Tae Kwon Do as we know it today has undergone significant evolution since its beginnings in ancient Korea. Three tribal communities were established in the early history of the Korean peninsula. As a matter of survival and self-defense, the people of these communities developed bare-hand fighting techniques from their experience of defending themselves against predatory animals.
In the latter part of early Korean history, the three communities evolved intorival kingdoms. They were Silla, in the southeast; Koguryo, in the north; andPaekje in the west. Each kingdom had its own military of warriors trained in the fighting techniques of the original three tribal communities. Youth warrior corps were organized, and definitive fighting systems emerged from each kingdom.
The period of time from AD 918 to AD 1392 saw the merging of the three kingdoms into the Koryo Dynasty. The systematic development of taekkyon continued, and martial art skills were required of all military personnel. However, the discovery of gunpowder and the appearance of new weaponry led to the beginning of a decline in military support of taekkyon.
The continuing modernization of weapons for national defense led to acontinuing decline in the practice of taekkyon, and the Japanese occupation of Korea forced it underground until the liberation of the country in 1945.
After World War II, martial arts practitioners re-opened their schools, and a resurgence of Korean martial arts, now commonly referred to as Tae Kwon Do, began. Tae Kwon Do was named the national martial art of Korea in 1971, and was admitted as an official event in the Asian Games in 1974. The continued recognition of Tae Kwon Do on the international sport scene culminated in its designation as an official event in the 2000 Olympiad, in Sydney, Australia.
*For more detailed information on the rich history of Tae Kwon Do, refer to Tae Kwon Do Textbook by the Kukkiwon.