Ilyo Taekwondo Club
Old Borough National School, Church Road, Swords, Co.Dublin.
Tel: 086 037 7587. E:

                            A Short History of Taekwondo

 Taekwondo in Modern Times

In the modern times of Korea, which cover the Chosun (or Yi) dynasty (1392-1910), the imperial Korea and the Japanese colonial rule until 1945, Taekwondo was rather called "subakhui" than "Taekkyon" and it suffered an eventual loss of official support from the central government as the weapons were modernized for national defense, although the subkhui was still popular in the early days of Chosun.
The Yi dynasty (Chosun) was founded on the ideology of Confucianism, which resulted in rejecting all Buddhist festivals and giving more importance on literary art than martial art. Nonetheless, the annals of Chosun dynasty tell stories about the contests of subakhui ordered by local officials for the purpose of selecting soldiers and others ordered by the kings who enjoyed watching subakhui contests at the times of feasts. It was also ruled by the defense department that a soldier should be employed when he won out three other contestants in the subakhui bouts.

However, as the systematic organization of government progressed, the government officials began to lay more importance on power struggles than on the interest of defense, naturally neglecting promotion of martial arts.

Then, it was only in the days of King Jungjo after the disgraceful invasion of Korea by the Japanese (in 1592) that the royal government revived strong defense measures by strengthening military training and martial art practice. Around this period there was a publication of the so-called muyedobotongji, a book of martial art illustrations, whose 4th volume entitled "hand-fighting techniques" contained the illustration of 38 motions, exactly resembling today's Taekwondo Poomsae and basic movements. Of course, those motions cannot be compared with today's Taekwondo Poomsae, which has been modernized through scientific studies.

Even under the Japanese colonial rule, some famous Korean writers, such as Shin Chae-ho and Choi Nam-sun, mentioned about Taekwondo, saying "present subak prevailing in Seoul came from the sonbae in the Koguryo dynasty," and "subak is like today's takkyon which was originally practiced as martial art but is now played mostly by children as games."

However, the Japanese colonial government totally prohibited all folkloric games including takkyon in the process of suppressing the Korean people. The martial art Taekkyondo(Taekwondo)had been secretly handed down only by the masters of the art until the liberation of the country in 1945. Song Duk-ki, one of the then masters, is still alive with the age of over 80 and testifies that his master was Im Ho who was reputed for his excellent skills of Taekkyondo, "jumping over the walls and running through the wood just like a tiger."

At that time 14 terms of techniques were used, representing 5 kicking patterns, 4 hand techniques, 3 pushing-down-the-heel patterns, one(1) turning-over kick pattern and 1 technique of downing-the-whole-body. Also noteworthy is the use the term "poom" which signified a face-to-face stance preparing for a fight. The masters of Taekkyondo were also under constant threat of imprisonment, which resulted in an eventual of Taekkyondo as popular games.

Present Day Taekwondo

Upon liberation of Korea from the Japanese colonial rule after world war II , the Korean people began recovering the thought of self-reliance and the traditional folkloric games which resumed their popularity. Song Duk-ki, afore-mentioned master of Taekkyondo, presented a demonstration of the martial art before the first Republic of Korea President Syngman Rhee on the occasion of the latter's birthday anniversary, thus clearly distinguishing Taekwondo from the Japanese karate which had been introduced by the Japanese rulers.

Martial art experts began opening their Taekwondo gymnasia all over the country and after the end of Korean war (1950-1953) Taekwondo was popularized among the dan-grade black-belters within the country, also dispatching about 2,000 Taekwondo masters to more than 100 countries for foreigners' training.

After all, following the nomination of Taekwondo as a national martial art in 1971, the present Kukkiwon was founded in 1972 to be used as the central gymnasium as well as the site of various Taekwondo competitions. Then a year later on May 28, 1973 the World Taekwondo Federation came into existence currently having 164 countries as its members. 1n 1973 the biennial World Taekwondo Championships was organized.

In 1975 Taekwondo was accepted as an official sport by the U.S Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and also admitted to the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), followed by the adoption of official sports event by the international council of military sports (CISM) in 1976. In 1979, president of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was elected President of the world federation of non-Olympic sports. The WTF became an IOC-recognized sports federation in 1980, making Taekwondo an Olympic sport. Then the adoption of Taekwondo as an official event was followed by the World Games in 1981, the Pan-American games in 1986, and finally by the 2000 Olympiad held in Australia.

from Kukkiwon website

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