Grandmaster Suk Jun
Kim, 9th Degree
a Korean art of self-defense. Contrary to the teachings
of many of my fellow master instructors, practitioners
and predecessors, Taekwondo did not originate thousands
of years ago in ancient Korea. Rather, Taekwondo is a
collection of similar unarmed martial arts techniques
and foundations created by a number of Korean
Grandmasters, including General Choi Hong Hi, when they
returned to Korea from Japan following World War II.
While in Japan, these Grandmasters learned Karate-Do
(meaning way of China Hand or way of Empty Hand) and the
techniques they learned formed the basis for a new
martial art. On April 11, 1955, General Choi, then a
general in the South Korean army, began to unify and
systemize these related martial arts disciplines by
giving Taekwondo its name and its beginnings. In 1961,
General Choi became the first President of the Korea Tae
Kwon Do Association, and until his death in 2002, he
worked tirelessly and selflessly in the promotion of
Taekwondo and in the scientific advancement of Taekwondo
Below you can
find a more detailed list of the highlights of the
development of martial arts on the Korean peninsula from
ancient times until the present. As you will see,
Taekwondo is not a martial art that was developed by one
single person, nor can it be traced back to any one
individual. Instead, Taekwondo is a discipline that has
scientifically developed into a system of various
theories, terminology, techniques, methods, rules and
spiritual foundations. As a result, the discipline, or
the Way, can be constantly improved upon by its senior
practitioners and instructors. This flexibility allows
my fellow teachers and I to teach the fundamentals of
Taekwondo to new generations, and the next generation of
teachers can in turn teach the Way of Taekwondo to
following generations, in each case adapting Taekwondo
to the changing times and students, while remaining true
to the founding tenets. I consider Taekwondo to be a
living art of self-defense that will continue to evolve
for years to come.
It is an
unfortunate reality that martial arts are often
attributed to a single person or claimed by a particular
nation. This usually results from the selfishness of
individuals or the nationalism of governments, with
something to gain by claiming that they practice the
original or pure form of a particular martial art. In
particular, dictatorships are prone to these types of
claims. However, teachers of Taekwondo and other martial
arts need to do their part to correct these misnomers by
teaching their students the history of their particular
style of martial arts. It is important that students be
taught the truth about the fundamentals of the martial
arts that they study, in order to get the most out of
their training. It helps no one if instructors try to
make martial arts the product of one nation or try to
imbue martial arts with mythological backgrounds and
lineages of thousands of years.
highlights the history of martial arts on the Korean
751 A.D.: At Sok
Kul Temple, a statute of Kumgang Yuksa, a famous
warrior, was erected in a martial arts fighting stance
in a small Buddhist cave during the reign of King Hye-Gong
935 to 1392:
During the Koryo Dynasty, the fighting art Taek Kyon was
Taken in 1890 by
missionaries to Korea, this picture
shows children in a Taek Kyon stance.
1147 to 1170: Soo
Bak Ki is believed to have peaked in popularity. This
was during the reign of King Uljong. Some historians
believe that it was during this period that nei-chia or
nae-gong (internal kung-fu) and wai-chia or wae-gong
(external kung-fu) was introduced in Korea. This time
period corresponds to China's Sung and Ming Dynasties.
1392 to 1907: Yi
Dynasty. Some historians of Karate believe that envoys
from Okinawa learned Soo Bak Ki from mainland China and
introduced it to Okinawa. A book on Soo Bak Ki was
published during the Yi Dynasty to act as a training aid
for the military.
1945:Karate (also known as Do-Te or Okinawa-Te). During
the years of Japanese occupation in Korea, the practice
of fighting arts was banned.
1936: The concept
of "Do" was introduced and "Karate" became "Karate-Do."
1945: Korea is
liberated from the Japanese. Quite a few Koreans (e.g.
Choi Hong Hi, Ro Byong Jik, Lee Won Kook and more), who
practiced Karate in Japan, brought their martial arts
training back to Korea after World War II.
In 1945, the
first organization to teach martial arts in Korea, Cho
Sun (Korean) Yeon Moo Kwan, which was to influence
Taekwondo, was formed. Judo, Karate-Do, Gom-Do
(swordsmanship), Kwon Bop (Chuan-Fa in Chinese and Kenpo
in Japanese) were taught.
1945 to 1955:
Taekwondo Kwans (associations) were formed: Chung Do
Kwan, Ji Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Chang Moo
Kwan, Kang Duk Won and Song Moo Kwan. The name Taekwondo
was created on April 11, 1955. For ten years, however,
Taekwondo was also called Gong Soo Do (meaning empty
hand), Tang Soo Doo (meaning China hand) and Soo Bak Do
(meaning fighting hand).
1961: The Korea
Tae Kwon Do Association was founded, recognizing the
nine Kwans. It then changed it name on September 16,
1961 to the Korea Tae Soo Do Association and then
changed back to the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association on
August 5, 1965.
1962: On June 20,
the Korea Athletic Union recognized Taekwondo as one of
its national competitions.
September 3, Taekwondo was officially recognized by the
Korean Athletic Union as a national event with seven
International Taekwondo Federation was founded.
International Taekwondo Federation reached 67 countries.
Kukkiwon was founded.
1973: On May 28,
the World Taekwondo Federation was founded. The First
World Taekwondo championship at the Kukkiwon was held.
By then, Taekwondo was being practiced in 108 countries
and 200 instructors were teaching in schools around the
International Taekwondo Federation introduces Taekwondo
to Poland, the former Soviet Union and North Korea.
becomes an official Olympic event.
The growth of
Taekwondo around the world from 1955 until now has been
astronomical. As a result, in 1994 Taekwondo was
recognized by the International Olympic Committee as an
official Olympic event and in 2000 it debuted as a medal
sport at the Sydney Olympics. The true Grandmasters of
Taekwondo around the world deserve wide recognition for
their untiring efforts in the promotion of Taekwondo,
and credit for the tremendous success and acceptance
Taekwondo has received.
Olympic fame is not Taekwondo's primary purpose. Perhaps
traditional original Taekwondo may be better for the