TaeKwonDo is a Korean martial art. It emphasizes the usage of the hands and feet for attack and defense. The ultimate goal of TaeKwonDo is to develop and enhance the personality and character of the practitioner through physical, mental and spiritual discipline.
The name TaeKwonDo comes from the Korean word Tae meaning foot, Kwon meaning fist and Do meaning way of. So, literally TaeKwonDo means the way of the foot and fist. While the name of this martial art form has only been in use since about 1955, the art form itself is over 2,300 years old.
Within Korea there were five major martial art academies or Kwans. They were called Mooduk Kwan, Jido Kwan, Changmu Kwan, Chungdo Kwan, and Songmu Kwan. Within these schools lie a variety of styles such as KongSooDo, Tae Kyon, SooBakDo, TangSooDo, KwonPup, etc. The way of teaching and employing many of the techniques varied as much as the schools and in 1946 an attempt was made to unify Dojangs (training halls) and standardize instructional methods. Some of the leaders wanted to uphold the martial art character of the schools while others wished to create a combat sport. These meetings met with no success.
In 1955 a board of instructors, historians and prominent society members sat down to coordinate all the schools and select a name for the hopefully unified art. In April 1955 a new name was from a group of names by the board, it was TaeKwonDo.
In 1962 the Korean Amateur Sports Association recognized the Korean TaeKwonDo Union, which later became known as the Korean TaeKwonDo Association (K.T.A.).
On May 28, 1973 the World TaeKwonDo Federation was officially established at the Kukkiwon (headquarters) by Dr. Un Yon Kim. Located in Seoul, Korea the World TaeKwonDo Federation is the governing body which preserves TaeKwonDo’s roots and development, controls testing and testing requirements, and promotes the study of TaeKwonDo all over the world. In this way the WTF hopes to continue the unification of their native art.
On September 17, 1988 in the 24th Seoul Olympics, TaeKwonDo became a demonstration sport. This became a bridgehead to spread TaeKwonDo worldwide. At the 103rd IOC Assembly in Paris, France, TaeKwonDo became an official Olympic sport. The Korean Language also became an official language of the Olympic Games (joining English, French, and Japanese). Now, TaeKwonDo is an international martial art in 203 countries and it includes 80 million practitioners.