What is Tae Kwon Do?
Tae Kwon Do is the unique Korean martial art that utilizes the entire body for the purpose of unarmed self defense. This art has been independently developed for about 20 centuries in Korea. It is the most effective method of self defense and is organized scientifically oin order to defend against an aggressor’s attack and offend to the vital spots on the opponent by using all parts of the body. All of its activites are based on systematically designed moderate exercises for all people: male or female, young or old, big or small, strong or weak. Tae Kwon Do is not only good for self-defense, but for physical fitness and as a sport and a hobby.
The most important fact about Tae Kwon Do as a martial art is that it is not only a superior art of self-defense, but it adds remarkable personality, self-confidence, self-discipline, and coordination to its practitioners through its training and practical activities. Self-confidence makes people generous in their attitude towards weaker people. They can stand equally against an opponent, but their code forbids unfair assaults or unnecessary use of force. The practice of Tae Kwon Do gives an individual the mental attitude of modesty. The virtue of modesty and generosity are fundamentally based on self confidence.
It is obvious that healthy bodies make men active and powerful. Such mental and physical self-confidence are beneficial to the mental life of an individual, their families, neighbors, and society.
In Korea, Tae Kwon Do is a national sport. It is taught in schools, all military academies, and most educational institutions as a credit course for the purpose of national health and mental training.
Over 60 countries all over the world have started in this Korean martial art within the last 18 years.
Many people in this country are confused about the different oriental martial arts. When we mention oriental martial arts, we must remember that Tae Kwon Do is the Korean style, Karate is the Japanese style, and Kung Fu is the Chinese style.
Translated from Korean, “TAE” means jump, kick, or smash with the foot. “KWON” denotes a fist; to punch or hit with the hand or fist. “DO” means an art, way, or method. Those taken collectively, “TAE KWON DO”, art of foot and hand, indicates the technique of unarmed combat for self-defense using hands, fists, or feet.
The History of Taekwondo
People in primitive ages, no matter where they lived, had to develop personal skills to fight in order to obtain their food and to defend themselves against their enemies, including wild animals. They never stopped their efforts to promote the development of their bodies and minds by practicing various games, especially in the form of religious rites.
The Korean ancestors who settles in several tribal states in this land after the neolithic ago had many activities such as Yungko, Kabi, Tongmeng, Muchun, etc. Those are some of the striking examples of the rites. These eventually were developed into exercise to improve health or martial ability.
The origin of Tae Kwon Do in this country can be traced back to the Koguryo dynasty, founded in 37 B.C. Since mural paintings found in the ruins of the royal tombs built by that dynasty show scenes of Tae Kwon Do practice. The two royal tombs names are Muyong-chong and Kakchu-chong which were discovered in 1935.
Tae Kwon Do was also practiced during the Silla dynasty. Silla was a kingdom founded in the southeastern part of the land some 20 years before Koguryo in the north (B.C. 37). At Kyungju, the ancient capital of Silla, two giant sculptures facing each other in a Tae Kwon Do position at Sokguram in Pulkuksa Temple. The sculptures are called Keumkang-Yuksa and still exists. Silla was famous for its Hwarang-Do, the knights errant who trained their bodies and minds by devoting themselves to hunting, study, and training martial arts. They trained Taekyon (an old name of Tae Kwon Do). Hwarang-Do was an essential part of Silla’s struggle to unify the whole country by conquering both kingdoms of Koguryo and Paekche.
Tae Kwon Do retained its popularity after the Koguryo and Silla dynasties, through the Koryo dynasty that was founded in 918 A.D., and continued for 475 years, and through the Yi dynasty after that.
In the history of Koryo, Tae Kwon Do, which was then termed “Subak”, was practiced not only as a skill to improve health or a sports activity, but it was also encouraged as a martial art of considerably high value. Here are some extracts from the historical record of Koryo that testify to the popularity of Tae Kwon Do as a martial art.
Taekwondo is currently the most popular martial art in Korea,
and ranks among America’s and the world’s most popular martial arts.
“King Uijong admired the excellence of Yi, Ui-min in Subak and promoted him from Dejong (military rank) to Byuljang (higher military rank).”
“The King appeared at the Hwa-bi Palace and watched Subak contest.”
The records indicate that Subak, a “parent” of Tae Kwon Do, in the Koryo dynasty was also practiced as an organized sport and self-defense that could be presented for spectators to enjoy. Subak is believed to have gained its highest popularity during the reign of King Uijong, between 1147 and 1170 A.D.
People who desired to be employed by the military department of the royal government were eager to learn Tae Kwon Do because it was included as one of the major subjects of the application test. Meanwhile, King Chungjo published Muye Dobo Tongji, an illustrated textbook on martial arts, which included Tae Kwon Do as one of the major chapters.
However, in the latter half of the Yi dynasty, the importance of Tae Kwon Do as a martial art began to decline due to negligence of the royal court, which was constantly disturbed by strife between feuding political factions. As a result, Tae Kwon Do merely became an activity for populace. When Japan invaded Korea in latter days, Tae Kwon Do people fought without arms or exiled themselves to foreign countries.
Tae Kwon Do development in modern times began with Korean liberation. Korea was liberated in 1945. After that, a number of Koreans who were interested in Tae Kwon Do began trying to revitalize the traditional game of Tae Kwon Do. As a result, Tae Kwon Do has grown as a unique Korean self-defense art for about 20 centuries.
The popularity and enthusiasm for Tae Kwon Do are not only domestic, but worldwide because of the dominant superiority of Tae Kwon Do over any other kind of self-defense arts in the world. Its evolution and development as an international amateur sport is fast. More than 1000 Korean instructors are teaching Tae Kwon Do in the more than 60 countries.
The World Tae Kwon Do Federation represents world Tae Kwon Do as the name implies. The WTF became an affiliate of the General Assembly of the International Sports Federation (GAIF) by unanimous vote at its annual meeting in Montreal, Canada on October 8, 1975. CISM (Council International Sports Military) Executive Committee adopted Tae Kwon Do as its 23rd official sport on April 9, 1976.