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Short Answer:
The origins of Taekwondo are very old, and come from a variety of sources, through several different, modern day, Martial Art pioneers who each contributed to its development. The modern version of this art was officially named on April 11, 1955.

 Detailed Answer:
The vast depths of Taekwondo's knowledge and skills comes from influences of both ancient and modern sources. The short answer is that what we know as Taekwondo today is a culmination of older skills brought together during the 1940's, and early '50's, and officially named on April 11, 1955. Since that time, Taekwondo has continued to develop and grow with the establishment of official organizations and a central world headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.

Exactly when Taekwondo originated as an art is a complex issue that is highly controversial and debated among experts in the field. Many things that have been invented, created, or discovered by humans were in existence long before they were given a name. Furthermore, it is not uncommon that modern developments of any subject were influenced by a variety of sources from the past, and brought together in a new format, much in the way Taekwondo has undergone various stages of development.

Many Taekwondo pioneers have claimed credit for its formation, and several claim the title of "founder" or "father" of Taekwondo. These claims are often repeated by loyal followers of each of these pioneers, and their respective organizations, but there is too much controversy and opinion over the exact contributions, and significance of each person's role in order to state, unequivocally, that one is more important than any others. Rather than presenting a biased slant, it is best to state the facts, and let the reader decide for themselves.

Taekwondo is a modern day Korean martial art and combat sport that was developed through a variety of influences. The oldest ancestor of Taekwondo is a series of unarmed combat techniques that were not known to have been organized in any specific structured curriculum as modern schools do. These ancient methods of physical combat developed throughout the three rival Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje during Korea's early struggles before becoming a unified country.

Although some roots of Taekwondo date back more than 2,000 years to this early three kingdoms period (57 BC to 1st Century AD), there is no known record of exactly what teaching methods, or techniques were employed in such ancient native arts as Subak, Tae kkyeon, and among the knights of the 7th Century Hwa Rang Youth Group. However, it is believed that Subak contained both striking and grappling skills, and Tae kkyeon was noted for the kicking technique that has been revived in modern Taekwondo.

These early Martial Art systems seems to have survived throughout the centuries in practice, and in folklore and games of skill contests. Like many traditions in most ancient cultures, Subak and Tae kkyeon were taught from father to son in an unrecorded link to modern practitioners. Also, as a Martial Art, it was taught in secret to a select few throughout the Japanese occupation (1910 to 1945) during WWII. Many Koreans during this period learned a majority of foreign Martial Art from Japan and China since Korean culture, language and fighting arts were banned.

During that time a young Korean, Won Kuk Lee (in Korean - Yi, Won Kuk), learned some Tae kkyeon in the streets of Korea before moving to Japan to attend college. Another young boy name Hong Hi Choi (in Korean - Choi, Hong Hi), states that he learned some Tae kkyeon from his Calligraphy teacher before going to attend High School and college in Japan. Both Lee, and Choi earned their Black Belts in Shotokan Karate under the renowned Karate Master Gichen Funakoshi.

Lee was a senior ranking Black Belt under Sensei Funakoshi, and began teaching his own unique methods as early as 1942. Upon returning to Korea in 1944, College Professor Won Kuk Lee gained permission from the Japanese government to teach the Korean system of Tang Soo Do (based on Chinese Hand fighting of the Tang Dynasty) for the first time in Korea at the Yung Shin School Gymnasium in Sa De Mun, Ok Chun Dong district in Seoul. He incorporated his own unique methods of teaching one-on-one and called his school "Chung Do Kwan" (school of the Blue Wave), officially established in Korea in 1944, see related links below.

After World War II ended (1945) several new Kwans opened up under various names, many of which were formed by Black Belt graduates of the Chung Do Kwan. The original five Kwans were: 1. Chung Do Kwan, founded in 1944 by Lee, Won Kuk (Lee had been teaching since 1942, but the official Kwan was opened in 1944 by permission of the occupying government of Japan), 2. Song Moo Kwan, founded May 2, 1946 by Ro, Byung Jick (Ro had previously taught self defense at an Archery School between March to July of 1944, but the official Kwan did not open until after the occupation), 3. Mu Duk Kwan, founded by Hwang Kee in 1946, 4. Kwon Bop Bu / Chang Mu Kwan, founded by Byung In Yoon in 1946, 5. Yun Moo Kwan / Jidokwan, founded by Sang Sup Chun in 1946.
Much later, there were four more main Kwans: 6. Han Moo Kwan, founded by Kyo Yoon Lee in 1954, 7. Oh Do Kwan, founded by Hong Hi Choi in 1955, 8. Kang Duk Won, founded by Chul Hee Park in 1956, 9. Jung Do Kwan, founded by Yong Woo Lee in 1956.

Some key figures important in the organization and development of Taekwondo as a modern Korean Martial Art included the first generation graduates of the Chung Do Kwan:

Duk Sung Son (3rd Kwanjang of the Chung Do Kwan - Founder of World Taekwondo Association)
Suh Chong Kang (Founder of Kyu Mu Kwan - Co-founder and 1st President of ATA: American Taekwondo Association)
Woon Kyu Uhm (current Chung Do Kwan Kwanjang and Kukkiwon President)

Later Graduates of the Chung Do Kwan include:

Hae Man Park (Vice President, Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan)
Hyun Ok Shin (President, United Chung Do Kwan Association)
Tae Zee Park (President, Tae Park Taekwondo)
In Mook Kim (President, American ChungDoKwan Taekwondo Association)
Edward B. Sell (Founder, United States Chung Do Kwan Association in 1967)
Jhoon Rhee (First permanent Tae Kwon Do Instructor in America)

By the mid 1950's approximately 18 kwans had opened in Korea, each teaching a variety of Martial Art systems under various names. The original Kwan founders began an effort to unite all of the Kwans into one central organization, and create a name to encompass all of the systems as one Korean Martial Art.

By this time, Hong Hi Choi had worked his way up in the Korean army as a General. In 1955, General Choi spear-headed this effort to organize the many Kwans and create a single governing body. It was determined that the Korean Martial Art was drifting away from its long-time Japanese influence, and becoming a system unique to the Korean culture, philosophy, and regaining the ancient knowledge of Subak, Tae kkyeon, and other skills that were nearly lost.

A new name needed to be chosen to represent the modern culmination of ancient skills with current influences while distancing the new organization from Japanese terms and influences. Chung Do Kwan founder, Grandmaster Won Kuk Lee stated that several of his students researched the matter, consulting a Korean language dictionary, and came up with the term "Taekwon-Do" to show a close connection to the kicking of the forerunner Korean art of Tae Kyon.

At a meeting of prominent Korean politicians, historians, and Kwan leaders on April 11, 1955, several ballots were voted upon, and the one containing the term "Taekwon," which was submitted by Chung Do Kwan student, General Hong Hi Choi, was selected. Thus, the term "Taekwon-Do" was born in April of 1955, but the art itself is a combination of technical knowledge, ancient warrior spirit, national culture and heritage dating back to the 1st century B.C.. Therefore, most Korean Taekwondo masters consider "Taekwondo" to be a new name for an ancient art. Even after this official vote, it took another decade to bring about a complete consensus among the various Kwans.

However, many people still erroneously place the Japanese Karate connection as the starting point of Taekwondo's history. Like most systems of the Martial Art, Taekwondo consists of many training tools for the student to use learning and practicing skills. One of those tools is the practice of forms (a series of prearranged movements). This concept was not present in traditional Korean Martial Art, but existed in Japanese systems such as Shotokan Karate, which was a descendent of the earlier "Okinawa-te" system (fighting with the hand) It is not know for sure where the Okinawan Martial Art originated, but some evidence suggests that it was brought to the island from China as a variation of the hand fighting taught to the Buddhist monks in the Shaolin Temple by the legendary Zen Buddhist Monk, Bodhidharma.

Because several of the original Korean Kwan (school) founders of Korean Taekwondo, had been students in the 1940's of Shotokan Karate-Do Master Gichen Funakoshi, the early use of "forms" practice in Taekwondo was a modified version of Karate "Kata." In the 1950s, Korean General Choi Hong Hi, restructured the Shotokan forms, and create the "Chang Hon Tul" (Blue Cottage Forms) which are still used by his International Taekwon-Do federation (ITF).

Since the development of the Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters) in Seoul, Korea in 1972, new forms were developed which better portrayed the Taekwondo content as taught in the Korean Martial Art. The first new set of color belt forms were called the Pal-gwe (eight trigrams). Then the Taegeuk forms were established as the official forms of Taekwondo in Korea, and are used in Olympic competition. These forms are based on the same three-lined trigrams that the Pal-gwe forms used as borrowed from the Chinese philosophy contained in the I Ching - Book of Changes. Combined with the Black Belt forms, these are referred to as "Poomsae" rather than the Japanese "Kata." However, since forms practice is only one tool within the training of any Martial Art, the origin of forms should not be the key factor in determining the origin of the content and roots of an entire art.

For reference and further reading, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) is the only official sports authority for Olympic Taekwondo, recognized by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), and the only one authorized by the Kukkiwon, world Taekwondo headquarters in Seoul, Korea. The WTF is not an instructional organization, and individuals or schools can not join or become members of the WTF. The WTF is not a "style" of Taekwondo, but is the governing body for Korean Taekwondo sport rules and regulations which consists of member nations. The WTF link provides the history of Taekwondo in stages from ancient to modern times: (see related links below)

Even after the name Taekwondo was chosen in 1955, the art itself has undergone vast changes to develop into a unique fighting system that never existed before in its current structure and philosophy. This metamorphosis has taken place over the past five decades, so it is very difficult to identify exactly when Taekwondo became what it is known as today, and no one person can rightfully be credited for creating this art. There were just too many great minds and dedicated Martial Artists contributing over several decades, even centuries, to universally agree upon a founder or a start date. However, it is accurate to say that the name of the art was officially established on April 11, 1955.
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Where was tae kwon do created?

Short answer: Modern Taekwondo was created over a period of time byseveral people, mostly in and around the capital city of Seoul,South Korea. It was named on April 11, 1955,

Why was Tae Kwon Do created?

Short Answer:    Like most other Asian countries, Korea had its own native Martial Art systems that developed as a need for protection of individuals, villages, and Kin

When were the tae kwon do forms created?

Chang Hon Teul: Late 1950s (published in English book 1965) Pal Gwe Pumsae: 1967 - Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) Taekgeuk Pumsae: 1971 - Kukkiwon and World Taekwondo F

What do you do in Tae Kwon Do?

In taekwondo... You learn to kick and punch so you can defend yourself. You do lots of exercise - (you get very fit!) There's lots of stretching to help you get flexible

How many years ago was tae kwon do created?

Modern taekwondo was created 60 years ago in the 1950s. However, some of the origins and influences on Korean culture, philosophy, and methods of grappling and kicking that be

Which kwon is the root style of tae kwon do?

The word you are thinking of is "Kwan" (관 ) which refers to a related group, family, or clan. It is used in Taekwondo to denote a system of teaching under one leader - - the

Has anything changed since Tae Kwon Do was first created?

Yes, martial arts evolve quite easily and naturally. The most recent change to Olympic taekwondo is the new scoring method. Instead of having judges try to score the points vi

Do you punch in Tae Kwon Do?

Tae Kwon Do means the way of the hand and foot. Tae (hand) Kwon (foot) Do (way) Answer: There are several types of punching (chirugi) in Tae Kwon Do. In general these are brok

What is the meaning of Tae in Tae Kwon Do?

The 태 ("Tae") of 태권도 ("Taekwondo") means to smash or stomp with the foot. It represents the aspect of Taekwondo where legs are used for kicking as a primary weapon of

What was created first Karate Tae Kwon Do or Kung Fu?

While they have roots in ancient times, the chronological order is a rather complex issue because the origin of names as opposed to the content they describe do not match. Eac

Is US Tae Kwon Do different from USA Tae Kwon Do?

Yes, these are each different entities with different authority, scope, and purpose. U.S. Taekwondo a name used for at least one independent school, and an organization that

How was Tae Kwon Do changed or improved since it was first created?

Before answering this question, one must be aware of the controversy over exactly when Taekwondo was "created." Some experts interpret all of Korea's ancient fighting skills a
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Which kwon is the root style of the tae kwon do?

Kwon means to "strike back or break with fist" in korean. The  original founder of Taekwondo studied Taek Kyon and karate. Over  time other masters have expanded the style a
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When was kicking created in Tae Kwon Do?

The kicking utilized in Taekwondo was an ancient form of fighting in use among the early Korean people some time during the 1st Century BC to the 1st Century AD. This integral
In Sports

What city was tae kwon do created in?

The modern-day curriculum for the Korean National Martial Art, and  the chosen term of Taekwondo was founded and named in the city of  Seoul, South Korea, beginning with the