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:: the spirit of taekwondo
  • respect
  • courage
  • courtesy
  • humility
  • integrity
  • perseverance
  • self-control
  • indomitable spirit

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:: taekwondo oath
  • i shall abide by the spirit of taekwondo.
    i shall comply with regulations and obey instructors.
  • i shall respect instructors and seniors.
  • we as students are united in mutual friendship.
  • i shall never misuse taekwondo.

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about taekwondo

taekwondo is the korean martial art, and an international sport. in korean, tae means foot or kicking, kwon implies had, fist or punching, and do means art or way.

at the time of this writing, taekwondo had over 100 million students in more than 115 countries around the world. taekwondo is believed to be one of the oldest oriental arts of unarmed self-defense. it was widely practiced during korea's three han era, 300 years before christ.

the koguryo dynasty
in 1935, a team of japanese archaeologists unearthed a royal tomb of the korean koguryo dynasty and found a mural believed to have been painted between 3 a.d. and 427 a.d. the mural clearly depicts men practicing primitive forms of taekwondo, then called soo bak.

the silla dynasty
the art was refined and perfected during the silla dynasty, which began in southeastern korea in 57 b.c., and was incorporated into the discipline of hwarang do -- "the way of the flower of youth." in this way, taekwondo became part of the ethical, mental, and physical philosophy of the young men who were trained to become the ruling backbone of korea.

hwarang do was much more than simply a martial discipline. it combined civic duty with personal morality and the building of a deep spiritual consciousness rooted in ancient philosophical principles.

hwarang do
during its long and embattled history, korea's spirit of hwarang do grew and evolved, borrowing from the great philosophies of its world. from confucianism it drew filial piety, empathy with one's fellow man, and loyalty to the state. from taoism it drew the concept of action through non-action. and from buddhism it gained the philosophy of rejecting evil and acting for good, and respecting the sanctity of life. but the history of taekwondo goes back much further than the first century a.d. and hwarang do.

there is archaeological evidence of an ancient proto-korean people which dates back over thirty thousand years. however, the beginnings of true korean culture are believed to have developed in 2332 b.c. with the establishment of the ancient korean state. this takes us back over four thousand years. since that time, the korean people have had to fight to protect or regain their independence from the chinese, the scytho-siberians of central asia, the mongol hordes, and the marauders, and later the armies of japan. this created in the korean people a fierce warrior spirit, intense national loyalty, and an indomitable will to survive -- characteristics which are the source of the martial art of taekwondo.

the sui & t'ang dynasties
in the sixth century a.d., the chinese sui dynasty fielded armies of over a million men to invade and occupy korea. these chinese armies were so severely defeated that the sui dynasty fell in 617 a.d., to be replaced by the t'ang dynasty.

the koryo & yi dynasties
during the koryo dynasty, founded in 918 a.d., and the yi dynasty that followed it, taekwondo, then known as soo bak, was not only practiced as a skill to improve health and as sports activity, but was also encouraged as a martial art of considerably high virtue.

the sung & ming dynasties
soo bak is believed to have gained its greatest popularity during the reign of king uijong, between 1147 and 1170 a.d. this period roughly corresponds to the chinese sung and ming dynasties, during which chinese kung fu became widely popular. taekwondo, however, is purely korean in origin, having achieved independent development throughout the long history of korea.

the koreans are inventive people. this can be seen in their art of self-defense, their invention of the first iron-clad fighting vessels in 1592, another invention which most westerners are not aware. koreans were printing books with movable metal type in 1443 a.d., a full ten years before johann gutenberg. movable type had been used in china since 1045 -- four hundred years before gutenberg, but that type had been made of clay.

in the most recent history of korea, the importance of taekwondo began to decline because of the negligence of the royal courts, which were disturbed by the strife between feuding political factions. it was cut back to its roots and stayed alive as a recreational activity for ordinary people.

taekwondo outlawed
at the turn of the twentieth century, taekwondo was outlawed by the ruling japanese occupiers of korea. it then went underground, where people practiced it secretly and once again kept it alive.

taekwondo emancipated
in 1945, when korea was liberated from the japanese, a number of koreans who were interested in taekwondo took steps to revitalize this ancient and traditional martial art. about ten schools were founded by masters with different particular philosophies and different emphasis of techniques to express their differences in style.

between the period of the japanese occupation and the korean war, from the turn of the century to 1950, the name for the korean martial art changed several times. it was first known as kong soo ("empty hand"), then tang soo ("tang hand"), then hwarang do ("warrior spirit", then tae kyun ("kicking, punching").

in the early 1950s and 1960s, there were several associations formed for the development of korea's unique and indigenous martial art -- korea tang soo do association, korean soo bak do association, korean tae soo do association, and korea taekwondo association.

on february 23, 1963, the taekwondo association joined the korean athletic association and began to participate in national tournaments. since then, taekwondo has flourished and spread in popularity becoming the national sport of korea. it is now included as part of the school curriculum from first grade through college and is required of the military services.

taekwondo association recognized
in 1965, the taekwondo association was recognized by the other associations and the korean government, and was adopted as the organization to bring the different groups and schools together into one. young chai kim was elected president.

in 1970, the board of directors of the taekwondo association elected dr. un yong kim as their next president.

kuk-ki-won
in 1972, kuk-ki-won (the world taekwondo center) was built in seoul to train advanced students from all over the world. dr. un yong kim was elected president of kuk-ki-won. kuk-ki-won serves as a research center for the advancement of taekwondo as a scientific sport, it is a testing center for black belt promotions, and is used to hold national and international taekwondo championships.

in may 1973, the first world taekwondo championships were held at kuk-ki-won, seoul, korea. thirty countries participated. in team competition, korea won first place, united states won second place, and mexico and the republic of china tied for third place. the world championships are held biannually.

world taekwondo federation
following the 1973 tournament, all of the officials representing their countries at the championship formed the world taekwondo federation and elected r. un yong kim as president.

since the formation of the world taekwondo federation and the successful first world taekwondo championships, there have been many international championships held annually all over the world, such as the european tkd championships, the african tkd championships, the middle east tkd championships, the south american tkd championships, pan american tkd championships, the asian tkd championships, and many invitational international championships.

taekwondo has increased in popularity and has contributed to the spirit of competition and sportsmanship internationally. much of this has been due to the untiring efforts of dr. un yong kim, whose contribution enabled taekwondo to be recognized and to grow as a world sport in a very short period of time.

in october 1979, dr. un yong kim was elected president of the non-olympic international sports federation of the general assembly of the international sports federation (gaisf). the gaisf is comprised of twenty-six olympic federation, and twenty-seven non-olympic federation.

dr. kim was also elected president of the executive committee and council of world games i, which was held in santa clara, california, in august 1981. the pre-world games taekwondo championships were held in june 1978 in seoul.

olympic games
in july 1980, at the eighty-third international olympic committee session meeting in moscow, the world taekwondo federation was granted ioc recognition and became a member of the olympic games. it hoped to participate in the 1984 olympic games. in may 1981, the ioc approved the inclusion of taekwondo in the 1988 olympic games to be held in korea as a demonstration sport.

within five short years of taekwondo becoming a member of the gaisf, it was adopted as an olympic sport, and the world taekwondo federation was recognized by the international olympic committee to supervise all taekwondo activities.

in one of those moments of symmetry so often unplanned, taekwondo was introduced into the sydney 2000 games as one of two new olympic sports. the games ending the second millennium "introduced" a sport that is over 2000 years old.

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