Tae Kwon Do Study Guides - Black Belt Adults

Man has been endowed with the strong natural impulse to defend himself within dangerous situations. Because weapons are not always available in every dangerous situation, man recognized the need to be able to defend himself using his hands and feet. It is from this need that the martial arts originated.

Tae Kwon Do began in Korea possibly as early as 3 AD, based on the carbon dating of ancient relics which depict warriors engaged in hand to hand combat. This combat was slightly different from the Tae Kwon Do that is practiced today, which has evolved over the years as it becomes more and more scientifically systemized through each generation. The names of Tae Kwon Do have also changed over the years, having been known as Taekyon, Soobakhee, Tae Soo Do, and Soobak Do.

Tae Kwon Do has endured a dramatic history, beginning with the three rival dynasties in early Korea : Koguryo, Silla, and Baekjae.

Koguryo Dynasty (37 BC – 688 AD)

  • Wall murals depict Soobakhee.
  • The Sonbae organization.

Silla Dynasty (57 BC – 935 AD) 

  • Stone and bronze statues depict warriors engaged in Soobakhee.
  • Kings hold Soobakhee contests.
  • The Hwa Rang organization.

Baekjae Dynasty (15 BC – 600 AD) 

  • Officials hold Soobakhee contests to elect military generals.
  • The Soo Sa organization.

In each of the three dynasties were elite organizations of men. The Sonbae of Koguryo, the Hwa Rang of Silla, and the Soo Sa of Baekjae all studied Soobakhee as their main subject. In wartime, these organizations defended their countries from attack, and in peacetime they dedicated themselves to community service.

In 688 AD, the Silla Dynasty conquers Koguryo and Baekjae. But the victory only lasts a few hundred years before the government disintegrates. Koguryo then resurfaces and conquers both Silla and Baekjae, unifying Korea once and for all with the creation of the Koryo dynasty.

Koryo Dynasty (918 – 1392)

  • Soobakhee is compulsory military in training.
  • The highest university in Korea scientifically systemizes Soobakhee.
  • Kings hold Soobakhee contests in palaces.

During Koryo , Korea begins to trade with nations from all over the world. Along with the material exchanges, culture is also exchanged – including the transmission of Soobakhee. From this time forward, Korean martial arts begin to grow and flourish all over the world.

In 1392 Koryo's government falls apart, and a new dynasty begins. The new Yi government brings with it new attitudes and beliefs that the liberal arts, such as music and poetry, are more important and sophisticated than the martial arts. Taekyon and Soobakhee were considered to be the arts of the common, inferior man.

Yi ( Chosen ) Dynasty (1392 – 1910)

  • The first martial arts textbook is written in 1790. This book, (called “Muyedobo Tongjee”), contains illustrations of Tae Kwon Do movements that closely resemble today's Tae Kwon Do poomses and basic movements.

At the end of the Yi Dynasty, Korean martial arts suffer a major blow when Japan invades Korea in 1910. The Japanese outlaw the practice of all traditional Korean folkloric arts and games, so during this time Soobakhee and Taekyon are practiced in secret.

After the liberation of Korea from the Japanese in 1945, the Korean people revitalized all traditional games and arts, including Tae Kwon Do. At this time the popularity of Tae Kwon Do exploded into a feverish frenzy in Korea and quickly spread outward. Today, Tae Kwon Do is practiced by millions of people internationally. Tae Kwon Do is an official Olympic sport and is the fastest-growing martial art in the world.