1955 signaled the beginning of Taekwondo as a formally recognized Martial Art in Korea. During that year a special board was formed which included elected politicians, military and business leaders, historians, instructors of the Oh Do Kwan and Chung Do Kwan and other prominent leaders of society. General Choi Hong-Hi summoned the board as he realized he would need support for his initiative to name Korea’s National Martial Art. During this period there were many efforts being undertaken to restore and reinvigorate Korean National Pride, as their culture suffered terribly during the colonial occupation. This drive was influenced by Presidential policy that frowned upon embracing leftover Japanese preferences. General Choi knew he would need the President’s eventual authorization and saw having prestigious members of society as helping to obtain that permission. The board approved the name Taekwondo, which he submitted. This single unified name of Taekwondo was to replace the confusing terms like Tang Soo Do, Gong Soo Do or Kwon Bup, which had their roots in foreign Arts. The 1st ROK President Dr. Seung-man Rhee, Ph.D approved the named as evidence by the Calligraphy of Taekwondo that he penned. Hence April 11, 1955 has become the date of Taekwondo’s official birth.

In 1959, Taekwondo spread beyond its national boundaries. The father of Taekwondo and nineteen of his top black belt holders toured the Far East. The tour was a major success, astounding all spectators with the excellence of the Taekwondo techniques. In this year, Choi was elevated to two illustrious posts; President of his newly formed Korea Taekwondo Association and deputy commander of the 2nd Army in Tae Gu. In 1965 Ambassador Choi, retired two star general, was appointed by the Government of the Republic of Korea to lead a goodwill mission to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, United-Arab Republic, Malaysia, and Singapore. This trip is significant in that the Ambassador, for the first time in Korean history, declared Taekwondo as the national martial art of Korea.

This was the basis not only for establishing Taekwondo Associations in these countries but also the formation of the International Taekwondo Federation as it is known today. In 1966, the dream of the sickly young student of calligraphy, who rose to Ambassador and the Association President of the most respected martial art in the world came true. On the 22nd of March, the International Taekwondo Federation was formed with associations in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, West Germany, the United States, Turkey, Italy, Arab Republic of Egypt and Korea.

The philosophical values and the goals of Taekwondo are firmly rooted in the traditional moral culture of the Orient. On the technical side, defensive and offensive tactics are based on principles of physics, particularly Newton´s Law, which explains how to generate maximum force by increasing speed and mass during the execution of a movement.

Wanting to share the results of his philosophical reflections and his technical experiments, General Choi planned and wrote a unique reference work, the Encyclopedia of Taekwondo. In its fifteen volumes, he explained in detail the rules and practices of this art.

Always striving for excellence, General Choi presented Taekwondo as in a state of continuous evolution, open to changes that would improve its effectiveness. He wrote that anyone who believes he has fully discharged his duty will soon perish. Likewise, any undertaking that is perceived to have reached its objectives is likely to lose momentum, stagnate, and die. Since the beginning, Taekwondo has never stopped evolving, driven by the strong will and a lot of hard work by its Founder. The leaders of the ITF today also recognize the need to evolve and they are equally passionate about the future of the organization.

Tenets of Taekwondo

The tenets are the basics values and ideals that are attached to the physical training in Taekwondo.

From day one students are taught to extend courtesy to their fellow students and to black belts. This is the very foundation of Taekwondo. Although it is a form of unarmed self defence, Taekwondo develops the personality as well as the body. Tae Kwon Do training can be beneficial for everybody. Self defence, fitness, and confidence can all be developed. With enough training and dedication, the student can earn themselves a black belt and progress to run their own school.