There are two major personalities who have made Hapkido what it is today, Grand Master Choi, Yong Sul and Grand Master Ji, Han Jae. Due to the various and particularly contradicting stories it can be determinated that Choi, Yong Sul is the founder of Hapkido and the teacher of Ji, Han Jae. However, the fact is that both were instrumental in bringing this development about and Ji, Han Jae went on to found SongMuKwan Hapkido but later changed the name of his art to SinMuHapkido.
Grandmaster Choi, Yong-Sul
In 1904 Grandmaster Choi, Yong Sul was born in the Korean province Chung Buk. There he lived in a village named Yong Dong. During this time the Japanese occupied Korea. At the age of eight Grandmaster Choi met a Japanese candy merchant named Morimoto. Mr. Morimoto had no son and when he returned to Japan he kidnapped GM Choi, taking him away as his adoptive son. But GM Choi resisted vehemently against this adoption and turned out to be so difficult that Morimoto left him to his fate only a short time after their arrival in the village of Moji, Japan where he lived on the streets as a beggar. GM Choi went alone to Osaka and earned his living by begging. After being picked up by the police, he came to into a buddhist temple to a monk named Kintaro Wadanabi. There he lived for 2 years. Life in Japan was not easy for GM Choi. He spoke poor Japanese and therefore he had big problems at school. Furthermore he was a foreigner and therefore was often beaten by other children. So Kintaro Wadanabi decided to send GM Choi to his friendSokaku Takeda (1859-1943). Sokaku Takeda was the head of Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu. Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu (Dai = big, to = sword, Ryu = school, Aiki = combined senses, Jujutsu = soft material art) is one style of the old Japanese Ju-jutsu, which first of all uses hand, elbow and shoulder joint locks to defend against various armed and unarmed attacks. Many movements can be compared to motions of the Japanese art of fencing with the long sword. Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu was founded in the 11th century by Minamoto, Yoshimitsu. Tradition of the time dictated that in the beginning only the highest-ranking samurai of the Takeda family were taught this art. Over centuries Aikijujutsu was passed on only within certain samurai clans. After the end of the feudalism in the Meiji era Saigo,Tanomo (1829-1905) passed this system of fighting on to Sokaku Takeda. Takeda broke the rules and, for the first time, coached outsiders. For about 30 years GM Choi lived in Sokaku Takedas household. However, there are different variations of which social status he had. In an interview GM Choi himself declared that he had been adopted by Sokaku Takeda. According to other sources, he began as a "house boy" and later became Sokaku Takeka's personal servant. Last but not least, some say that he just attended some seminars at Sokaku Takeda. During his stay in the house of Sokaku Takedas GM Choi called himself Yoshida Asao (GM Choi, statement in an interview) or Yoshida Tatujutu (statement of Master Suh, Bok-Sup in an interview). According to his own statements GM Choi was the only one to learn all 3808 Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu techniques. Another famous student of Sokaku Takeda was Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the founder of Aikido. As it seems to be clear that Japan was going to loose World War II, Sokaku Takeka committed suicide by starving himself to death. Before he died he ordered GM Choi to return to Korea. On his way back to Korea GM Choi..s whole luggage was stolen at the Younson Train Station: including all his money and the certificates he had obtained from Sokaku Takeda. GM Choi settled in the Korean village of Taegu, situated in the Kyung Buk province, and changed his name back to Choi, Yong Sul. Here, he and his family survived by selling rice cookies for several years.
However, February 21st 1948 changed the tide of history. After a few years GM Choi had saved a small amount of money and had bought some pigs. To fatten them he needed grain, which he earned in a Korean brewery producing Korean wine. In this brewery the employees were paid with grain for helping to pump water from a subterranean source. That day, February 21st some people tried to take up Choi's position in front of the grain counter. GM Choi not only defended himself successfully against the attackers, but he did it with the greatest of ease. Suh, Bok Sup, manager and son of the brewery's owner watched the fight from his office. He was impressed by the techniques with which GM Choi could defend himself. Suh, Bok-Sup held a first Dan in judo, and, therefore, recognized that GM Choi was a master in a very effective material art. He called GM Choi in his office and asked him to teach him. GM Choi agreed, and Suh, Bok-Sup paid for his training lessons with money and grain. The fact, that GM Choi's first student held the first Dan in judo had an effect on the development of Hapkido. All Defense techniques against holds at the wrist, sleeve, collar and against judo throws go back to these roots. Of course, in the beginning Suh, Bok-Sup was mainly interested in how to defend himself against judo attacks. GM Choi named the material art, he had learned, Yawara. GM Choi changed the name of his material art several times. Among others he called it: Yu Sul (Soft Art), Yu Kwon Sul (Soft Hand Art), Hapki Yu Kwon Sul (In Unit with Ki Soft Hand Art) A few years later GM Choi became a bodyguard and head of the security department of Suh, father to Bok-Sup, and also a congressman. On February, 12th1951 GM Choi and Suh, Bok-Sup together opened up a Dojang named Korean Yu Kwan Sool Hap Ki Dojang. In 1958 GM Choi, Suh and Bok-Sup decided to change the name of the material art taught by them into HapKiDo. (Statement of Master Suh, Bok-Sup in an interview) There are different statements on who used the name HapKiDo first. Another variation is, that Ji, Han-Jae created the name and then passed it to GM Choi, in order to honor him. But this is doubtful that GM Ji would try to honor his former teacher since he had founded his own martial arts SongMuKwan after having only 6 years of martial arts training. Sometime 1958 after GM Choi opened up his own Dojang. In Suh, Bok-Sups Dojang also taught Kim, Moo-Hyun, who, according to Suh, Bok-Sup, created the HapKiDo kicks. Kim, Moo-Hyun had learned these kicks in various Korean temples. Kim, Moo-Hyun had a very close contact to GM Ji, Han-Jae and stayed some times in GM Ji, Han-Jae's Dojang in Seoul. It is very likely, that during this time a number of HapKiDo kicks were developed. Sometimes Suh, Bok-Sup went to Seoul and taught there at the university. In 1963 GM Choi became chairman of the newly founded Korean Kido Association. This organization many years later closed due to corruption and the lack of promotion standards enforcement allowing non-hapkido students like Joe Parrish and Roger Haines to purchase 8th and 9th dans when they did not meet any of the official standards for such rank. Their promotion was a huge public embarrassment that caused outrage amoung the organizations members and eventually lead to the closing of the organization. In 1982 GM Choi traveled into the USA, trying to unify HapKiDo. He appointed Chang, Chin-Il his successor and hoped, that he would be able to unite the HapKiDo masters living in the USA. But GM Choi's wish was not fulfilled because Chang was in poor health and lacked the leadership skills to unite Hapkido masters. He still claims to be Choi's successor and teaches classes at a dance study in New York, USA. His continued claim as the successor is considered unrealistic by Hapkido masters in Korea. GM Choi died 1986 at the age of 82 and was buried in Taegu.
Grandmaster Ji, Han Jae
In 1936 Grandmaster Ji, Han-Jae was born in Andong, Korea. In 1949, at the age of 13, GM Ji began his training in the Korean Yu Kwan Sool Hap Ki Dojang under GM Choi. GM Ji was one of GM Choi's youngest students beginning at the age of 13. Classes with GM Choi were expensive and many wondered how a poor boy from Andong could afford such lessons and specultated that it was because of his connection to street gangs and crime. GM Ji later had a fight with a famous Korean gangster that made him famous for Hapkido. GM Ji studied with GM Choi until 1956. Afterwards he alleged to have studied with a master named "Taoist Lee", where he claimed to have learned the Tae Kyon kicks, Jang-Bong (long stick), Dan-Bong (short stick) and techniques of meditation. With a nun, (that he knew only as "Grandmother"), he learned spiritual techniques. However, it is considered odd that the only temple in his home town was a zen center which offered no martial arts training and that in two years of alleged training with the mysterious Taoist Lee and Grandma he never learned their names. Also, Korean masters know that he learned those kicks from Kim, Moo-Hyun. It is a well established fact, so normally he only tells this story of "Taoist Lee" and "Grandma" to foreigners. In 1958 GM Ji left Taegu and returned to Andong, where he opened up his own Dojang, named SongMooKwan. At that time he held the 3. Dan in Yu Kwan Sool. Only nine moths later he moved to Seoul. Here, two very famous Grand Masters, who later emigrated into the USA, began their HapKiDo career. GM Han, Bong-Soo (founder of the International Hapkido Federation) and GM Myung, Kwang-Sik (founder of the World Hapkido Federation). Later he awarded them both the 9. Dan. Han, Bong-Soo 1984 and Myung, Kwang-Sik 1986. In Seoul GM Ji began to develop his own style by combining the techniques learned at GM Choi with the Tae Kyon kicks, the weapon techniques, and the spiritual techniques. He called this new material art HapKiDo. At that time there was a boxing school close to his Dojang. Until then only defense techniques against punches were used, based on the assumption that the arms remains stretched after the punch. In those days this was the technique taught by some martial arts. Boxing means the arm retracts immediately after the punch. Therefore, GM Ji developed some defense techniques against these "snapping"punches. Many HapKiDo techniques were product of the Korean circumstances, no matter if they were developed by GM Choi, GM Ji or other HapKiDo masters. Defense techniques against knives were of elementary importance as the underworld criminals were almost exclusively equipped with knives. Defense techniques against kicks were developed to defend oneself against Tang Soo Do, Kong Soo Do, Kwon Bup and and Taekwondo. The Dan Bong (short stick) techniques against sword attacks were developed, because Kendo is widespread in Korea. In 1961 the Korean government was overthrown by General Park, Chung-Hee who shortly after became president of Korea. In 1962 GM Ji opened up a Dojang in the Hwa Shin department store. Because General Park, Chung-Hee came to power by force he did not trust police and military personel completely. So he hired street thugs and gangsters to be his bodyguards because he knew that their loyalty could be bought. At that time GM Ji became trainer of the military crack troops and of the president's security service. In addition, he became the president's bodyguard. This appointment would be a fatal choice for President Park, Chung-Hee. In the early sixties the import relations concerning Japanese goods loosened and a book about Aikido fell into GM Ji's hands. He noticed that the sign for Aikido was exactly the same as for HapKiDo and decided to change the name from HapKiDo to Kido. In 1963 GM Ji became member of the Korean Kido Association, but he left in 1965 after some differences of opinion and founded the Korea Hapkido Association. Within an information and exchange program between the Korean government and the Pentagon GM Ji arrived in USA in 1969. There, GM Ji coached some of president Nixon's bodyguards, FBI agents, and various special task forces.
During this stay he met Bruce Lee. GM Ji claims that Bruce Lee was very impressed by GM Ji and asked him to coach him. But this was not the case. Between 1972 and 1974 GM Ji shot many films in Hong Kong. "Game of Death" with GM Ji as adversary of Bruce Lee. "Hapkido", with Sammo Hung (known for his films with Jackie Chang) and Angela Mao Ying. Later this film was renamed as "Lady Kung Fu". "The Dragon Tamers" , with Jackie Chan as action director. During his stay in Hong Kong GM Ji again claimed that he coached Bruce Lee. Together with Kim, Moo-Hong and Myong, Jae-Nam, GM Ji founded the Republic of Korea Hapkido Association in 1973. But in a book about the filming of "Game of Death" Bruce Lee stated that Ji was slow and had difficulty performing the movements. It took nearly all day to film what ended up only being a few seconds of useful film for the movie. Some say that it was GM Ji's heavy whisky drinking that was the problem. His martial arts skill was well known. The Republic of Korea Hapkido Associaton name was changed into the new Korea Hapkido Association later. Until 1979 GM Ji was chairman of this organization. Then a horrible death would befall the Korean President Park, Chung-Hee because of GM Ji and he was imprissoned and the Korea Hapkido Association was shut down by the government. Through some negotiations the Hapkido organization was able to re-open under a new name and GM Ji would be replaced. As his successor followed his student Oh, Se-Lim, who began his HapKiDo studies at GM Ji 1958 in Andong. In 1980 the Korea Hapkido Association was renamed as Korea Hapkido Federation. In 1979 the Korean president Park, Chung-Hee fell a victim to assassination. The assassin Kim, Chae-Kyu, was the head of the Korean CIA. GM Ji was imprisoned for about one year. The assassin had been a close student of GM Ji, and GM Ji had supported him in becoming the head of the Korean CIA. Therefore, he was accused of having been involved in the planning of the assassination attempt. In jail he developed his new system, which he called Sin Moo Hapkido. Sin Moo Hapkido aims even more at the spiritual side of the martial arts. Just as many find religion while in prison Ji searched for spiritual understanding. Around 1981 GM Ji made a trip to Hong Kong and prepared his immigration into the USA. In Hong Kong he played minor roles in the film "Tower of Death" and in some other films. In 1984 GM Ji traveled via Germany, where he met his two students Kim, Sou-Bong and Song, Il-Hack, into the USA. There he opened up a Sin Moo Hapkido school in Daly near San Francisco. Many masters of HapKiDo emigrated from Korea to make HapKiDo known throughout the world. Many settled in the USA. Most of the GM in HapKiDo are claimed as former students of GM Ji, because he was the organization's President when they received their master ranking. However, today many of them regard GM Choi as their teacher. There are different statements of why these students turned away from GM Ji. In an interview GM Ji had the following explanation: he had been successful when he had been far too young. Many of his students had been younger than him. After having also studied at CM Choi, they passed the much older and therefore more respected GM Choi as their teacher. Another Korean statement says, that many Korean masters consider GM Ji as jointly responsible for the assassination of president Park, and therefore still hate him. Furthermore many people regard it as a degradation of HapKiDo, that GM Ji was defeated so fast as a master of HapKiDo in the film "Game of Death" with Bruce Lee. Because GM Ji had become well known for selling underserving rank to supplement his income many poorly skilled Hapkido students gained master rankings from GM Ji or claim him as one of their teachers. One such person is Harold Whalen of the USA who claims to have performed over 200 wrist escapes to earn a 7th dan from one of Ji's former students. However, it is common knowledge that an escape from a wrist grab in a technique taught to a student their first day of class. Performing 200 white belt techniques would never qualify anyone for a black belt ranking. Harold Whalen's claims are a continual source of amuzement and laughter to serious Hapkido students. Some of the funniest film clips ever taken of Hapkido are the falling techniques performed by Whalen on a set of instructional videos released by a respect Korean Grand Master. While the Grand Master performed the techniques flawlessly, Whalen tumbled and flopped around like a drunk attempting to perform acrobatics. Again and again there are discussion on who introduced which techniques in HapKiDo. Some say, that - in the true sense - GM Choi coached pure Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu until his death. On the other hand, some argue that he united a number of Korean material arts. It is said that he showed a keen interest in Kumdo and Kendo, what would suggest that he contributed to the sword techniques. GM Ji claims the integration of the cane techniques, the long and short stick techniques, and a large part of the kicks into HapKiDo. Some Hapkido masters developed own styles and united traditional HapKiDo techniques with other martial arts and/or techniques of meditation, sciences of dance and health. Some styles tend more to strong techniques like fixed blocks and short techniques. Other became eve more soft and expansive within their movements, and approximate to Aikido. The environment of the school and the master always played an important role. As they usually lived off their students, they had to adapt to the material arts common in the regions, and offer techniques against them.
Taekwondo/Jungdokwan Basic History
Jungdokwan...Stepping the Right Way
"I am an honorable man without shame", is the motto of Jungdokwan's founder Lee Yong-woo. It was with this spirit that Grandmaster Lee has trained, ran his school and lived his life.
Lee Yong-Woo began his martial arts practice in the Chungdokwan style before the Korean War. It was recorded that Grandmaster Yun Byung-in who was the founder of YMCA Kwonbup Bu held a large demonstration at the YMCA in 1949. Lee Yong-woo was chosen to demonstrate with Son Duk-sung, the 2nd president of and Uhm Woon-kyu the 3rd president of Chungdokwan.
In 1954 after the Korean War, Lee Yong-woo founded his Jungdokwan dojung. Many of the schools that were offshoots of the five main Kwan's developed because of disagreements among the early senior students and instructors. Jungdokwan was not like this.
Grandmaster Lee Yong-woo states that one day he was discussing
opening a dojung with his training partner Uhm Woon-kyu, the third
president of Chongdokwan. Grandmaster Uhm Woon-kyu suggested that Lee take the accent mark off of the Korean word Chung, this changes the word to Jung. Lee Yong-woo thought that this was a great idea. The changed name means "stepping the right way," which totally agreed with Grandmaster Lee philosophy of the martial arts and life.
During the unification movement of the Kwan's Grandmaster Lee was very active along with the other Kwan seniors. He was elected to the Executive Committee of the Korean Taesoodo Association which was to become the Korean Taekwondo Association. Grandmaster Lee, until his death, was is a member of the Kukkiwon Test Committee of the World ungdokwan members learn the
military style of Taekwondo Jungdokwan they often excell in Kukki-Taekwondo competition. Jungdokwan members are proud that their practice of the original military form of Taekwondo still proves to be supierior in competition and on the battle field.
Today only 3 non-Koreans have ever earned the Master grade ranking in this brutal style of Taekwondo combat: Joseph Connolly, Gregory Glover, Richard Hackworth, and Nigel May.
Jungdokwan now has two international branches. Hong Kong office and USA International office.
Hosinsul Korea Taekwondo HKT was formed in 1997 in Bendigo
Victoria, HKT was formed as an association under Hosinsul Korea
Martial Arts HKMA, providing Taekwondo Instruction.
Currently offering Junior and Adult programs with fitness self
defence the key focus.
HRT provides successful self defence training proving successful
for all walks of life from children for self defence, confidence
and fitness and adults for the same reasons but with a stronger
focus on fitness and self defence
The Focus is purely from a combative approach with all
techniques from training having to work in a realistic manner
HKT is currently the home dojang for National Korea Taekwondo
Association and National Korea Martial Arts Federation NKMAF
In 2006 HKT joined Korea Martial Arts Instructor Association,
headed by Grand Master oh Kum Yul and Korea Taekwondo
Association Jung Do Kwan
to form the National Korea Taekwondo Association NKTA:
History of Taekwondo
As it is literally translated from Korean, Tae means "to kick" or
"to strike with the foot," Kwon means "fist" or "to strike with
the Hand," and Do means "discipline" or "art." Taken together,
Tae Kwon Do means "the art of kicking and punching"--"the art
of unarmed combat." Modern-day Tae Kwon Do, as it has come
to be developed over the years, is a unique martial art
incorporating both the quick, straight-line movements that
characterize the various Japanese systems and the flowing
circular movements of most Chinese styles. But more than this,
what truly distinguished Tae Kwon Do are its varied and
uniquely powerful kicking techniques. It is this prominent use of
leg and kicking techniques that set Taekwondo apart from all
other martial arts systems. Yet, Taekwondo is far more than
simply a system concerned with physical prowess, for it is also
an art directed toward the moral development of its students.
Much of the history of Taekwondo is based on legend. There is
an Indian legend of a wealthy prince who became interested in
the most effective methods of unarmed attack and defense, and
spent several years studying the anatomy of animals and
humans in order to discover their points of strength and
vulnerability. He then developed movements designed to aim
blows at these critical points.
Another legend involves the Indian monk, Daruma Taishi, or
Bodidharma. To protect himself from animal and marauder
attacks on a journey in which he was to spread the teachings of
Buddha, he adopted and refined existing unarmed fighting
techniques. When he arrived in the Hunan Province of China in
520 A.D., he taught the techniques he had learned to his
followers at the Shaolin-Ssu monastery as part of their religious
training. Buddhist monks from China then took these skills with
them and introduced them to northern Korea in the sixth century.
There is evidence, however, that martial arts were already
developing in Korea prior to Bodidharma's journey to China. The
earliest records of Taekwondo practice date back to about 50 B.
C. During this time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms:
Koguryo, Silla, and Paekche. Evidence of the practice of Taek
Kyon (the earliest known form of Taekwondo) has been found in
paintings of the ceiling of the Muyong-chong, a royal tomb from
the Koguryo dynasty. These and other mural paintings show
unarmed combatants using techniques that are virtually
identical to those of modern-day Taekwondo. Of particular
interest are details that show the use of the knife hand, fist and
classical fighting stances, all components of modern Taekwondo.
The history of Korea is very long and exciting as is the history of
Taekwondo. The legendary soldier-king Dongoon forged the
various tribes into a unified kingdom 23 centuries before the
birth of Christ. This kingdom, founded at the high point of
Egyptian history and centuries before the Roman Empire was
founded, lasted more than twelve centuries. Korea is a country
with a much varied history. Being at the cross roads of Asia,
Korea was periodically invaded by the Mongols, the
Manchurians, the Chinese and the Japanese. But the indigenous
people of what is now known as the Korean Peninsula hung on
to their own identity.
The necessity of political unification to expel foreign invasion led
to the establishment of tribal federations leading to kingdoms.
Among the Ma-han people of the southwest, the city state
founded by a contingent of the Puyu people in 18 B.C. grew to
become the kingdom of Paekche. In the southeast corner of the
peninsula, a confederation of six clans of the Chin-han in 57 B.C.
came to be the kingdom of Silla. Composed of tribal people who
had been forced from their original homes in northwestern
Korea and the Liao-tung peninsula by the expansion of Chinese
power in the area, the Kingdom of Koguryo was founded in 37 B.
THE THREE KINGDOMS PERIOD
In the kingdom of Paekche (18 B.C. to 600 A.D.), which was
located along the Han river in southwestern Korea, martial arts
were sponsored by the Paekche kings. The ancient records show
that horseback riding, archery, and bare handed fighting arts
were very popular among both the military and common people
of this era. Records which have survived from this time "have it
that in ancient days there was a self-defense using both the
arms and legs."
In the kingdom of Koguryo (37 B.C. to 668 A.D.), founded along
River Valley, the governmental organization worked on a type of
merit system where the best and brightest fighters, and the
most physically fit received high positions. One of the most
prominent systems was formed by the sixth King, King Taejo,
and was called the "Sun Bae" which means a hermit or predator
with super-natural powers. The men with superior skills were
chosen, and called "Sun Bae." It is also said that "sunbaes lived
in groups, learning history and literary arts at home and going
out to construct roads and fortresses for the benefits of society,
always devoting themselves to the nation." With its great
neighbor China to the North, Koguryo had need of great military
strength to survive. They were able not only to survive, but to
grow strong, absorb tribes previously under Chinese control,
and successfully stave off large armies sent to subdue them.
Although Taek-kyon is believed to have first appeared in the
Kingdom, it is Silla's warrior nobility, the Hwarang, who are
credited with the growth and spread of the fighting art
throughout Korea. Silla (57 B.C. to 936 A.D.) was the smallest
and least civilized of the three kingdoms. Its coastline under
constant harassment from Japanese pirates, Silla appealed for
help from the Koguryo Kingdom. King Gwanggaeto, the 19th in
the line of Koguryo monarchs, sent a force of 50,000 soldiers
into neighboring Silla to help the smaller kingdom drive away
the Japanese. It is at this time that Taekkyon is thought to have
been introduced to Silla's warrior class, handed down in strict
secrecy to a few Sillan warriors by early masters of the Art.
A price accompanied Koguryo's assistance in repelling the
Japanese. For a number of years that followed, Koguryo
insinuated itself into Silla's internal affairs, a situation that Silla
could not tolerate. Silla and Paekche (also under constant threat
of Koguryo domination) forged an alliance and proceeded to
shake off the influence of Koguryo.
As the sixth century progressed, the military and political
situation for all three of these kingdoms became even more
complex. The alliance between Paekche and Silla ended, with
Paekche forging a new alliance between itself and Koguryo. Silla
was able to form an alliance with the Chinese T'ang dynasty.
Through this alliance, Silla was able to conquer first Paekche in
668 A.D., then Koguryo in 670 A.D. Thus, Silla had accomplished
what had not been done before: the unification of the Korean
peninsula under one banner.
The peninsula remained united until the mid-twentieth century,
when a civil war divided the country between the Democratic
south and the Communist north.
THE THREE DYNASTY PERIOD
Silla's Taek Kyon-trained warriors played a major role in the
unifying of the Three Kingdoms. Founded initially by King Jin
Heung as a military academy for the young nobility of Silla, the
society of Hwarang-do ("the way of flowering manhood") was
an elite group. This group numbered between 200 and 1000 at
any given time and consisted of the Hwarang, or leaders, who
were selected from among the sons of royalty between the ages
of 16 and 20, and the Nangdo, or cadets, who were assembled
from the rest of the young nobility. The young men within the
society were educated in many disciplines, including history,
Confucian philosophy, ethics, Buddhist morality, riding, archery,
sword play, military tactics and, of course, Taekkyon. The
guiding principles of the Hwarang-do education were based on
the Five Codes of Human Conduct, as established by the
Buddhist scholar Wonkang.
These axioms are:
Be loyal to your country
Be obedient to your parents
Be trustworthy to your friends
Never retreat in battle
Never make an unjust kill
Tae kyon was taught in conjunction with the Five codes of
Human Conduct so that it became a way of life for the young
men, a code of moral behavior that served to guide their lives
and the use to which they put their training in taek kyon. Today,
these codes are reflected in the so-called 11 commandments of
modern Taekwondo. As with the original codes of conduct, these
modern axioms are used to guide the moral development of
students of the art, and no student who does not fully
understand these tenets can ever hope to master the true
essence of the Art.
Loyalty to your country
Respect your parents
Faithfulness to your spouse
Respect your brothers and sisters
Loyalty to your friends
Respect your elders
Respect your teachers
Never take life unjustly
Loyalty to your school
Finish what you begin
Along with their training in fundamental education and military
skills, the Hwarang were also skilled in poetry, singing and
dancing, and were encouraged to travel throughout the
peninsula in order to learn about the regions and people. From
Taoism they borrowed the practice of ordering the management
of affairs in a seemingly paradoxical but unique manner(the
doctrine of action by non-action, the teaching of communication
by non-discourse). From the teachings of Buddha they accepted
the commitment to reject evil and to effectively act for the good.
These traveling warriors were responsible for the spread of tae
kyon throughout the Silla dynasty, which lasted from 668 A.D. to
Of the outside influences that helped to form the core of Korean
religious philosophy, Confucianism and Buddhism played the
most significant roles.
The Confucian element in Korean philosophic and religious
growth stressed social and scholarly virtues. Confucianism
upheld the values of correct conduct and filial piety. It taught
that the peace, happiness and security of the people was the
moral responsibility of the rulers. Confucius also believed in the
power of ritual for its own sake, because men in antiquity had
left us the traditions of a "Golden Age" which, of course, ties
into a reverence for ancestors. Thus, Confucianism was by its
very nature conservative, emphasizing man's duties to his follow
men and the social order. It was, by and large, a social code,
concentrating on ethics and teaching by example, rather that by
precepts. While Buddhism also extolled compassion and charity,
evidenced in Buddhist hostels for pilgrims, in dispensaries and
hospitals and in the humane treatment of animals and men, it
was a more dynamic and individualistic form of religion than
It was not until the Koryo dynasty (935 A.D. to 1392 A.D.) that
the focus of the art was changed. During this time, taek kyon
became known as Subak and reached its greatest early
popularity. The kingdom under these rulers was strictly
militaristic in spirit, a fact dictated by the necessity of defending
the country against continual foreign invasions. During the reign
of King Uijong (1147-1170) taek kyon/subak again changed
from a system designed primarily to promote fitness into a
fighting art. The soldiers of the Koryo dynasty were among the
finest the country has ever produced, and their martial spirit and
bravery has been a source of inspiration ever since. It was
during this time that "the science was first technically organized
and systemitized by the leading masters of those times," and
became practiced not only as a martial art, but also as a skill to
enjoy competitively as a sport. It was from the Koryo dynasty
that the peninsula gained its modern name, Korea.
Koryo's aristocracy indulged itself and its servants, at the
expense of the military. As a result, the military rose and
overthrew the regime in 1170.
This marked the establishment of military rule in Korea, which
continued through a series of popular uprisings, and invasions
by both the Mongols and the Japanese, until the late fourteenth
At that time, a Koryo general by the name of Yi Songye seized
political power in a perfectly timed, near-bloodless coup, and
established the Joseon dynasty (a.k.a. Yi dynasty). In one form
or another, this dynasty ruled Korea until the twentieth century.
During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1907), there is some
speculation that envoys from Okinawa learned subak and
introduced it to their people as the forerunner of Okinawa-te
karate. The Historical Record of Joseon (also pronounced as
Chosun) mentions these envoys and their frequent visits to
bring tribute to the kings of Joseon, and of these envoys as the
means of Okinawa's adoption of "Nul", the Korean see-saw
In 1790, King Chongjo ordered General Lee Duck Muy to compile
an official textbook on all martial arts then practiced in Korea.
This volume, known as Muye Dobo Tongji, is now considered a
definitive early classic of the martial arts of Korea. Prior to this,
the art had been restricted primarily to the military nobility. The
publication of this book and the subsequent popularizing of the
art among the general public were responsible for the survival of
subak during the era.
Another Joseon dynasty record indicates that in order to pass a
certain degree of martial examination, one had to defeat three or
more persons by means of subak. A war history also shows that
during the Hideyoshi Invasion in 1592, some 700 volunteer
soldiers of the Kumsan area fought Japanese invaders with bare
fists by means of subak. Another record shows that subak
matches were held time to time among villages of Chungcheong
The popularity of Subak waned in the second half of the Joseon
dynasty, due to the negligence of the royal court, which was
constantly torn by strife between feuding political factions. With
the absence of hostile neighbors, military training and national
defense was neglected. King Taejo substituted Confucianism for
Buddhism as the state religion, holding scholarships and
learning in high esteem and military related pursuits in
disrepute. During this period, examples of martial arts training
are rare and little is known of them. The martial arts for the most
part were passed on from father to son in the form of patterned
techniques (forms), usually in secrecy.
The Joseon Dynasty was to last until 1907, with various Kings
introducing many social and cultural changes. Generally, it was
a period of diplomacy more than continual war, with Korea
looking for assistance from Japan when threatened from the
north, and looking to China when threatened from the south.
Even so, Korea did spend many decades under the control of
foreigners, particularly China. From the late 17th century
through to the early 19th, Korea was known as the "Hermit
Kingdom" because it turned away foreigners, particularly the
Europeans who were expanding their own empires at this time.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Korea set up relations with
many Western Nations in an effort to offset the Japanese
influence. In 1894 the Tonghak Rebellion brought both Japanese
and Chinese troops onto Korean soil in an effort to protect their
interests and to influence the Korean Monarchy. The final
Joseon dynasty King was on the throne for only 24 days when a
new treaty with Japan stripped him of all power. Thus the
annexation of Korea by Japan was merely an acknowledgment of
what had already happened.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
The Joseon Dynasty came to a close in 1910 with the Japanese
invasion of Korea, who occupied the country for 36 years. This
occupation was partly initiated under the pretense of helping to
defend Korea against Russian aggression during the
Russo/Japanese war. In actuality, is was an attempt to turn
Korea into a colony of Japan. The Japanese colonial government,
using military force, banned all cultural activities, including
team sports and the practice of martial arts. In an attempt to
destroy the Korean identity, the Japanese banned the teaching
of the Korean language in schools and attempted to change
Korean family names. Some martial arts instructors continued to
practice their skills in secrecy, and in this way the Korean
martial arts were kept alive. One man in particular, Master Song
Duk Ki, learned Subak during the later part of the Joseon
dynasty from Master Yim
Ho, and continued to teach during the Japanese occupation.
Eventually, the Japanese lifted the ban on martial arts to fulfill
military requirements during WWII. In 1943, following Judo,
Japanese karate and Kendo were introduced into Korea. The
teachers of Subak further developed and incorporated these
foreign techniques into the Korean forms already being
practiced. There were those who even left Korea to work and
study in China and even Japan. A hybrid form developed utilizing
Subak as its core and included techniques from the Chinese
kung fu martial arts and Japanese karate-do. This new style was
called Tang Soo Do, that is, "the art of the China hand." Other
styles included Soo Bak Do and Kwon Bop. There were also those
who claimed to teach traditional Taekkyon. Many of the modern
Taekwondo kwan founders had trained in, and received rank and
teaching certificates for Shotokan Karate. This had the largest
impact on the modern development of Taekwondo.
Toward the end of the World War II, the Americans invaded
Korea to press back the Japanese, but also in an effort to control
the post-war occupation of the Korean Peninsula by the Soviets.
In 1948, the Americans and Soviets proclaimed the division of
Korea into the Republic of Korea (South), with Syngman Rhee as
President, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
(North). In 1950 the North Korean military invaded the South,
resulting in the "Korean War" lasting until the 27th of July, 1953.
THE KOREAN KWANS
The first kwan ("school") to teach a native style of martial art
was opened in 1945 in Yong Chun, Seoul. This dojang
(gymnasium) was named the Chung Do Kwan (a.k.a. Chong Do
Kwan, "Gym of the Blue Wave") under master Won Kuk Lee.
Soon After, one of his students, Hwang Kee established the Moo
Duk Kwan in Seoul, teaching
Tang Soo Do. Later that year, Sup (Jun) Chun Sang established
the Yun Moo Kwan in Seoul. And finally, in 1946, Yoon Pyung
founded the Chang Moo Kwan at a YMCA. These were believed
to be the original kwans founded before the Korean War.
However, Lee, Yong Woo, the founder of Jung Do Kwan had
begun teaching privately in 1944 but this is often not recognized
because he was a student of Won Kuk Lee at the time.
In 1952, during the Korean War, a demonstration before
President Syngman Rhee evolved into the most significant
turning point for Korean martial arts. So impressed was Rhee he
immediately turned to his military chiefs of staff and ordered
that all Korean soldiers receive training in these arts.
This dictate ultimately accounted for a tremendous surge in
schools and students, including the formal inclusion in the
athletic curriculum of elementary and secondary schools of
During the War between the Communist government in North
Korea and the Republic of Korea in the South, the Russians
actively searched for and eliminated famous Taekwondo
masters. Among those founding masters were Grand Master
Sup Chun Chang (Yun Moo Kwan), and Master Yoon Pyung
(Chang Moo Kwan). These were great losses to the Korean
people. It is believed that North Korea had no surviving masters
until 1972. Many good masters in South Korea were also killed
while participating in special commando groups trained in
martial arts to fight the North.
In 1953-54, Kwe Byung Yoon and Chong Woo Lee opened and
ran Yun Moo Kwan under the new name of Ji (Chi) Do Kwan
("Wisdom Way School"). Byung Chik Ro founded the Song Moo
Kwan at Kae Sung, and Hong Hi Choi, with the help of Tae Hi
Nam, the Oh Do Kwan ("Gym of My Way"). Counting the original
schools, there were now six kwans, all apparently espousing a
In 1954, General Hong Hi Choi organized the 29th Infantry on
Che Je island, off the Korean coast, as a spearhead and center
for Taek kyon training in the military. Choi had been teaching
his martial art to his soldiers throughout his military career, and
had become an instructor for the American Military Police School
in Seoul as early as 1948. In 1949 he visited Fort Riley in the
USA and introduced the American people to "Korean Karate".
Given fast promotion within the Korean Armed Forces, Choi was
named Chief of Staff in 1952 as a Brigadier General and a man of
considerable influence in the war time forces of then President
On April 11, 1955, at a pivotal conference of kwan masters,
historians, and Taekkyon promoters, it was decided to adopt the
term "Taekwondo" as the standard, which had been created and
submitted by Gen. Choi (the self proclaimed "father of Tae Kwon
Do"). The name was approved because of its resemblance to
Taekkyon, and so provides continuity and maintains tradition.
Further, it describes both hand and foot techniques. The number
of kwans which then consolidated into tae kwon do is the
subject of much debate and historical confusion. With the
addition of Han Moo Kwan (Ji Do
Kwan's representing annex), founded by Kyo Yoon Lee, it is
believed that seven kwans merged to officially form the single
art of Tae Kwon Do. It has never been clear which of the
original Kwans did in fact merge in 1955, but of those who did
not, only Hapkido remains as a recognized separate Korean art
According to Jhoon Rhee (the founder of Martial Ballet in
America), dissension among the various kwans carried on for six
years, and it wasn't until Sept. 14, 1961 that the groups once
again organized into a single association, as ordered by an
official decree of the new military government. It was called the
Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA), with Gen. Choi elected its
first president. The new association soon gained official
recognition by the major kwans, but not for long. Hwang Kee,
the founder of TangSooDo, jealous because he was not elected
president of the KTA even though he was one of the main
organizers, maintained the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association and
became a competing body to the KTA.
The Ji Do Kwan Association also seceded. By 1962, however,
many of the individual instructors rejoined the KTA, possibly
because that year the KTA was ordered by the South Korean
government to re-examine all black belt ranks to determine
national standards, and they did not wish to be omitted.
President Syngman Rhee was deposed on April 27th, 1960, by a
constitutional democracy that was short lived. A coup lead by
Park Chung Lee (Park and Choi were generals under Syngman
Rhee) on May 16th, 1961, saw Park become President by the
end of 1962.
Under the KTA leadership, masters traveled all over the world to
spread the art. (Gen.) Hong Hi Choi also supported expanding
Taekwondo links with the Communist north, a position the South
Korean government did not advocate. On March 22, 1966,
inspired by greed seeing a huge potential for profit in
Taekwondo globally, Gen. Choi founded the International
Taekwondo Federation (ITF), for which he also served as
president. He later resigned as KTA president and moved his ITF
headquarters to Montreal, Canada, from where he has
concentrated on organizing Taekwondo internationally. His
emphasis was on self-defense methodology, not particularly on
the sport. General Choi's Chong Han forms became the official
patterns of the ITF.
The primary Forms (styled techniques patterned against an
imaginary opponent) practiced in Korea prior to 1953 were the
Shotokan karate based forms of Pin-an (a.k.a Pyung-an). These
patterns, also known as "kata" and "poom-se", were originally
developed by Gichin Funakoshi and were based upon traditional
Okinawan philosophy and the forms learned from his own
instructors. These forms were first introduced to Japan in the
early 1920's, and then subsequently to Korea. In 1967-68, a
Korea Taekwondo Association committee was formed with
representatives from all the major kwans ("schools"). Utilizing
the traditional Shotokan patterns along with techniques from
their individual styles, they worked together to create the
standardized Taekwondo Kyobon, Pal-Gwe and Black belt forms
officially recognized today. The "modern" Tae Geuk forms
followed in 1972.
Taekwondo's international expansion started with the Republic
of Vietnam in 1962 by Hong Hi Choi. It next migrated to
Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong in 1962-63. Taekwondo was
pioneered in Canada by Chong Lee in 1964, the same year it hit
Singapore. The art was introduced to Europe by Park Jong Soo in
1965, first in West Germany, then in the Netherlands in 1966.
Taekwondo entered the Middle East in 1966, and Taiwan in
1967. Meanwhile, in Korea, Taekwondo spread from military
posts to universities and high schools.
Public dojangs proliferated, all with abundant student
In January of 1971, Korean Amateur Sports Association
President, Dr. Un Yong Kim was elected the new president of the
Korea Taekwondo Association. Dr. Kim felt that Korea was the
mother country of Taekwondo and that there should be a world
headquarters located there. On May 28, 1973, he organized the
World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) to promote a sport called
Kukki-Taekwondo on an international level. Dr. Kim was also
instrumental in helping to organize the building of the KukKiWon
in Seoul. The Kukkiwon, literally the institute for a National
Sport, has become the "mecca of World
Taekwondo" and the main educational and training center for
the Korea Taekwondo Association. Under the auspices of the
KTA, the Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters) is now
primarily responsible for international Black belt rank
standardization and certification, while the WTF is primarily
responsible for the administration and promotion of Kukki-
Taekwondo as an
international sport. The Kukkiwon/WTF is the only international
regulating body for the sport of Kukki-Taekwondo recognized by
the South Korean government while the Kwan members of the
Korea Taekwondo Association continue to be the recognized
authorities for the military art of Taekwondo.
In 1977, the dan names were replaced by serial numbers. The
dans (some of which considered affiliates of others), in order
from 1st dan to 9th dan, these ranks were originally established
by the 9 Kwans which are: Songmookwan, Hanmookwan,
Changmookwan, Moodukkwan, Ohdokwan, Kangdukwan,
Jungdokwan, Jidokwan, and Chungdokwan. With the WTF
placing more emphasis on the sport applications of Taekwondo,
many Korean masters traveled abroad to America to retain their
individual styles and self defense methodology.
In the short space of a few year, Dr. Kim and the World
Taekwondo Federation has made major progress toward Kukki-
Taekwondo receiving official status as an international amateur
sport, both in the U.S. and other countries. Since the
formulation of the WTF and its charter, a major effort has been
made to standardize tournament rules and procedures, and to
organize world class competitions. This standardization made it
possible for Kukki-Taekwondo to enter the Olympic games first
as a demonstration sport in 1988, followed by full medal
recognition in the 2000 Olympic games held in Sydney,
Australia. Although the correct name of the sport form is Kukki-
Taekwondo, many people have simply used the name
Taekwondo. While some Kwans typically carry the Taekwondo
name as a suffix like Taekwondo-JungDoKwan, simply use the
name Taekwondo as well. This has lead to a worldwide
confusion about what is Taekwondo, a martial art or a sport.
Unfortunately the generic word Taekwondo has become
synonymous for both.
THE FUTURE OF SPORT TAEKWONDO
In the short time since the inception of the WTF in 1973 and the
first World Taekwondo Championships, Kukki-Taekwondo has
grown with unprecedented rapidity as a worldwide sport. Today,
Kukki-Taekwondo is one of only two martial sports systems (the
other being karate-do) to be practiced all over the world,
boasting an international membership of more than 20 million
practitioners in over 140 countries (120 being official WTF
members), making it the most practiced martial sport style in
Considering the unparalleled growth of the sport of Kukki-
Taekwondo and its acceptance into the circle of Olympic sports,
there seems to be little doubt that it will continue to enjoy its
rapidly expanding popularity around the world. Kukki-
Taekwondo is a highly complex system composed of many
elements, and it is in this diverse nature where the true strength
of the sport lies. A fundamental downfall of Kukki-Taekwondo is
that it's leaders lack the ethical character that the martial art
from which it takes it's name is famous for.
THE FUTURE OF THE MILITARY ART OF TAEKWONDO
The founding Kwans of Taekwondo and their recognized US
Affiliate, the US National Taekwondo Association are working
hard to globalize the martial art forms of Taekwondo hoping that
the popularity of the sport will help. As children grow up and
become bored with the philosophy of sport Taekwondo, beating
down another human being to make yourself feel superior. They
may become interested in the military art of Taekwondo and it's
mind, body, spirit philosophy. When they do, the US National
Taekwondo Association and the Kwans will guide them to
mastery of themselves and their art.