Learn about the fascinating history of Tae Kwon Do

Taekwondo is one of Korea’s most rigorous and scientific traditional martial arts, teaching more than just physical fighting techniques. It is a discipline that teaches us how to improve our spirits and lives by exercising our bodies and minds. Furthermore, some of the best places to play sports are found in Korea. Today, Taekwondo is a global sport with a prestigious international reputation, and it is one of the Olympic official games. Let’s look at the definition of the words “Tae” “Kwon” and “Do.” It is made up of three pieces in English spelling, however, it is only one word in Korean. “Tae” refers to the “foot,” “leg,” or “to walk on,” while “Kwon” refers to the “fist,” or “fight,” and “Do” refers to the “method” or “discipline.” We can see two fundamental concepts behind “Tae Kwon Do” if we put these three pieces together.

First, Taekwondo is the proper way to use Tae and Kwon’s fists and feet,’ or all the bodily components symbolized by fists and feet. Second, it’s a way to keep the peace by controlling or calming fights. This idea is derived from the definition of Tae Kwon, which is ‘to control fists’ [or ‘to walk on fists’]. Taekwondo means “the correct use of all body parts to halt fighting and contribute to the establishment of a better and more peaceful world”. Taekwondo has evolved throughout Korea’s 5000-year history and has been known by a variety of names. Taekwondo originated in Korea as a kind of self-defense known as “Subak” or “Taekkyon,” and evolved into a method of body and mind training known as “Sunbae” in the ancient kingdom of Koguryo. It had become the backbone of Hwarangdo throughout the Shilla period, wto develop national leaders.


Tae Soo Do

New martial arts schools known as kwans began to appear in Seoul in 1945, shortly after World War II ended and the Japanese occupation ended. Korean martial artists with roots in Japanese and Chinese martial arts founded these schools. Due to years of decline and repression by the Japanese colonial administration, indigenous disciplines (such as Taekkyeon) were all but forgotten at the time. Traditional Taekwondo is a broad word that refers to the martial arts practiced by kwans in the 1940s and 1950s, while the term “Taekwondo” had not yet been coined at the time, and each Kwan (school) was practicing its fighting style. 

President Syngman Rhee of South Korea was present at a martial arts exhibition by ROK Army officers Choi Hong-hi and Nam Tae-hi of the 29th Infantry Division in 1952. He mistook the technique on display for Taekkyeon and advocated for the army to adopt a single martial arts style. The chiefs of the kwans began seriously exploring the prospect of forming a united Korean martial art in 1955. Until then, the Korean hanja pronunciation of the Japanese kanji was used to refer to Korean Karate as Tang Soo Do. Tae Soo Do was also the name given to a unified Korean martial arts style. The hanja tae “to stomp, trample,” su “hand,” and do “method, discipline” make up this name.

Tae Kwon Do

Choi Hong-hi lobbied for the name Tae Kwon Do, which he proposed by replacing su “hand” with Kwon (Revised Romanization: gwon; McCune–Reischauer: kkwn) “fist,” a term also used in Chinese (pinyin quán) for “martial arts.” To support the unification of Korean martial arts, the Korea Taekwondo Association or KTA (then-Korea Tang Soo Do Association) was founded in 1959. The Oh Do Kwan’s General Choi wanted the KTA’s other member kwans to embrace his Chan Hon-style of Taekwondo as a unified style. The other kwans objected, claiming that a unified style should be formed based on input from all kwans, to bring together the heritage and qualities of all the styles, not simply the style of a single Kwan. Choi left the KTA in 1966 to found the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), a separate regulatory body focused on institutionalizing his brand of Taekwondo in Canada, as a result of this, as well as disagreements regarding teaching Taekwondo in North Korea and unifying the entire Korean Peninsula. 

General Choi’s ITF received limited backing at first from the South Korean president, who had close links to General Choi. The South Korean authorities, on the other hand, wanted to keep North Korean influence out of martial arts. In contrast, ITF president Choi Hong-hi sought support from all quarters, including North Korea, for his Taekwondo style. As a result, South Korea withdrew its sponsorship of the ITF in 1972. Choi continued to develop the ITF style, most notably with the release of his Encyclopedia of Taekwondo in 1983. The ITF continued to exist as an independent organization, then headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Following Choi’s retirement, the ITF split in 2001 and then again in 2002, resulting in three independent federations, each of which operates under the same name today.

Taekwondo has been one of three Asian martial arts and one of six total included in the Olympic Games since 2021 (the others being the previously stated, Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling, and boxing). It began as a demonstration event at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, a year after becoming a medal event at the Pan American Games, and evolved into an official medal event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Taekwondo was approved as a Commonwealth Games sport in 2010. In addition, Korea has more sports that are popular to pursue.

How is Taekwondo Scored?

  1. Full-body shots Kicks to the body result in a one-point penalty. They can score three points if they use a spinning move, such as a back kick. One point is awarded for punches to the body.
  2. Kicks to the head. Kicks to the head are worth three points unless they include a spinning technique, in which case they are worth an extra point.
  3. Sanctions. If a fighter withdraws from a fight, is inactive for 10 seconds, or falls, even if it is as a result of being kicked, they may be fined. Fighters are not allowed to grab their opponents, and there are no kicks below the belt allowed. Referees, on the other hand, have a lot of leeways when it comes to issuing penalties, and they’re urged to keep the battle going rather than stopping and starting it.
  4. The 12-point disparity. Fights in Taekwondo are immediately stopped if one fighter acquires a 12-point advantage over the other. That distance is deemed too great to close, and fights are frequently called off at the end of that round.
  5. Replays on video. Coaches can ask for a video review if they believe their fighter’s technique was not assessed correctly or if they believe their fighter’s opponent was given points unfairly. A panel of taekwondo judges makes the verdict after viewing an instantaneous video playback. Coaches must return their video replay cards to the referee if they lose the challenge.