Although its roots can be somewhat traced back to ancient Korea, it is a historic fact that Taekwondo as an organized art is relatively modern. In fact, the only documented history begins in the mid 1900's.
The actual beginnings of Taekwondo are obscured by time, yet many historians believe it originated from a Korean martial arts form practiced over 1,300 years ago. It originated out of the need for self-defense in the absence of weapons. Taekwondo certainly takes root in man's instincts to survive by means of protecting himself form outside threat with the bare-hand fighting skills, and it was developed into a systematized martial art.
The actual name (and art) of Taekwondo wasn't official until 1955. At that time Korean General Hong Hi Choi organized a movement to unify Korea's various martial arts styles (called Kwans) and presented the name "Taekwondo" to a committee specially formed to select a name for the new art. On April 11, 1955, Taekwondo was recognized as the name for the newly unified, officially recognized Korean martial art.
The past styles have contributed greatly to developing modern Taekwondo into a well rounded discipline with application in he word Tae Kwon Do itself is made up of three Chinese/Korean words: Tae, meaning to kick or jump; Kwon, meaning fist or hand; and Do, which means "the way." Loosely (if not literally), it can be thought of as "The Way of the Hand and Foot." In the United States it is commonly written: Tae Kwon Do, Taekwondo, or Taekwon-do. Regardless of how it is spelled, Taekwondo is the world's most widely practice martial art and is currently one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
In the 1960's Taekwondo began to spread internationally and evolved through out the late 1900's (along with most martial arts) into primarily a combat sport, although self-defense, fitness, and the philosophy of the practice (including self-discipline and self-knowledge) are still crucial elements of Taekwondo. It is an Olympic sport, an artistic discipline, a system of self-defense, and a way of life.
Taekwondo as an Olympic Sport was introduced to the Olympics in Korea in 1988. Unlike many of the other sports that young people are involved with today, Taekwondo competitors are required by rule to demonstrate respect for officials, coaches and their fellow competitors.
As an Artistic Discipline, Taekwondo techniques are done with graceful and powerful movements. Students continuously strive to improve the artistic presentation of each technique. The art of Taekwondo develops posture, graceful movement, excellent coordination, and attention to detail. We believe that everyone can benefit from exposure to this artistic discipline.
Taekwondo teaches safety skills or self-defense skills that helps to reduce the chance of sustaining an injury due to a fall or an attack; and the chance of escaping from a mugging, or other violent crimes is greatly increased. Learning these safety skills does not promote violence; rather, it enables one to avoid becoming a victim of violence and to minimize injury during a fall.
Taekwondo is a way of life. Students are encouraged to live according to the tenants of Taekwondo. The Tenets of Taekwondo are: COURTESY--Enduring respect for and consideration of self and others. Politeness. Humility.; INTEGRITY--Steadfast adherence to a strict moral and ethical code. Honesty. Loyalty.; PERSEVERANCE--To persist in an endeavor or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition or discouragement. Dedication.; SELF-CONTROL--The ability of a person to exert their will over the inhibitions, impulses, emotions or desires of their body or self. Patience. Discipline.; and INDOMITABLE SPIRIT--Having the right attitude and maintaining inner strength regardless of winning or losing. Not allowing one's principles to be broken, defeated, or conquered. Bravery. Courage.