A Brief History of Tae Kwon Do
While the arts' roots began 2,300 years ago in Korea, and existed throughout the its history as a means of having personal safety whether from invaders, or rival warlords, the martial art known as Taekwondo has only been known by that name since 1955.
Within Korea in the past there were five major martial art academies known as Kwans.
They were called;
- Mooduk Kwan,
- Jido Kwan,
- Changmu Kwan,
- Chungdo Kwan, and
- Songmu Kwan.
Within each of 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 did. So 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 and no unifying decision could be made.
In 1955 a board of instructors, historians and prominent society members sat down to coordinate all the schools and selected 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 called Taekwondo.
In 1962 the Korean Taekwondo Association (K.T.A.) was formed and lasted for eleven years as the association of authority on the art.
On May 28, 1973 the World Taekwondo Federation was officially established at the Kukkiwon (headquarters) by Dr. Un Yon Kim. Located in Seoul, Korea.
The Kukkiwon is the governing board and world headquarters of Tae Kwon Do until this day.
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.
What is Tae Kwon Do
Taekwondo is a systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts, that teaches more than physical fighting skills. It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing your spirit and life through training your body and mind.
Today, it has become a global sport that has gained an international reputation, and stands among the official games in the Olympics.
The word "Tae" "Kwon" "Do" itself is composed of three parts.
"Tae" means "foot," "leg," or "to step on", "Kwon" means "fist," or "fight"; and "Do" means the "way" or "discipline."
If we put these three parts together, we can see two important concepts behind "Tae Kwon Do".
Taekwondo can be characterized by unity: the unity of body, mind, and life, and the unity of the pose ["poomsae"]. When you do Taekwondo, you should make your mind peaceful and synchronize your mind with your movements, and extend this harmony to your life and society.
This is how in Taekwondo the principle of physical movements, the principle of mind training, and the principle of life become one and the same.
The Role of Tae Kwon Do in a Korean Upbringing
In most schools in Korea Tae Kwon Do is a mandatory class like PE is in American. Students usually train for at least an hour a day during their regular school day even if they do not train in a Dojang after school.
While in the past it was hard to find a Korean male that did not at least know some rudimentary Tae Kwon Do, now in Korea the same can be said for the girls as well as the boys. As Korea has become more egalitarian between the sexes it is now training its girls alongside its boys and many all girls boarding schools have some of the best Tae Kwon Do teams in the country.
For those who do not become proficient in elementary and grade school the males will receive advanced Tae Kwon Do training during their compulsory military training when they complete high school. The Korean military places great emphasis on the martial arts and Tae Kwon Do in particular.
The Role Of Tae Kwon Do in Korean Society
While the role of martial arts in Korea, and Tae Kwon Do in particular is for the most part no longer about day-to-day personal safety, it very much is still woven throughout the fabric of Korean Society. One needs to just stroll through any green space in the City of Seoul on any given day to see the art being practiced still by young and old.
It is the premier sport in a country that is crazy about its sports. Koreans take great pride in their national sport that is now practiced in 188 countries worldwide but truly revered in its homeland. As baseball is to America, Tae Kwon Do is to Korea. Inextricably woven together through sport, culture, and history.