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Taekwondo History

The Origin of Tae Kwon Do

Man by nature has instinct to preserve his own life as well as his race, and therefore engages in physical activities either consciously or unconsciously. Man cannot do without physical motions that he grows and developed on them, regardless of time and space. In ancient times people had no means other than the bare hands and body to defend themselves; so they naturally developed the bare-hand fighting techniques. Even at times when arms were developed as defensive or offensive means, people continued to enjoy the bare-hand fighting techniques for the purpose of building physical strength as well as showing off through matches at rituals of tribal communities.

In the early days of the Korean peninsula, there were three tribes, each enjoying warrior's martial art contests during the ritual seasons. At the time, people learned techniques from their experiences of fighting against the beasts whose defensive and offensive motions were also the subject of analysis. It is believed that this was exactly the true grounding of today's Taekwondo, which names have descended from "Subak", "Taekkyon" and so on.

In the latter part of ancient times on the Korean peninsula, three kingdoms were rivaling among them for the hegemony. They were Koguryo, Paekje and Shilla all indulged in growing national strength with trained warriors. Therefore, the Korean history tells that there were military personalities among the well-known prominent national leaders of the three kingdoms, which proves the military tendency of ruling hierarchy.

As a result, youth warriors were organized, such as "Hwarangdo" in Shilla and "Chouisonin" in Koguryo, which both adopted martial art training as one of the important subjects of learning. A known martial art book of the days, called "Muyedobo-Tongji" wrote "Taekwondo is the basis of martial art, enabling one to build strength by using the hand and foot freely and training arms and legs as well as the body to adaptable to any critical situations," which means Taekwondo was already prevalent in that age. Thus, it can be easily assumed that Taekwondo was originated from the days of tribal communities on the Korean peninsula. Shilla kingdom founded in B.C. 57 on the southeastern part of Korea, and Koguryo founded in B.C. 37 on the northern part of Korea along Yalu river, both made great efforts to raise their youngsters into strong warriors called "hwarang" and "sunbae" respectively, certainly with Taekwondo as one of the principal subjects of physical training.

~World Tae Kwon Do Federation