History of Tae Kwon Do

The traditional beginning of Korea’s history, according to legend, is 2332 B.C., when the soldier Tan-gun forged the multiple kingdoms into one unified kingdom called Chosun. The unarmed combat that was developed by the Chosun kingdom to protect itself from invaders was an early form of Tae Kwon Do called Taekyon.

The next major event in the history and development of Tae Kwon Do was in 108 B.C., when the Korean peninsula was invaded by the Chinese emperor Wu of the Han dynasty. It was under Emperor Wu that three major kingdoms arose: Koguryu, Paekje, and Silla. These three kingdoms used martial arts in different ways over the years, but over time, the Silla kingdom, which was the smallest kingdom, developed the truest form of Tae Kwon Do as embodied in their elite officer corps known as the Hwarang Do. Hwarang Do literally means “flower of youth” as these noble young men went through rigorous training to teach them to act as cultured and chivalrous warriors.

The Silla dynasty lasted for nearly three hundred years, but over time, due to changes in politics and religion, the dynasty eventually collapsed. The Koryo dynasty was the next major dynasty to emerge and it lasted almost five centuries. Its founder, Wang Kon, also known as King T’aejo was skilled in martial arts, which were then known as Su Bak. During this period, Su Bak Do become extremely popular and fairly unified. After numerous invasions, primarily from the Mongols and Japan, the martial arts was pushed back underground, but emerged again with force in the early 1950s following the division of Korea after World War II.