Tae Kwon Do is a Korean military martial art that was recognised in its current form on 11th April 1955. The man acknowledged as its leading force is General Choi Hong Hi, who taught the art to his soldiers after his release from a Japanese prison camp around 1945.
General Choi, rather than creating the art from nothing, refined the techniques from the traditional Korean martial art of Tae Kwon and aided them with more modern techniques, thereby creating a balanced modern martial art with the proper pedigree of an ancient martial art.
Tae Kwon Do itself can be traced back to the Silla Dynasty (6th century A.D.) where a band of warriors called the Hwa Rang do practised hand and foot fighting. These warriors became widely respected for their courage and fighting skill and eventually encouraged the people of Silla to unite the three kingdoms of Korea.
Later on, during the early Yi Dynasty (1400 A.D.) Tae Kwon was widely used in the army. Unfortunately, as the Yi dynasty came to a close it was becoming unpopular to have a dominant military force and finally, with the Japanese occupation in 1909, all martial arts were outlawed. Dedicated practitioners maintained the art in secret until the liberation in 1945 when General Choi was released.
After Tae Kwon Do’s recognition in 1955 General Choi established the International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) and proceeded to bring it to the world’s attention. In 1959 he took a demonstration team to China, and later in 1965 he went further a field on the “Tae Kwon Do Goodwill Mission” visiting Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. In 1974 the first World Tae Kwon Do Championship was held in Montreal.
Tae Kwon Do is now practised in over 60 countries and has millions of students.