About 1300 years ago, the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms: Silla, Baek Je, and Koguryo. Silla was the smallest and constantly under attack by its two northern and western neighbors. The king of Silla called upon the strong and patriotic youths throughout the country and they formed a strong organization called the Hwa-Rang Do. To harden their bodies they climbed rugged mountains, swam turbulent rivers in the coldest months, and worked very hard to prepare themselves to defend their homeland. The Hwa-Rang Do guided themselves by a five-point code of conduct:
1. Be loyal to your king
2. Be obedient to your parents
3. Be honorable to your friends
4. Never retreat in battle
5. Make a just kill
The Hwa-Rang Do defended themselves by using postures resembling Taek Kyon and Jujitsu techniques. They had a strong desire for patriotism and became an elite fighting warrior corp as they gained respect from their enemies. The Hwa-Rang Do unified the three kingdoms of Korea and the martial arts flourished.
Soon after Korea was united, the dynasty acquired an anti-military posture. This began a period of civil enlightenment, and anything dealing with the military was debased.
The final blow came with the Japanese occupation (1909 – 1945) when it was forbidden to practice any martial arts. Taek Kyon was secretly practiced and passed on to a handful of students.
In 1945 Korea was liberated and a young second lieutenant, Choi Hong Hi, recently released from a Japanese prison camp taught his martial arts to some students.
In 1955 this art was given the name Tae Kwon Do by a board of instructors, historians, and prominent leaders, including General Choi Hong Hi. Tae means foot, Kwon means hand and Do means art. It is now practiced in over 60 countries with millions of students.
Tae Kwon Do has reached its potential as it has no equal in power, technique, and mental conditioning.