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)


(4) Taekwondo in the Chosun Dynasty


After the establishment of the country, Chosun Dynasty was founded on the ideology of Confucianism, which resulted in giving more importance on literary art than martial art.

But there are quite a large number of the common people who continued to practice and propagate the techniques of Korean martial arts such as "Soobak" and "Taekkyon". According to Se Jong Sil Lok (True Record of King Se Jong), Byong Jo(Ministry of National Defense) sponsored Soobak Contests, and employed those who defeated three contestants as soldiers and guards. Dong Kook Yo Ji Sung Lom(the Geographical and Cultural History Record of the Provinces of Korea) also has records of annual Soobak competition that was held on 15th of July. The event was held in the village of Chak Ji, which was located in the Eun Jin prefecture of the Chung Cheong Province; and the people from both Chung Cheong and Cheon La provinces participated in the event. Also, there were records found referring to Kings' observance of Soobak competition and selection of knights via Soobak competitions by defeating three contestants. Thus Soobak, a prototypal form of Taekwondo, became popularized among common people as a martial art and as a sort of sport as well.

Hae Dong Jook Ji of Chosun Dynasty concretely exhibits records of classical form of taekwondo. Among the records, the data referring to a martial art called Tok Gyoen are as follows: "In old culture, there was a form of martial art known as Kok Sool, and it used kicks to make one's opponent fall. It was called Tok Gyoen, and it had three levels of methods. Novice level kicks the leg, intermediate level kicks the shoulder, and expert level kicks the topknot of hair."

Also in the Hae Dong Jook Ji records were found referring to Soo Byuck Ta. Records about Soo Byuck Ta are as follows: "In old culture, there were hand techniques known as Soo Sool. They were evolved out of sword techniques. While sitting on the ground facing each other exchanging punches and hand strikes, if one makes a mistake one would get knocked down. This was called Soo Byuck Ta."

Among abundant historical records of the Chosun Dynasty that can help inquire about development of martial arts and generalized culture, the publication of Moo Ye Do Bo Tong Ji is perhaps the most important event in Taekwondo's history during the Chosun Dynasty. It was published during King Chongjo's era to encourage martial arts training, and was to be used as a reference to cultivate martial officials. The 40 page long book has illustrations that explain fighting techniques and forms of all sorts of martial arts. The 4th book under a title of Kwon Beop illustrates forms and techniques of prototypal Taekwondo. However, because of political influence of the Choseon Dynasty and influenced by Chinese books it used Chinese terminologies to describe forms and techniques. As a result, there have been trifling misconceptions regarding the history of Taekwondo. The training methods of fighting techniques and forms of Moo Ye Do Bo Tong Ji are similar to that of today's training methods of Taekwondo.

In addition to the the above mentioned historical records there are many other additional sources such as Yoo Sook's Da Qae Do, which he drew two youths engaged in a game of Taek Gyeon.

As the condition of war and the times changed, Taek Gyeon, transfigured into a children's game rather than a form of a martial art. It could only developed as a folk and children's game because there wasn't any room for it to develop as a sprt as there was nonexistence of concept of sports during the Choson Dynasty. And then under the Japan's colonization of Korea the Japanese government prohibited the practice of Taek Gyeon. In spite of this, Taek Gyeon was passed on by a handful of Taek Gyeon instructors. Song Duk Ki learned Taek Gyeon from Yim Ho, and taught it until after Korea's liberation from japanese subjugation.