What is the history of Taekwondo? What are its origins? Where did Taekwondo come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Taekwondo.
Taekwondo is a martial art in which the goal is to score points by kicking your opponent in the torso or head, or by punching him or her on the torso. A match is won either by knockout, or by the athlete who has the most points. The kicks and punches may be fairly strong, and so taekwondo athletes use protective pads on the scoring areas. Other than only protecting, the pads also assist the referees, sensors in the equipment can point out when an athlete was hit, and through a wireless system it will let the referee know. The pads also help watchers distinguish the two competitors, as one athlete will wear a red pad and the other will wear a blue one. Besides only scoring, athletes can also be given penalties for doing illegal things, and thus lose a point.
Taekwondo started in South Korea, rather recently. However, the sport's history blends with that of the country. A type of martial art known as Subak Do, where fighters used primarily their feet was already existent in the region known today as the Korean Peninsula, as early as the years B.C., in the kingdom of Silla. From there, the art was spread to China. From 1910 to 1945 Korea was occupied by Japan, and martial arts were only allowed to be practiced by the military, and so the practice of Subak Do declined. Nonetheless, japanese and Koreans exchanged their culture and martial arts. Koreans were taught Karate, Aikido, and Judo, which greatly influenced the style of the Korean martial arts. With the end of Japanese occupation, the Korean martial arts were allowed again to the general people, and within a few years Taekwondo was born, inspired by the unarmed martial art where the feet were the primary weapons.
Modern Taekwondo was invented by South Korean army general Choi Hong Hi. After the japanese left Korea, many academies were founded throughout Korea teaching different martial arts, with big influences from Japanese, Chinese, and ancient Korean martial arts. The lack of consistency on the style taught by the academies led to a push to unify all into one, and create a new Korean martial art. General Choi was part of that creation, and came up with the name taekwondo. As a general in the army Choi taught taekwondo to the South Korean military, formed instructors, and eventually founded the International Taekwondo Federation. Choi eventually clashed with the korean government, who according to him, was trying to use the martial art as a political tool. Choi left Korea, and his former country established a rival taekwondo federation, the World Taekwondo Federation. Still, there is a certain animosity between Choi's ITF and the WTF, and although both take "taekwondo"in their names there are certain differences between what each federation teaches.
Modern taekwondo began developing in 1945, once Japan left Korea. Several academies teaching different versions of an ancient korean martial art called Taek Kyon were founded. Taek Kyon emphasized the use of the feet and hands. However, each academy taught a different variation of it, all with different names. In 1955, in a conference of Taek Kyon masters, it was agreed that all styles would be merged for the benefit of all, and the new style would be the one to be taught in all academies. That way, in 1955, taekwondo was officially established as the official Korean martial art, inspired by an ancient martial art, which after a long hiatus started again in 1945, and evolved to become what we know today.
The teaching of martial arts was already popular in South Korea before taekwondo was officially started. So when the academy masters got together to unify the martial arts to create taekwondo, there was no question that the new sport would instantly become popular, as it did. To the rest of the world, it was an effort from Korean authorities to showcase the country's martial art. A particularly important chapter in that history happened in 1963, when a taekwondo demonstration was held at the UN headquarters in New York. That sparked the creation of the U.S. Taekwondo Association, in 1967. From that point on the sport became very popular in America, where it is the most practiced martial art. In 1988, the IOC recognized taekwondo as a demonstration sport in the Seoul Olympics, and would include it as a medal sport in 2000.
Here is a list of some of the most popular countries to practice taekwondo. The first on the list should come as nos surprise: