Originally posted by Shug. Thank me later!

Hello, obviously I'm new, but I thought I'd make my first contribution with a little history topic. The History of TKD is somewhat confused do to Korean nationality, so I thought I might post a little on some of TKD (or at least its different school's) roots.
Informal(1) History of Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do

by R.E. Dohrenwend, PhD

This brief history is dedicated to Master Jonathan C. Henkel, 6th Dan, Chung Do Kwan.


The purpose of this history is to attempt to trace the roots of the style of Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do. To do this properly, it is necessary to show how modern Tae Kwon Do developed, and to indicate how that development took place. As the martial arts were often developed, transmitted, and practiced in secret, precise historical conclusions are impossible. The historical sequence described here is no better than probable, especially for events before 1800. Unfortunately, however, even relatively recent events in the Korean Martial Arts have been clouded by deliberate efforts to rewrite history for nationalistic or promotional purposes.

Tae Kwon Do is the youngest of all the Oriental martial arts. Its history begins with the opening of the Chung Do Kwan dojang in Soeul in 1944. At that time, Tae Kwon Do was predominantly Okinawan /Japanese (2) Karate with minor contributions from Chinese Chuan Fa. The original kwans taught Okinawan/Japanese kata, wore gis; and the art taught was Karate with an increasingly Korean flavor. At this point, little if anything had been contributed by the Korean martial art of Tae Kyon, which had all but vanished during the Yi dynasty and the subsequent Japanese occupation. Most of the Korean instructors had been students (3) at Japanese universities or soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army, and had learned their martial arts in Japan, returning to Korea as shodan or nidan black belts (4) .

More and more kwans were founded during the late 40’s and early 50’s, and what they taught was called “Korean Karate.” The name, “Tae Kwon Do” may have been suggested as early as 1955 at a meeting which was a first effort at unifying the kwans. From 1960 to 1970, under the direction of the Korean government, at that time General Park’s dictatorship, (5) Tae Kwon Do was unified under two international governing bodies, the ITF and later the WTF, originally the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association. This period ends with the official dissolution of the kwans in Korea, and is marked by the replacement of the ancient kata with brand new poomse and the creation of administrative centralization. This period also saw the beginning of the divergence of Tae Kwon Do from a martial art to a martial art based sport.

Between 1975 and today, there has been increased consolidation and centralization of authority. The sport aspect has received increasing emphasis to the point where training is now generally dominated by preparation for tournament competition sparring. Tae Kwon Do has become an Olympic sport, and Tae Kwon Do is no longer officially considered a martial art in Korea, but rather a martial sport. WTF Tae Kwon Do black belts are no longer registered with the Ki-Do Hae (6) , but rather at their own headquarters at the Kukkiwon.

Early History

The Chinese boxing styles which predated the introduction of Buddhism to China, are quite likely Taoist in philosophical orientation, and the roots for the modern Tai Chi, Pa Kua and Hsing-i Chinese styles. It is possible that not only these styles, but the attitudes characterizing ideal martial artists originated with the yu-hsia of the Period of the Warring States (403-221 BC) (7). This means that there are two major branches of the Chinese unarmed martial arts, one (generally Taoist in philosophy) (8) , older than the other. This is important, as the evidence suggests that an unarmed fighting system may have been practiced in northern Koguryo as early as ca. 37 BC. Sculptures and pictures of the Koguryo dynasty (109BC-668AD) show postures that could represent early kinds of empty hand fighting. However, as this evidence is equally compelling as proof for Chinese origins (9) , it is more likely that the ancient roots for the roots for Korean martial arts lie not in Korea but in China and that the early unarmed martial arts of Koguryo Korea may in fact simply be these early Taoist forms of Chinese boxing, as spread by the yu-hsia. (10)

In general, it would seem that most Asian martial arts per se in China, Korea, Okinawa, and Japan, derive from a combination of indigenous, relatively primitive (11) , techniques with the more highly organized Buddhist fighting arts as these were spread from India by missionaries. It is quite possible that these Buddhist martial arts owe much of their early development to an ancient Greek martial art, the Pankration (various spellings) (12) , which was the very first eclectic martial art for which we have firm documentation. This art became an Olympic event in 648 BC, a date which antedates any archeological sources in Korea. The art included boxing, kicking, sweeping, grappling, joint locks, and choking. The Pyrrhic Dance, a Greek martial dance which could be performed armed or unarmed, similar to modern kata or poomse, existed at the same time and was possibly used as a teaching tool for the techniques of the Pankration (13) .

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Member posted 03-04-2005 11:04 AM