Taekwondo is one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts. It’s roots actually trace back to early 600 AD royal court and tribal fighting systems. These early precursors to Taekwondo were traditional Korean martial arts such as Tae Kyun, Soo Bahk and Kwon Bup.
Modern Taekwondo was created in the late 1940’s with the liberation of Korea from Japanese occupation. At this time many martial arts Masters had exiled themselves from Korea. After Korea had been liberated, these Masters began teaching their arts openly again. Many had gone to China or Japan, and incorporated martial arts techniques from Karate and Chinese Martial Arts into their systems. This gave the Korean martial arts a unique flavor and style.
The early Do Jangs (training halls) were called Kwans. Two of the major Kwans were Oh Do Kwan (connected to the Korean Army) and Mun Moo Kwan (connected to the Korean Air Force). While the Kwans all practiced similar martial arts in terms of technique, there were varying philosophical differences. In 1955 many of the Kwan leaders met under the direction of General Choi Hong Hi, and unified under the name Taekwondo. They formed the Korean Taekwondo Association and later the International Taekwondo Federation. WT was not created until 1973 when Kukkiwon broke away from the ITF due to political differences.
Modern Taekwondo has both a traditional self defence aspect and a modern sport aspect. Taekwondo made its first appearance at the Summer Olympic Games as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea and has since become a familiar sight at the Olympics as one of three asian martial arts to be featured.
Modern day Taekwondo practitioners wear a uniform, known as a dobok.
The literal translation for tae kwon do is "kicking", "punching", and "the art or way of”.