Korea has a lot more to boast of than just K-pop, TV dramas, and Samsung. Nestled in the lush mountains and valleys of the East Asian peninsula, the history of the Korean people goes back for millennia. And one of its oldest surviving traditions is the martial art form of what is now called Taekwondo.
The first recorded proof of martial arts in Korea goes all the way back to around 50 BC. At the time, Korea was split into three warring kingdoms: Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla. Silla was the smallest of the three kingdoms and constantly plagued with border skirmishes and pirate invasions from Japan.
And because the three Korean kingdoms hated the Japanese more than each other, the king of Koguryo sent aid to Silla to drive out the Japanese. A select few of the Silla warriors were taught the martial arts and they eventually formed a group known as the Hwarang Warriors.
It was they, not the Koguryo, who fully developed, mastered, and spread the art, known as Hwarang-do. The king established schools all throughout the kingdom and his warriors became so skilled that SIlla was able to conquer the other two kingdoms and unite the peninsula into one kingdom, Koryo.
Establishment and Development
As the Hwarang warriors traveled throughout the kingdom, Hwarang-do spread in popularity. It soon developed into more of a recreational sport than a method of fighting, and schools were established all throughout the kingdom.
One of the most important developments of Hwarang-do was its mental and spiritual aspects. Rooted deeply in Buddhism, Hwarang-do developed as a way of thought and a style of life that emphasized principles like loyalty, obedience, honor, perseverance, and justice.
During this time, the art continued to develop, integrating techniques of other forms of martial arts as well. The name changed a few times and martial arts fell in and out of popularity throughout the years. Its use in the military returned, but the masses lost touch over time.
During the Yi Dynasty (1392 1910), the Korean martial art nearly died. It was banned from the military and only practiced for health and recreation in scattered populations throughout the kingdom. However, during that time, an important book detailing the unarmed combat methods of the martial arts was written, preserving the methods and practices of the ancient art.
After liberation from the 36-year Japanese occupation, the Korean martial arts had developed into several distinct schools. But the Koreans wanted an official, unified form to call their own. After much debate and struggle, in 1955 the unified and official art of Taekwondo was formed.
From there, the strong popularity of the sport in Korea and several international demonstrations lead to international recognition of this incredible martial art form. Now, Taekwondo is practiced in over 190 countries, has its own international organization, and has been included in the Olympic Games.
Now from the mountains of Seoul, Korea, to the schools of Taekwondo in Provo, Utah, people of all ages and nationalities can enjoy this ancient, beautiful, and powerful art of Taekwondo.
About The Author:
I'm a student in Canada. I like learning new things on my own, but don't like to be told how to learn. I also like writing. Interests: fitness, martial arts, writing, photography, games, psychology, alternative education... and more.
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