It all started back in the late 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s when Korean martial artists decided to combine elements from karate, Chinese martial arts and some elements of their own martial arts styles.
One of the key elements for this to happen was the invasion of Korea by Japanese forces during World War II which resulted in them importing their martial arts styles, the final mix-up took the name of Taekwondo and that’s how it began.
It’s interesting to say that the first name this martial arts style took was that of Tae Soo Do after president Syngman Rhee asked for the first Korean martial arts to merge into one sole style. But it was Choi Hong Hi who decided to change the name to Taek Won Do which is the one that stayed until today.
In 1959 the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA) was established to manage the unification of styles and be the governing institution for Korea in martial arts, it remains active and it is the longest reigning governing body for martial arts.
This was no easy task though as during the 1970s the cold war made it complicated to have just one martial arts style in Korea, which also resulted in complications as the WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) was created by the Ministry of Culture and adopted the Kukkiwon style whilst the KTA had adopted the original style.
There was one more objective with the creation of the WTF and that did not just promote Taekwondo within Korea but internationally and make it an Olympic sport, that is one of the reasons behind WTF Taekwondo being called Olympic-style Taekwondo.
AND THEN CAME THE OLYMPIC GAMES
It took a time to achieve this feat, more than thirty years to be precise, and it was the year 2000 during the Sidney Olympic games when Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport alongside Judo becoming the two only martial arts to be part of the Olympic joust.
One of the main characteristics of Taekwondo is the use of high-speed kicks and punches as well as the utilization of spinning kicks.
Taekwondo is based on the “Theory of Power” which, based on Newton’s laws of physics, teach that speed generates more power than size and that has been proven with the variety of kicks and punches that this discipline has to offer.
But we cannot forget that while most of the time Taekwondo is displayed as an Olympic sport it is also a martial art designed for self-defense and the use of its kicks and punches can inflict significant, if not fatal, damage when used in this manner.
Yes, this might sound scary to some but one needs to remember that alongside with the teaching of this martial arts comes the teaching of mental balance which is what keeps practitioners from injuring others with what they know and of course applying the theory of their knowledge being used as a last resource.
All in all, Taekwondo is both a martial art and an Olympic sport, the way it’s learned and applied will depend on where is it aimed to.