Brief History of Taekwon-Do
Although its roots can be somewhat traced back to ancient Korea, it is a historic fact that Taekwon-Do as an organized art is relatively modern. In fact, the only documented history begins in the mid 1900’s.
The actual beginnings of Taekwon-Do are obscured by time, yet many historians believe it originated from a Korean martial arts form known as t’aekyon practiced over 1,300 years ago.
In the early 1900’s the art evolved with the introduction of Chinese and Japanese techniques, a practice which concerned some because these influences did not demonstrate the incredible kicking power of the art nor its traditional values or philosophy.
The actual name (and art) of Taekwon-Do wasn’t official until 1955. At that time Korean General Choi Hong Hi organized a movement to unify Korea’s various martial arts styles (Called Kwans) and presented the name “Taekwon-Do” to a committee specially formed to select a name for the new art. On April 11, 1955, Taekwon-Do was recognized as the name for the newly unified, officially recognized Korean martial art.
As an interesting side note, the word Taekwon-Do itself is made up of three Chinese/Korean words: Tae, meaning to kick or jump; Kwon, meaning fist or hand; and Do, which means “the way.” Loosely (if not literally), it can be thought of as “The Way of the Hand and Foot.”
In the 1960’s Taekwon-Do began to spread internationally and evolved throughout the late 1900’s (along with most martial arts) into primarily a combat sport, although self-defense, fitness, and the philosophy of the practice (including self-discipline and self-knowledge) are still crucial elements of Taekwon-Do and is currently the most popular martial art in Korea, and ranks among world’s most popular martial arts.