HISTORY OF TAE KWON DO
The combined thought and experience of centuries has produced the modern art of Tae Kwon Do, which draws strength and stability from thousands of years of Korean History. Given structure, and formalized by the masters, passed on from father to children, master to disciple, instructor to student, the practice of traditional Tae Kwon Do gives each of us a connection to the past, health and conditioning for today, and the promise of a better tomorrow.
57 B.C. – 600 A.D: In the old kingdom of Paekje, which was located along the Han river in southwestern Korea, Martial Arts practice was sponsored by the Paekje kings. During the Silla dynasty, which extended from 57 B.C. to 936 A.D., the Martial Arts grew in popularity, and during this era the Hwa Rang Do was formed. Hwa Rang Do was made up of youths of noble families, devoted to cultivating mind and body in order to better serve their country. Hwarangdo Chungshin ( the spirit of Hwa Rang Do ) was based on an ethical code of honor and conduct which incorporated five major principles: (1) loyalty to the nation, (2) respect and obedience to parents, (3) being faithful and honorable to friends, (4) courage in battle, and (5) avoidance of unnecessary violence and killing. Thus the spirit of Hwa Rang Do, ( sometimes called “Hwarangdae” or “Flower Knight Corps”), became not only part of the Korean way of life, but also the essence of Korean physical education.
918-1392: The Koryo dynasty of Korea. In this period, the Korean Martial Arts were systematized and encouraged for the entire nation, citizens and military alike. Annual competitions were held and sponsored by the government.
1392-1910: Era of the Chosun Kingdom, when the Korean Arts were further developed, with a renewed emphasis placed on “Do”; the “Way” of Martial Arts, or the “Road of Spiritual Development”.
1790: Early Tae Kwon Do featured in an official textbook written by General Lee Duk Mu. Also that year, King Chongjo took an active interest in the native Martial Arts of Korea, and it was at his request that General Mu produced his textbook.
1894: The Korean Military Academy of the Yi Dynasty is established.
1909: The Yi dynasty comes to a close with the occupation of Korea by the Japanese. The Japanese colonial government bans all Korean cultural activities, including team sports and the Martial Arts. Japanese Karate and various Chinese Martial Arts were introduced into Korea during this time. Many Korean Masters, however, continued to practice and teach in secrecy.
1944: Liberation of South Korea at the close of World War II. Master Won Kook Lee opens first dojang in Yong Chun, Seoul. Style taught there is Chung Do Kwan.
1946: In July, first conference held to unify the different Korean Martial Art styles and schools.
1948: The establishment of the Republic of Korea, and the Korean Martial Arts began a new development as the government asks Martial Arts Masters to recover the traditional native martial art of Tae Kyon, and to unify all styles and systems.
1949: Major Korean Martial Art demonstration at Fort Riley, Kansas, USA, led by General Choi Hong Hi.
1952: Korean Martial Art demonstration for Republic Of South Korea president Syngman Rhee. President Rhee was so impressed by the demonstration that he ordered that all members of the Korean military receive training in Martial Arts. Also of major importance,Korean Yudo College founded in Seoul by Dr. Je-Hwang Lee. This is a four year college offering a major in physical education and specializes in the training of Martial Art instructors.
1952: Karate Master Masutatsu Oyama travels across USA giving Martial Art demonstrations. Master Oyama earned black belt status in Karate while living in Japan. Master Oyama ( Korean name: Young-I Choi ) was, however, a Korean National by birth, and most likely his background or martial education was rooted in the Korean Arts.
1953: Mas Oyama gives demonstration at the first Martial Arts Expo at Madison Square Garden, New York, USA. Later that year Mas Oyama accepts challenge to compete against a boxer, whom he easily defeats.
1953: General Choi Hong Hi founded and established the Oh Do Kwan academy, with the help of Tae Hi Nam.
1954: General Choi Hong Hi becomes head of the Chung Do Kwan. Also that year, General Choi organized the 29th Infantry on Che Ju Island, off the Korean coast, as a spearhead and center for Martial Art training in the military.
1955: Korea: On April 11, Martial Art styles merge to form the Art of “Tae Kwon Do”; a title conceived by General Choi Hong Hi.
1956: Korean Tae Kwon Do Master Jhoon Rhee comes to United States for study at Bell Helicopter in Hurst, Texas. Soon begins academic classes at San Marcos Southwest Texas State College. He returned to Korea for one final year of active duty in the military, before coming back to the United States and San Marcos in 1957.
1957: Jhoon Rhee sets up and begins teaching a non-accredited Tae Kwon Do course at San Marcos Southwest Texas State College. Master Rhee eventually relocates to Washington, D.C., where he begins a Tae Kwon Do program for United States Congressman. Even in 2002, Master Rhee continues to teach and has done so for all these years without ever missing a class.
1961: On May 16, the Tae Soo Do Association is formed to unite the various Martial Art systems which existed in Korea at that time. On September 14, Inaugural meeting held to further unify Korean Martial Arts. Also, in the same year, the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association is formed.
1962: On June 25, Korea Tae Kwon Do Association becomes affiliate member of the Korea Amateur Sports Association. On October 24, Tae Kwon Do becomes official event at the 43rd National Games of the Republic Of Korea. Tae Kwon Do’s major international expansion begins with the Republic Of Vietnam, headed by Tae Hi Nam. The Art migrated then to Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and eventually Singapore.
1963: Tae Kwon Do demonstration at United Nations Headquaters in New York City, USA. On February 23, the Tae Soo Do Association joined the Korean Athletic Association and began to participate in national tournaments.
1965: Tae Soo Do merges with Korea Tae Kwon Do Association, with Young Chai Kim as it’s elected president. Also that year; Daeha Publishing Company of Seoul, Korea, published “Tae Kwon Do”, a textbook by General Choi Hong Hi, released in English language. Master Park Jong Soo introduces Tae Kwon Do in Europe, beginning with West Germany.
1966: Master Park Jong Soo brings Tae Kwon Do to the Netherlands. Later that same year the Art is officially introduced to the Middle East.
1967: Tae Kwon Do introduced in Taiwan.
1968: The United Kingdom Tae Kwon DO Association formed in England, followed by organizations in Spain, Canada, Belgium, India, Yugoslavia, and Hungry.
1970: The new “v-neck” uniform ( dobok ) developed and accepted for Tae Kwon Do students and instructors. Master Un Yong Kim elected as president of Korea Tae Kwon Do Association.
1971: On January 25, Dr. Un Yong Kim assumes presidency position of the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association. On November 19, construction begins in Youngdong District in Seoul on the Kuk Ki Won; the National Central Gymnasium and governing body of Tae Kwon Do ( a million dollar project ). Also of note, in that year Tae Kwon Do proclaimed as the National Sport Of Korea by then President Park Chung Hee.
1972: On January 5, an introductory book on Tae Kwon Do, considered to be Official Textbook, published by the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association in the English language. On November 30, official opening ceremony of Kuk Ki Won, in Seoul, and attended by Prime Minister Kim Jong Pil and other dignitaries. Completion of modern Tae Kwon Do Center building was due mainly to the effort of Dr. Un Yong Kim. On May 7, German edition of “Tae Kwon Do” booklet published by Korea Tae Kwon Do Association.
1973: On May 26, organizational meeting of Grandmasters and Masters to officially form the World Tae Kwon Do Federation, held at Kuk Ki Won. On December 5, the Korean National High And Middle School Tae Kwon Do Federation established. Soon afterward, on December 28 the National Collegiate Tae Kwon Do Federation was founded. Also that year, on August 31 Tae Kwon Do became included in the Physical Education Curriculum of all Primary and Middle Schools in Korea.
1973: In May, the First World Tae Kwon Championships conducted. Korea placed First, and the United States was Second. Mexico and The Republic Of China tied for Third place. Also that year, Chung Do Kwan Master Jhoon Rhee ( considered the Father of American Tae Kwon Do ) begins a pilot program to promote academic achievement in all his American schools. By 1979, Master Rhee announced that to qualify for the black belt exam, students from age 7 to 17 would have to become honor students in their academics.
1973: At the 86th annual AAU convention in West Yellowstone, Montana, Tae Kwon Do introduced to AAU Executive Committee members. On December 9, authority to test Dan Promotion and to issue Dan certificates was turned over to Kuk Ki Won by the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association.
1974: On May 22-23 the first International Tae Kwon Do Referee Seminar held at Kuk Ki Won, Seoul, Korea. Eleven countries participated. Also in May, Tae Kwon Do is officially recognized as a sport in the United States, and is accepted by the Amateur Athletic Union ( AAU ). AAU National Tae Kwon Do Committee formed in the United States. On July 7, Kuk Ki Won is registered with the Korean government as a juridical foundation.
1974: October 18-20 first Asian Tae Kwon Do Championships held at KuK Ki Won in Seoul. Dr. Un Yong Kim elected as first vice president of the Korea Amateur Sports Association and vice president and honorary Secretary General of the Korean Olympic Committee on February 25. Also that year, on November 13, Spanish, French, and German language editions of “Tae Kwon Do” booklet published by the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association.
1974: Korean National Tae Kwon Do Team tours the Republic Of China. Goodwill matches were held in Taipei and Kaohsiung.
1975: On March 1,the term “Poom” becomes the official rank title for all Tae Kwon Do Junior Division Black Belt holders. Term “Dan” still used for other Black Belt holders. On August 22-23 the Second International Referee Seminar held at Kuk Ki Won, with 29 countries participating. On October 8, the World Tae Kwon Do Federation becomes an affiliate member of the General Assembly Of The International Sports Federation by unanimous vote at Annual Meeting held in Montreal, Canada.
1976: On April 6 Tae Kwon Do was adopted by the International Military Sports Council ( Conseil International Sportive Militaire ) as an official practice and sport. On May 19-20 the third International Referee Seminar held in Barcelona, Spain. On May 22-23, the first European Tae Kwon Do Championships held in Barcelona. On August 5, the European Tae Kwon Do Union was organized at the Inaugural Meeting held in Barcelona, Spain. Also that year, the first issue of World TKD, the official publication of the World Tae Kwon Do federation, was published and distributed.
1976: On October 12-15 the fourth International Referee Seminar held in Melbourne, Australia. On October 16-17, the Second Asian Tae Kwon Do Championships, hosted by the Australia Tae Kwon Do Association, are held in Melbourne. Ten National delegations participated, including Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, and New Zealand.
1976: The first Middle East International Goodwill Championships held in Cairo, Egypt. Also of note, Korean Tae Kwon Do Master Jhoon Rhee receives “Man of the Century” award at the meeting of the Touchdown Club Bicentennial Sports Tribute ceremonies held in Washington. Master Rhee was presented the award by Master of ceremonies Bob Hope. Master Rhee also gained fame as Muhammad Ali’s martial art instructor, and also as Bruce Lee’s training partner. Even today in 2002, Master Rhee maintains a close relationship with Bruce Lee’s widow, Linda Lee.
1979: First issue of The Amateur Athletic Union Tae Kwon Do Journal published. Endorsed by the World Tae Kwon Do Federation and Dr. Un Yong Kim. In an introductory letter printed in the Journal, Dr. Kim stated that…”the main goal of Tae Kwon Do was the harmonization and perfection of body, mind, and spirit through vigorous training and discipline.”
1979: On July 21-22, the Third North American Tae Kwon Do Championships held at the Chaminade University campus in Honolulu, Hawaii. Also, on October 22-28, the Fourth World Tae Kwon Do Championships held at Sinderfingen Sports Hall, Stuttgart, West Germany.
1980: Official recognition given to The World Tae Kwon Do Federation at the 83rd International Olympic Committee held in Moscow July 15-18. On October 18, Dr. Un Yong Kim elected to the Executive Council of the International Sports Federation at it’s 14th General Assembly held in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
1981: On July 24-August 2, Tae Kwon Do is featured event at the first World Games, held at the University Of Santa Clara, California, USA. Dr. Un Yong Kim serves as World Games President. Also that year, the 7th National American Athletic Union Tae Kwon Do Championships held at the University Of Florida in Tampa. Then United States President Ronald Reagan welcomes and encourages participants in a letter from the White House dated March 26, 1981.
1988: In Seoul, Korea, Tae Kwon Do becomes official Olympic Demonstration Sport at the Olympic Games.
1992: Tae Kwon Do debuts as official sport activity accepted by The President’s Council On Physical Fitness And Sports. Presidential Sports Awards granted to Tae Kwon Do stylists, signed by then President George Bush, and endorsed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who served as head of President’s Council On Physical Fitness And Sports during the Bush Administration. Also that year, Tae Kwon Do is once again an Olympic Demonstration Sport at the 1992 Games held in Barcelona, Spain.
1994: On September 4, at the 103rd Session of the International Olympic Committee held in Paris, France, Tae Kwon Do given official medal status in the Olympics to begin at the 2000 Games to be held in Sydney, Australia.
1996: World Tae Kwon Do Federation president Dr. Un Yong Kim made secretary of International Olympic Committee. At Atlanta games he is seated with then United States Of America president George Bush.
2000: Tae Kwon Do debuts as Official Medal Sport at Sydney, Australia Olympics.
2001: Tae Kwon Do becomes accepted as mandatory practice for all United States Marines.