What is taekwondo-do? In simple terms, it’s a kind of unarmed combat that began in ancient times and was practiced in the Orient for many centuries. The art of unarmed combat or self-defense got to be sharpened in Korea. This art has been embraced by many Eastern countries such as China and Japan in combination with their denominations and national characteristics (Moennig, 2). Ch’ an-fuah or Kuon-tao is the name referred to as in China while in Japan, it is known as Kempo or Karate. According to the Korean language, the name ‘taekwondo’ defines the unarmed combat technique of defending one-self using skilled application of dodges, punches, hand interceptions, blocks, flying kicks, and interceptions using feet and arms while quickly destroying the opponent.
Taekwondo is more than physicality and skilled movements to the Korean citizens as it also signifies a form of psychology and life, especially in teaching an idea and the force of strict self-driven discipline which allows achievement of a noble and moral individual. One can describe it as a cult. In today’s society, intimidation and violence seem to have infested itself in the societies we come from, taekwondo allows the weak to have a fine weapon which they can use to protect and defend themselves, it can also be used to defeat the opponent. Still, when used wrongly it can be a dangerous weapon. For a woman, the skill value is undoubtedly immeasurable and an invaluable asset that can be used to drive away and tackle wolves, so to say. Many cases have been told of weak women protecting themselves effectively, however, it is attributed to their good conception of self-defense art.
Originally, Taekwondo was known as T’ae-Kyon, which was a primitive affair of the Silla Dynasty approximately one thousand three hundred years ago. Upon the division of ancient Korea, the smallest territory was given to the Silla and was receiving constant invasions by the Baekchae from West and Koguryo from the north. After 500 A.D., the Silla King, Chin Hung requested for patriotic and strong youths all around the country to form a military organization which was strong and wound be depended upon in times of national crisis (Moenig et al., 165). The group recognized the honor, spirit, and royalty of a warrior meanwhile enjoying morality, music, and poems. They did this by traveling to famous big rivers and mountains to train the body-spirit. Between 1393-1910, literary arts were encouraged while discouraging the art of valor through word humiliation by the leader from the Yi Dynasty. The foot technique progress stalled and struggled to retain its acceptance.
The hand technique was introduced after the Japanese occupation, afterward of the Yi Dynasty. Japan and China introduce this traditional art allowing the foot and hand techniques to be joined to form one body. After the 1945 liberation, a movement to trace the original name of the art was formed. In 1955, many Taekwondo masters formed a special body to come up with a solution and the words ‘Tae’ and ‘Kwon’ was submitted was unanimously chosen due to the following reasons:
- The term was almost close to the old name T’ae-Kyon in regards to both meaning and pronunciation.
- It was noted that the name closely visualized the art’s combination of both hand and foot techniques instead of Karate which only recognized the use of the hand.General Choi Hong Hi Born in 1918 Hwa Dae, General Choi is regarded as the father of Taekwondo. He was willful although sickly kid expelled at the age of twelve from school because of leading a demonstration against the occupation by the Japanese.
Choi as the founder of Taekwondo became the president till his passing in June 2002 due to cancer.Choi was persuaded by his father to study Chinese characters and calligraphy. Master Han Ii Dong, his teacher, knew Taek Kyon which he trained in secret throughout his whole Japanese occupation decided to teach Choi too. During the Korean War Choi indorsed to be the Brigadier General, therefore, the chief of staff of the Korean army and thereafter promoted as the rank of Major General. General directed the Korean Army’s Taekwon-do to China and Vietnam to show off his way of unarmed way of fighting techniques.
Therefore both countries were impressed and adopted General Choi’s Taekwon-do as an important part of their soldier’s military training.A handful of young individuals recognize Choi because he has been erased the South Koreans and labeled traitor by the Koreans with little to no recognition as martial art founder (Gillis, 9). However, Killing Art has regarded him as one of the founders. The general combined elements of Karate and Taekyon to create a martial art style named Taekwondo. The International Taekwondo Federation recognizes Choi’s efforts of spreading art around the globe particularly the authentic form of taekwondo.
He also wrote the book Taekwon-Do, the first English version which was published in 1965. He was forced into exile into Canada in 1972 by the government of South Korea because of introducing the sport in their enemy country, North Korea. In 1979, he went back to North Korea receiving warm welcome and support from the authorities to spread the sport worldwide. In 2002, Choi succumbed to cancer and was buried in Pyongyang, receiving a state funeral. Choi will be remembered as the champion and founder of taekwondo.Conclusion Although it can be an uphill task for Western people to understand and grasp the deep meaning of it, the objective of mental education in Taekwondo is to develop a noble character while allowing a person to be part of the wonderful art. It is also to prevent misuse of the technique.
Taekwondo Association president Choi Hong Hi advises for participants to bow before to show Eastern courtesy and politeness as well as showing respect to the instructor. Moreover, he encourages climbing mountains to help in exercising the legs, promoting the spirit of triumph and victory. The infamous Korean poem state that no matter the height of a mountain, it is seen as a small tomb from heaven and any person who attempts to climb it has no reason not to succeed, however, often one says that the mountain is too high without even trying. Lastly, taekwondo students are encouraged to travel to historical or noted areas to gain patriotism as well as overcoming adversity.