The Orgins of Taekwondo
The Origin of Taekwondo
The origin of Taekwondo traces back to the three kingdoms of Koguryo (37 BC-668 AD), Paekche (18 BC-600 AD), and Silla (57 BC-936 AD). Mural paintings on the royal tombs of the Koguryo dynasty, the stone sculptures of pagadas of temples of the Silla period, and documents written in the Paekche dynasty showed fighting stances, skills, and formalized movements similar to today's Taekwondo styles and forms.
All three kingdoms indulged in growing national strength with trained warriors. Therefore, the Korean history tells that there were military personalities among the well-known prominent national leaders of the three kingdoms, which proves the military tendency of ruling hierarchy.
Although Taekwondo first appeared in the Koguryo kingdom, it is the Silla's Hwarang warriors that are credited with the growth and spread of Taekwondo throughout Korea. Silla was the smallest of the three kingdoms and was always under attack by Japanese pirates. Silla got help from King Gwanggaeto and his soldiers from the Koguryo kingdom to drive out the pirates. During this time a few select Sillan warriors were given training in Taek Kyon by the early masters from Koguryo.
PHILOSIPHY OF TAEKWONDO
As it was mentioned, many Eastern philosophic doctrines are the basis of Taekwondo. In their concepts the harmony in human life is very important. Not many people know that the principle is followed even in the construction of the training uniform (tobok). It is considered that tobok originates from the national Korean costume. The three geometrical shapes are combined in it: square (in the sleeves and trousers), circle (the belt around the waist) and triangle (the V-neck and tights). According to the Yin and Yang theory the three main components of the universe and the geometrical shapes of tobok have their meaning - the trousers symbolize the Earth, the belt stands for man and the upper garment - heaven. So the endless form of the belt - a circle - symbolizes the circuit of human life among heaven and earth. The white colour is the purity of consiousness and peace.
The belt is a nonseparable part of Taekwondo equipment. It shows the rank of degree of the practitioner. In Taekwondo WTF there are 5 colours of belts - white, yellow, blue, red and black one. The white symbolizes the beginning, the arising. At the other end is the black one - the conclusion (here is the dualistic ideal of Yin and Yang again). The yellow is the Sun, the new energy which rises, the blue - the sky, striving to knowledge, the red - danger but passion, too. There are 9 ranks of degree for students (gup) from white belt to the red one, and 9 masters (dan) - all of them black belts. The ultimate number in the decimal system is 9. So the initial degree is the 9th gup and the highest one is the 9th dan.
In Taekwondo there is a specific etiquette. It teaches in discipline and respect to the others. The etiquette is based on some main philosophic concepts:
- the bow shows respect. It is performed on entering and leaving the training hall (dojang), when asking for permission to turn to someone of superior rank and at the beginning of each exercise performance;
- silence should be kept in the training hall;
- the practitioner trains barefooted and without watches, jewellery and others;
- no clothes are worn under tobok (with some exceptions for lady's underwear);
- the master's (sabumnim) instructions or those of the person who is the trainer at the moment should be followed strictly.
There are more regulations, of course, but we consider that these are the basic rules which are valid in each Taekwondo centre.
Taekwondo moral principles are non-violence, humanity, respect to the others, using Taekwondo for self-defence only. There are Taekwondo oaths in many schools. There is one variant for example:
- I will follow Taekwondo principles
- I will respect the instructors and the seniors
- I will never trespass Taekwondo rules
- I will protect liberty an justice
- I will create a world of peace
We think that the conclusion is clear - the spiritual aspect of Taekwondo is not less important than the physical one. Only through their union one would be able to perceive the essence of Taekwondo.
TAEGUK : This represents the most profound oriental philosophy from which philosophical views on the world, cosmos and life are derived. The Taeguk Poomsae consists of different movements in sequence. The vital points of this Poomsae are to make exact the speed of breath and action and move the body weight properly while executing speedy actions. Thus we can fully realize the main thought of Taeguk.
PALGWE : Supplementary Training.
The thought of Plagwe, another concept of the ancient Oriental Philosophy, implies symbolically all the phenomena of man and universe.
KORYO : Koryo is the name of an ancient dynasty in the Korean peninsula. Teh Enlish name of "Korea" originated from the name of this "Koryo" dynasty with which was famed for the valiant spirit of its people which tey defeated the Mongolian aggression. Koryo Poomsae is based on spirit of / sonbae(Sonbi) which was inherited from Koruryo to Balhae and to Koryo. Songae means strong martial art and honest spirit of scholars.
KUMGANG : The word "Kumgang" has originally the meaning of being too strong to be broken. Also in Buddhism, what can break off every agony of mind with combination of wisdom and virtue is called "Kumgang". The Poomsae "Kumgang"is named after Mount Kumgang, symbol of solidity. "kumgan"is also anlogous of "diamond".
TAEBACK : "Taeback" is the ancient name of Mount Paekdu where the legendary Tangun founded a nation for the first time in the Korean peninsula 4,329 years ago on Tangun calendar (1996 A.D.=4329 Tangun year). Poomsae "Taeback" takes its principles of movement from the word "Taeback" which means being looked up to as sacred.
PYONGWON : "Pyongwon" is meant by 'vast plain'. The plain is a source of sustaining the human life and, on the other hand, a great open plain stretching out endlessly gives us a feeling of majesty that is different from what we feel with a mountain or the sea. An application of the providence of the plain which is blessed with abundance and grace as well as boundless vastness into the practice of Taekwondo is Poomse Pyongwon (plain).
SHIPJIN : Shipjin has the meaning of 'decimal system' which stands for a symbolical figure of 10 meaning endless development and growth in a systematic order. In Poomse shipjin, stability is sought in every chnage of movements.
JITAE : According to the oriental belief, all living things come from and return to the earth(Jitae is derived from the meaning of the earth). Teh earth is indeed the orining and terminal of life. Living things as well as all the natural phenomena of the earth Poomsae "Jitae" is the movement which supplies these features of the earth.
CHUNKWON : Chunkown" signifies the sky. From ancient times the orientals have always believed and worshipped the sky as ruler of the universe and human beings. Teh infinitely vast sky may be a mysterious and profound world of imagination in the eyes of finite human beings. Poomsae Chunkwon is composed of the motions which are full of piery and vitality.
HANSOO : Poomsae "hansoo" derived from the word 'water' is typical with its fluidity and adaptability as manifested in the nature of water.
ILYEO : "Ilyeo" signifies oneness.
In buddhism the state of spiritual cultivation is said to be "Ilyeo"(oneness), in which body and mind, I(subject) and you(object), spirit and substance are unified into oneness. Teh ultimate ideal of Taekwondo lies in this state of Ilyeo. The final goal Taekwondo pursues is indeed a discipline in which we concentrate attention pursues is indeed a discipline in which we concentrate attention on every movement, shaking off all worldly thoughts and obsessions.