History of Tae Kwon Do
The earliest form of martial arts practiced in Korea was traced back to 2000 years ago. Although Taekwon-do is a combination of many styles of Martial Arts, the core techniques and philosophies are based on Taek Kyon, the ancient martial art of Korea. Modern day Taekwon-do was also largely influenced by the Japanese martial art of Shotokan Karate.
Taekwon-do, as we know it today, was created, developed and introduced to Korea in 1946 by General Choi Hong Hi. TaeKwon-Do is a way of life and is a universal art of self defense that is practiced by thousands of martial artists around the world today.
“Tae” stands for jumping or flying or to kick or smash with the foot. “Kwon” means the fist – to punch or destroy with the hand or fist. “Do” means an art or way. So as it is literally translated, Taekwon-Do means “the art or way of the hand and foot”.
General Choi was born in 1918 during the Japanese rule of Korea. During his youth, he was sent to study calligraphy under Han Il Dong, a master of Taek Kyon, where he also learned this ancient Korean art of foot fighting. General Choi then travelled to Japan later on to study English, mathematics and karate under Kim and Funakoshi Gichin, where he learned Shotokan Karate and attained the rank of 2nd dan.
On April 11, 1955, General Choi officially named this martial art, calling it TaeKwon-Do. He combined elements of Taek Kyon (an ancient Korean martial art) and Shotokan Karate. Choi was credited with starting the spread of TaeKwon-Do internationally by stationing Korean TaeKwon-Do instructors around the world to promote and teach it. The ITF (International TaeKwon-Do Federation) was officially formed in 1963.
The other major style of TaeKwon-Do practiced today is WTF style (World Tae Kwon Do Federation), which the South Korean government formed in 1973 during General Choi’s exile to Canada. WTF Tae Kwon Do comes from the Kukkiwon, the source of the sparring system sihap gyeorugi and is now a major event at the summer Olympic Games and the official national sport of South Korea.