Tae Kwan Do is the traditional Korean martial art, which literally means the are of fist and foot fighting. Tae Kwon Do has been practiced for many centuries, tracing back as far as 50 BC, and will become an Olympic event in the 2000 games in Sydney. The earliest records of Tae Kwan Do practice date back to about 50 BC. (Park pg. 1) During this time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms:(1) Silla, Koguryo, and Baekche. Silla had been founded in 87 BC, Baekche in 18 BC southwest of the Korean peninsula, and Koguryo in 37 BC.
The earliest form of Tae Kwan Do was known as Taek Kyon. Known facts came from paintings on the ceiling of the Muyong-chong, a royal tomb from the Koguryo dynasty. (1) The paintings were of unarmed combatants using techniques that are somewhat similar to the Tae Kwan Do used by todays practitioners. (1) The similarities were of the techniques of knife hand, fists, and fighting stances. Because Silla was the least civilized, their coastlines were constantly being attacked by pirates of Japan. Silla asked for help because of the constant harrasment by the Japanese.Order now
King Gwanggaeto, a Koguryo monarch, sent 50,000 soldiers into Silla to help drive out the pirates. (2) At this time, Taek Kyon was introduced to the warriors of Silla and were swore to secrecy about this art. The newly taught warriors were given the name the Hwarang and formed a society of the Hwarang-do. They had a code which they used as their bible. It was known as the Five Codes of Human Conduct; Be loyal to your country, Be obidieant to your parents, Be trustworthy to your friends, Never retreat in battle, Never make an unjust kill. Today’s Tae Kwan Doists use these code but with additions to the Five Codes.
These eleven commandments were; Loyalty to your country, Respect your parents, Faithfulness to your spouse, Respect your brothers and sisters, Loyalty to your friends, Respect your elders, Respect your teachers, Never take life unjustly, Indomitable spirit, Loyalty to your school, Finish what you begin. After the battles Taek Kyon was primarily used for sports and recreational activity used to improve physical fitness. (3) When the Koryo dynasty began, about 935 until 1392, the martial art’s name was changed to Subak, and when King Uijong reigned, it became a system of fitness and changed to a fighting art rather than a sport.
When the Japanese invaded Korea in 1909 and occupied the country, the residing Japanese general banned the practice of all military arts for native Koreans. (3) This sparked hatred in the eyes of the Koreans. Subak practitioners grew dramatically. Koreans organized underground camps, Budhhist temples studied martial arts, as well as many Koreans leaving the country to China as well as Japan to study. When Korea became liberated, the first Dojang (school) was built in Seoul. The name changed again after the war in 1953. It was known as Tae Soo Do. Two years later, it waas renamed Tae Kwan Do.
This was known to be an effective fighting system in the Vietnam War. (5) After exhibiting Tae Kwan Do all over the world, the World Tae Kwan Do Federation was formed on May 28, 1973. The first Tae Kwan Do championships were also held in Seoul in May 1973. Many practitioners are now trying to make Tae Kwan Do an official sport of the Olympic games; Grandmaster Kyung Myung Lee, Master Sang H. Kim, and Master Kuk Hyun Chung. With an exhibition Olympic tournament in the 1988 games, Tae Kwan Do was named to be an official sport of the 2000 Olympic games in Seoul.