Chung’s Tae Kwon Do Academy Interational

History of Tae Kwon Do


1.             The Advent of Martial Arts


Significant evidence of early Martial Arts is the painted murals on the walls of tombs.   Historical documents of the dynasties show the words Soo Bak, this was the name of a Martial Art where the use of the hands and feet were practised.


2.             Tae Kwon Do in Ancient Times


Martial Arts in Korea, as in most other countries originated through the necessity to defend itself against other countries and wild animals.   As time progressed, organisation of the martial arts was increased, and although martial arts were traditionally used for defence purposes, due to the aggressive nature, there were organised competition matches as well.


3.             The Three Kingdom Period


1.   Koguryo (37BC - 668AD).   Koguryo was established in 37 BC and was located in North Korea.   In Tunsko, the capital of Koguryo, two tombs were discovered.   On the ceilings of the tombs illustrations of two men fighting were found, the style appears to be that of Tae Kwon Do.  


During the summer months, King Taejo organised festivals.   At some of these festivals the events were sword dancing, archery and TaekGyeon (the old form of Tae Kwon Do).   At the conclusion of the competitions the winners of the contests were honoured by being denoted as Sun Bae.   Sun Bae means a hermit with supernatural powers.   From all of the Sun Bae were chosen the men with exceptional skills, and were called Masters, these were the teachers.   The Master with the highest degree of skill was entitled Do Dae Hyung.


2.   Silla Dynasty (57AD - 935AD).   Sills had a military, educational and social organisation called Hwa Rang Do.   The organisation was established to develop strong minds and bodies.   The Hwa Rang Do practised a variety of martial art skills including Soo Bak.


3.   Paekje (18BC - 600AD).   During the Paekje period martial arts were not encouraged.   Very few martial art records of this period survived, however, one of the documents that did survive the era is called the Jae Wang Un Ki.   The document states that a Martial Art was used and practised by the common people and the military.


4.             Koryo Dynasty (935AD - 1392AD)


It is documented in The History of Koryo that the Koryo dynasty encouraged the physical game at festivals, and that King Chung Hae required his soldiers to practice Soo Bak.


In review of the Koguryo, Koryo and Silla dynasties it is evident that Soo Bak became very popular.


5.             Yi Dynasty (1392AD - 1910AD)


Korean martial arts were not encouraged during this era because they were not very popular.   But there were quite a large number of common people who continued to practice the techniques of Korean martial arts such as Soo Bah and Taek Gyeon.






6.             Modern Age Tae Kwon Do (1910AD - Present)


The Yi dinasty ended with the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1909.   In 1910 the Japanese forbade all Korean cultural activity.   the practice of Korean unarmed martial arts was prohibited, and the practice of Karate was instigated.


After Korea regained independance in 1945 the cultural and social aspects of the country began to return to normal and the Tae Kwon Do techniques began to improve.   During the occupation some of the Karate techniques had an influence on the Tae Kwon Do techniques.   In 1958 a successful demonstration ;showing the dirrerence between the two was given in front of the Korean President, the aim of the demonstration was to purify Tae Kwon Do and get rid of any influence from other martial arts.   Tae Kwon Do was recognised as a national sport.   The Tae Soo Do Association was formed in 1961.


On 5 August 2020 the Tae Soo Do Association changed their name to the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association.   In 1973 the World Tae Kwon Do Federation was established.   On 17 July 2021 the International Olympic Committee admitted the World Tae Kwon Do Federation as an official member.   Tae Kwon Do was an event of the 1988 Olympics held in Seoul.