The History of Tae Kwon Do

Approximately 2500 years ago, Korea existed as a few small kingdoms. The basic culture of these kingdoms was the same, yet they were constantly warring with each other. No kingdom was dominant enough to conquer additional territory and unite the peninsula.

One of the smaller kingdoms of Korea at this time was known as Shilla. The inhabitants of Shilla lacked confidence and discipline, and therefore had no inner strength. As a result, they quickly surrendered to any invaders. Its king realized that before Shilla could become strong, his people would have to develop themselves both mentally and physically.

The king knew that ancient Korean philosophy stresses that the mind and body must exist in a state of equilibrium. To function on this level an individual's mind and body must be healthy and strong. The king commissioned the elders of Shilla to develop a system of training which emphasized discipline, confidence, and obedience. The movements used in this new form of weaponless self-defense were taken from observing how animals reacted when their lives were threatened.

Training was instigated among the young males of the kingdom. Eventually Shilla became strong enough to not only resist invaders, but also to conquer neighboring kingdoms and unite Korea into a single, strong country.

The outgrowth of this initial training was the formation of a group of warriors called Hwa Rang Do. They lived according to a strict five point code:

Be loyal to your king
Be obedient to your parents
Be honorable to your friends
Never retreat in battle
Make a sensible kill

As a result of Shilla's new-found strength, Korea became unified for the first time in its history. Training was continued and improved upon throughout the generations until it evolved into what is known today as Tae Kwon Do. Tae Kwon Do is translated literally as the “art or way of the bare hands and bare feet.” “Tae” means to jump, kick or smash with the foot; “Kwon” denotes a fist used chiefly to punch or destroy with the hand or fist; and “Do” means an art, way or method. Prior to the 1940's, practice of the martial arrest was banned in Korea due to Japanese occupation of the territory.

In 1944 Grand Master Won Kuk Lee formed the Chung do Kwan Institute in Korea . This is the oldest and most respected institute of Tae Kwon Do in the world, and descended directly from the Hwa Rang Do of old. Chung Do Kwon is its own unique style of martial arts and should not be confused with any of the newer hybrid forms of martial arts.

In the 1950's, Grand Master Lee left for Japan, and passed the directorship of his institute to Grand Master Duk Sung Son. As the new director for the Chung do Kwan Institute, Grand Master Son assembled a committee to formulate a singular and “correct “ term for the Chung Do Kwon – style of martial arts. The committee approved the idea and the matter was brought before, and later approved by Korean President, Sung Man Rhee. Once the details were finalized, the Chung Do Kwon style became known, exclusively, as Tae Kwon Do. Under Grand Master Son's direction, Tae Kwon Do flourished; he is credited with training millions of people in Korea .

World Tae Kwon Do Association and National Tae Kwon Do Association

In the late 1950's, Tae Kwon Do was brought to the United States, and in 1963, Grand Master Duk Sung Son came to New York to open the first school. With the foundation of Chung Do Kwon laid in the U.S. , other masters came to the U.S. from Korea . At this time, Grand Master Son endorsed a proposal made by Master Jae Bock Chung to establish the World Tae Kwon Do Association (WTA). When the formation of the World Tae Kwon Do Association was solidified, Grand Master Son became the president and Master Chung became the director. The WTA grew and became the largest martial arts organization in the US . The other masters assumed leadership roles in the WTA, including: Master Y.T. Chung- vice-president, Master K.H. Kim- technical director, Master Y.S. Chay- midwest director, Master D.H. Kim- west coast director, Master K. C. Park-east coast director, Master H.S. Ko- southern director, Master N.Y. Chung- tournament controller, Master K.W. Yu- exam controller, Master C.K. Han- advisor to WTA, Dr. Robert Sexson- attending physician, and Masters T.D. Kim, T. Y. Kim, Y. K Chang, and N. Y. Cho - members of the Board of Directors.

Tae Kwon Do became very successful in the U.S. because it offered more than just self-defense and physical fitness. This scientific exercise stresses discipline, confidence, and coordination of the mind and body. Men, women and children in Tae Kwon Do training learn how to relax, control their emotions, respect authority, and discipline themselves in many areas of life. Unlike Olympic or Americanized sport karate, Tae Kwon Do is taught as a way of life, with emphasis placed on how the mind and body work and grow together. As bodies become strengthened, students find that they become more focused in every aspect of their life, and often experience a decline in stress.

In 1999, the Board of Directors of WTA chose to dissolve the Association over a dispute about the copyright and trademark of the WTA logo and name. After this event, the Board of Directors organized a new association, the National Tae Kwon Do Association (NTA), and Master J. B. Chung became the President. All other officers maintained their roles within the new association. Former members of the WTA were, and continue to be, welcomed into the NTA.

Madison Tae Kwon Do School

In 1966, Master J. B. Chung established the Madison Tae Kwon Do School and it became the charter school of the World Tae Kwon Do Association. The Madison Tae Kwon do School remains a traditional Chung Do Kwon school, teaching Tae Kwon Do as it was taught 2,500 years ago in Korea . During the 1960's through the 1980's, Grand Master Chung trained recruits to the Madison Police Department. The school was and continues to be well respected by the police department. The Madison Tae Kwon Do School has trained thousands of students in southern Wisconsin over the past 40 years.

When new students join the Madison Tae Kwon Do School, they receive personalized instruction for the first few lessons, and beyond if needed. Then students progress through the various steps of learning to intermediate and more advanced sessions until the various steps of Tae Kwon Do are mastered. All students progress according to their own individual rate of achievement.

The Madison Tae Kwon Do School is dedicated to furthering the progress of men, women, and children and their well-being by raising their spiritual, moral, and physical standards.

Membership Oath

We, as members, train our spirits and bodies according to the strict code.
We, as members, are united in mutual friendship.
We, as members, will comply with regulations and obey instructors.

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