About Tae Kwon Do
The history of Tae Kwon Do is very ancient and expansive. This is short, general outline of the illustrious history of the martial art of Tae Kwon Do.
Tae Kwon Do began over 2000 years ago in the peninsula of what is now known as Korea. The first record of martial arts in Korea are from murals and carvings in caves, royal tombs, and palaces. For many years, Korea was divided in small provinces that were often easily invaded and conquered by outside countries. During about 50 B.C. the provinces united into only three states, Koguryo, Paekje, and Silla, to better protect themselves. At this time, a group of young aristocrats formed an elite fighting corps called the Hwa Rang Do (Flower of Youth). This youth group used an ancient form of Tae Kwon Do called Tae Kyon as a basis to defend and unify their country against the constant invasions form neighboring states. These Hwa Rang Do warriors became renowned for their courage and skills in battle. This inspired the people of Silla to rise and conquer their enemies and for the first time, unify the peninsula of Korea into one country. As a result of the Hwa Rang Do’s influence the early forms of Tae Kwon Do flourished and became very popular among the ruling class and common people.
During the Yi Dynasty, life became more peaceful and the ruling class encouraged studies away from the military arts and soon the study in martial arts began to lose popularity. During this time, the successor of Tae Kyong, Soo Bak was practiced, but because of the peaceful political climate, it was mostly passed from father to son.
In 1909, the Japanese invaded Korea and put them under a 36 year occupation. At this time, the practice of martial arts was strictly forbidden. Some ‘Masters’ were imprisoned and killed while others were forced to hide in the mountains or escape to China. When the Japanese were finally defeated, these ‘Masters’ returned to Korea and once again began their teachings.
Finally in 1955, the name Tae Kwon Do was formally recognized as the name of this prominent Korean martial art. Since this time, Tae Kwon Do masters have traveled the world and there are now Tae Kwon Do schools in almost every country in the world. In 1988, Tae Kwon Do was recognized as an exhibition sport in the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. In the 2000 Olympics, Tae Kwon Do emerged as a official medal event. Currently, Tae Kwon Do enjoys the reputation as one of the fastest growing martial arts in the world.