Chinese styles. But more than this, what truly distinguishes
Tae Kwon Do are its varied and uniquely powerful kicking
techniques that sets Tae Kwon Do apart from other martial
arts systems. Yet Tae Kwon Do is far more than simply
a system concerned with physical prowess, for it is
also an art directed toward the moral development of
earliest records of Tae Kwon Do practice dates back
to about 50 BC. Evidence of the practice of Taek Kyon
(the earliest known form of Tae Kwon Do) has been found
in paintings on the ceiling of Muyong-chong, a royal
tomb from the Koguryo dynasty.
Tae Kwon Do first appeared in the Koguryo kingdom, it
is Silla's warrior nobility, the Hwarang, who are credited
with the growth and spread of the art throughout Korea.
Founded initally as a military academy for the young
nobility of Silla, the society of the Hwarang-do ("the
way of flowering manhood") adopted Taek Kyon as
a part of its basic training regimen. The society was
an elite group, consisting among the sons of royalty
between the ages of 16 and 20, and the Nangdo, or cadets,
who were assembled from the rest of the young nobility.
They were educated in many disciplines, including history,
Confucian philosophy, ethics, Buddhist morality, riding,
archery, sword play, military tactics, and of course,
Taek Kyon. The guiding principles of the Hwarang-do
education were based on the Five Codes of Human Scholar
Wonkang. These axioms are:
loyal to your country.
obedient to your parents.
trustworthy to your friends.
retreat in battle.
Make an unjust kill.
with their training in fundamental education and military
skills, the Hwarang were also skilled in poetry, singing
and dancing, and were encouraged to travel throughout
the peninsula in order to learn about the regions and
people. These warriors were responsible for the spread
of Taek Kyon throughout Korea during the Silla dynasty
(AD 668 to AD 935). During the Koryo dynasty (935 to
1392), Taek Kyon became known as Subak and changed from
a system designed primarily to promote fitness into
a fighting art. During the Yi dynasty (1397 to 1907),
the art was promoted among the population in general.
Prior to this, the art had been restricted primarily
to the military nobility. During this era, political
conflict and the de-emphasis of military activities
led to a significant reduction in the practice of the
1909, the Japanese invaded Korea, occupying the country
for the next 36 years. During this time, the Japanese
banned the practice of all military arts. Ironically,
this very act sparked a renewed growth of Subak. It
wasn't until Korea's liberation in 1945 that its own
fighting arts finally took root and began to flourish.
first kwan ("school") to teach a native Korean
style of martial art was opened in 1945. During the
next 15 years, eleven other kwans were opened. On April
11, 1955, a meeting was convened to unify the various
kwans under the common name of Tae Soo Do. Two years
later, the name was once again changed to the familiar
Tae Kwon Do. On September 14, 1961, the Korean Tae Kwon
Do Association was formed.
May 28, 1973, a new worldwide organization, the World
Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF), was formed. Since that
day, all Tae Kwon Do activity outside Korea have been
coordinated by the WTF, the only official organization
recognized by the Korean government as an international
regulating body for Tae Kwon Do. The crowning achievement
of Tae Kwon Do as a sport came when the art was designated
an official Demonstration Sport for the 1988 Olympic
Games in Seoul, Korea.
Tae Kwon Do boasts an international membership of more
than 20 million practitioners in over 120 countries,
making it the most practiced martial art style in the
Tae Kwon Do
by Yeon Hee Park, Yeon Hwan Park and Jon Gerrard. Published
by Facts On File, Inc., 1989.