History of taekwondo

Tae kwon do is a Korean martial art known for its focus on kicking; such as spinning kicks, jumping kicks, fast kicking, and head-level kicks.

Tae kwon do was created in the 1940’s and 1950’s by martial artists in Korea with knowledge in martial arts like Chinese martial arts, karate, and native Korean martial arts traditionals like Subak, Taekkyeon, and Gwonbeop.

The eldest system of definition for taekwondo is the KTA (Korea Taekwondo Association) that was made in 1959 through group efforts by people from the original nine Kwans (martial arts institutions) in Korea. The standard global organized systems for taekwondo in today’s world are the ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation) which was created by CHoi Hong Hi during 1966, and also the partnering of the WT (World Taekwondo) and Kukkiwon which was made in 1973 and 1972 respectively through the KTA (Korea Taekwondo Association).

Gyeorugi, a kind of sparring involving full-contact, has been an Olympic phenomenon since the year of 2000. The government of taekwondo in the both the Olympics and Paralympics is WT (World Taekwondo).


Starting in 1945, not long after the end of the second World War, fresh martial arts institutions, named Kwans, appeared in Seoul. These institutions were founded by Korean martial artists with knowledge in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese martial arts. The classical name of traditional taekwondo usually is referring to the martial arts that was in practice by the Kwans in both the 1940’s and the 1950’s, although realistically the name “taekwondo” had not yet been termed during that time, and each Kwan (institution of martial arts) was developing their own different kind of martial art. In this time, taekwondo was also being utilized by the South Korean military, which quickly caused it to gain popularity among normal martial arts institutions.

After seeing a martial arts event by the South Korean military during 1952, the President of South Korea Syngman Rhee insisted that the martial arts ways of the kwans be put together. Starting in 1955, the heads of the kwans started pondering earnestly the potential of the creation of a single kind of Korean martial arts. The term Tae Soo Do was used for this singular style. The term is made up of the hanja tae “to trample and stomp”, su “hand”, and also do “way” or “discipline”.

Choi Hong Hi insisted on the use of the term Tae Kwon Do, which replaced su “hand” with kwon “fist”. The name also used for Chinese martial arts. The new term was at first slow to be used by the heads of the kwans. In 1959, the KTA (Korean Taekwondo Association) was founded to ensure the merging of Korean martial arts. During 1966, Choi joined the KTA to found the ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation), which was its own government system solely to develop his own variant of taekwondo.

The politics during the Cold War in the both the 1960’s and the 1970’s caused complication in the use of the ITF type of taekwondo as a singular style. The government of South Korea wanted to not be influenced on this concept with North Korea. So the president of ITF Choi Hong Hi began to seek help for the martial art from all corners of the world, including North Korea. So in 1973 South Korea took away their advocacy for the ITF. The ITF still functioned as a self-governed body and setup its headquarters in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Choi still developed the ITF style, and in 1987 he publicized his Encyclopedia of Taekwondo. After Choi retired, the ITF started to dissolve in 2001 and then in 2002 it split into three federal bodies, each of which still operates today under the same name.