History of TKD

Tae Kwon Do is a traditional martial art which was developed in Korea over twenty centuries ago. Its origin dates back to Koguryo Dynasty founded in 37 B.C. Modern times saw Taekwondo being oppressed by Japanese policy, this included the elimination of certain Korean Cultural practices during the Japanese colonial rule. This is why quite a few Korean Taekwondo masters left their motherland in an effort to preserve their traditional art in foreign countries. Some of these masters hurried back to Korea near the end of World War II to rejuvenate the spirit and techniques of Taekwondo in the newly liberated Korea. Grand Master Byung In Yoon was one of them.

On September 1st, 1946. Grand Master Byung In Yoon established the Taekyon Club at Ng N Sung Agricultural High School in Seoul, Korea. He then inaugurated Chang Moo Kwan at the Taekyon department of the Y.M.C.A. and appointed Nam Suk Lee as first Instructor. Political and military conflicts erupted bringing about the Korean War from June 25th, 1950 to June 27, 1953. In South Korea martial arts trained commandos were used and dispatched to spy and execute the enemy occasionally. The cost to the arts was high. By the end of the war, Sup Chun Sang and Byung In Yoon, respective founders of Yun Moo Kwan and Chang Moo Kwan were declared missing. Nam Suk Lee took over Master Byung's school. Woo Lee Chong succeeded Master Sang in the Yun Moo Kwan. Because of these actions, Chang Moo Kwan was considered the leading self-defence method.

In 1952, during the Korean War, a demonstration before Korean President Syngman Rhee was considered the most significant turning point for the Korean martial arts. Rhee watched a 30-minute performance by Korean martial arts masters, and was especially impressed when Tae Hi Nam broke 13 roofing tiles with a single punch. When the demonstration ended, Rhee asked Hong Hi Choi some questions about the martial arts. So impressed was Rhee he immediately turned to his military chiefs of staff and ordered that ALL Korean soldiers receive training in these arts. This dictate ultimately accounted for a tremendous surge in schools and students.

In 1953-54, three more Kwans emerged. Gae Byang Yun founded the Ji Do Kwan (a.k.a. Jee Do Kwan), Byung Chik Ro the Song Moo Kwan, and Hong Hi Choi, with help of Tae Hi Nam, the Oh Do Kwan. Counting the original schools, (Kwans) there where now eight Kwans, all apparently espouse a different style.

On April 11, 1955, at a pivotal conference of kwan masters, historians, and Taekyon advocates, it was decided to uniformly adopt the term "Tae Kwon Do" which had been created and submitted by General Choi. The name was approved because of its resemblance to Taekyon and so provides continuity and maintains tradition. Further it describes both hand and foot techniques.

The Number of Kwans which then consolidated into Tae Kwon Do is the subject of much debate and historical confusion. With the addition of the Han Moo Kwan founded by Kyo Yoon Lee, it is believed nine Kwans merged to officially form Tae Kwon Do. According to Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee, dissension among the Various Kwan carried on for six years, and it wasn't until September 14, 1961 that the groups once again organized into a single association, as ordered by an official decree of the new military government.  It was called the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA), with General Choi elected its first president.

The New association soon gained official recognition by the major kwans, but not for long. Hwang Kee, the founder of the Moo Duk Kwan, maintained the Korean Soo Bahk Do association and became a competing body to the KTA. The Chi Do Kwan Association also seceded. By 1962, however, many of the individual instructors rejoined the KTA, possibly because that year the KTA re-examined all the black belt ranks to determine national standards, and they did not wish to be omitted.

Source: Inside Tae Kwon Do, October 1993 issue