Martial Arts History
THE HISTORY OF TAEKWONDO
Before I get into the history of Taekwondo, I would like to define what it means. I read the definition from many books and the one that I like best comes from the book Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts (1) written by Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith. "Taekwondo is an empty-hand combat form that entails the use of the whole body. Tae means "to Kick" or "Smash with the feet, " Kwon implies "punching" or "destroying with the hand or fist, " and Do means "way" or "method." Taekwondo thus, is the technique of unarmed combat for self defense that involves the skillful application of techniques that include punching, jumping kicks, blocks, dodges, parrying actions with hands and feet. It is more than a mere physical fighting skill, representing as it does a way of thinking and a pattern of life requiring strict discipline. It is a system of training both the mind and the body in which great emphasis is placed on the development of the trainee's moral character."
Taekwondo is a martial art that in "todays" form of self defense has evolved by combining many different styles of martial arts that existed in Korea over the last 2, 000 years and some martial arts styles from countries that surround Korea. Taekwondo incorporates the abrupt linear movements of Karate and the flowing, circular patterns of Kung-fu with native kicking techniques. Over fifty typically Chinese circular hand movements can be identified in modern Taekwondo. A few of the earlier martial arts styles that contributed to Taekwondo are: T'ang-su, Taek Kyon, also known as Subak, Tae Kwon, Kwonpup and Tae Kwonpup. There are also influences from Judo, Karate, and Kung-fu.
"The earliest records of Taekwondo practice date back to about 50 B.C. During this time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms: Silla, which was founded on the Kyongju plain in 57 B.C.; Koguryo, founded in the Yalu River Valley in 37 B.C.; and Paekche, founded in the southwestern area of the Korean peninsula in 18 B.C.."(2) Tae Kyon ( also called Subak) is considered the earliest known form of Taekwondo. Paintings from this time period have been found on the ceiling of the Muyong-chong, a royal tomb from the Koguryo dynasty. The paintings show unarmed people using techniques that are very similar to the ones used by Taekwondo today.
Although Taekwondo first appeared in the Koguryo kingdom, it is the Silla's Hwarang warriors that are credited with the growth and spread of Taekwondo throughout Korea. Silla was the smallest of the three kingdoms and was always under attack by Japanese Pirates. Silla got help from King Gwanggaeto and his soldiers from the Koguryo kingdom to drive out the pirates. During this time a few select Sillan warriors were given training in Taek Kyon by the early masters from Koguryo. The Taek Kyon trained warriors then became known as the Hwarang. The Hwarang set up a military academy for the sons of royalty in Silla called Hwarang-do, which means "The way of flowering manhood." The Hwarang studied Taek Kyon, history, Confucian Philosophy, ethics, Buddhist Morality, and military tactics. The guiding principles of the Hwarang warriors were loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness, valor, and justice.(3) The makeup of the Hwarang-do education was based on the Five Codes of Human Conduct written by a Buddhist scholar, fundamental education, Taek Kyon and social skills. Taek Kyon was...
During the Silla dynasty (A.D. 668 to A.D. 935) Taek Kyon was mostly used as a sport and recreational activity. Taek Kyon's name was changed to Subak and the focus of the art was changed during the Koryo dynasty (A.D. 935 to A.D. 1392). When King Uijong was on the throne from 1147 through 1170, he changed Subak from a system that promotes fitness to primarily a fighting art.