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History of Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and Olympic sport that was developed after World War 2 in Korea by various martial artists but is usually attributed to military general and martial artist Choi Hong Hi. Modern Taekwondo differs greatly from other martial arts. In fact, no other martial art is so advanced in terms of sophistication and effectiveness of its techniques or the over-all physical fitness it imparts to its practitioners. The modern art of Taekwondo traces its history back many centuries to the three ancient kingdoms of Korea, Silla, Koguryo and Baek je. Murals and rock carvings dating to the 6th century AD depict activities that resemble Soo Bak and Taek Kyon, the native fighting methods of Korea.

Through the centuries China, and in later times Japan, included the culture of Korea in many ways. Chinese developments in the martial arts likely filtered over and were incorporated into the Korean systems, though little documented evidence of this exists. Unlike its neighbors, Korea went through a period of over 400 years during which all martial and military activities were looked down upon. No real developments occurred during this time and the roots of Taekwondo nearly died out.

The climax of this period came with the Japanese occupation of Korea at the end of the 19th century. All elements of Korean culture were suppressed. In these more recent times, the Okinawa and Japanese derived developments in the martial arts which exerted a strong influence on the few young martial arts practitioners that secretly carried on their Korean fighting methods. After the defeat of Japan in World War II, Korea once again controlled its own society and new martial arts schools called kwans opened in defferent parts of Seol. These schools were established by martial artists with Japanese & Chinese backgrounds and indeed each of them was practicing its own unique style of martial art. In 1952, South Korean President Syngman Rhee witnessed a pivotal martial arts demonstration by Choi Hong Hi and Nam Tae Hi from the 29th Infantry Division. He misrecognized the technique on display as Taekkyon and urged martial arts to be introduced into the Korean Army under a single system. Beginning of 1955, the leaders of the kwans began discussing in earnest the possibility of creating a unified style of Korean martial arts. The name Tae (to stomp, trample) Soo (Hand) Do (Way, discipline) was used to describe this style. But General Choi Hong Hi suggested the name Tae Kwon Do replacing Soo (Hand) by Kwon (Fist) that name was closest to the pronunciation of the traditional, native art Taek Kyon. Therefore, the name was unanimuslly accepted and the name Taekwondo came into lime light. Further, Taekwondo is one of the second Asian Martial Art form after Judo which has been included officially as Olympic Medal Event in 2000 (Sydny Olympic).