History of Tae Kwon Do
Over 1350 years ago, Korea was divided into three kingdoms: Silla, Koguryo, and Baek Je. Silla was the smallest of the three kingdoms. Because of this, Silla was always under constant invasions. To protect and guard Silla, the kingdom chose a few men or officers to defend the kingdom. The officers group was called the Hwa Rang Do. These men drove themselves to defend their homeland. To guide themselves, they made five rules, which were:
1. Be loyal to your King.
2. Be obedient to your parents.
3. Be honorable to your friends.
4. Never retreat in battle.
5. Make a just kill.
These young warriors many as young as 14 and 15 years old, became known for their success in battle. This led Silla to rise and unite. This was the first time the entire Korean Peninsula had been united in its entire history.
Soo Bak was the name given to the art of hand fighting used during this period. After the warriors used it in fighting and combined it with the principles of the Hwa Rang Do, it became know as Soo Bak Gi. It is proven that this fighting was transported to Japan to form the basis of Japanese Karate.
Silla and Koryo dynasties were the best in the martial arts in Korea. Soon the dynasties formed an anti military posture. Anything dealing with the military was debased. With the Japanese occupation in the years of 1909 to 1945, it was against the law to practice any form of martial art. There was still some dedicated students who secretly practiced Taek Kyon.
With the liberation of Korea in 1945, a new military was formed. It was called the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. A young Second Lieutenant named Choi Hong Hi, who had just been released from a Japanese POW camp, began teaching students his martial arts. This was the beginning of what is know today as Tae Kwon Do.
In 1955, Tae Kwon Do was chosen as the official name for the martial art. Tae means foot, Kwon means hand and Do means art. So, that which started over 1350, years ago with a small group of people, is now practiced by millions of students in over 60 countries. Tae Kwon Do has reached its potential, as it has no equal in power technique or mental conditioning.
From: Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do, Vol.1, Gen. Choi Hong Hi