This Korean art has its origins in the martial traditions of
the Korean peninsula during the Kokuryo Dynasty (AD 37-668).
It was during the Silla Dynasty (AD 668-935), however, that
an elite caste of highly skilled warriors emerged. From the
south-eastern kingdom, these warriors soon conquered the
neighboring kingdom of Baekje. The conquerors were known as
Hwa rang which means "the flower of youth".
warriors were skilled equestrians, archers and swordsmen.
They also showed great skill in unarmed combat. The close
proximity of Korea to China lead to the constant influx of
Chinese combat techniques, which were adopted by the Koreans
in a characteristic way.
It was during the Kokuryo
Dynasty (AD 935-1392) that a systematic development of the
various aspects of Korean Military art occurred. The new
martial system was called soo bakh do, and was taught to the
military. The new art incorporated weapons, such as the
sword, spear, bow and knife as well as unarmed
close-quarters combat and grappling. Regular tournaments
were held and the victors were promoted to positions of
military importance. The art was extended and refined during
the Joseon Dynasty (AD 1392-1910).
invasion of Korea in 1907, brought an end to the ruling
Korean Dynasty, and along with it, the warrior caste. From
1907 until the end of WW II in 1945, the practice of Korean
martial art was discouraged as the invaders brought the
Japanese arts of judo, kendo, aikido and karate to Korea.
Shortly after the war, five martial art schools emerged in
the newly liberated Korea: Moo Duk Kwan, Changmu Kwan,
Sangmu Kwan, Jido Kwan and Chungu Kwan, each practising a
unique Korean blend of Chinese (Kung Fu), Japanese (Karate)
and native Korean (soo bakh) arts. The Moo Duk Kwan school
was run by Grandmaster Hwang Kee, who escaped the Japanese
invasion by fleeing to China. As an exile in China, he
complemented his mastery of original soo bakh do by studying
the Chinese martial arts (Kung Fu, Wushu etc.).
1964 the Korean government planned to unite all Korean
styles under the name Tae Soo Do, but this failed. A year
later (this time, successfully) the government united many
Korean arts under the name Taekwondo. The Move was not
universally well received, and Grandmaster Hwang along with
the grandmasters of many other styles broke away. He renamed
his school Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, which means "the way of
the (Chinese) open hand".