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  • What is the history of Taekwondo?
  • What are the qualities of a black belt?
  • Explain Taeguek.
  • What is the difference between a 1st and 2nd Poom?
  • Are you better than you were 6 months ago?
  • Where does Taekwondo come from?
  • What does Tae Kwon Do literally translate to?
  • What is the difference between the sport & martial art of Taekwondo?
  • What is the difference between a colour belt and black belt?
  • What does being a black belt mean to you?
  • How do you live these things in your everyday life?
  • What are the below and what do they do:
    • WTF
    • TA
    • Kukkiwon



Q:  What is the history of Taekwondo?


Brief History

Archeological findings in Korea have revealed that a primitive form of Taekwondo was practiced as far back as 2000 years ago.  During the long and embattled history of Korea, Taekwondo (originally called Subak and Takyon) evolved from a survival fighting system to a complete martial art.  It became the ethical, mental and physical foundation of the discipline of the Hwarang, the legendary warrior knights of the Silla Dynasty.

Through the centuries the Korean peninsula was often attacked and invaded by neighbouring countries, however the fierce spirit of the Korean people was never crushed, and the art of Taekwondo was preserved.  When invaders outlawed Taekwondo, its practice was kept alive secretly, and handed down and strengthened through familial and monastical lines.

In the early 1950’s, many Associations were formed to revitalise, organise and promote the ancient Martial Arts of Korea.  In 1965, the Korea Taekwondo Association was recognised by the government as the organisation to bring together the different schools and styles into one.  Taekwondo has become the first national sport of Korea, and is now included in the school curriculum from first grade to college, and is required practice for the Police and Military.

Today, Taekwondo is a traditional martial art, scientific self-defence system, and a modern sport practiced by over 50 million people in 200 countries.


Detailed History of Taekwondo


Koguryo and Silla Dynasties

The origin of Taekwondo can be traced back to the Koguryo dynasty founded 37 B.C.  This is evidenced by the mural paintings found in the ruins of the royal tombs built by the Koguryo dynasty which show scenes of Taekwondo practice.  Taekwondo was also practiced during the Silla dynasty.  Korean culture and martial arts of the period were strongly influenced and enriched by the Hwarangdo, a military, educational, and social organisation of noble youths of the Silla dynasty.  The code of honor on which the Hwarang was based was loyalty to the nation, respect and obedience to one’s parents, allegiance to one’s friends, courage in battle, and avoidance of unnecessary violence and killing.

Archaeological findings such as mural paintings on the royal tombs of the Koguryo dynasty, the stone sculptures of pagodas and temples produced during the Silla period, and scattered descriptions in written documents show that many fighting stances, skills and formalised movements closely resemble the present stances and forms of Taekwondo.  Accordingly, it can be inferred that people in the three kingdoms practiced an art very like the one we study today.


Koryo and Yi Dynasties

In the history of Koryo, Taekwondo which was then termed ‘Subak,’ was encouraged as a martial art of considerably high value.  Subak is believed to have gained its highest popularity during the reign of King Uijong, between 1,147 and 1,170 A.D.  This period roughly corresponds to the era that includes part of the Chinese Song and Ming dynasties, during which Kungfu became widely popular.  This is worth noting as it further shows that Taekwondo is not only of pure Korean origin, but that it has achieved independent development throughout the long history of Korea.

It is important to note that during the Subak period a book was published to teach Taekwondo, and that Taekwondo’s popularity increased significantly amongst the general public.  This contrasts with the preceding Koryo dynasty where Taekwondo was mainly practiced by the military.  King Chongjo, published ‘Muye Dobo Tongji,’ an illustrated textbook on martial arts, which included Taekwondo as one of the major chapters.  It is obvious, therefore, that Subak became an important national sport and attracted much attention from both the royal court and the general public during the Yi dynasty.

Conversely, in the latter half of the Yi dynasty, the importance of Subak as a martial art began to decline due to negligence of the royal court (which was constantly disturbed by strife between feuding political factions).  As a result, Subak remained merely a recreational activity for ordinary people.


Taekwondo in the first half of the 20th century:

Along with the deterioration of national fortunes, the fall of the military was accelerated by the dismantling of the army; finally, Japanese imperialists colonised Korea through an oppressive forceful invasion.  The oppression of the Korean people by the Japanese imperialists worsened, and the practicing of martial arts, which could have been used as a means of revolt, was forbidden.

However, Taekwondo persisted in the spirit of the Korean people as a physical and spiritual training method of anti-japanese organisations such as the Indepedence Army and the Liberation Army, and as a legacy to pass on to the younger generation.


After liberation from the Japanese invasion on August 15, 1945, those with an aspiration to revitalise the traditional art of Taekwondo taught their followers, and at last, on September 16, 1961, the Korea Taekwondo Association was established. On February 25, 1962, the Korea Taekwondo Association became the 27th affiliate to join the Korea Amateur Sports Association. On October 9, 1963, Taekwondo became an official event for the first time in the 44th National Athletics Meet.  Its great leaps in the development of competition rules and protective equipment started with that meet.

Korean instructors began going abroad to teach Taekwondo in the 1960s, which marked a turning point in the history of Taekwondo.  The 1st World Taekwondo Championships were held in Seoul, Korea in May 1973 with participation from 19 countries.  At this time representatives of those countries established the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)


In 1996, member countries of the WTF totalled 144 and the global Taekwondo population was estimated at 30 million people.  Spurred by the recognition of Taekwondo by the IOC at its 83rd General Session in 1980, Taekwondo has rapidly developed into an international sport.  It was adopted as a demonstration sport of the 24th Seoul Olympics in 1988 and the 25th Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Taekwondo was adopted as an official sport of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games at the 103rd Session of the IOC held in Paris, France on September 4, 1994.  Taekwondo has consolidated its position in world sport faster than any other martial art.  Four member regional unions of the WTF host continental championships.  There are World and Women’s World Championships, World Cup Taekwondo, CISM Taekwondo Championships and FISU World University Championships. Taekwondo is being played as an official sport in most international multi-sport games such as World Games, Pan American Games, All Africa Games, Southeast Asian Games and Central American Games.


Chinese Kungfu and Japanese Karate

Some people believe that Taekwondo originated from Kungfu, the Chinese self-defense art. According to a Chinese document, the Chinese art of self-defence is believed to have been initiated as a sort of physical exercise when the Bodhi Dharma taught the monks of Hsiaolin Temple in Tungpung County, Honan Province, China.  Bodhi Dharma, a great Indian Buddhist Zen master, came to China in 520 A.D.and spent nine years at Hsiaolin Temple where he introduced the art of self-defence.  However, if we recall that the mural paintings of Taekwondo in the ancient tombs of Koguryo belong to the period 3 A.D. to 427A.D., it cannot be said that the Korean Taekwondo owes its origin to the Chinese Kungfu.

No detailed record is available when Karate, the Japanese self-defence art equivalent to Taekwondo, was initiated.  There are two explanations about it.  One explanation is that a Chinese Master named Chen Yuanpin, who lived in the late Ming dynasty, was naturalised as a Japanese citizen and imparted the Chinese ‘Kungfu’ to the Japanese people.  The other explanation says that Karate is a developed form of “Okinawate,” a self-defense art indigenous to Okinawa.  However, when Okinawate began is not known either.  In order to trace the origin of Okinawate, we might rely on “The Historical Record of Chosun (another name for the Yi dynasty) which only says that envoys from the Ryukyu Island made frequent visits to bring tribute to the Kings of Chosun.

At that time in Korea, “Subak”, an old name of Taekwondo, had gained great popularity among the people, and therefore, it is not unlikely that the envoys from Okinawa learned and introduced to their people.  This speculation is not too absurd when we recall the fact that “Nul”, the Korean see-saw, was also adopted by the people of Okinawa from Korea.  It may therefore be concluded that Karate, derives from Taekyon or Subak, the primitive form of Taekwondo.


Q:  What are the qualities of a black belt?

Integrity A Black Belt does not lie, cheat, or steal. When you have integrity you can look people in the eye with confidence and know that what you’ve said is believed and trusted.
Loyalty The very word is life itself, for without loyalty we have no love of person or country.
Courtesy Allow each person their dignity. Show the courtesy that you hope to receive from others by showing it in your everyday life. It goes beyond the training hall door.
Self-Control Self-control means never having to say you’re sorry. By learning to control your words and actions people are less likely to be hurt by them.
Kindness This can stop wars and erase hate. But like a bike, it’s no good if you don’t get out and use it…. and it’s free.
Obedience This begins at home. Practice it with your family. Then enlarge it with your friends. Share it with humanity.
Cleanliness Soap and water works for the outside of the body. You have to work on the inside with a different type of cleaner.
Perseverance A Black Belt never quits. Once started it is better to finish. Sometimes people start projects and do not realise the difficulties that lie ahead. A Black Belt will look at these, not as difficulties, but as challenges to be overcome.
Courage Courage is shown by striving on despite the odds. It does not require fighting with your hands and feet, but with your mind.  Without fear, there is no courage.
Reverence Life is precious. A Black Belt remembers this and strives to refrain from harming others, even when they do wrong.

A Black Belt strives to encompass these qualities in their daily life.




Q:  Explain Taeguek

Translated from their Chinese characters, Tae means greatness, and geuk eternity.  Taegeuk is a symbol representing the principles of the cosmos, creation, and the norms of human life.  The circumference of the Taegeuk mark symbolises infinity, and the two parts – red and blue, inside the circle, symbolise yin (negative) and yang (positive).  Therefore, Taegeuk is the light which is the unified core of the cosmos and human life, and its boundlessness signifies energy and the source of life.  The yin and yang represent the development of the cosmos and human life, and the oneness of the symmetrical halves, such as negative and positive, and hardness and softness.  Without form, without a beginning, and without an end, Taegeuk represents the essence of all that is.

Eight basic Eastern principles (kwae) are developed in Taegeuk.  These are represented by the eight symbols outside the circle, and are arranged in an ordered system that also correlates with the cardinal and inter-cardinal directions.  One bar means yang and two bars the yin, both representing the creation of harmony with the basic principles of the cosmos phenomena.  In ancient times, these symbols were a sign of power, and to this day four of them are found on the South Korean flag.  The Taegeuk, infinity, and yin-yang are the three elements constituting a philosophical trinity.


Q:  What is the difference between a 1st and 2nd Poom?

This is a personal response.


Q:  Are you better than you were 6 months ago?

We would hope the answer is a resounding yes (if not why are you grading!?!).  You should of course be able to elaborate on how you have improved giving examples.


Q:  Where does Taekwondo come from?

A:  Korea


Q:  What does Tae Kwon Do literally translate to?

Freely translated, Taekwondo means ‘the art of kicking and punching.’  Literally it means:

Tae Pushing, jumping, or striking with the foot
 Kwon Hitting or striking with fist or hand
 Do The way, the story, the art


Q:  What is the difference between the sport & martial art of Taekwondo?

A:  This is a personal response.  Your answer might include things like in a sport you compete against other people whereas in martial arts you only compete against yourself, ie you train for self-improvement.

A key difference between sports and martial arts is what they set out to achieve.   A sport by definition is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others”.   Concurrently, martial arts involve physical exercise and skill, but additionally set out specifically to improve the whole person, that is, such things as confidence, focus, self-esteem, and self-discipline.  


Q:  What is the difference between a colour belt and black belt?

A:  Colour belts and black belts know many of the same techniques, yet most people would agree that they are significantly different.  On the physical side, black belts should not only have excellent technique, but an understanding of when and how to strategically apply them.  Sparring for example becomes a game of chess as opposed to random kicks and punches.   Mentally, a black belt should also realise the most important aspects of Taekwondo are not the kicking and punching, but the mental qualities.


Q:  What does being a black belt mean to you?

This is a personal response.  Overall we are looking for a thoughtful answer, considering things such as how you have grown and improved both mentally and physically over your years of training.


Q:  How do you live these things in your everyday life?

Personal response.  Be sure to give examples.


Q:  What are the below and what do they do: 

  • WTF
  • TA
  • Kukkiwon

A:  The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) is the international governing body for Taekwondo.  Its Headquarters are in Korea, and in each country it has a representative national organisation.  Together the WTF and the individual countries governing body are responsible for the conduct of the competition aspects of Taekwondo.  Major events include the Olympics and World Championships.

A:  Taekwondo Australia (TA), is the national sporting organisation for Taekwondo in Australia and is responsible for the conduct of National level competitions and selection events for international competitions in Australia.  It also generally oversees Taekwondo in Australia.

A:  The Kukkiwon is the international body based in Korea which recognises black belt level gradings.  Kukkiwon certification is recognised in over 200 countries.  To grade to the highest levels of Taekwondo such as 8th or 9th testing is conducted directly by Kukkiwon in Korea.


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