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The Origin of Taekwondo Martial Arts (Part 2)

Tae Kwon Do Belts

Set of Tae Kwon Do Belts isolated on white

A Brief Summary of Significant Highlights in the Korean History of Martial Arts:

-751 A.D.: A statue immortalizing the legendary warrior Kumgang Yuksa is erected at the Sok Kul Temple during the reign of King Hye-Gong (742-762)

-935 -1392: The fighting style called Taek Kyon is developed during the Koryo Dynasty.

-1392 – 1907: During the Yi dynasty, according to many historians, Soo Bak Ki was taught by the Chinese to envoys from Okinawa who took the art form to their home. A book was also written on Soo Bak Ki to serve as a handbook for military training.

-1921 -1945: Karate (also called Okinawa-Te or Do-Te) is developed, during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula practicing any form of martial art is forbidden.

-1936: The “Do” concept is introduced to “Karate” thereby forming “Karate-Do”.

-1945: The end of Japanese occupation of Korea and many Koreans, especially the Grandmasters like General Choi, Lee Won Kook and Ro Byong Jik, who had learned the techniques of Karate-Do during their time in Japan, returned with a wealth of knowledge and begun to formulate ideas that would become a future art.

-1945: The most significant institute for the instruction and development of Korean Martial Arts, Cho Sun Yeon Moo Kwan, was established and would later greatly influence the development of martial arts. Many fighting styles including, Judo, Gom-Do (sword play), Karate-Do, Kwon Bop, or Ken-Po (as the Japanese refer to it) and Chuan-Fa (as the Chinese do), were taught here.

-1945 -1955: Many Taekwondo Kwans (schools) were established throughout Korea including Ji Do Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, Chung Do Kwan and Chang Moo Kwan. In 1955 the term Taekwondo was first coined, for a decade prior to this the term for this martial art was Gong Soo Do which means the Empty Hand, Soo Bak Do – Fighting Hand or Tang Soo Doo – the China Hand.

-1961: In recognition of the nine Kwans, the Tae Kwon Do Association is founded. The name was changed to the Korea Tae Soo Do Association briefly on September 16th, 1961 but the title was finalized as the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association on August 5th, 1965.

-1962: Taekwondo is recognized as a national competition by the Korea Athletic Union on June 20.

-1964: The Korea Athletic Union officially recognizes Taekwondo as a national event with seven weight divisions.

-1966: The establishment of the TaeKwondo Federation.

-1971: The Taekwondo Federation is established in 67 different countries.

-1972: The Kukkiwon is established.

-1973: The World Taekwondo Federation is established. Kukkiwon hosts the very first World Taekwondo Championship Tournament. Taekwondo is also being practiced in over 100 countries around the world by more than 200 instructors were instructing in countries across the world.

-1980: Taekwondo is brought to Poland, the Soviet Union and North Korea by the International Taekwondo Federation.

-1994: Taekwondo becomes an Olympic Event.

-2004: Taekwondo International is established.

The rapid expansions of the Taekwondo Martial Arts around the World from its origins in 1955 are nothing short of amazing. In less than half a century the principles and theories behind this sport have become widely recognized and incorporated in many countries, even getting recognition as an official Olympic Event in 1994 and making its debut as a Medal sport in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

There were the grandmasters around the world whose untiring efforts of promoting and developing this martial art deserve infinite appreciation and recognition for such accomplishment. However they would undoubtedly respond by reminding us that Olympic fame and International recognition were never their primary objectives and that a review of what traditional Taekwondo is all about would be best for future practitioners.