Taekwondo Bible Vol.1

Taekwondo Bible Vol.2

Taekwondo Bible Vol.3

Taekwondo Poem


History & Discussion


TKD Culture Network


(Written by Master Park and Master Han)


(2) The Birth of Taekwondo and Taekwondo in the Era of the Three States


In ancient Korea, a development of military arts was a matter of course. In the ancient period of Tribe-State, primitive faith and folk belief of worshiping the gods of heaven, sun, mountains was prevalent. As was the case, there were customs of performing sacrificial rites for gods after Hajong in May and Chusu in October. Such customs varied from tribe to tribe and they dubbed it Donmang in Buyuo, Siwolje in Mahan, Gayui in Shilla. During those ritual periods they had matches of fighting skill. Traces of these time can be found in traditional play such as Nongak, Sirum in present.

On the other hand, it is thought that the entering Era of the Three States military arts in repective states had become sophisticated and systematized as the military conflicts had become more fierce and military power had become a more crucial role in states' life or death. Mural paintings that suggested development of fighting skills at that time were found in Kakjochong and Muyongchong of Kogureae(etablished in B.C. 37) in Manju area. The wall painting at Kakjochong depicts two men wrestling, that is, playing Sirum and on the ceiling of Muyongchong two men are painted standing face to face and struggling with each other, whose posture seems very similar to that of Taekwondo.

Originally Kogurea developed in a horse-riding culture, with wide territory, and placed great emphasis on its military thus Kogurea was a warlike state. The circumstances which required powerful military strength made Kogurea 'Sunbae', the strong warrior circle, which served for the state's prosperity and strengthening of a centralized authoritarian ruling system. Both Yongaesomun and his son Namsang who ruled the late Kogurea were known to have been members of this circle, 'Sunbae'. Except for Sunbae, we can find some materials that suggest Kogurea's militariastic spirit in the documents concerning heaven-worship ceremony of Kogurea. Ancient History of Chosun says that in the ruling period of Taejo, on every March 10th of the lunar calendar in each year, the crowds congregated, dancing with swords, shooting arrows, hopping on one leg, playing Subak and fighting with water, breaking through ice on the surface of rivers.

In addition Kyoungdang, a private academic institution in Kogurea, is noticeable. Kyungdang were schools where sons of common people and powerful families were educated in civil and military arts, which were located in provinces compared to Taehak, the state education institution. A historical record of China says, "There was culture of loving books. And the humble people from meat-selling butchers to horse-feeding fodder constructed big house at the streets and dubbed it Kyoungdang. Their sons learned to read books and shoot arrows day and night until they got married."

But we can find few documents regarding military arts in historical materials about Baekje. Therefore scholars just assume that since Baekje had much cultural intercourse with China and Japan, military arts of Baekje also developed foreign influence. At the same time, it is presumed that Baekje instructed their youths in the Five Classics and military arts as important subjects just like Shilla and Kogurea, its adjacent rival state s.

On the other hand, in Shilla there existed its typical military and educational institution, called 'Hwarang'. This Hwarang system of Shilla can be understood as means to survive in territorial conflicts with Kogurea and Baekje, which was developed along with the military arts. The flower of youth in Silla dynasty(Hwarang) seemed to established by King of Chinhung from rearrangement and strenthening of civilian youth circles, called Pungrudo or Pungwoldo, imitating Sunbae from Kogurea. The Ancient History of Chosun says, "King of Chinhung copied Sunbae of Kogurea to found Kuksunhwarang. Youths selected from the competitions like Shinsudo and Danjon learned and studied hard. They played various sports such as Subak, Kyokgum, Kima(riding horse), Dukgyoni, Kaegumgil, Sirum, explored mountains and rivers far and near, learned poetry and music, boarded and lodged together. In peace they dedicatedly put a lot of effort into relieving the poor and constructing castles and roads, in war they felt it an honor to fight and die on a battlefield. They sacrified their lives for public profits just the same way as Sunbae."

Generally speaking, the development of Taekwondo in each nation at the Era of Three States seemed to have effects on one another, but it is difficult to find out in detail and concrete due to lack of materials.