(Written by Master Park and Master Han)
Taekwondo is the inherent martial art, or the style of physical movement focused on the fighting skills that have been created by Korean people in Korea. The historical origin of this Taekwondo is so old and deeply rooted in the prehistorical period that it is really hard to pursue its exact origin. Therefore, this book will inquire into the historical origin and the development of Taekwondo focus on the important elements of each period briefly.
It is, however, required to mention the concept of Taekwondo here at preface. This commentary is required because some learned men, who have insolent pride of their thin knowledge of Taekwondo, interpret its concept as they please and therefore suggest some refutations about the origin of Taekwondo, which lately have given rise to much debate. Since those disputes were based on their ignorances and misunderstandings, it is not worth discussing it now, however it is required to define the concept of Taekwondo that I mean at least in this book, in order to prevent new confusions and misinterpretations.
Taekwondo can be defined as the inherent system of fighting skills and spiritual culture or a way of life that has been formed through the Korean culture and history. This concept of Taekwondo can also mean "the human education through training of body such as hand and foot" and some scholars restrict its meaning within a kind of sport. I, however, argue that all of those concepts can be included in my concept of Taekwondo that it is 'a system of the inherent fighting skills of Korea and a spiritual culture or way of life based on it'. There is a point to emphasize here that Taekwondo is a kind of martial art, which has been existing from the time when there was not the name "Taekwondo", thus even if people have begun to call the name just recently it is possible for us to discuss its old historical origin.
Taekwondo shows its concrete appearance of the extremely sophisticated system of fighting skills whereas it naturally includes a profound spiritual culture and practical philosophy like a kind of religion. Fighting skill is essential for the living of mankind, thus it contains everything of the human life. Through a human life, one needs fighting skills in the emergent situation on one hand and he needs them in the universal phenomena of human history, i.e. the War, on the other, therefore it is natural that a system of fighting skills belongs to the main frame consisting the actual life of mankind, i.e. his survival and to the most important facets of human activity. Of course it might be unreasonable to argue that those fighting skills have been implying everything of human life from the beginning, but it is reasonable that those skills can develop within a certain distinctive cultural circumstances embracing every factor of the culture that includes some perspective both universal and peculiar about world and life. This phenomenon is prominent in the general Japanese culture.
Accepting this concept of Taekwondo, we can allow and associate at once both the view that gives more importance to the spiritual aspects of Taekwondo than skillful and the view that restricts the meaning of Taekwondo to that of a sport. And we can conceptualize the substance of Taekwondo and inquire into its historical origin based on it.
Finally, the last point to be emphasized is that we should watch learned men themselves, not to distort the history of Taekwondo owing to adherence to their own biased opinions. Although Taekwondo is the traditional culture of Korea, it has developed through mutual interaction with foreign cultures and customs in the same way as any cultural heritage of worlds has done. As fighting skills like Taekwondo are in no way found only in our country and our age but they have developed in each nation systematically along the time as instinctive fighting activities in times of need, it is no wonder that foreign fighting skills and Taekwondo have affected each other. And there might have been temporary periods when one affected the other unilaterally because of their political and economical conditions. For anyone of the Taekwondo circle, it is needless to give even a little attention to those who are absorbed in such minor details and twisting the history of Taekwondo, pretending themselves as truth-telling forerunners.
Now from such a point of view, we will describe the historical origin and philosophy of Taekwondo.