History of Taekwon-do


map-koreaAbout 1,300 years ago, during the 7th century, the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms: Silla, Koguryo and Baek Je. Chair the smallest of these kingdoms, was constantly invaded and harassed by its two most powerful neighbors in the north and west.

During Chin Heung's reign, the twenty-fourth King of Silla, the young aristocrats and the warrior class formed an official body elite called Hwa Rang Do. This warrior corps, in addition to the practice of spear, bow and sword, was also trained in physical, mental disciplines and various forms of struggle with feet and hands. To strengthen their bodies they climbed steep mountains and swimd turbulent rivers in the colder months. In this way they mercilessly set out to prepare for the task of defending their homeland. To guide the most guided and principled their chivalry, they incorporated a five-point Code on their conduct, regulated by the largest Buddhist monk for his erudition, Won Kang:

– Be loyal to your King
– Be obedient to your
– Be honorable with
your friends
– Never back off in
– Do just death (if you must kill, do it fairly)

The Hwa Rang Do became known on the peninsula for their courage and skill in fighting, gaining the respect of their greatest adversaries. Strength derived her from respect for the Code, which prevented them from achieving trophies for feats. Many of these brave fighters died on the battlefields on the threshold of their youth, as young as 14 or 15 years old. However, through their exploits they inspired the people of Silla to rise and unite. For Silla's victories, the Korean peninsula first joined in its history.

There is much historical evidence documenting the existence of a form of foot-and-hand struggle during this period, both in Silla and Koguryo. Some poses resemble those of Taek Kyon and Jujitsu. During the Hwa Rang Do period, the primitive standing fighting art called so Bak was very popular with ordinary people. People had a great degree of respect for so Bak. During Dan O festivals (May 5 of the lunar calendar) or mid-autumn festivals (August 15 of the lunar calendar), so Bak's competition was joined by Korean combat games, Taek Kyon and Ki Chagi.

It appears that the warriors of Hwa Rang Do added a new dimension to this national art of foot fighting, including the principles of Hwa Rang Do. The new mental and physical concept elevated the struggle standing at the art level and became so Bak Gi.

The famous Korean historian Dr. Danje Shin Chae Ho, in his chosun writings, describes lids of dexterity and courage under cruel conditions: "Dancing with swords, certain sports on the water were developed in icy rivers, to test the opponent's courage. The fight in archery and Taek Kyon was sustained to test skill and strength. The winner of the contest was given the title of Son Bi. All losers were judged to have the warrior's requirements and the winners were esteemed by all." Dr. Danje states that so Bak's art was eventually introduced to China as Kwoon Bup and as a form of Jujitsu to Japan.

While tracking historical documents related to martial arts in Korea, it was interesting to discover that the third King of the Yi dynasty (1401-1408), actively recruited experts in Taek Kyon, Sirum (Korean stone-throwing combat) and soo Bak Gi, to assist in the organization of a powerful navy.

Much of the historical documentation suggests that some of these forms of open-hand wrestling may have been eventually exported to Japan and form the basis for Jujitsu and Karate. The Korean Hwa Rang Do may have been the forerunner or ancestor of the famous Japanese Samurai.

In his book "This Is Karate", Masutatsu Oyama (a well-known Karate authority in Japan), mentions that the etymology of "Kara" refers to Karak's reign at the southern end of the Korean penisula, where his kind of open-handed struggle may have been introduced to Japan by the ancestors of the Japanese.

In another interesting study, Dr. An Ja San establishes in his book on ancient Korea ("Chosun Moo Sa Yong Oon Jun"), the biography of Korean warriors. He says yoo Sul School (which can now be considered Jujitsu) was known under the name so Bak Gi or Taek Kyon.
Annually, during the month of May, the King of Chosun sponsored an unarmed combat at Kak Chon on Ma Am Mountain. The winner of the contest was awarded a prestigious position in government. The King also extended it for all soldiers. Three of the winners of this annual contest, Lee Yi Min, Jang Joong Bee and Sa Kyang Sung, eventually became major generals of the Koryo dynasty. It seems that the King gave this art, more than a passing interest.

There were 25 fundamental movements or postures used by practitioners. These postures incorporated hands, legs, jumps, falls, rolls and thrust techniques.
Certainly the reign of Silla and the Koryo dynasty marked a flourishing of martial arts in Korea. Soon after, however, the dynastes acquired an anti-military stance, which determined a period of lights in the civil aspect. Anything related to the military was despised.

The last breath comes from the Japanese occupation (1909-1945), when the practice of some martial arts was banned. The Taek Kyon was secretly practiced by some loyal dedicated and became heritage of many students.

Defenders of this discipline, such as Song Duk Ki and Han Il Dong, tried to keep art awake. With the liberation of Korea in 1945, the armed forces of the Republic of Korea were organized on January 15, 1946.
A second-lieutenant young officer, Choi Hong Hi, recently released from a Japanese prison, began teaching Karate to his soldiers as a way of physical and mental training.
That's when Lieutenant Choi realized the need to develop his own national martial art, superior in both techniques and spirit to Japanese Karate. So it was that with that ambition in mind, Lieutenant Choi began to develop new techniques, systematically from 1946 to 1954, when he had almost completed the founding of a new martial art for Korea. On April 11, 1955, it was given the name Taekwon-do.

The physical techniques of Taekwon-do are based on the principles of modern science, in particular Newton's physics, which teaches us to generate maximum power. Military attack and defense tactics have also been incorporated.

It is important to know that although Karate and Taek Kyon have been used as a reference in the course of Taekwon-do development, the fundamental theories and principles of Taekwon-do are totally different from any other martial art in the world.



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