Beginning of Taekwondo

The roots of Taekwondo date back to approximately 50 B.C, when modern Korea was divided into three Kingdoms - Silla, Koguryo and Baekche. The earliest painted murals depicting ancient martial arts techniques known as ¡°Tae Kyon¡± were found in caves within the Kogoryo Kingdom (37 B.C. - A.D. 668). Records of a ¡°hand and foot¡± style of martial arts used by commoners were also discovered within the Baekche Kingdom (18 B.C. - A.D. 600). However, it was the Hwarang, a society of young, elite warriors for the nobility of the Silla Dynasty in the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. - A.D. 935), who incorporated the Tae Kyon techniques into their military training curriculum, bringing prominence to the ¡°Tae Kyon¡± techniques and its rigid principles throughout ancient Korea.

During the Silla Dynasty (A.D. 668-935), the Buddhist monk Won Kwang Bupsa, authored the basic five commandments known as ¡°Sesokokye¡±, which were followed by the Hwarangdo (Flower Knights) of the royal families and became the foundation from which modern Taekwondo tenets evolved.

  Be loyal to your country.
Honor your parents.
Be faithful to your friends.
Never retreat in battle.
Use good judgment before killing living things.
¡°Tae Kyon¡± evolved into ¡°Subak¡± during the Koryo Dynasty (A.D. 936-1392) and became more popular with the commoners, while losing prominence with the nobility and military. Through the Yi Dynasty (1392-1910), ¡°Subak¡± strengthened its reputation as a sport for ¡°the people¡± and solidified the art as an unarmed means of self-defense and physical training system with deep roots in moral discipline. The spread of Subak was one of the driving forces that helped unify the remaining kingdoms of the Korean peninsula by the end of the nineteenth century.
When Japan began its occupation of the Korean peninsula in 1909, Subak was prohibited, as the Japanese viewed it as a threat. This ban and the forced integration of Japanese martial arts and culture only strengthened the resolve of Koreans to continue practicing their own martial art style, largely in secret. With the defeat of Japan in 1945 and the end of WWII, came the liberation of Korea, thus opening the doors to modern Taekwondo.
Modern Taekwondo
Fueled with the freedom to once again practice their own ¡°Taekyon¡± based martial arts and to reaffirm their Korean heritage, the masters from various ¡°Kwans¡±, or martial arts schools, collaborated with the goal of uniting the schools and merging regional styles into a superior martial art form and national sport. Differences in the various Kwans¡¯ styles and systems delayed the formation of a central regulating system to promote a unified martial art style for ten years.
In 1955, the name, ¡°Taekwondo¡±, formally emerged as a collective term describing the fusion of the martial arts styles that emphasized hand and foot techniques from the various Kwans. In the next decade, the Korean Taekwondo Association was formed with the main purpose of protecting the quality of the sport. This was of great importance with the onset of the Communist regime, who actively searched to eliminate Taekwondo masters, and the Korean War, which has since resulted in enduring division in the Korean peninsula.
With the creation of the Korean Taekwondo Association, the progress of modern Taekwondo continued with the development of standardized rules and a governing body to enforce the rules. It is a continuing goal is to maintain the integrity of the art and facilitate its globalization.

The subsequent formation of the World Taekwondo Federation in 1973, has been instrumental in securing those efforts.
The following summarizes significant developments and events in the growth of modern Taekwondo.
1965 - Korea Taekwondo Association formed.
1973 - World Taekwondo Federation formed in Kukkiwon with 35 countries participating.
1975 - General Association of International Sports Federations recognizes the WTF.
1976 - Taekwondo accepted as a Consul International du Sport Militaire sport (world level military sports organization).
1980 - International Olympic Committee recognizes the WTF.
1981 - Taekwondo accepted as a World Games sport
1983 - Taekwondo accepted as a Pan American Games and All Africa Games sport
1985 - Taekwondo adopted as a demonstration sport for the 1988 Olympic Games.
1986 - Taekwondo accepted as a Federation International du Sport Universitaire sport
           (world university level sport organization).
1992 - Taekwondo is an Olympic demonstration sport in Barcelona, Spain.
1994 - Taekwondo selected as a full Olympic sport for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
1996 - Taekwondo is an Olympic demonstration sport in Atlanta.
2000 - IOC (International Olympic Committee) confirms Taekwondo as Olympic sport for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
2004 - Practitioners from 124 countries compete in Taekwondo event in Athens Olympic Games
Today - Membership of WTF exceeds 180 countries. Tae Kwon Do is by far the most widely practiced martial art in the world.
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