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History of Tae Kwon Do

The purpose of this history is to attempt to trace the roots of the style of Tae Kwon Do. To do this properly, it is necessary to show how modern Tae Kwon Do developed, and to indicate how that development took place. As the martial arts were often developed, transmitted, and practiced in secret, precise historical conclusions are impossible. The historical sequence described here is no better than probable, especially for events before 1800. Unfortunately, however, even relatively recent events in the Korean Martial Arts have been clouded by deliberate efforts to rewrite history for nationalistic or promotional purposes.

Tae Kwon Do is the youngest of all the Oriental martial arts. Its history begins with the opening of the Chung Do Kwan dojang in Soeul in 1944. At that time, Tae Kwon Do was predominantly Okinawan /Japanese (2) Karate with minor contributions from Chinese Chuan Fa. The original kwans taught Okinawan/Japanese kata, wore gis; and the art taught was Karate with an increasingly Korean flavor. At this point, little if anything had been contributed by the Korean martial art of Tae Kyon, which had all but vanished during the Yi dynasty and the subsequent Japanese occupation. Most of the Korean instructors had been students (3) at Japanese universities or soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army, and had learned their martial arts in Japan, returning to Korea as shodan or nidan black belts (4) .

More and more kwans were founded during the late 40’s and early 50’s, and what they taught was called “Korean Karate.” The name, “Tae Kwon Do” may have been suggested as early as 1955 at a meeting which was a first effort at unifying the kwans. From 1960 to 1970, under the direction of the Korean government, at that time General Park’s dictatorship, (5) Tae Kwon Do was unified under two international governing bodies, the ITF and later the WTF, originally the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association. This period ends with the official dissolution of the kwans in Korea, and is marked by the replacement of the ancient kata with brand new poomse and the creation of administrative centralization. This period also saw the beginning of the divergence of Tae Kwon Do from a martial art to a martial art based sport.

Between 1975 and today, there has been increased consolidation and centralization of authority. The sport aspect has received increasing emphasis to the point where training is now generally dominated by preparation for tournament competition sparring. Tae Kwon Do has become an Olympic sport, and Tae Kwon Do is no longer officially considered a martial art in Korea, but rather a martial sport. WTF Tae Kwon Do black belts are no longer registered with the Ki-Do Hae (6) , but rather at their own headquarters at the Kukkiwon.

Early History
The Chinese boxing styles which predated the introduction of Buddhism to China, are quite likely Taoist in philosophical orientation, and the roots for the modern Tai Chi, Pa Kua and Hsing-i Chinese styles. It is possible that not only these styles, but the attitudes characterizing ideal martial artists originated with the yu-hsia of the Period of the Warring States (403-221 BC) (7). This means that there are two major branches of the Chinese unarmed martial arts, one (generally Taoist in philosophy) (8) , older than the other. This is important, as the evidence suggests that an unarmed fighting system may have been practiced in northern Koguryo as early as ca. 37 BC. Sculptures and pictures of the Koguryo dynasty (109BC-668AD) show postures that could represent early kinds of empty hand fighting. However, as this evidence is equally compelling as proof for Chinese origins (9) , it is more likely that the ancient roots for the roots for Korean martial arts lie not in Korea but in China and that the early unarmed martial arts of Koguryo Korea may in fact simply be these early Taoist forms of Chinese boxing, as spread by the yu-hsia. (10)

In general, it would seem that most Asian martial arts per se in China, Korea, Okinawa, and Japan, derive from a combination of indigenous, relatively primitive (11) , techniques with the more highly organized Buddhist fighting arts as these were spread from India by missionaries. It is quite possible that these Buddhist martial arts owe much of their early development to an ancient Greek martial art, the Pankration (various spellings) (12) , which was the very first eclectic martial art for which we have firm documentation. This art became an Olympic event in 648 BC, a date which antedates any archeological sources in Korea. The art included boxing, kicking, sweeping, grappling, joint locks, and choking. The Pyrrhic Dance, a Greek martial dance which could be performed armed or unarmed, similar to modern kata or poomse, existed at the same time and was possibly used as a teaching tool for the techniques of the Pankration (13) .

The idea that this Greek art is one of the major sources of all Asian unarmed martial arts today is not at all far-fetched. Alexander the Great was a Pankration enthusiast, and the Pankration, foremost among other Greek martial sports, went into Asia as far as India with Alexander’s armies of conquest. Alexander was the greatest general of his time and one of the greatest generals of all time. He and his armies enjoyed enormous prestige everywhere in the ancient world. Instruction in the favored martial art of that army would be highly valued by any soldier or warrior of the period.

There is an historical gap between the time of Alexander and the era where we find an elite caste of warriors in India, the Ksatreya, who practiced the martial art Vajramukti, which included nata forms similar to kata. The nata forms can only be documented by the time of the Gupta dynasty in India (4th to 7th century AD), and at this time they were closely connected to Buddhism. Although indigenous martial practices undoubtedly existed throughout Asia at this time, it is possible that the addition of Buddhist mental exercises to clearly formulated Greek techniques gave rise to Vajramukti (Chinese: Chuan Fa; Japanese: Kempo). This Indian martial art accompanied the missionaries who spread Buddhism from India into China (1AD to 600AD). It was probably a very gradual process, but legend has attributed the introduction of these techniques to a single Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma. This monk supposedly combined Indian techniques with an existing style of Chinese boxing, formalized this combination, and taught it to the Buddhist community at the Shaolin temple in Honan as a means of spiritual meditation as well as effective self-defense.

Chuan Fa or, incorrectly, Kung Fu spread from the Shaolin temples all over China during the Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907), and it eventually separated into several distinct styles or schools. At this period, there was a great deal of military, political, and economic exchange between China and Korea, and it is likely that the techniques of Chuan Fa were adopted in Korea to become Subak. During the Silla dynasty (668-935), which unified Korea, the southern part of the peninsula was introduced to Subak, and Chinese combat forms (Hsing) or kata were used to train Korean warriors. The subsequent Koryo Dynasty (935-1392), saw a standardization of schools of empty hand combat under the names of Subak and Kwonpup (Chuan fa if the characters are read in Chinese). Korea was not always defined by its present political boundaries, and large areas of Manchuria passed back and forth from Chinese to Korean control allowing for an appreciable interchange of martial ideas and techniques among wariors and soldiers. Traveling scholars and monks would also have helped spread these ideas and techniques.

It is possible that Subak and the Chinese combat forms were used as a part of the training of the Hwarang. The Hwrang (14) (572-935 AD) (15) have a legendary relationship to Korean martial arts. These legends are as compelling in Korean as the legends of the King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table in English, and the Hwarang’s existence seems to be better documented (16) . But in spite of the legends, however suggestive, there is no historical justification for the common assumption that the Hwarang are related to any modern Korean martial art in the same way as the Samurai of Japan (17) . Available sources do not support such a conclusion.

These very limited sources do suggest that the Hwrang were both more and less than the Japanese Bushi or Samurai. First, they were not warriors. They bear no relationship to orders of European knighthood. They may have become and commanded warriors after having been Hwarang, but as Hwrang, they were not warriors. The Hwrang were not a part of the Silla army. Unlike the Samurai, they were not a particular social class, and they were not hereditary. They did not emphasize the unarmed martial arts, but rather trained in archery and fencing, with particular emphasis on archery. They did not follow Hwrang as a Do, for they left the Hwrang as they became older. They have some resemblance to the Japanese Yamabushi in their preference for training in mountains and wilderness. But they were not monks, and they did not remain in the mountains.

This is what they were not. What were they? The Hwrang were always the youth; they were always young, and this is important. Their training or education focused heavily on philosophy, the Chinese classics, and on religion. Their religious training seems to have been Buddhism heavily influenced by Taoism or indigenous animism, but the main goal of their training was Confucian in intent. They were a group of elite young men under training for positions of high authority and leadership in Korea during the second half of the Silla dynasty. The purpose of Hwrang training was to prepare the very best young men in the Silla Kingdom to occupy such positions in an honorable, restrained, responsible, dignified, and courageous manner. In brief, the Hwrang were students in a very demanding preparatory course. This training succeeded so well that the Hwrang have been an example of the best in Korea for over 1000 years. However, the historical Hwrang appear to have no direct connection with Tae Kwon Do or with the other martial arts of modern Korea (18) .

Subak continued as the Korean unarmed martial art until the end of the Koryo or beginning of the Yi Dynasty (1393-1910) when it subsequently divided into Tae Kyon (a striking art) and Yu Sul ( a grappling art – {chin na, yu sul and jujutsu are written the same way in Chinese}). Yu Sul appears to have died out, leaving Tae Kyon as the only surviving aspect of Subak. (The name Tae Kyon is not recorded until the 18th century at the earliest, so any earlier Korean fighting art is still correctly called Subak. The term “Tae Kyon” {in Korean Taek Gyeon} is not linguistically related to the term Tae Kwon Do.)

The latter half of the Yi Dynasty was characterized by Neo-Confucianism, which brought the martial arts into disfavor, and Tae Kyon nearly died out. In 1759 (1790[?]), King Chongjo ordered Gen. Lee Duck Moo to compile an illustrated official text of all martial arts, the Muye Dobo Tongj, which contained one chapter dealing with empty handed martial arts, identified as Kwonpup (Chuan Fa). But during the 18th-19th and early 20th centuries no organized martial arts instruction was available, and Tae Kyon was studied in secret, largely within certain families.

The Modern Period
Karate in Okinawa, known as Tote before the 20th century, was not recorded in Okinawa before the 18th century. Almost all modern Karate is firmly based on Chinese boxing techniques which were introduced to Okinawa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly from the Fuchou area in Fukien Province (19) . An earlier art, known simply as Te, is known and certainly has influenced the development of Karate, but not to same extent as Chuan Fa. The founding masters of Gojo Ryu and Uechi Ryu learned their arts in China, as did the founder of the older Shorin Ryu, (Shorin is the Okinawan pronunciation of Shaolin). Karate was, if not a secret art, at least closely restricted to the more well-to-do class, and often kept within families. It was not taught to the general public, and it was not a peasant art.

In 1882 the Dan/kyu system was adopted for Judo by Master Kano in Japan. This was the first belt ranking system in any of the martial arts. In 1921, the Japanese emperor attended an exhibition of Karate in Okinawa. He was very impressed, and the following year Funakoshi Gichin, an Okinawan master, introduced Karate to Japan. His style underwent several changes, adapting to the centuries of Japanese martial tradition, and became Shotokan Karate (20) . Other Japanese styles are also recent introductions from Okinawa.

In 1910, Japan occupied Korea, and as a part of an effort to promote Japanese nationalism in Korea, the remnants of the native Korean martial arts were suppressed. Very few people practiced these arts during the period of the Japanese occupation. Tae Kyon went underground after 1920 (21) , and the limited training available was conducted in secret. Known 20th century Tae Kyon lineage is very limited; and it is certain that at least some knowledge was lost. There were only 3 main Tae Kyon schools known for this period: the Gurigae dojang (22) , the Chongno dojang, and the Wangshimni dojang. After 1945, Tae Kyon was again taught openly, but as a very separate tradition with virtually no relation to Tae Kwon Do.

During the Japanese occupation, many Korean boys were taken to Japan for education and training, which sometimes included intensive training in the Japanese martial arts. (Masutatsu Oyama Sensei (Choi Yong-i) was Korean, Grand Master Lee (Yi) Won-Kuk trained in Shotokan under Funakoshi Sensei, and General Choi Hong Hi, founder of ITF, was a first (23) Dan in Japanese Karate.) Other Koreans went to China as students or were stationed in Japanese occupied Manchuria as soldiers where some of them were exposed to Chinese martial arts.

“The modern Karate of Korea, with very little influence from Tae Kyon, …was imported directly from China and also from Okinawa through Japan.” (24)

“The main differences among Tang Su Do, Karate, and Kung Fu (sic) were in how pressure points were used and attacked.” (25)

Tracing instructional lineages of the founders of the kwans back beyond 1945 inevitably leads to Japanese styles of karate. Modern Tae Kwon Do was largely created by young men who had received their original training in Japan or China before 1945, but most never reached the higher levels of their arts. As they continued their training after Korean independence, no longer under the supervision of their former sensei or sifu, they started from a basis of incompletely transmitted knowledge to go in a different direction to develop a new art.

You must also remember that at the period of W.W.II, there was a tremendous amount of prejudice against foreigners in Japan, and this definitely applied to Koreans. It still does. Given the instructional traditions in the Japanese martial arts, this fact alone would have acted to keep most Korean students from receiving full instruction in these arts. This may have been a very healthy thing, allowing Korean instructors to evolve their art in new directions.

With the end of Japanese occupation, many of these young men returned to Korea, and the result was an influx of new techniques from China and Japan which led to rapid growth in the Korean (26) martial arts. With the exception of Tang Su Do, which is simply Japanese Karate as taught in Korea (27) and has retained the same kata as Shotokan, Korean black belts developed hybridized styles by combining techniques from Karate and modern Chuan Fa with indigenous Korean techniques: either their own inventions, or what could be recovered from limited experience with, or the popular idea of, Tae Kyon (28) . These styles became the kwans, the basis for the development of Tae Su Do (29) (early name for Tae Kwon Do) which became the most rapidly growing martial sport in the world. The first national association, the Kong Su Do Association was formed in 1945 (1951, 1953?), headed by Cho Ryon Chi. (Kong Su Do is a Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters for Karate Do.)

Early Kwans(30)

Chung Do Kwanthe first1944/45Won Kook Yi
Mu Duk Kwan 1945Hwang Kee
Yun Mu Kwan 1945Sup Jun Sang
Chi Do Kwan 1946Yon Kue Pyang
Ji Do Kwan 1953/54Gae Byang Yun
Sang Mu Kwan 1953/54Byung Chik Ro
O Do Kwan (31)strictly military1954Choi Hong Hi & Nam Tae Hi

By 1950, there were 17 styles of Korean Karate. During the early 1950’s, the period of the Korean War, most Karate was taught within the military, and civilian instructors and schools were very scarce. In 1953, the ROK 29th Division stationed on Che Jo Island was made responsible for martial arts training in the ROK army. In 1961, the Korean government ordered the various styles to organize, and in the same year, (one source puts it in 1965 (32) ), the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association was formed with General Choi as its first president. The Korean government decided at that time that only the 5 top styles would be sanctioned as official TKD. The first style to be chosen was Chung Do Kwan.

Although the term Tae Kwon Do is of very recent origin, there is still some confusion as to when it was first used and by whom. Grand Master Yeon Hee Park says that at a meeting of Korean martial arts masters in April 11, 1955, (one source (33) says that this was a meeting of Chung Do Kwan instructors)it was agreed to unify the Kwans under name of Tae Su Do. This was the year that the Kong Su Do Association broke up. However, Grand Master Choi says he suggested the name, Tae Kwon Do, and it was adopted at that meeting. Grand Master Park says that the name was changed to Tae Kwon Do in 1957 . On September 14, 1961 the Korean TKD Association was formed. However, Grand Master Kim says that this was when the Korean Tae Su Do Association was given official membership in the Korean National Sports Association (KNSA), and that the name Tae Kwon Do was not fully accepted by all Koreans until August, 1965. In any case, it is evident that the name, Tae Kwon Do, is of very recent origin. It would also seem that the name was devised within the Chung Do Kwan.

Admission to the KNSA brings us to the most unsettling aspect of training in Tae Kwon Do today, the emphasis which is placed on sporting competition. There can be no doubt whatever about the deliberate intent on the part of the WTF and ITF Korean Masters to convert Tae Kwon Do into a pure sport. Tae Kwon Do sparring is now an Olympic sport. When practiced as a sport, Tae Kwon Do techniques are strictly limited in application for safety reasons. Dr. Un Yong Kim, the president of the WTF has said:

“Our focus is to develop Tae Kwon Do as a universal sport…Martial art tradition, as you know, comes from a very closed, narrow door (34) .” and later, “ Tae Kwon Do is gaining recognition as a well-developed world sport…The Olympics is a large umbrella. To be sheltered under it means a great elevation in status…We must continue to develop Tae Kwon Do into a sport. To remain as a martial art would be a simple matter. All that needs to be done is to do what people did in the old days when just a handful of people remained as hermits, developing and learning the arts…I am a plain sports leader…the martial arts and other forms of arts are usually practiced within small fields among people who have common interests…We are working hard to achieve the glory of attaining the world sports status…I will not bore you with the trivia of martial arts…Tae Kwon Do came a long way as a sport in a short time. We have accomplished the mammoth tasks of researching its history, re-defining the tradition, unifying the rules, and at the same time promoting it to the rest of the world.” (35)

The ITF founder and president is not only determined to have a sport, he is equally determined to gain fame as the originator of Tae Kwon Do. His comments reveal an ego problem unbecoming to a martial arts master.

“ It would be hopeless to try to merge Karate with Tae Kwon Do…Tae Kwon Do was largely born on April 11, 1955…If I didn’t know anything about Karate, I wouldn’t have invented techniques that are better than Karate…I invented a new martial art…My goal was to make Tae Kwon Do an international sport…I hope that Tae Kwon Do becomes an Olympic event…I invented the martial art of Tae Kwon Do…There is now no Tae Kwon Do in my home country of South Korea…There is no real Tae Kwon Do in South Korea…” (36)

The fate of Judo is a cautionary tale for Tae Kwon Do. Like Tae Kwon Do today, Judo was once (1950’s and 1960’s) the most popular martial art in the world. After it became an Olympic sport, and Judo training became more and more concentrated on sporting competition, Judo lost that popularity, and today it can be difficult to find a Judo dojo, even in a major city. This is often cited as a reason to suspect that sporting success may cause a martial art to lose its effectiveness as a martial art. When victory in a sporting contest becomes the major criterion for excellence in a martial art, then only the young, strong, and gifted will be able to excel in that art, and they will often leave the art when they pass their peak of competitive prowess.

“ The Japanese have devoted themselves to the study of Judo for competition. They have gone to extraordinary lengths to develop winning contestants and fine champions. I, on the other hand, have never trained for competition in my life. All I have ever done is trained in judo as a way of life, exactly as Dr. Kano taught. While the Japanese were devising competitive strategies, I was in the dojo practising basics and kata. I defeated the Japanese because I know judo better than the Japanese. The secret is to train every day in the basics. This will make you unbeatable.” Anton Gessink-World Judo Champion.

There is great pressure for Tae Kwon Do to evolve more generally into a sport with decreasing emphasis on basics, poomse training, and combat effectiveness.

“I am concerned that basic training is often neglected. There should be more emphasis on basic skills: balance, focus, strength training, conditioning of striking surfaces, stance. There is a lack of preparation, seriousness and committment. ..Many do not have hand training, knife- hand training, three-step sparring, or one-step sparring. …there is an over emphasis on kicking techniques in most schools. This is another sign of immaturity.” (37)

The Poomse
Kata are central to Karate to the point where it is often said that “kata are Karate”, and this is the justification for a special section on poomse in this history of Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do. The original kwans taught kata which were taken directly from Japanese and Okinawan styles (Shorin and Shorei (38) ), that is kata which originated in either Okinawa or China. Becuse of the Japanese occupation of Korea, and the Chinese invasion in 1951, Japanese and Chinese associations were distasteful to the Koreans. For the correct development of Korean martial arts, it was considered necessary to distance these arts as much as possible from the Japanese and Chinese arts. This would not be possible while still practicing the kata of those arts. This attitude, while understandable, has been deplored by some Korean masters:

“ When this shift has completely stripped Tae Kwon Do of any traditional forms, where is the art in this martial art? Since any form not created in Korea has been cast out of Tae Kwon Do and replacement”Korean” forms thrown together to replace them, where is the tradition to preserve? How much wisdom can be gleaned from these new forms? They are the fast food of modern martial arts-quick, fast, simple, lacking in nourishment, prone to cause indigestion…I consider myself fortunate to have learned what I have from my instructors. I honor them by preserving ancient Karate and Chuan fa forms they taught me, and continue to hand them down to my own students. Leaving Korea in 1968 meant that I escaped the tremendous pressure to throw away everything that I learned, join the ITF or WTF, teach only new made-up forms with Korean labels, and teach how to win trophies in tournaments.” (39)

The hyung currently in use by the International Tae Kwon Do Federation, (ITF) were the Chang Hon poomse developed by Hong Hi Choi before 1965, and they are still taught. The Palgwe series and the Taeguek series are very recent poomse which were originally introduced and adopted by the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association on Jan. 30, 1967. Grand Master Hae Man Park (Chung Do Kwan) was one of the creators of the Taegeuk Poomse, and creator of the 6 Kibon drills (40) . These are the basic colored belt poomse for the WTF, and they are still in development, undergoing frequent minor adjustments. One TKD school uses an independent series of poomse, the Chung Bong series, which were developed by one man in 1974. (41)

“ At the founding of the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA) the founding members agreed to favor none of the forms of the participating schools, but to create an entirely new series of forms in the interest of overall Tae Kwon Do and to ensure agreement among the different schools. A team of Korean Grandmasters was made responsible for carrying out this project. This committee created the Palgwe- Taegeuk- and the remaining nine black belt poomse, but only a short time later, the Palgwe forms were discarded.” (42)

The Taegeuk poomse were designed especially for colored belt training in Tae Kwon Do. However, as many of the Korean masters, especially the older generation, have been trained in Japanese, Okinawan, or Chinese styles, it is hardly possible that this training could have had no influence on their development of the new Korean poomse. Indeed, the Japanese influence is often obvious. The poomse for the third dan grading examination, Taebek, is a very beautiful form when correctly performed, but about 40% of the techniques in Taebek come from two separate Pinan (Heian) kata (nidan and sandan). These borrowed sequences within Taebek are a perfect example of the immense unacknowledged debt which WTF TKD owes to Karate.

The many poomse created by the modern Korean masters since the beginnings of Tae Kwon Do in 1945 are extremely valuable for Tae Kwon Do training. They are very new, however, and not entirely satisfactory. Small changes continue to appear in them. Unlike changes in the older kata which often are a result of a lack of knowledge concerning the application of a specific technique, these changes in Korean poomse are a deliberate attempt to make the poomse deeper and to improve the effectiveness of the techniques presented. A good recent example of this trend is the introduction of the 6th kibon exercise in the spring of 1997. In Tae Kwon Do, we are in the presence of the creation of a vital martial tradition, with the poomse which will carry that tradition into the future still in the process of development today. This is a very exciting time to be training in Tae Kwon Do. But, there are hazards to be faced.

There is an increasing possibility that poomse practice will become more shallow, and that their development will be retarded. This tendency will exist for several reasons (poomse are not for competition; poomse techniques are highly dangerous when correctly applied; poomse practice is more directed to the perfection of the practitioner’s character than to sporting applications, etc.). This has created a dangerous potential for the devaluation of poomse, as the relation of the Taegeuk poomse to the rest of the training becomes more and more tenuous.

Although the Taegeuk poomse have a higher percentage of kicking techniques than Japanese/Okinawan kata, Clark (43) makes the point that “the proportion of kicks in training for sport free sparring is still not reflected in the poomse, which at this time retain many of the more practical combative techniques of the older martial arts, (emphasis mine)”. He concludes that the modern Korean style of TKD has been changing forms to reflect sporting emphasis and a Korean predilection for kicking techniques.

It may be expected that the poomse will continue to change to reflect the increasing emphasis on the sporting aspect of Tae Kwon Do, and the emphasis that training in modern Tae Kwon Do places on kicking. Almost all of a TKD training session is normally spent on various aspects of kicking drill, and training for excellence in sporting competition is focused on the artificial conventions of Tae Kwon Do full contact sparring to the neglect of poomse and a reduction of their importance. In many dojangs we find that, unlike karate, poomse are rarely central to training in Tae Kwon Do. Indeed, some highly competitive black belts don’t know any poomse! (44)


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(1) A truly authoritative history would have to be firmly based on years of research using the best available sources in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. As the author does not possess these linguistic skills, the present history must be considered informal and subject to change as more and/or better information becomes available.

(2) Main influence would appear to be Shotokan as taught in the Japanese university clubs in the 1930’s.

(3) Dussault, J. and S. Dussault. 1993. Patriarch of the Chang Moo Kwan. Inside Tae Kwon Do. 2(5) pp42-49 – In this article, the founding of the Chang Moo Kwan is attributed to Yun Pyung-in, who had to be a young man at this time as he was a college student in Japan during the “40’s”. He had studied both Chuan Fa and Shudokan Karate (promoted 4th Dan by Toyama Kanken, which may make him the highest ranking Korean karate-ka to return to Korea in 1945.) before opening a Kwonpup club at a high school in Seoul in September, 1946.

(4) These ranks were much more difficult to attain in the Japan of that era than they are today, and consequently may reflect a deeper understanding of the arts studied.

(5) Rees, D. 1988. A Short History of Modern Korea. Hippocrene. New York. 196p

(6) Hallander, J. 1993. The Truth Behind Martial Arts in Korean Today. TKD Times. 13(5) pp50-53

(7) Liu, James J.Y. 1967. The Chinese Knight-Errant. University of Chicago Press. Chicago. 242p

(8) Taoism also appeared during this period, and its teachings have many similarities to the attitudes of the yu-hsia , or Chinese knight errants.

(9) Ibid.

(10) See Burdick, D. 1997. Taekwondo’s Formative Years for a discussion of the Chinese derivation of Korea’s early martial arts.

(11) Some of the early Chinese styles may have been very sophisticated.

(12) Mu Tau as taught by J. Arvantis is thought to be the only modern descendant of the Pankration, but schools proporting to teach this art have existed in Europe up to modern times.
(13) Poliakoff, M.B. 1987.

(14) Bannon, D. 1996. Who Were the Hwrang? Dojang. Winter1996. pp 59-63.

(15) It is curious that this period corresponds very closely to that of the Chinese T’ang Dynasty

(16) See footnote 1

(17) Pieter, W. 1994. (3):1 pp82-89.

(18) The reader is alerted to the fact that there is indeed a powerful modern Korean martial art, Hwarangdo, which claims a lineage going back to the classical Hwarangdo. The late Michael D. Echanis was the most famous American student of this art. For an overview of the martial legends of Hwarangdo, the reader is referred to the web site

(19) Unlike Tae Kwon Do, Karate’s early history has been relatively well documented. The reader is referred to: Higaonna, Morio. 1995. The History of Karate: Okinawan Goju-Ryu. Dragon Books, 226 pp and Bishop, Mark. 1989. Okinawan Karate: Teachers, Styles and Secret Techniques. A & C Black. London. 192pp

(20) The history of Shotokan Karate is also fairly documented. The reader is referred to Harry Cook’s new book on the history of Shotokan due to be published this fall.

(21) Burdick, Op. Cit.

(22) The ‘Do’ suffix for a martial art originated in Japan

(23) He may have been a second Dan – sources disagree.

(24) Cho, S,H. 1968.

(25) Lee, Kang Seok. 1997. Grandmaster Won Kuk Lee: Founder of Chung Do Kwan. Tae Kwon Do Times. 17 (3) pp 44- 51

(26) Korea refers here to the Republic of Korea (ROK) or South Korea. Although it is very difficult to obtain any good information concerning the martial arts within North Korea, there is reason to believe that the private practice of the martial arts were considered subversive by the Communist regime in North Korea, and these arts have not survived there. It is known that General Choi has attempted to introduce Tae Kwon Do there.

(27) Note here that the Chinese ideographs used for Tang Su Do and for Karate Do (before 1930) are identical.

(28) I am unaware of any early Tae Kwon Do master with an instructional lineage in Tae Kyon. It would appear that Tae Kyon and Tae Kwon Do are entirely separate with little technical relationship between them.

(29) Burdick, Op Cit.

(30) Sources differ as to dates and names

(31) Associated with Chung Do Kwan – Burdick Op. Cit.

(32) Burdick, Op. Cit. says that the Korean Tae Su Do Association was formed only changing the name to Tae Kwon Do in 1965

(33) Clark, R. 1995.

(34) Interview with Dr. Un Yong Kim. 1986. TKD Times March 1986. pp30-42

(35) Interview with Dr. Un Yong Kim. 1994. TKD Times March 1994. pp36-37;80-81

(36) Interview with General Choi, Hong Hi 1986. TKD Times March 1986. pp30-42

(37) Lee, Kang Seok. 1997.Op Cit.

(38) Ibid

(39) Guest Editorial- 1996. MasterKim Soo. Nationalism Means Closed Arts. TKD Times. January, 1996

(40) Pers comm. from Master J.C. Henkel, who was told directly by Grand Master Hae Man Park

(41) Song Moo Kwan – Jay Hong in Robert Frankovich. 1994.

(42) Konstantin, Gil und Kim Chul-Hwan. 1994. Taekwondo Perfekt 1: Die Formenschule bis zum Blaugurt. Falken-Verlag. Niedernhausen. 175pp(pp16-17): Bei der Gründung der Koreanischen Taekwondo Verbandes (KTA)kamen die Gründungsmitgleider dennoch Überein, keinen der Formen aus den neun beteiligten richtungen zubevorzugen, sondern im Interesse eines gemeinsamen Taekwondo und um den andern Poomse-Richtungen entgegenzukommen ganz neue Formen zu kreieren. Ein Team koreanischer Großmeister wurde mit der Ausführung dieses Projekt beauftragt. Dieses Gremium schuf die Palgwe-, Taegük-, und die restlichen neun Meister-Poomse, wobei die Palgwe-Poomse schon kurze Zeit später wieder verworfen wurden.”

(43) Ibid

(44) Pers. comm. Master Darby Holsing

(45) Choi Hong Hi. 1963.

(46) Pers. comm. Senior Master Ron Rose; Burdick, Op. Cit. says only “late in 1954”

(47) Rodine, Tim. 1996. From Generation to Generation to Puerto Rico. Tae Kwon Do Times. (16) 10 p 26

(48) Lee, Kang Seok. 1997. Op. Cit.

(49) Ibid.