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Modern History of Taekwondo

1955 - The Birth of Modern Taekwondo

In 1955 the leaders of the Kwans come together and agreed upon the name Taekwondo to unify their individual schools. This name was submitted by General Choi Hong Hi, who hod not only created the Oh Do Kwon, but by this point was a pivotal military leader.

It was not until 1961 when the leaders of the various Kwans could fully formalise into one body. This affiliation become known as The Korea Taekwondo Association and General Choi was elected its president.

Hwang Kee, the founder of Tang Soo Do, could never fall into agree­ment with this governing body and wished to keep his art free from organisational constraints. Thus, Tong Soo Do, though closely resem­bling Taekwondo, remains a separate entity.

In 1966, due to on going conflicts and ideological differences within the organisation, Choi, Hong Hi resigned his post, founded the lnternational Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and relocated to Montreal, Canada. The Korea Taekwondo Association was then passed to the hands of Dr. Un Yong Kim.

Believing that Taekwondo was a Korean martial art and its governing body should be based in Korea, Dr. Kim dissolved the relationship between the Korea Taekwondo Association and the Inter­national Taekwondo Federation. In 1973 the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was formed. Dr. Kim was elected its president.

The ITF style of Taekwondo is considered by most to be the 'true' Taekwondo - closely related to Japanese Karate in many of it's techniques. In keeping with General Choi's teaching, it is considered the more traditional Martial Art. The WTF style, with it's legacy of Tae Kyon is primarily a combat sport and is in fact now an Olympic event.

On 15th June 2002, General Choi passed away, leaving behind him the legacy of his lifetimes work. Since his passing there hove been a number of political arguments within the organisation, not least who should succeed him as the leader of the ITF. This resulted in a split within the group, however the majority of the organisation follow have followed the founders son, Master Choi, Jung Hwa. As Master Choi was democratically elected to succeed his father, and is also the legal holder of the lnternational Taekwondo Federation title, it seems certain that his is the side of the group that will lead the ITF into the next century.

Further reading

We regularly learn that modern Taekwondo history can sometimes be a little complex due to a number of schools of thought and different associations etc. It is therefore worth reading further to gain you own understanding of the complexities.


To help you along I have put together a short list of interesting web pages with their own summaries of Taekwondo's history or a history relevant to the association: - Wikipedia. An obvious place to start but plenty of information to be had. - The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF). A clear and concise potted history worth a read. - British Taekwondo. A modern history covering the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) side of the sport. - A Fandom Wiki page for Taekwondo. A really interesting and much more detailed history. - The history of the Taekwondo Association of Great Britain (TAGB), not Taekwondo in general. - A random seemingly independent educational page which I found interesting and easy to read. - A seemingly independent history page with some details on ITF vs WTF styles.

As this site develops, I hope to refine and add to this list for more reading.

Ilyokwan Black Belt Academy

I train at the Ilyokwan Black Belt Academy in Dursley, Gloucestershire, UK.


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