History of Taekwondo


It has been speculated that Taekwondo is not Indian of Korea, but a synthesis of martial arts of China and Japan.

The legendary origin of martial arts is attributed to Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from India. Bodhidharma traveled to China in the sixth century AD and founded the famous Shaolin monastery, and there taught methods to train their bodies and their spirits. Later, these methods were combined with the principles of I-Ching and Taoism, forming the basis for the Chinese martial arts of Kung Fu, Kempo and Tai Chi Chuan.
The first really tangible evidence of martial art in Korea dates back to the period of the “Three Kingdoms”: Koguryo (37 BC – 668 AD), Paekje (18 BC – 660 AD), and Silla (57 BC – 935 AD).

Murals painted in the ruins of two royal tombs (Muyong-chong and Kakchu-chong) built in the Koguryo dynasty between AD 3-427 south of Manchuria, represent two young men in combat positions.

Therefore, the evidence indicates that the Koreans developed a primitive form of native martial art long before Bodhidharma arrived in China and the Kung Fu of the Shaolin Temple (500 AD) was developed and penetrated into Korea.

It is believed that, from the Shaolin temple, a style of Mano China and the standing combat Kwon Bop penetrated later in Korea. During the Sung and Ming Dynasty, it is also believed that it penetrated nei-chua (internal Kung Fu method) and wai-chua (external method).

There are also pieces of evidence of primitive forms of martial arts in the kingdom of Paekje (18 BC – 660 AD), as well as in the Silla kingdom (57 BC – 935 AD). It was in the latter where the martial art of Korea reached its highest level.

KOGURYO (37 BC – AD 668)
But it was in the kingdom of Koguryo, located north of Korea bordering on the hostile Chinese tribes, where the oldest Korean techniques originated, the oldest Tae-kyon being born as a kick-based exercise practiced by a body of warriors called Seonbae (“man of virtue who never shuns a fight”).

CHAIR (57 BC – 935 AD)
The Tae-kyon was popularized in Koguryo and also reached the kingdom of Silla where it was developed, perfected, and renamed as Soo-Bak by the HWA Rang Do, military, an educational and social organization for the youth of the Silla nobility, influenced for the discipline of Buddhism.

In 668 AD, Silla unified the three kingdoms, thanks in large part to the influence of the Hwarangdo. The Hwarangdo honor code represents the philosophical backbone of Korean martial arts even today:

  • Loyalty to the nation
  • Respect and obedience to parents
  • Loyalty to friends
  • Courage and courage in battle
  • Justice and prudence in the use of violence.

During the Koryo Dynasty (918 AD-1392 AD), which reunited the Korean peninsula after Silla (935 AD), a great fondness for Martial Arts developed and especially for Soo Bak Do, as a martial art and as an organized sport for spectators.

The Choson Dynasty (1392 AD-1910 AD), also named by Japan as the Yi Dynasty during the occupation, was founded on the ideology of Confucianism (replacing Buddhism) that promoted the reading of the classics Chinese, poetry and music, and despised Martial Arts.

However, fortunately for later generations, in 1790 King Chongyo had an interest in Korea’s native martial arts, and ordered masters Lee Dok Mu and Park Jae Ga to collect all martial art forms present in Korea in a classic illustrated book that was called “Muye Dobo Tongii”, which included Soo Bak as one of the most important chapters, and consists of four texts:

  • The art of the spear: Chang Sul
  • The art of the sword: Kum Sul
  • The art of Palo Largo: Bong Sul
  • The techniques without weapons: Kwonbop Sul

In 1910, with the Japanese occupation of Korea, the Korean martial arts that had been declining during the Yi dynasty suffered a death blow. The Japanese government suppressed all cultural activities, including sports equipment and Korean martial arts, in an attempt to destroy the Korean identity. In the Korean schools, the study of Japanese sports forms such as Judo and Kendo was imposed.

Some teachers continued to secretly practice both Soo Bak and the ancient Tae Kyon.

Japanese Karate and various Chinese forms (Shaolin) were introduced into Korea and mixed with Korean forms. A new hybrid form was developed based on the Soo Bak with techniques of Shaolin and Karate and was called Tang Soo Do (or Kong Soo Do).

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