History of Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art.  "Tae" (T'ae) literally means to jump or kick or smash with foot; "Kwon" denotes a fist-punch or destroying with hand or fist; and "Do" means an art, way or method.  Tae Kwon Do uses about 80% foot techniques and only 20% hand techniques.  Then hands, feet and other parts of the body are used as weapons. Tae Kwon Do is essentially discipline of the mind, the body and the spirit.

Tae Kwon Do (Korean Karate) began more than two thousand years ago in the southern part of the Korean peninsula.  There was a small kingdom constantly under invasion and harassment by its two more powerful northern neighbors.  To preserve themselves, the young aristocrats of the country formed a young officer warriors corps called Hwa Rang Do.  The warrior corps trained themselves throughout the year in the wild mountains and along the rugged seashores.  They trained and drove themselves unmercifully to prepare themselves for their heroic task.  To guide themselves and give purpose to their knighthood, they incorporated the following five-point code of conduct set forth by their country's greatist Buddhist monk and scholar, Won Kang:

  1. Be loyal to your king.
  2. Be obedient to your parents.
  3. Be honorable to your friends.
  4. Never retreat in battle.
  5. Make a sensible kill.

The strength they derived from their respect of their code enabled them to attain feats of valor that became legendary.  Through their feats, they inspired the people to rise and unite and eventually conquer the two kingdoms.  From this victory, the Korean peninsula became united for the first time in its history.  To the Korean people, Tae Kwon Do represents more than the mere physical use of skilled movements.  It implies a way of thinking and life, particularly by instilling a concept and spirit of strict self-imposed discipline and an ideal of noble moral re-armament.

In 1910, the Yi dynasty was forcibly annexed to Japan.  To destroy the identity of the Korean people, the Japanese government prohibited the practice of martial arts and team sports as well as many other cultural activities.

When Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945, traditional Tae-Kyon was resurrected by the masters.  Various schools (Kwans) were started, each emphasizing specific parts of Tae-Kyon.  One of the first Do Jangs (place of martial art practice) to open was in Youg Chun, Seoul, Korea by Master Won Kook Lee.  The style of this Kwan is called Chung Do Kwon.  By 1946 the five original Kwans were open.  By 1953, three more Kwans were opened bringing the total to eight different styles.

December 19, 1955, the first conference of the National Advisors for Chung Do Kwon met.  Tae Kwon Do, the official name of the Korean Martial Art was created on this occasion by Grandmaster Duk Sung Son.  Present at the conference were General Hyung Keun Lee, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mr. Kyung Ku Cho, Vice Speaker of the National Assembly of Korea, and General Choi Hong Hi.

Yet there were still disagreements among various Kwans, some of whom refused to endorse the merger put forth by the council.  Grandmaster Duk Sung Son took leadership of the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association, this was the most traditional style (no-contact).  Traditionalism is the cornerstone of Tae Kwon Do, and for that matter, all the martial arts.  There is so much more to Tae Kwon Do than just the fighting aspects, but many instructors and students outside the association just aren't interested in learning anything that doesn't pertain to fighting technique.  Fighting is not what Tae Kwon Do training is about.  Our philosophy teaches that Tae Kwon Do training is learning how to avoid confrontations, but being able to handle them when they occur.