Taekwon-do is a version of unarmed combat designed for the purpose of self defence. It is however, more than that. It is the scientific use of the body in the method of self defence; a body that has gained the ultimate use of its facilities through intensive physical and mental training.
It is a martial arts that has no equal in either power or technique. Though it is a martial art, its discipline, technique and mental training are the mortar for building a strong sense of justice, fortitude, humility and resolve. It is the mental conditioning that separates the true practitioner from the sensationalist, content with mastering only the fighting aspects of the art.
This is one of the reasons why it is called an art of self defence. It also implies a way of thinking and life, particularly in instilling a concept and spirit of strict self-imposed discipline and an ideal of noble moral rearmament.
Translated literally “TAE” stands for jumping or flying, to kick or smash with the foot. “KWON” denotes the fist – chiefly to punch or destroy with the hand or fist. “DO” means an art or way – the right way built and paved by the saints and sages in the past. Thus taken collectively “TAEKWON-DO” indicates the mental training and the techniques of unarmed combat for self defence as well as health, involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks and dodges with bare hands and feet to the rapid destruction of the moving opponent or opponents.
Taekwon-do enables the weak to possess a fine weapon together with a confidence to defend him or herself and defeat the opponent as well. Of course, wrongly applied, taekwon-do can be a lethal weapon. Therefore mental training must always be stressed to prevent the student from misusing it.
Even if taekwon-do is practiced for the sake of exercise alone, the enjoyment derived will justify the time invested and spent. As an exercise, it is equally suitable for the young and old, male and female.
(Encyclopedia of Taekwon-do. General Choi Hong Hi. Vol 1. Pg 21)
History of Taekwon-Do
Although the origins of the marital arts are shrouded in mystery, we consider it an undeniable fact that time immemorial there have been actions involving the use of hands and feet for the purpose of self protection. If we were to define these physical actions as “Taekwon-Do” any country might claim credit for inventing it. There is however, scant resemblance between Taekwon-Do, as it is practiced today, and the crude forms of unarmed combat developed in the past.
Modern Taekwon-do differs greatly from other martial arts. In fact, no other martial art is so advance with regards to the sophistication and effectiveness of its techniques or the overall physical fitness it imparts to its practitioners.
When & Where did Taekwon-Do begin?
A combination of circumstances made it possible for General Choi Hong Hi to originate and develop Taekwon-Do. In addition to his knowledge of Taek Kyon, he had an opportunity to learn Karate in Japan during the unhappy thirty-six years when his native land was occupied by the Japanese. Soon after Korea was liberated in 1945, he was placed in privileged position as founding member of the newly formed South Korean Armed Forces.
This provided him with a definite sense of creation, and the latter gave him the power to disseminate Taekwon-Do throughout the entire armed forces, despite furious opposition.
The emergence of Taekwon-Do as an international martial art in a relative short period of time was due to a variety of factors. The evils of contemporary society (moral corruption, materialism, selfishness, etc) had created a spiritual vacuum. Taekwon-Do was able to compensate for the prevailing sense of emptiness, distrust, decadence and lack of confidence.