About Taekwondo


Taekwondo is the most practiced form of martial arts in the world. The word Taekwondo means “technique of kicking and punching” and the emphasis is on the kicks. It originated in Korea during the 1st century BC. Although practiced for centuries, Taekwondo underwent a tremendous revival after World War II as part of a national effort to instill patriotism and unity. It became mandatory in military training and was introduced into the schools. Rules for the art were standardized by the Korea Taekwondo Association, founded in 1961. The International Taekwondo Federation was started in 1966 and the World Taekwondo Federation in 1973.

The Philosophy
Taekwondo certainly takes root in man's instincts to survive by means of protecting himself from outside threat with the bare-hand fighting skills, and it was developed into a systematized martial art in the times of three-kingdom era. The three kingdoms, Silla (founded in 57 B.C.), Koguryo (37 B.C.) and Paekje (18 B.C.), were all antagonistic among themselves in their respective hopes to achieve national unification on the Korean Peninsula. They had to defend themselves from foreign aggressions such as China and Japan. Under such circumstances, each kingdom tried to consolidate national unity first, stressing the spirit of national defense among the people. That spirit was based on the traditional "Seon" philosophy and the warriors accepted it as a martial spirit. Silla's Hwarangdo (youth warrior's corps) was a typical example of inheriting this spirit. Their firm belief was derived from the thought of loyalty and filial piety, with which they could voluntarily abandon their lives for the sake of national security. In addition, the courage of "no retreat from fighting" was also another virtue of that spirit.

A third virtue was their practical thought of ethics, with which they pledged not to commit any ethical faults and never to betray their social obligations. After all, these spirits enabled the Hwarangs of Silla to defend their kingdom, helped conquering the other two kingdoms and unifying the entire peninsula. Thus, the Hwarangdo spirit inherited the Korean's traditional thought based on the Seon philosophy and gave birth to the Taekwondo spirit consisting of the thought of loyalty and filial piety, courage of no retreat from fighting and practical ethic thought of consistency in learning and acting. This thought, shaped into a peace thought, has been handed down to the present Koreans.

The name
Within Korea there were five major martial art academies or Kwans. They were Mooduk Kwan, Jido Kwan, Changmu Kwan, Chungdo Kwan, and Songmu Kwan. Within these schools lie a variety of styles such as KongSooDo, Tae Kyon, SooBakDo, TangSooDo, KwonPup, etc. The way of teaching and employing many of the techniques varied as much as the schools. In 1946, an attempt was made to unify Dojangs (training halls) and standardize instructional methods. Some of the leaders wanted to uphold the martial art character of the schools while others wished to create a combat sport. These meetings met with no success. In 1955 a board of instructors, historians and prominent society members sat down to coordinate all the schools and select a name for the hopefully unified art. In April 1955, a new name was formed from a group of names by the board. It was “Taekwondo”. In 1962 the Korean Amateur Sports Association recognized the Korean Taekwondo Union, which later became known as the Korean Taekwondo Association (K.T.A.). On May 28, 1973 the World Taekwondo Federation was officially established at the Kukkiwon (headquarters) by Dr. Un Yon Kim. Located in Seoul, South Korea, the World Taekwondo Federation is the governing body which preserves Taekwondo's roots and development, controls testing and testing requirements, and promotes the study of Taekwondo all over the world. In this way, the WTF hopes to continue the unification of their native art.

On world stage
In 1975 Taekwondo was accepted as an official sport by the U.S Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and also admitted to the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), followed by the adoption of official sports event by the international council of military sports (CISM) in 1976. In 1979, president of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was elected President of the world federation of non-Olympic sports. The WTF became an IOC-recognized sports federation in 1980, making Taekwondo an Olympic sport. Then the adoption of Taekwondo as an official event was followed by the World Games in 1981, the Pan-American Game in 1986. In 1992 and 1996, Taekwondo was an Olympic demonstration sport in Spain and USA. Finally, Taekwondo became an official sport event in the 2000 Summer Olympic Game in Australia.

(References: 1. A Brief History of Taekwondo, by Ronald A. Southwick; 2. www.kukkiwon.or.kr; 3.Compton’s Encyclopedia “Martial Arts”)