Tae Kwon Do & Tradition

Grandmaster Yoo Tae Kwon Do
Grandmaster Yoo double jump side kick
The name "Tae Kwon Do" is only about eighty-nine years old, the origins of the art reach far back into Korean history. During the sixth century A.D. the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms, Shilla, Paek Ja, and Koguryo. Shilla, the smallest, was in constant peril of being overrun by her more powerful neighbors for the advanced wealth, technical skills and art forms that she was famous for. In response to this pressure, Shilla assembled an elite fighting corps from the young members of the aristocracy which they called the "Hwarang Do," or the "Flower of Youth".

In addition to the regular military training of the day, the Hwarang Do subjected themselves to severe physical hardship and rigorous mental discipline in order to condition the body and gain wisdom, working toward building great strength and long lasting endurance. Legend has it that they went into the mountains along the seashore, studying the fighting techniques of nature to use to their own advantage.

New movements were added to their existing form of weaponless fighting known as "Tae Kyon," popular among common people. In addition to these new foot and hand techniques, the Hwarang Do also incorporated into their art certain Buddhist exercises in intense concentration in order to achieve a harmonious integration of mind and body. Modern Tae Kwon Do owes much to the valorous Hwarang Do. Although no one can say exactly how the technical skills of today's practice compare with the killing techniques used to such great effect on ancient battlefields, some strong similarities exist. There is no doubt at all that the ethical spirit of the art may be traced directly to the five pointed code of the Hwarang Do, which emphasized loyalty to the nation, respect of the parents, faithfulness among friends, courage in battle, and avoidance of unnecessary violence and killing. To consider Tae Kwon Do as simply a "sport" or just another means of getting in shape is to deny the proud heritage of almost two thousand years. The combined thought and experience of centuries has produced our modern art which continues to draw strength and stability from the past.

Tae Kwon Do was first introduced into the United States in the 1950s. Along the path of unification initiated by the World Tae Kwon Do Federation (W.T.F.), instructors in the United States organized and made possible the admission of Tae Kwon Do into the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in 1974.

Under the sanction of the National AAU Tae Kwon Do Union, using guidelines established by the W.T.F., Tae Kwon Do developed rapidly as a competitive sport. In response to the growth, the NAAUTU was renamed the United States Tae Kwon Do Union, Inc. (USTU) in 1984 and offices were established at the United States Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs. Today the USTU is the Tae Kwon Do organization recognized by the US Olympic committee as the national governing body. Tae Kwon Do grows stronger daily, not only through increased participation, but through increased commitment within the Tae Kwon Do community to conduct scientific research towards a modern understanding of Tae Kwon Do’s dynamics. Although a martial art with roots, Tae Kwon Do continues to evolve and benefit from the commitment of its modern practitioners.