The Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea
The Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea in the History of Taekwon-Do The beginnings of Taekwon-Do are said to have formed around 2,000 years ago in Korea. The evidence comes from a painting/mural that was found from the period of the Koguryu kingdom (approximately 50 B.C. to 20 A.D). This area stretched as far as the modern day area of Guangdong in China. The painting (mural) was found on the wall of a tomb and it displays a variety of martial arts techniques.
The original unarmed combat arts of Korea were a combination of styles from the Silla, Koguryu (northern) and Baekje (southern) kingdoms. The mainly kicking style of the Koguryu region was influenced by the hand techniques of the Silla area. High kicks were used to disturb and displace the attacking cavalry. Until 1400 AD, the most popular form was Subak, which then developed Taek Kyon. The practitioners were known as Sonbae. This remained the most popular art form until the early 1900’s.
These styles were designed to develop the skills and strength of young men. The strongest members were selected to form an elite group of Silla warriors called the Hwa Rang. Hwa Rang members were groomed to protect the region from foreign attack. These members were schooled using martial arts as a way of life. Their training included horseback riding, sword fighting, archery, survival skills, Confucian theories and ethics. As time went on, the traditional martial arts were practiced less by the general public. However these skills formed the basis of military training.
Mongol invasion and years of war led to the collapse of the Goguryeo kingdom. This was succeeded by the Joseon dynasty, which remained for 500 years. The occupation by the Japanese from 1909, led to the suppression of Taek Kyon and to the incorporation of Karate techniques into the Korean martial arts. This was associated with the introduction of Japanese culture, and an attempt to remove Korean culture.
Korea was liberated from thirty-six years of Japanese control by 1945. General Choi Hong Hi began teaching Taek Kyon to the Korean military. Choi gave demonstrations to the troops while he was stationed in the USA. The modern name of ‘Taekwon-Do’ was developed in 1955 and the intention was to unify the various martial styles into a single national symbol. Prior to this unified art, there were many different forms, born out of foreign systems. Examples include Tang Soo Doo, Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Yun Moo Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Ji Do Kwan, Chi Do Kwan, and Song Moo Kwan.