The history of Taekwondo is still quite young and goes back only to the beginning of the 20th century. The martial art from Korea was inspired by karate and enjoys great popularity today, and is also recognized as an Olympic discipline, among other things

Taekwondo Geschichte

Origin of Taekwondo

The history of Taekwondo is strongly connected with that of Karate and Japan. We will try to present the main stages.

1910 – 1945Taekwondo originated as such in the period when Korea belonged to Japan 1910 – 1945. This is in no way due to the fact that there were no martial arts in Korea before. On the contrary, the practice of martial arts has always been represented in Korea as an important element of society, and a martial arts teacher in Korea enjoyed great social prestige.

The Taekwondo emergence from Karate can rather be related to the fact that the Japanese occupiers forbade everything that belonged to the culture of their oppressed. Together with the fact that the Japanese forcibly dispersed any gathering of Koreans for fear of uprisings, this led to the near extinction of the original Korean martial arts. Many Koreans were expelled or chose to flee on their own.
1945 Only after Korea’s independence in 1945 did some of them return, bringing with them not only new courage but also knowledge of various martial arts. Lee Won-Kuk and Ro Byung-Jik, for example, had trained under the legendary karate style founder Gichin Funakoshi. At this point, the 5 great “Kwan schools” were formed, from which today’s Taekwondo emerged. The sport that was taught there was called Dangsudo, which is a Korean pronunciation for the word Karate.
1953in 1953, Dangsudo was introduced to the military for the physical strengthening of all soldiers.
1955The word “Taekwondo” was first used by Major General Choi Hong-Hi on April 11, 1955, and its pronunciation is reminiscent of the Korean martial art Taekgyeon, although there is no relationship. As a result of various disputes between the 5 Dangsudo schools and Choi Hong-Hi, however, this was not the starting signal for an internationally successful martial art, but merely another small step.
1961 It was not until September 1961 that the Korean Taesoodo Association (KTA) was founded, the name Taesoodo being chosen as a compromise from various proposals.
1981-94In 1981, Taekwondo was recognized as an Olympic discipline by the IOC. In the following Olympics in 1988 and 1992 in Seoul and Barcelona, it was performed as a demonstration sport and has since become a full Olympic sport.

It is interesting to note that Taekwondo was geared towards competition from the very beginning. However, due to decades of disputes between the two major federations, several taekwondo styles developed, which are still practiced separately today. National federations can usually be assigned to one of the two major organizations WTF or ITF.

1. Federation: International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF)

In 1965, Choi Hong-Hi became KTA president, immediately changed the name to Taekwondo and strove to spread it internationally. Just one year later, in March 1966, he resigned due to increasing disputes and became president of the newly formed International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF). The “Kukkiwon”, which represents the “headquarters of Taekwondo”, was built in 1972 and the then KTA president Kim Un-Yong became chairman.

The ITF favors a style that involves only light contact and therefore only hand and foot protection. Foot and hand techniques are executed in many variations to the head and torso.

2. Federation: World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)

After Choi Hong-Hi, due to tensions, had moved the headquarters of the ITF to Toronto in Canada, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was founded in 1973, on the occasion of the first world championship in Kukkiwon, with headquarters in Seoul. Kim Un-Yong also became the president. In the following years Kim worked increasingly to dissolve the 5 original “Kwan schools” to bring uniformity to Taekwondo and was, despite resistance, successful.

The WTF style is the most widely accepted in the world as an Olympic competitive sport with over 200 federations and over 300 million members. To be accepted as an Olympic discipline, techniques had to be sorted out. Full contact is fought with full guard, with hand techniques to the head and foot techniques against legs prohibited.

The disputes with Choi and the ITF, however, continued for decades and were never finally settled. Today, however, both organizations are represented worldwide. Traditional Taekwondo styles prefer to fight without protection. Almost all techniques known to Taekwondo are allowed, except for very dangerous techniques that attack the neck. The attacks are stopped here, as in karate, in front of the opponent.