About Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do is one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the world today. Literal translation of Tae means “foot,” Kwon means “fist,” and Do means “the way.” Together it is Tae Kwon Do, the way of foot and fist.

Tae Kwon Do’s past can be traced to three early kingdoms that occupied what is now North and South Korea. The names of these were Silla, Koguryo and Baekche. Silla, which was the most primitive of the three, began specialized training methods called Subak, which were practiced by Warriors called the Hwarang. The training methodology and philosophy of the Hwarang was primarily responsible for the unification of the land, which was then named Koryo. Subak continued on until the end of the Koryo Dynasty, in which other forms of unarmed combat then appeared.

Following this period, during the Yi Dynasty, political unrest and a change in the country’s predominant religion put a new perspective on the martial arts. It is at this time that practice of the martial arts began to decline. Those that continued to practice did so in remote regions and always in secret.

The Yi Dynasty ended when Japan took over the country in 1910. In an effort to promote Japanese nationalism in Korea, all martial arts native to Korea were banned. Very few still practiced and those that did so had Japanese influence on their training. Others were sent to Japan and China for educational purposes and learned the fighting styles and techniques common to those regions.

It was not until 1945 when Korea was liberated that the roots of modern Tae Kwon Do began to spread. However by this time, Korean martial arts were predominately Japanese Karate with various techniques from Chinese martial arts.

In Korea at this time, there were many major schools (kwans). An attempt was made to unify the schools, but disagreement among them left this unresolved for many years. In 1955, another meeting was held to unite the kwans under one common name. The name chosen was Tae Kwon Do. It has been recognized as the Korean national sport since that day and has been growing in popularity every since.

In 1973 the World Taekwondo Federation was formed, which helps spread Tae Kwon Do around the globe. In 1988 Tae Kwon Do was an exhibition sport for the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea and made its debut as an official sport for the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia in the year 2000.