The first historical indications of unarmed self defence or martial
arts are found in ancient India at about 2,600 B.C. These techniques
likely complemented the use of weapons, and provided self defence tools
against other people and animals. These Indian unarmed self defence
techniques were brought to China in about 525 A.D. by Buddhist monks
and evolved into what we know today as Kung Fu. Chinese martial arts
spread to Okinawa in the 1400s, and Okinawan martial arts spread to
Japan in the 1800s, evolving into what we know today as Karate.
Early Koreans, the Tonkin people, also developed unique martial art
forms for unarmed self defence to complement their skills with weapons.
The first recorded evidence of what was to become modern Taekwondo is
found about two thousand years ago in Korean history. A mural painting
from the Koguryu kingdom (37 B.C to 66 A.D.) was found in a tomb believed
to have been built sometime during the period 3 to 427 A.D . This mural
depicts figures practising martial arts techniques. Historical records
from this Koguryu period also mention the practice of martial arts techniques
and tournaments. The early forms had different names, such as Kwonbak,
Bakhi, Dangsoo, Taesoo and Kongsoo. From about 600 A.D. to about 1400,
the main stream dominant form was Soobak, which further evolved into
Taekyon beginning in the late 1300s. Taekyon was the dominant Korean
martial art form until the Japanese invasion and occupation of Korea
in 1909. From 1909 to 1945, the Japanese suppressed Korean culture and
martial arts, and introduced Japanese culture and martial arts.
The modern period of Taekwondo began with the defeat of the Japanese
and the liberation of Korea in 1945. Korean martial arts masters wanted
to eliminate Japanese influences. They began discussions on how to return
to the traditional Taekyon based Korean martial arts and on how to unite
the various martial arts schools (or Kwans) and styles into a single
style and national sport. After several years of discussions, the name
"Taekwondo" was chosen in April 1955 by the board of masters of the
various Kwans, and the kwans started to unify through the late 1950s.
1961 saw the creation of the Korea Taesoodo Association, which changed
its name to Korea Taekwondo Association in 1965.
The spread of Taekwondo as a martial art and competitive sport continues
to this date. The principle events in the rapid evolution of Taekwondo
as a popular world wide sport are: