It is often said that there are as many histories of Tae Kwon Do as there are people to tell them. The roots of Tae Kwon Do extend back to ancient times, when records were kept in paintings on walls and stories passed down from family to family. As such, the history of Tae Kwon Do has undergone as many transformations and refinements as the martial art itself. While reading this history, one should keep in mind that this is not the history of Tae Kwon Do, merely a history.
Tae Kwon Do in Ancient Times:
The history of the name "Tae Kwon Do" is relatively new, being only about 50 years old. The history of the martial art itself, however, begins over 20 centuries ago, when three separate kingdoms populated the Korean peninsula. In the sixth century, the kingdoms of Koguryo, Baek Je (Paekje)and Shila (or Silla) ruled, constantly warring with each other and neighboring Japan.
Shila, a smaller conglomeration of disorganized tribal groups was often the target of raids and attacks by the other larger, more aggressive kingdoms. To mitigate this, the 24th king of Shila, Chin Heung assembled a corps of elite fighters known as the Hwa Rang Do. These fighters underwent extreme mental and physical conditioning to improve their endurance and discipline. They lived by a code of five principles, called the Won Kang (Hwarang):
Until this time, all three kingdoms practiced the primitive martial art of Soo Bak (Subak). It consisted primarily of kicking techniques, but lacked discipline. The Hwa Rang Do adopted Soo Bak and refined it into the martial art of Tae Kyon (Taekyon). Armed with this art form, Shila became invincible, routinely repelling attacks by the other kingdoms and eventually invading and occupying Koguryo and Baek Je. For the first time in history, the Korean peninsula was unified under a single kingdom, called Koryo, from which the west derived the name Korea.
During the 500 year dynasty of Koryo, Tae Kyon flourished with regular contests among civilians and mandatory training for all soldiers. It also spread to the surrounding kingdoms of China and Japan where some argue it became the influence to Karate.
Following the Koryo dynasty, however, Tae Kyon experienced a decline during the Yi dynasty. During this time, Korea underwent a "civil enlightenment", and anything related to the military was suppressed. Those who practiced Tae Kyon traveled to China and Japan where they could practice free of restriction, or remained in Korea and practiced in secrecy. This oppression of Tae Kyon continued on into the 20th century.
|Tae Kwon Do in Ancient Times||Tae Kwon Do in the 20th Century|
|The Naming of Tae Kwon Do||Tae Kwon Do Comes to America|
|The Formation of ITF, WTF and Kukkiwon|
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