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History Of Taekwon-Do

Taekwon-Do differs significantly from other martial arts.  In fact, no other martial art is as advanced with regard to the application of Newtonian physics to generate power while executing a technique.

General Choi’s journey to develop Taekwon-Do began with his prior knowledge of Taek Kyon, the ancient Korean art of foot fighting and his study of Karate in Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea.  Soon after Korea was liberated in 1945, he was placed in a privileged position as a founding member of the newly formed South Korean Armed Forces.

The former provided him with a definite sense of creation, and the latter gave him the power to disseminate Taekwon-Do throughout the entire armed forces, despite furious opposition.

The emergence of Taekwon-Do as an international martial art in a relatively short period of time was due to a variety of factors. The evils of contemporary society (moral corruption, materialism, selfishness, etc.) had created a spiritual vacuum.  Taekwon-Do was able to compensate for the prevailing sense of emptiness, distrust, decadence and lack of confidence.

In addition, these were violent times, when people felt the need for a means of protecting themselves, and the superiority of Taekwon-Do technique came to be widely recognised.  General Choi’s social stature, the advantage of being Taekwon-Do’s founder and his wonderful health also contributed to the rapid growth of Taekwon-Do all over the world.

General Choi had been born frail and weak and was encouraged to learn Taek Kyon at the age of fifteen by his teacher of calligraphy.  In 1938, a few days before he was due to leave Korea to study in Japan he was involved in an unexpected incident that would have made it difficult to return home without risk of reprisals.

He resolved to become a black belt holder in Karate while he was in Japan.  The skills he required were sufficient protection against those who might seek to do him harm.  Not only was he able to return to Korea, but he subsequently initiated the national liberation movement known as the Pyongyang Student Soldier’s Incident.  Like so many patriots in the long course of human history, his actions aroused the wrath of those in positions of power.  He was imprisoned for a time in a Japanese army jail.  In January of 1946, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the fledgling Republic of Korea army and posted to the 4th infantry regiment in Kwangju, Cholla Namdo Province as a company commander

General Choi began to teach Karate to his soldiers as a means of physical and mental training.  It was then that he realised that they needed to develop their own national martial art, superior in both spirit and technique to Japanese Karate.  With this in mind he began to develop new techniques systematically.  By the end of 1954 he had nearly completed the foundation of a new martial art for Korea, and therefore, on 11th April 1955, it was given the name “Taekwon-Do”.

Although Karate and Taek Kyon were used as references in the course of study, the fundamental theories and principles of Taekwon-Do are totally different from those of any other martial art in the world.  General Choi formulated the following basic ideals for the Taekwon-Do practitioners:

By developing an upright mind and a strong body, we will acquire the self-confidence to stand on the side of justice at all times;

We shall unite with all men in a common brotherhood, without regard to religion, race, national or ideological boundaries;

We shall dedicate ourselves to building a peaceful human society in which justice, morality, trust and humanism prevail;

The spiritual dimensions of Taekwon-Do can be defined as fusing oneself with the ideals of Taekwon-Do and attaining and understanding the full meaning of each of the Taekwon-Do patterns.  If we consider ourselves as one with Taekwon-Do, we will respect it as we respect our own bodies and Taekwon-Do will never be used in a dishonourable way.

The names of the patterns are derived from the most illustrious people to have been produced by nearly five thousand years of Korean history.  A proper understanding of the patterns leads, inevitably to the realisation that Taekwon-Do is a martial art to be used only for self-defence and only in the cause of justice.

Based on an excerpt from Taekwon-Do (The Korean Art of Self Defence), General Choi Hong-Hi