The first principles of martial arts in Korea go back to 50 BC.This first form of Korean martial art was known as ‘TAEK Kyon’.Proof of this practice of martial arts was found in ancient tombs where murals depicted people in battle scenes.Some people reject this evidence and say that these figures are just dance.

At that time, there were three kingdoms:

1.Koguryo (37 B.C. tot 668 A.D.)
2.Paekje (18 B.C. tot 600 A.D.)
3.Silla (57 B.C. tot 935 A.D.)

Silla united these kingdoms by winning the war against Paekje in 660 AD and against Koguryo in 668 AD.  The HwaRang Do was an elite group of noble young men, dedicated body and soul to serving the Kingdom of Silla.  The best translation for HwaRang is probably ‘the flourishing youth’ (Hwa = ‘the flower’, Rank = ‘the young man’).

The HwaRang Do had a code of honor and various martial arts practices, including Taekyon and Soo Bakh Do.The ancient code of honor of HwaRang is the philosophical basis of modern Taekwondo.

What followed was a time of peace and HwaRang went from a military organization to a group specializing in poetry and music.

In 936, Wang Kon founded the Koryo dynasty, an abbreviation of Koguryo.The name ‘Korea’ comes from Koryo.

During the Koryo dynasty, the soo bakh do sport, which was used at that time for military training, was very popular.

During the Joseon Dynasty (also known as the Yi Dynasty, from 1392 to 1910), the military aspect disappeared.

King Tajeo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, replaced Buddhism with Confucianism as a state religion.In Confucianism, the highest social classes were more concerned with arts and music.The fighting sports were for the middle or lower classes.

Modern Taekwondo is a combination of several other combat sports, the most important being Japanese karate.This was because Japan occupied Korea from 1910 until the end of the Second World War.During the latter, many Koreans were trained in Japan.During this period of occupation, the Japanese tried to ban all sources of Korean culture, including traditional combat sports.

The influence of Karate on Taekwondo was the rapid and linear movement characteristic of the Japanese.

After the Second World War, when Korea became independent, there were several Kwans: Chung Do Kwan, Kwan Moo Duk, Yun Moo Kwan, Chang Kwan Moo, Kwan Do Do, Ji Kwan Do, Chi Do Kwan and Song Moo Kwan.They were reunited in 1955 as Tae Soo Do.In early 1957, the name Taekwondo was used by various Korean martial arts masters to refer to the name Tae Kyon.

General Chi Hong-Hi imposed Taekwondo training on the army.The first students were therefore soldiers.Police and air force personnel were also required to study Taekwondo.  At that time, Taekwondo was a Korean version of Shokotan Karate.

In 1961, the Korean Taekwondo Federation was created from the federations of Soo Bakh Do and Tae Soo Do.  In 1962 the Korean Amateur Athletic Association recognized the Korean Taekwondo Association.  General Chi became the President at that time and was asked to establish the ITF as the international body of the Korean Federation.

In 1961, the government of the southern part was overthrown.  Two years later, General Chi Hong-Hi flew to the United States and created the International Taekwondo Federation as an independent body.

There were demonstrations around the world, and it took a little time to grow.In 1973, the WTF Federation was created and was recognized in 1980 by the Olympic Committee which brought Taekwondo as a demonstration sport to the 1988 games. Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000. There were various attempts to bring the ITF together.and the WTF but without success.