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    Traditional Tae Kwon Do, Also Known As Korean Karate Is a Martial Art Developed Over Thousands of Years


    The Earliest Records of Tae Kwon Do

    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. Taekkyon (also called Subak) is considered the earliest known form of Tae Kwon Do. 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 those used in Tae Kwon Do today.

    Silla’s Hwarang Warriors

    Although Tae Kwon Do first appeared in the Koguryo kingdom, it is the Silla’s Hwarang warriors that are credited with the growth and spread of Tae Kwon Do throughout Korea. Silla was the smallest of the three kingdoms and was under frequent attack by Japanese pirates. Silla received reinforcements 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 Taekkyon by the early masters from Koguryo. The Taekkyon-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 Taekkyon, history, Confucian philosophy, ethics, Buddhist morality, and military tactics. The guiding principles of the Hwarang warriors were loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness, valor, and justice. The makeup of the Hwarang-do education was based on the Five Codes of Human Conduct written by a Buddhist scholar, as well as fundamental education, social skills, and the study of Taekkyon. Taekkyon spread throughout Korea, facilitated by the travels of the Hwarang across the peninsula in their mission to learn about other regions and people.

    Hwarang-do education was based on the Five Codes of Human Conduct written by a Buddhist scholar

    Eleven Commandments of Modern Day Tae Kwon Do
    • Loyalty to your country
    • Respect for your parents
    • Faithfulness to your spouse
    • Loyalty to your friends
    • Respect for your brothers and sisters
    • Respect for your elders
    • Respect for your teachers
    • Never taking life unjustly
    • Indomitable spirit
    • Loyalty to your school
    • Finishing what you begin

    A.D. 668 TO A.D. 935

    Silla Dynasty

    During the Silla dynasty (A.D. 668 to A.D. 935) Taekkyon was mostly used for sport and recreational activity.

    A.D. 935 TO A.D. 1392

    Koryo Dynasty

    During the Koryo dynasty (A.D. 935 to A.D. 1392), Taekkyon’s name was changed to Subak. The focus of the art shifted with the reign of King Uijong from A.D. 1147 to A.D. 1170 from a system that promoted fitness to one that that was primarily a fighting art.

    A.D. 1397 TO A.D. 1907

    Yi Dynasty

    The first widely distributed book on Tae Kwon Do was during the Yi dynasty (A.D. 1397 to A.D. 1907). This was the first time Subak was intended to be taught to the general public, having been previously limited to members of the military. During the second half of the Yi dynasty, political conflicts and the preference for debate over military action almost led to the extinction of Subak. The emphasis of the art was changed back to that of recreational and physical fitness. The subsequent lack of interest led to the fragmentation of Subak as an art as it became scarcely practiced throughout the country.

    Year 1909

    Japanese Invaded Korea

    In 1909, the Japanese invaded Korea and occupied the country for 36 years. To control Korea’s patriotism, the Japanese banned the Korean language, the practice of all military arts, and burned all books written in Korea. Resistance and resentment toward this ban was responsible for renewed interest in Subak. Many Koreans organized themselves into underground groups and practiced martial arts in remote Buddhist temples. Others left Korea to study martial arts elsewhere, including China and Japan.

    Year 1943

    Martial Arts, In General, Regained Popularity

    In 1943, Judo, Karate and Kung-fu were officially introduced to Korean residents, and martial arts, in general, regained popularity. In the last few years before Korean liberation in 1945, there were many different variations of Subak/Taekkyon in Korea, due to the influx of influence from other martial arts.

    Year 1945

    The First Tae Kwon Do School

    The first Tae Kwon Do school – or “kwan” in Korean – was started in Yong Chun, Seoul, Korea in 1945.

    Year 1945 to 1960

    Numerous Schools Were Opened

    Numerous schools were opened from 1945 to 1960, each claiming to teach the traditional Korean martial art, each emphasizing different aspects of Taekkyon/Subak. As a result, many names emerged from each system, competing for dominance, among them Soo Bahk Do, Kwon Bop, Kong Soo Do, Tae Soo Do, Kang Soo Do, Tang Soo Do, and Tae Kwon Do.

    1945 AND IN 1946

    The Korean Armed Forces

    The Korean Armed Forces was formed in 1945 and in 1946 Second Lieutenant Hong Hi Choi began teaching Taekkyon at a Korean military base called Kwang Ju. Americans were first introduced to Taekkyon when Choi instructed Korean army troops and some American soldiers stationed with the 2nd Infantry Regiment.

    Year 1949

    The First Display of Taekkyon in America

    Hong Hi Choi attended Ground General School in 1949 at Fort Riley near Topeka, Kansas, in the United States. While in the United States, Choi gave public Taekkyon demonstrations for the troops. This was the first display of Taekkyon in America.

    1952 – 1954

    The Greatest Turning Point for Korean Martial Arts

    The greatest turning point for Korean martial arts began in 1952. During the height of the Korean War, President Syngman Rhee watched a 30-minute performance by Korean martial arts masters. He was especially impressed when Tae Hi Nam broke 13 roof tiles with a single punch. After the demonstration, Rhee spoke with Hong Hi Choi about martial arts and then ordered his military chiefs of staff to require all Korean soldiers to receive martial arts training, leading to a tremendous surge in Taekkyon schools and students. President Rhee also sent Tae Hi Nam to Fort Benning, Georgia, for radio communications training. While there, Tae Hi Nam gave many martial arts demonstrations and received considerable media publicity.

    During this same time period in Korea, special commando groups of martial-arts-trained soldiers were formed to fight against the communist forces of North Korea. One of the most famous Special Forces was known as the Black Tigers. The Korean War ended in 1953. In 1954, General Hong Hi Choi organized the 29th Infantry on Che Ju Island, off the Korean Coast, as the headquarters for Taekkyon training in the military.

    Year 1955

    “Tae Soo Do”

    On April 11, 1955 at a conference of kwan masters, historians, and Taekkyon promoters, most of the kwan masters decided to merge their various styles for the mutual benefit of all schools. The name “Tae Soo Do” was accepted by a majority of the kwan masters. Two years later the name was changed again, this time to “Tae Kwon Do.” The name was suggested by General Hong Hi Choi (who is considered the grandfather of Tae Kwon Do) because of its resemblance to Taekkyon, thus providing continuity and maintaining tradition. Further, it indicates the use of both hand and foot techniques.

    Year 1961

    Korea Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA)

    Dissension among the various kwans that did not unify continued until September 14, 1961. Then, by official decree of the new military government, the kwans were ordered to unify into one organization called the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA), and General Hong Hi Choi was elected as its first president.

    Year 1962

    Tae Kwon Do Became One of the Official Events in the Annual National Athletic Meet in Korea

    In 1962, the KTA re-examined all the black belt ranks to determine national standards. Also in 1962, Tae Kwon Do became one of the official events in the annual National Athletic Meet in Korea, and the KTA sent instructors and demonstration teams all over the world.

    1966 and 1974

    International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF)

    In Korea, the study of Tae Kwon Do spread rapidly from the army into high schools and colleges. In March of 1966, Choi founded the International Taekwon-do Federation (ITF), which he also served as president. Choi later resigned as the KTA president and moved his ITF headquarters to Montreal, Canada, where he concentrated on organizing Tae Kwon Do internationally. His emphasis was on self-defense methodology, not particularly on the sport. By 1974, Choi reported that some 600 qualified ITF instructors were dispersed throughout the world.

    Year 1973

    World Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF)

    Young-wun Kim was later elected the new KTA president and dissolved ITF’s connection with the KTA on May 28, 1973, creating a new international governing body called the World Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF) and bringing the world headquarters back to Korea. The creation of WTF coincided with the first World Tae Kwon Do Championships which were held in Seoul, Korea. At the first inaugural meeting, Un Yong Kim was elected president of the WTF and drafted a charter for the federation. The WTF is the only official organization recognized by the Korean government as an international regulating body for Tae Kwon Do.

    Year 1980

    The IOC Recognized and Admitted the WTF

    The World Tae Kwon Do Federation has since made a major effort to standardize tournament rules and organize world-class competitions. After the 2nd World Tae Kwon Do Championship in Seoul, the WTF became an affiliate of the General Assembly of International Sports Federation (GAISF), which has ties to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC recognized and admitted the WTF in July 1980.

    Year 1982

    Tae Kwon Do as an Official Olympic Sporting Event

    In 1982, the General Session of the IOC designated Tae Kwon Do as an official Demonstration Sport for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. It is now an official Olympic sporting event.


    Since modern-day Tae Kwon Do’s official birth on April 11, 1955, its development as a sport has been rapid. Today, over 30 million people practice Tae Kwon Do in more than 156 countries.

    Traditional Tae Kwon Do &

    Jiu Jitsu Benefits

    Do curriculum, we offer a full curriculum to both kids and adults in Danzan-Ryu Jiujitsu, led by 6th Degree Professor Thabiti Sabahive.

    Our practice at Asheville Sun Soo is intended to develop the whole person – mind, body and spirit – while teaching effective self-defense skills for the practitioner. Our approach to practice develops the whole person – outer as well as inner – through our commitment to the combination of the three ways-of-being distinctions – Excellence, Generosity, Personal Responsibility in combination with the five primary tenets: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit.

    The most common interpretation of the name Tae Kwon Do is “the way of foot and hand.”

    (Definitions are under the words on the website)

    TAE: “Foot” or “to kick” or “to jump”

    Kwon: “Fist” or “to strike or block with hand”

    Do: “The way of” or “art”

    Put this together and Tae Kwon Do means: “The art of kicking and punching;” or, more generally: “The art of unarmed combat.”

    About Modern Tae Kwon Do

    Modern (Olympic style) Tae Kwon Do is characterized by a disproportionate emphasis on high spinning and jumping kicks. The Traditional Tae Kwon Do taught at Asheville Sun Soo, as the art was originally conceived, is a multi-faceted, comprehensive and effective form of self-defense. Traditional Tae Kwon Do incorporates the explosive linear movements of Shotokan Karate and the flowing, circular patterns of Kung-fu with native kicking techniques, primarily derived from the ancient Korean art of Taekkyon, the sweeps/take-downs/throwing/falling/joint locks of Judo, the joint locks/manipulations/submissions of Hapkido, the redirection of force and energy from Aikido, and the breathing techniques of Qigong.

    Traditional Tae Kwon Do is so rich in content and context that it can take a lifetime to master.