TODAY -

History Of Taekwondo
- A Korean Martial Art In Modern Times -
- Part 1 -

By Jimmy Jagtiani *

Taekwondo has been developing with the 5000 year long history of Korea, being called by several names in the past. Back in the B.C. era, Taekwondo began as a defense martial art was called, "Subak" or "Taekkyon" and it was basically an art of combat under Packje (18 B.C.).

Later under Koguryo 37 (B.C.) and Shilla 57 (B.C.) dynasties a collective youth's education system called "Seonbae" & "Hwarang" developed which also included Martial Art and its extensive training programs. These were the customs of mutual exchange amongst these three prominent dynasties. So, the Martial Art techniques were also exchanged for betterment of the combat training.

In these modern times of Korea, which covered the Chosun's Yi-Dynasty (1392-1910), the imperial Korea and the Japanese Colonial Rule until 1945, Taekwondo was rather called 'Subakhue' 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 Subakhue was still popular in the early days of Chosun Dynasty and enthusiasts appreciated it.

Even under the Japanese colonial rule, some famous Korean writers, such as Mr. Shi Chae Ho and Mr. Choi Nam Sun, mentioned Taekwondo saying "present Subakhue prevailing came from the Sonbae in the Koguryo Dynasty and Subakhue is like today's Taekkyon", which was originally practiced as martial art, but is now played mostly by the children as games.

However, the Japanese colonial government totally prohibited all folkloric games including Taekkyon. The masters of Taekkyon were also under constant threat of imprisonment, which resulted in an eventual fade of Taekkyon as popular games under the colonial rule.

The Martial Art of Taekkyon (Taekwondo) had been secretly handed down only by the Masters of the Art until the liberation of the Country in 1945. Master Song Duk Ki, the disciple of Master Im Ho, demonstrated his excellent skills of Taekkyon, by jumping over the walls and running through the dense forest like a tiger.

At that time 14 terms of techniques were used, representing, 5-kicking patterns, 4-hand techniques, pushing down at the heel 3-patterns, turning over kick 1-pattern and 1-technique of downing the whole body. Also noteworthy is the use of the term 'Poom' which signifies a face-to-face stance preparing for a fight.

Along with the liberation of Korean nation from the Japanese imperialism a new concept and interest about national culture and tradition had begun to arise. With the appearance of Taekkyon experts, especially, Master Song Duck Ki eventually displayed Taekwondo (Taekkyon) techniques in front of the President Hon'ble Seung Man Lee on his birthday party, which proved the distinct difference between Karate and Taekwondo.

Also, after liberation, many experts established Taekwondo Do-Jang (School) that had been functioning unstably till the Korean War and after that, it began to reach to common people along with the stability of Korean nation. With the increase of Taekwondo population, the senior masters started to establish their own Kwan and as a result, about nine different styles of Taekwondo 'Kwans' were formed. Those were as followed:-

  1. Songmookwan
  2. Hanmookwan
  3. Changmookwan
  4. Moodukkwan
  5. Oh-Do Kwan
  6. Kangdukwan
  7. Jungdokwan
  8. Jido Kwan
  9. Chungdokwan
These Kwans were either evacuated or were in the army rules, which caused difficulty in spreading and teaching Taekwondo amongst the common people.

It was in the 50's when the Taekwondo overcame the world chaos and reformed the organization. Taekwondo society put together their efforts and established the "Korea Kongsoodo Association". However, with the different views of some senior master's misunderstandings between each 'Kwan' coup-up so, the Korea Kongsoodo Association could not last long.

After being affected by the military coup, the "Korea Taesoodo Association" was formed with the senior group of Korea Kongsoodo Association, the group of the Korea Taesoodo Association was promoting the sports side of Taekwondo, but the senior Masters were dissatisfied, saying this will destroy its value as martial arts, but the management committee of the Korea Taesoodo Association thought in a different way.

They claimed in order to expand the art of Taekwondo in public and seek public's recognition. The Korea Taesoodo Association needed to join the Korea Sports Council and bring out the level of sports that Taekwondo has.

To be continued ...


* Jimmy R. Jagtiani, Grand Master & 8th Dan , contributes regularly to e-pao.net . He can be contacted at jimmy_jagtiani(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in . This article was webcasted on January 27, 2009.



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