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Taekwondo History

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:

World Taekwondo Federation created.
General Association of International Sports Federations recognises the WTF.
Taekwondo accepted as a Conseil International du Sport Militaire sport (world level military sports organisation).
International Olympic Committee recognizes the WTF.
Taekwondo accepted as a World Games sport
Taekwondo accepted as a Pan American Games and All Africa Games sport
Taekwondo adopted as a demonstration sport for the 1988 Olympic Games.
Taekwondo accepted as a Federation International du Sport Universitaire sport (world university level sport organisation).
Taekwondo is an Olympic demonstration sport in Barcelona, Spain.

Taekwondo selected as a full Olympic sport for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Taekwondo continues to evolve as a world class martial art and Olympic sport.


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