The Origin of Taekwondo

The origin of Taekwondo traces back to the three kingdoms of Koguryo (37 BC-668 AD), Paekche (18 BC-600 AD), and Silla (57 BC-936 AD). Mural paintings on the royal tombs of the Koguryo dynasty, the stone sculptures of pagadas of temples of the Silla period, and documents written in the Paekche dynasty showed fighting stances, skills, and formalized movements similar to today's Taekwondo styles and forms.

All three kingdoms indulged in growing national strength with trained warriors. Therefore, the Korean history tells that there were military personalities among the well-known prominent national leaders of the three kingdoms, which proves the military tendency of ruling hierarchy.

Although Taekwondo first appeared in the Koguryo kingdom, it is the Silla's Hwarang warriors that are credited with the growth and spread of Taekwondo throughout Korea. Silla was the smallest of the three kingdoms and was always under attack by Japanese pirates. Silla got help from King Gwanggaeto and his soldiers from the Koguryo kingdom to drive out the pirates. During this time a few select Sillan warriors were given training in Taek Kyon by the early masters from Koguryo.

The Taek Kyon trained warriors became known as the Hwarang. The Hwarang set up a military academy for the sons of royalty in Silla called Hwarang-do, which means "the way of flowering manhood." The guiding principles of the Hwarang warriors were loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness, valor, and justice. The makeup of the Hwarang-do education was based on the Five Codes of Human Conduct written by a Buddhist scholar, fundamental education, Taek Kyon and social skills. Taek Kyon was spread throughout Korea because the Hwarang traveled all around the peninsula to learn about the other regions and people.

The modern period of Taekwondo began with the liberation of Korea in 1945 after World War II. Korea wanted to eliminate Japanese influences (in martial arts) and began to unite the various martial arts schools and styles into a single style and national sport. In 1965, the name Taekwondo was chosen to represent this unified style of Korean martial arts.

KukkiwonKukkiwonThe present Kukkiwon was finished in 1972 and was used as the central gymnasium as well as the site of various Taekwondo competitions. A year later on May 28, 1973 the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) came into existence. The first World Taekwondo Championships were also held in 1973. In 1980 the World Taekwondo Federation was granted recognition by the International Olympic Committe (IOC). Then the adoption of Taekwondo as an official event was followed by the World Games in 1981, the Pan-American games in 1986, and finally by the 2000 Olympics held in Australia.

The Origin of Hapkido

As with most martial arts, the history of Hapkido, is shrouded in mystery and controversy. Lack of origional records, hearsay, anecdotes, politics, egos and ravages of time all but ensure sketchy and biased accounts of this martial art.

Over the past 2000 years the Korean people have developed numerous fighting systems and martial disciplines which have evolved into modern Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do, Hapkido, Kook Sool, etc... Hundreds of years of trade, war, occupation and exchange between Korea and it's neighbors, China and Japan, have resulted in "cross-pollination", mutual influence and blending of styles and techniques. It is now virtually impossible to state with a certainty which techniques are truely Korean, Japanese, or Chinese in origin.

Hapkido was founded by Choi Yong Sool (1904-1986). Reportedly he developed the system by combining native Korean fighting methods with Japanese Daito Ryu Aiki-Ju Jitsu. Choi had learned the system from it's head Master Sokaku Takeda while living in Japan from 1915 to 1945.

After his return to Korea, Choi started teaching self-defense (Yawara) in TaeGue City. He initially called the system Yu Kwon Sool.

The literal translation of the word Hapkido (which is actually a compression of 3 distinct words) is presented here to provide students with better insight in the system as well as some cultural/historical background.

HAP - To combine, unite, coordinate, or join. KI - Internal power, dynamic energy, life force. DO - The way, system, or method of.

Around the world more and more psychologist, doctors, and teachers recommend martial arts training to children and adults who want to achieve and maintain optimum physical and mental health. The benefits of martial arts training have been well known for centuries but only recently, with the stressful demands of modern society (often resulting in unheathy lifestyles) have the positive and beneficial effects of martial arts training been "rediscovered" and widely accepted. The style of Hapkido we teach is a modern, dynamic self-defense system that offers all the benefits of a classical martial art, but without rituals, rigidity, obsolete techniques and unsafe exercises.