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History of Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that has a rich history dating back over a thousand years. The development of Taekwondo is closely tied to the history of Korea, and it has evolved over time, blending indigenous Korean martial arts with influences from neighboring countries.

  • Ancient Origins (BC to 600 AD): The roots of Taekwondo can be traced back to ancient Korean martial arts, which were influenced by various tribal and cultural groups in the region. These early martial arts were often developed for self-defense and military training.
  • Three Kingdoms Period (57 BC to 668 AD): During the Three Kingdoms period, various martial arts practices continued to develop in the Korean peninsula. The kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla each had their own martial traditions.
  • Unified Silla Period (668-935 AD): The Silla Kingdom became dominant and unified the peninsula. Martial arts continued to play a crucial role in the military training of the Silla warriors.
  • Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392 AD): During the Goryeo Dynasty, martial arts further developed and became more organized. It was during this period that martial arts manuals were compiled, documenting various techniques and forms.
  • Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897 AD): The Joseon Dynasty saw the formalization and codification of martial arts. Various martial arts schools, known as “kwans,” were established. The emphasis was not only on physical prowess but also on ethical and moral development.
  • Japanese Occupation (1910-1945): During the Japanese occupation of Korea, the practice of traditional Korean martial arts was restricted. Many Koreans were forced to train in Japanese martial arts. This period had a significant impact on the later development of Taekwondo.
  • Post-World War II and Korean War (1945-1953): After World War II and the Korean War, there was a renewed interest in reviving Korean martial arts. Various martial arts masters played a crucial role in preserving and promoting traditional Korean martial arts.
  • Development of Taekwondo (1950s-1960s): In the 1950s and 1960s, efforts were made to unify and standardize the various martial arts styles in Korea. In 1955, the term “Taekwondo” was officially coined to represent the unified martial art. Various martial arts masters, including General Choi Hong Hi, played key roles in the development and promotion of Taekwondo.
  • International Recognition and Olympic Inclusion (1970s-2000s): Taekwondo gained international recognition and became an Olympic sport. It was included as a demonstration sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and became an official Olympic sport in 2000.

Today, Taekwondo is practiced worldwide, and it continues to evolve as a dynamic martial art and sport with a strong emphasis on kicks, punches, and strikes. There are various styles and organizations within the Taekwondo community, each with its own curriculum and emphasis on tradition, sport, or self-defense.

Taekwondo Styles

Taekwondo has several styles or sub-styles, each with its own unique characteristics, training methods, and forms (known as “poomsae” or “patterns”). Here are some of the major styles of Taekwondo:

ITF Taekwondo (International Taekwon-Do Federation):

WTF/Kukkiwon Taekwondo (World Taekwondo Federation):



Chung Do Kwan:

Moo Duk Kwan:

Song Moo Kwan:

Han Moo Kwan:

It’s important to note that while these styles may have historical distinctions, today, many practitioners train in a more eclectic manner, incorporating aspects from various styles. Additionally, the two main governing bodies, ITF and WTF/Kukkiwon, have had a significant impact on standardizing and promoting Taekwondo worldwide.

Taekwondo in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

While Taekwondo is primarily known as a traditional martial art and an Olympic sport, it has had some presence in mixed martial arts (MMA). MMA is a sport that combines various martial arts disciplines, including striking and grappling.

Here are some points regarding Taekwondo’s role in MMA:

Striking Component:

Kicking Techniques:

Footwork and Agility:

Adaptation to MMA Rules:

Notable Taekwondo Practitioners in MMA:

Challenges in MMA:

In summary, while Taekwondo is not as prevalent in MMA as some other martial arts, practitioners with a Taekwondo background have demonstrated success by effectively integrating their striking skills into the diverse world of mixed martial arts. Adaptability and a willingness to learn other disciplines are key factors for Taekwondo practitioners looking to make an impact in the MMA arena.

Further Reading

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