Historical Timeline

//Historical Timeline
Historical Timeline 2018-08-16T14:08:15+00:00

Project Description


The development of a modern martial art

1901: Itosu Ankoh (“the Father of Modern Karate”, 1831-1915) introduces Shorin-ryu-style karate into the Okinawan public school system. Itosu teaches karate to pioneers such as Funakoshi Gichin the founder of Shotokan karate, who’s style formed the basis of Chung Do Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, and Oh Do Kwan syllabuses.

1945: Following the end of Japanese occupation many Koreans returned from Manchuria and Japan to Korea, including the pioneers of taekwondo’s original Kwans or schools: Byung Jick Ro opened Song Moo Kwan, Won Kuk Lee (believed to be 3rd dan in Shotokan karate at this point) founds Chung Do Kwan, Hwang Kee founds Moo Duk Kwan, Byung In Yoon and Kim Soon Bae form Kwon Bop Bu, and Sang Sap Chun forms Yun Moo Kwan to make up the Five Kwans.

1946: Then First Lieutenant Choi Hong Hi first teaches his style martial art to the military unit under his command at the Kwang Ju military base. It is believed he held the grade of 2nd Dan in Shotokan Karate at this time, obtained during his studies in Japan which spanned 1938-1943.

1950-1953: The Korean War divides the country into two.

1955: Choi Hong Hi and Nam Tae Hi establish the Oh Do Kwan, a new gymnasium for training the South Korean 29th Infantry Division, while around the same time Lee Kyo Yoon form Han Moo Kwan, Park Chul Hee and Hong Jong Pyo form Kang Duk Kwan and Lee Yong Woo forms Jung Do Kwan.

1955, April 11: The Chung Do Kwan Conference is organized by Won Kuk Lee. Representatives from most of the original kwans agree in principle to combine the arts and nominally rename the new Korean martial art Tae Soo Do, though Tae Kwon Do was favoured and promoted by General Choi Hong Hi, and by 1959 this name is commonly adopted.

1959: The Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) is formed; General Choi Hong Hi is the organisation’s first president.

1959, March: The nascent Korea Taekwondo Association sends instructors to demonstrate taekwondo on worldwide tours, and to help open taekwondo schools in other countries.

1959, October: Choi Hong Hi publishes his first reference, Tae Kwon Do Teaching Manual, available here for download.

1960: By 1960, there were 40 kwans throughout Korea, lead by students of the original 5 kwans. By 1974, the Korean Taekwondo Association had succeeded in consolidating the 40 kwans into what are now sometimes referred to as the 9 Kwans.

1961, May 16: The South Korean government is overthrown by the South Korean military in a coup d’etat. General Choi Hong Hi supported the coup, but did not find support from the new regime when General Park Chung-Hee emerged as the new president. In the late 1940s Park Chung-Hee received a death sentence later rescinded, from a military panel that had included General Choi, who was subsequently forced to retire from the military following the coup. When military rule ends in 1963, South Korea sees 27 more years of authoritarian rule, before transitioning to a democracy in 1988.

1961, September: The Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) is renamed once-again to the Korea Taesoodo Association.

1962: From 1962 to 1965, General Choi Hong Hi is sent as South Korean ambassador to Malaysia. While there, he develops many of his new Chang Hon taekwondo patterns (some authors attribute contributions from Nam Tae Hi and others as well).

1965, August: After returning to Korean General Choi briefly regained the presidency of the KTA and succeeded in renaming the organisation from the Korea Taesoodo Association to the Korea Taekwondo Association, but not its adoption of the Chang Hon patterns. Amid internal disputes General Choi Hong Hi departs the KTA for the final time.

1966, March 22: Choi Hong Hi founds the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF). Its first members include schools from Vietnam, West Germany, Malaysia, Turkey, Italy, United Arab Republic, Taiwan, and the United States.

1967: Yong Chae Kim (of the Kang Duk Won) becomes the 5th president of the KTA and serves in this role until 1971. Kim is credited as the driving force behind the development of the Kukkiwon and also with the development of the hogu chest protector and the reformation of rules for tournament competitions – the beginnings of the rule-set that would become an Olympic sport.

1967: The KTA develops and adopts the Palgwae patterns for color belts, later replaced with the Taegeuk patterns in 1971.

1971: Dr. Un Young Kim, a former assistant director of the Korean CIA, is elected 6th president of the KTA. The South Korean President Chung Hee Park announces that Taekwondo will become the national sport of Korea and allocates funds for the completion of the Kukkiwon.

1972: General Choi emigrates from South Korea, moving his ITF headquarters to Toronto, Canada. Some sources claim the reason for his emigration was a threat of jail-time if he did not turn over control of the ITF to the KTA, while others suggest it was his overarching dissatisfaction with the government that led to the move.

1973: The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) is established to promote Kukkiwon-style taekwondo as an international sport.

1973: The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) organise their first World  Championships, held within the Kukkiwon, South Korea.

1974: The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) organise their first World Championships, held in Montreal, Canada.

1975: The WTF affiliates with the GAISF (General Association of International Sports Federations)

1979: Choi Hong Hi secretly visits North Korea and arranges a taekwondo goodwill tour to North Korea for the following year (1980).

1980: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes the WTF at the IOC’s 83rd session in Moscow.

1980, September: Choi Hong Hi visits North Korea. Shortly after this he develops the new Chang Hon series pattern Juche and elaborates on his sine wave technique.

1984: Choi Hong Hi publishes an updated and expanded version his Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do; his sine wave technique proliferates.

1986: The Federation International du Sport Universitaire (FISU) adopts taekwondo as an event in the World University Championships (WTF rules sparring and Poomsae).

1986: The British Student Taekwondo Federation (BSTF) is formed.

1987: The British Student Taekwondo Federation (BSTF) introduce the first inter-university UK Student National Taekwondo Championship.

1988-1992: WTF rules sparring is an exhibition sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

1992: The British Student Taekwondo Federation (BSTF) updates their existing annual championship to create the first multi-discipline inter-universities championships in the UK with the addition of ITF rules sparring, Kukkiwon patterns (Poomsae) and Chang Hon patterns (Tul) disciplines alongside WTF rules sparring.

1994: WTF rules sparring  is adopted as a full participatory sport for the 2000 Sydney (and ongoing) Olympic Games.

2002: Choi Hong Hi dies; the selection of a successor is controversial. The ITF splits into three branches: ITF Vienna, headed by Tran Trieu Quan; ITF North Korea, headed by Chang Ung; and ITF Canada, headed by Choi Jung Hwa.

2004: Dr. Chung Won Choue is elected as the new president of the WTF.

2006: The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) organise the first World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, held at the Olympic Gymnasium, Seoul, South Korea.

2009: The European Universities Sport Association (EUSA) adopts taekwondo as an event in the European Universities Games and European Universities Championships. The first European Universities Taekwondo Championship was held in Braga, Portugal in WTF rules sparring. Poomsae is also added to the programme in 2013.

2015: The ITF (the Chang Ung branch) and WTF sign a Protocol of Accord agreeing to allow competitors from the two federations to compete in each other’s events, overseen by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, a significant thawing of relations between the two international federations.

2015: Para-Taekwondo is announced as an event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

2016: The British Student Taekwondo Federation (BSTF) celebrates its 30th anniversary and in the same year becomes a registered charity.

2017: The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) organise the first World Beach Poomsae Championships, on the island of Rhodes, Greece.

2017: The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) renames itself to World Taekwondo (WT).

2017: Guinea-Bissau announced as the 209th member national association of World Taekwondo (WT), confirming its status as one of the most universally practiced martial arts and sports in the world.

2018, February: Taekwondo athletes from both North and South Korea – under the auspices of the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and World Taekwondo (WT) respectively – perform a joint demonstration at the pre-show of the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, South Korea. For the first time since the Korean war a Unified Korean Olympic Team competes in the Games.

Present day: Taekwondo is a hugely popular martial art and combat sport, with millions of practitioners globally. Each year sees hundreds of thousands of athletes participating in WT rules sparring, ITF rules sparring (in a number of slight variations depending on the branch), Kukkiwon patterns (Poomsae), freestyle patterns and Chang Hon patterns (Tul) competitions worldwide. Taekwondo within universities is massively popular worldwide, with around 70 institutions hosting an active club in the UK alone. The British Student Taekwondo Federation is a registered charity providing a range of multi-discipline competition across its annual tournament series, as well as training camps and courses for many hundreds of student athletes each year.

As the original author highlights, sources differ on a number of the dates and details provided, and this abridged timeline should be viewed with this in mind. We recommend readers seek out peer reviewed journal articles regarding the history of taekwondo’s development, such as the 2016 iACT Conference proceedings and The Making of a Modern Myth: Inventing a Tradition for Taekwondo as useful starting points.
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