identical to the poomse of modern Tae Kwon Do.

The Chosun Dynasty fell in 1910 when Japan invaded Korea and suppressed many cultural aspects that had been practiced for centuries, including the Subakki and Taekkyon contests. However, these martial art forms continued in secret until 1945 when the Japanese were defeated in World War II. By this time, several Kwans (schools) had developed and, in April 1955, were united under the name Tae Soo Do, which was later changed to Tae Kwon Do.

In 1965, under the direction of General Choi Hong-hi, the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA) was established. Soon after, plans for an international branch were initiated, but before these plans could come to fruition, the southern government was seized and General Choi fled to the United States. There he formed the International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) as in an independent organization. In 1973, the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association changed its name to the World Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF), finally making its debut as an Olympic sport in 2000.

In general the ITF is considered to be the more traditional form of Tae Kwon Do, placing more emphasis on poomse, while the WTF focuses more on full-contact sparring. In addition, General Choi developed the poomse forms used by the ITF, whereas the WTF uses the Palgwes and Tae Keuks. Attempts have been made to unite the ITF and WTF, but the two organizations currently remain independent.

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DEFINITION
Tae Kwon Do is the name of the martial art which has been independently developed over about 20 centuries in Korea. The main feature of Tae Kwon Do is that it is a free-fighting combat art using one's bare hands and feet to repel an opponent. [More]
RESPECT
It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For the student who wishes to train in Tae Kwon Do, that step is respect. It is the step which begins the training journey, and which will accompany him throughout his progress as student. [More]
JI DO KWAN SYMBOL
Ji Do Kwan SymbolThe Ji Do Kwan symbol depicts a roly-poly circled within a water lily flower. Although simple in appearance, each element represents multiple aspects of the spirit and philosophy of Ji Do Kwan. [More]
THE BELT SYSTEM
In the Tae Kwon Do Belt System, the progress from White Belt to Black Belt represents the way of life and nature. Each color stands for a specific stage of achievement. We realize the essential concept of oriental philosophy; that what is born must grow, reach maturity, die, and leave behind the seeds or life of new birth. [More]

 

 
 
   
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