Joe Woods /UK-3073-BB-4
Although some Taekwondo instructors often tell the history of their art in somewhat vague terms, describing it as a combination of Tae Kyon kicks and strikes, they still refer to it as a martial art. An art that is thousands of years old. In actual fact Taekwondo as we know it is less than 50 years old and for a large part of that time it was a version of what we know as Shotokan Karate.
That aside, let us first examine what Taekwondo is : “A Martial Art”. The term “martial art” is aptly defined as violence and the control of that violence i.e, “military skills” and this takes in all the individual fighting arts through Karate, King Fu, Judo, Savate and all the other thousands of styles whether from Europe, Africa, Asia and indeed the Americas. Although they can appear drastically different, all forms of martial art can be described simply as sport, combat form, or a way of life or art.
Martial not only refers to the militaristic approach with regard to instruction, but in the warrior developed in each practitioner. Besides conditioning the body and improving speed, strength and coordination, studying the martial arts increases one‟s alertness and self-awareness. It also teaches confidence in one‟s ability to deal with the world in which
we live, promoting a more disciplined mind as the way of self-discipline is the path to self-control; once in control of ourselves we find the power to aid in control of our environment.
Considering the term “art”, any form of self-expression or interpretation may be
considered an art. The highest level of artistic freedom is found in creative expression, relying on one‟s own resources and mental flexibility to formulate an accurate response in any given situation.
In early Korea, developments in Taekyon, Subak, Hwarang Do and Soo Do (traditional Korean arts) were influenced by the Chinese styles of Wai‟Chia and Chuan‟Fa. The northern styles were known for their intricate kicking techniques and when combined with the spectacular acrobatics of the native Korean arts a formidable union was forged. Evidence of Taekwondo‟s formative past pre-dates written history and can be found in
artifacts from Korea‟s three early kingdoms - Kokooryo, Baekjae and Silla.
The Kokooryo kingdom (37 BC to 668 AD)was founded by Kojoomong who became known as King Dong Myeong Sung. The phrase “respect senior or older, love junior or younger” was deeply rooted in the minds of the people of the Kokooryo Kingdom and is an important part of Korean tradition and Taekwondo training. Other evidence of ancient Korean martial art were found in paintings in royal tombs dating back to the Kokooryo Kingdom. Notably, the mural of Mooyang Chong depicting men in sparring positions, Don Soo Myo‟s painting depicting another sparring pose and again in Samssil Chong‟s mural. These paintings dated between 3 AD and 427 AD placing Korean arts at least 200
years ahead of the Shaolin Temples ( from where martial arts is widely reputed to have formed )
The Silla Kingdom (37 BC to 935 AD) was founded by Park Hyuk Kusae. Silla was the smallest of the three and influenced greatly the beginnings of Taekwondo. During the reign of Chin Heung the twenty fourth king of Silla, the young noblemen and warrior class formed a youth military organization called Hwa Rang Do and practiced an art form called Taekyon along with their regular curriculum. The Hwa Rang was chiefly responsible for the victories that led to the unification of Korea during the Silla dynasty. The Hwa Rang (Flower Knight) was organized by King Jing Heung in 567 AD. The notable instructor of the Hwa Rang was Won Kwang Bupsa, who was also the author of the Sesokokye, the following five commandments:-
1. Be loyal to your country.
2. Honour your parents
3. Be faithful to your friends
4. Never retreat in battle
5. Use good judgment before killing living things.
The Hwa Rang were reveered for their fighting skills, and many died in battle in their youth, some as young as fourteen. Their feats however inspired the people of Silla to unite for the first time in Korean history.
During the Koryo Dynasty, (835 – 1392 AD) Taekyon was overtaken by Subak. Subak
seemed to have peaked in popularity during the reign of King Uijong (1147 to 1170 AD), when Kwon Bop seems to have been more popular.Two types of Kwon Bop existed ; one defensive , the other with it‟s jumping attacks was the more aggressive. There are claims that envoys from Okinawa learned Subak during the Yi Dynsaty (1392 – 1907 AD) and
took it home. Due to lack of royal patronage it seems that Subak eventually declined.
It appears that during Silla and Koryo began a period of civil enlightenment and anything military was shunned. By the end of the Yi Dynasty martial arts had almost ceased, the final blow coming with Japanese occupation (1909 to 1945 AD) when it was forbidden to practice any form of martial arts. Taekyon was secretly practiced by people such as Song Duk Ki and Han Il Dong who managed to keep it alive. It was under the guidance of Han Il Dong in the 1930‟s that the future father of Taekwondo began. Another student of the „outlawed‟ arts was Hwang Kee who at the age of 22 travelled to china studying T‟ang and combined the styles to form Tang soo do.
Choi learned shotokan karate in Kyotoo where he was instructed by Mr Kim. After ndgaining his 2 dan, he taught Shotokan at the YMCA Tokyo and was forced to enlist in the Japanese army when world war 2 began.
With Korea‟s liberation in 1945 the native arts of Taekyon and Subak reemerged along with Bang soo do, Kong soo do, Kwonbop , Taesoo do and Tangsoodo.Several schools opened in Seoul the first of which was Chung Do Kwan founded by Won Kook Lee in 1945,others followed….Yun moo kwan founded by Sup jun Sang, Chan moo kwan
founded by Yun Pyung and Chi do kwan founded by Yon Kue Pyang. A new republic ndarmed forces was organized in January 1946. A young 2 Lieutenant recently released
from a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp began teaching his martial arts to some of his soldiers. This teacher was Choi Hong Hi.
In 1948, Major Choi became the martial arts instructor for the American Military Police in Seoul, later that same year Choi gave a public demonstration of his art at the Fort Riley thGround General School in Kansas. The 29 Infantry Division formed in 1953 was
responsible for all Taekyon training in the Korean Army and the Black Tigers, an elite unit distinguished themselves during the Korean War. After the war, three more Kwans appeared. In 1953-54 Gae Byang Wun founded the Ji Do Kwan. Byung Chik Ro founded the Song Moo Kwan and Choi Hong Hi founded the Ohdo Kwan with the help of Tae Hi Nam.
Unification of the arts was slow and in 1955, the name Taesoodo was chosen as the national martial art by a board of instructors and other prominent persons, but this was then changed in 1957 to Taekwondo, a name suggested by Choi for its similarity to the ancient name of Taekyon, but, also because it gave a new sense of nationalism to the art, the name was also selected for its description of the art : Tae ( foot ), Kwon ( fist ), Do (art ).
The Korean Taekwondo Association was founded on 14 September 1961 with Choi Hong Hi as its President. The Chung Do Kwang developed the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association to rival the K T A, forcing the Korean Government to intervene in 1962 when it recognized all black belts certified by the K T A, causing many to return to the organization.
Years of research and development by General Choi resulted in the Chang Hun style of Taekwondo primarily based on Taekyon, Subak and Karate techniques with a myriad of new techniques added, notably the variety of hand techniques , and perfection of foot techniques.
Korea quickly began to export its new martial art under the direction of Maj Gen Choi. In 1959, Choi toured the Far East with his top nineteen black belts. In that same year, he published his first work on Taekwondo, entitled Taekwon-Do Guidelines. In 1962, South Vietnamese troups requested to be taught Taekwondo. Tae Hi Nam and three other instructors were sent to teach 50 soldiers from various branches of the Vietnamese forces. Taekwondo entered Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong in 1962, 63 and 64. Chong Lee introduced Taekwondo to Canada. In 1965, Choi led a goodwill Taekwondo mission to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Singapore. In 1966 Park Jong Soo introduced Taekwondo to the Netherlands. By 1972, Taekwondo had been exported to 50 foreign nations. In 1966, General Choi resigned as President of the K T A and founded the I T F on 22 March when he moved the I T F Headquarters to Canada. The 1960‟s saw a rapid spread of TaeKwonDo to the USA where at first it was called „Korean karate‟ in fact it took a visit to Jhoon Rhee‟s karate club in San Antonio by General Choi before the students where convinced to use the name Tae kwon do, hence Jhoon Rhee is known as the first Taekwon do instructor in America.
Taekwondo unity that Choi had achieved soon disintegrated and splintered when the K T A was renamed the World Taekwondo Federation (W T F) in 1973. Young Wun Kim became the President and he dissolved the W T F‟s connection with Choi‟s I T F. At this time the WT F began using the Palgue forms although it later abandoned these and focused on the Taeguek forms. The W T F also began placing more emphasis on the sport applications of Taekwondo. In 1977, the Kwan names were replaced by serial numbers. The Kwans in order are as follows ….Songmookwan, Hanmookwan , Changmookwan, Moodukwan, Odukwan, Kangdukwan, Jungdokwan, Jidokwan and Chungdokwan.
In 1985, the founder of Taekwondo strengthened his desire to spread his art to the entire world especially the Third World and politically disadvantaged countries by moving the I T F to Vienna where it is still located. General Choi‟s greatest desire is to spread
Taekwondo to all people, no matter race, creed, or politics.
A major part of Taekwondo is Tul (forms or patterns), which resemble attack and defence against virtual opponents. Originally, only 20 Tull were invented along with some Karate forms. Later, during the 70‟s, the Karate forms were removed and four more Tull added making 24. 24 is symbolic for every hour of a day, which in turn stands for the whole life. During the early 80s, General Choi replaced one of the original Tull with a new one. This was because some techniques that the General felt are important were missing from the Tuls. Ko Dang as the most contempory was chosen to be removed and replaced with Juche.
Some Taekwondo masters still practice the original 20 Tull with the addition of Chalgi and Bassai which are two patterns well known in other martial arts such as Karate, Tang Soo Do etc. Except for the first pattern, Chon Ji and the newer Ju Che all patterns are named after important people or historic events of Korean culture. For non-Koreans these names are not so important but are still taught to preserve and respect Korean tradition.
The numbering of the Tull changed over time but regardless of 20 or 24 the last one is always Tong Il. This is because it stands for the unification of North and South Korea which at some point we hope will happen. A Korean martial art has matured and spread from a small band of aristocratic warriors to millions in more than 60 countries world wide. This perfected, polished combination of traditional techniques and new modifications has resulted in the fastest growing martial art in the modern world.
Below are the I T F ( International Taekwondo Federation ) Tul as listed by General Choi.
1. Chon-Ji – 19 Movements
The pattern consists of two parts, one for heaven the other earth and can be
symbolized by ying and yang. This is the initial pattern .
2. Dan-Gun : 21 movements
Named after the Holy Dan Gun called the founder of Korea in 2333 BC.
3. Do-San : 24 movements
The pseudonym of patriot Ahn Chang Ho (1876-1938 AD) who
dedicated his life to the education of Korea and its independent movement.
4. Won-Hyo : 28 movements
The noted monk who introduced Buddhism to Korea in the Silla dynasty
( 686 AD )
5. Yul-Gok : 38 movements
A pseudonym of the great philosopher and scholar Yi I ( 1536-1584 )
Nicknamed the „Confucius of Korea‟.The 38 moves to this pattern refer to
his birthplace on 38-deg. latitude and the diagram of the pattern represents
6. Joon-Gun : 32 movements
Named after the patriot Ahn Joon Gun who assassinated Hiro Bumi Ito,
the first Japanese governor- general of Korea. He is known for his leading
part in the Korea / Japan merger.The 32 moves to this pattern represent Mr
Ahn‟s age when he was executed at LUI-SHUNG in 1910.
7. Tae-gye : 37 movements
thIs the pen name of the scholar Yi Hwang, a 16 century authority on neo-
confucianism. The 37 moves signify his birthplace on 37-deg. latitude: the
diagram represents „scholar‟.
8. Hwa-Rang : 29 movements
14. Choong-Jang : 52 movements.
th The pseudonym of general Kim Duk Ryang who lived during the 14
century Yi dynasty. The pattern ends with a left handed attack
symbolizing his tragic death at 27, before he reached maturity.
15. Ul-Ji : 42 movements.
Named after general Ul-Ji Moon Dok who successfully defended Korea
against a Chinese Tang invasion force led by Yang Je in 612 AD, using
guerilla tactics Ul-Ji destroyed a large percentage of the million strong
force.The diagram represents his surname, the 42 moves represent general
Choi‟s age when he designed the pattern.
16. Sam-Il : 33 movements.
Denotes the date of the Korean independence movement, which began on stMarch .1 . 1919AD.The 33 moves represent the 33 patriots who began
17. Ko-Dang : 39 movements.
The pseudonym of patriot Cho Man Sik, who dedicated his life to
secession and education of his nation.The 39 moves represent his times of
imprisonment and the latitude of his birthplace.
18. Choi-Yong : 45 movements.
Named after the premier and commander-in-chief of the armed forces thduring the 14 century Koryo dynasty. Choi-Yong was greatly respected
for his loyalty, patriotism and humility.He was executed by subordinate
commanders headed by general Yi Sung Gae, who later became the first
king of the Yi dynasty.
19. Se-Jong : 24 movements.
Named after the greatest Korean king. Se-Jong invented the Korean
alphbet in 1443 and was a noted meteorologist. The diagram represents the
king, while the 24 moves represent the Korean alphabet.
20. Tong-Il : 56 movements.
Denotes the resolution of the unification of Korea which has been devided
since 1945. The symbolizes the homogenous race.
The following Tul were added during the 70‟s by general Choi,and, the numbering altered slightly :
* Eui-Am : 45 movements.
The pseudonym of Son Byong Hi who led the independence movement ston 1.March.1919. The 45 moves refer to his age when he changed his
name of Dong Hak ( oriental culture ) to Chondo Kyo ( heavenly way
religion ) in 1905.The diagram represents his indomitable spirit, displayed
while dedicating himself to the prosperity of his nation.
* Yon-Gae : 49 movements.
Named after the famous general of the Kogooryo dynasty Yon Gae
Somoon. The 49 moves refer to the last figures of 649AD when he forced
the Tang dynasty out of Korea after destroying some 300000 of their
troops at Ansi Sung.
* So-San : 72 movements.
Pseudonym of the great monk Choi Hyong Ung ( 1520-1604 ) during the
Lae dynasty. The 72 moves refer to his age when , together with his pupil
Sa Myung Dang he organized a corps of monk soldiers who drove away
Japanese pirates over-running Korea in 1592.
* Moon-Mo : 61 movements.
th Honours the 30 king of the Silla dynasty.His body was buried near Dae
Wang Am ( great king‟s rock ). According to his will, the body was placed
in the sea “where my soul shall forever defend my land against the
Japanese”. It is said that the Sok Gul Am ( stone cave ) a fine example of
Silla dynasty culture was built to guard his tomb. The 61 moves symbolize
the last two figures of 661 AD when Moon-Mo came to the throne.
During the 80‟s , Ko-Dang Tul was replaced by the following :
* Juche : 45 movements.
A philosophical idea that man is the master of everything and decides
everything, or, master of the world and his own destiny. This idea is said
to be rooted in Baekdu mountain which symbolizes the Korean spirit.The
diagram represents Baekdu mountain.
The ultimate goal of TaeKwoDo is to eliminate fighting by discouraging the stronger‟s oppression of the weaker with a power based on justice, morality,faith, humanity and wisdom, thereby helping to build a better and more peaceful world.