Taekwondo Talks - Vol. 2

Jahnvi Mehta

Some would say A Martial Art. Others would say The Way of the Foot and Fist. Together we say Taekwondo.

The name Taekwondo was derived from the Korean word “Tae” meaning foot, “Kwon” meaning fist and “Do” meaning way of, and it is defined as an empty-hand combat form that entails the use of the whole body. It is more than a mere physical fighting skill, depicting as it does a way of thinking and a pattern of life demanding strict discipline. Taekwondo is a system of training both the mind and the body in which great value is placed on the evolution and maturation of the trainee's moral character.

Originated in Korea over 2000 years ago, Taekwondo is one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world! It traces back to the three kingdoms of Koguryo and its mural paintings on the royal tombs, Paekche and its documents written to show fighting stances, skills, and formalized movements, and Silla and its stone sculptures of pagadas of temples. All three kingdoms invested time into growing national strength with trained warriors; the predominant leaders of the three kingdoms exhibit this military tendency of ruling hierarchy.

Although this martial art manifested in the Koguryo Kingdom, the Silla Hwarang warriors are ascribed with the significant development and spread of Taekwondo throughout Korea. Due to its smaller size, Silla faced constant attack from Japanese pirates which led to the formation of an elite group of Sillan warriors to be trained in Taek Kyon by early masters from Koguryo. They were called the Hwarang. These warriors were formally taught all aspects of military skills including unarmed combat which was known as Taek Kyon, at the time. In addition to the physical education, a powerful teaching of Taek Kyon was developing the mind and spirit as well; the young fighters were instructed in history, poetry, and philosophy, enhancing their quality of life. The fundamental education of the Hwarang was based on the Five Codes of Human Conduct: loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness, valor, and justice. The Hwarang spread Taek Kyon throughout Korea as they traveled around the peninsula to learn about other regions and people.

The modern period of Taekwondo began after World War 11 as Korea wanted to eliminate Japanese influences in martial arts and unite various styles into a single national sport. In 1965, the name Taekwondo was chosen to typify this unified style of Korean martial arts. Today, Taekwondo has developed into an international sport and art practiced by 30 million people in over 190 countries!

About the Writer

Jahnvi Mehta is a second-degree decided black belt and trainee instructor at West Coast Taekwondo. She is currently a sophomore at Northwood High School at which her writing experience has stemmed from journalism classes and has branched into writing/editing for her school newspaper. Her passion for writing and Taekwondo has inspired her to found this blog, Taekwondo Talks. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, choreographing dances, and traveling to new countries.