Taekwondo History Timeline

This Taekwondo History timeline is designed to give the Taekwondo student the opportunity to visualize how the history of Korea and Taekwondo has impacted the current-day studies of this martial art.

In the modern history, the events have been color-coded for the differences in World Taekwondo Federation and International Taekwondo Federation events.

To find out more about the Taekwondo History Timeline, click here.

Ancient History:

2333 B.C.: According to legend, Tangun founds a civilization on the Korean peninsula.

50 B.C.: Possible date of early cave drawings on walls of Koran caves, depicting men in Taekwondo poses.

57 B.C.: Kingdom of Silla is founded.

37 B.C.: Kingdom of Kogyryo is founded.

18 B.C.: Kingdom of Packje is founded, establishing the three-kingdom dynasty. The early martial art Subak spreads through Packje and Silla.

540-576 A.D.: Chin Heung, 24th king of Silla, commissions the formation of the Hwa Rang Do.

660 A.D.: Silla conquers Packje.

668 A.D. : Silla conquers Koguryo, uniting the peninsula. A time of peace ensues.

668 A.D. to 935 A.D.: The Hwa Rang Do of Silla practice Subak – and also develop the next form of Taekyon, which has more order and structure. Subak and Taekyon become popular with the general public, not just the military.

935 A.D.: General Wang Kon leads an insurrection against Koryo, overthrowing the government and founding the Koryo dynasty. Taekyon is required for all military training and is practiced by the general pubic as well.

1392: The Yi Dynasty (also called Chosun Dynasty) begins. This government promotes a Confucian philosophy, which downplays martial arts. Although the general public practices Taekyon and Subak, some instructors flee to other Asian countries. The name of Taekyon is sometimes replaced by the name Soo Back Ki (hand striking techniques).

Japanese Occupation:

1909: Japan conquers Korea and outlaws all Korean culture, including the practice of any native martial art. Taekyon instructors practice in hiding or flee to other countries, where they are influenced by other martial arts. Han Il Dong and his student, Choi Hong Hi, practice Taekyon in secret.

1945: At the end of World War II, Korea is liberated from Japanese occupation. Korean martial arts are rejuvenated, but lack consistency and organization. Many schools (kwans) practice forms and kicks containing Japanese influences.

Modern History:

1945: Grand Master Byung Jick Ro opens Sang Moo Kwan school in an archery training building. The school is not successful.

1945: Master Won-Kuk Lee founds the Chung do Kwan style.

1946: Hwang Kee founds a martial art called Moo Duk Kwan, which later splits into Taekwondo style and Tang Soo Do style.

1946: Taekyon is taught to police in Seoul, Korea.

1946: Master Bryng Jick Ro opens another Sang Moo Kwan school, which closes during the Korean War.

1946: Sang Sup Chun founds Yun Moo Kwan, the name of which is later changed to Ji Do Kwan.

1946: Yon Kue Pyang founds Chi Do Kwan.

1946: First Lieutenant Choi Hong Hi teaches his style of Taekyon to the military under his command.

1950-1953: The Korean War divides the country in two.

1952: President Syngman Rhee of South Korea watches a 30-minute demonstration of Taekyon and orders all soldiers to be trained in Taekyon. The responsibility falls to Captain Choi Hong Hi.

1953: General Choi Hong Hi founds Oh Do Kwan and serves as its president.

1953: Kang Duk Kwan is founded by Master Hong Jong Pyo and Master Park Chul Hee.

1953: Master Byrung Jick Ro opens another Sang Moo Kwan school in Seoul, Korea and is successful.

1953: The Korean Taekwondo Association (K.T.A.), the precursor to the World Taekwondo Federation, is formed by nine kwans.

1954: Jung Do Kwan is founded by Lee Yong Woo.

1954: Han Moo Kwan is founded by Master Lee Kyo Yoon.

1955: General Choi Hong Hi trains all the Korean military in his version of Taekyon.

1955: The Chung Do Kwan conference is organized founded by Master Won Kook Lee.

1955: Nine kwans (schools) of Korean martial arts, including Taekyon, agree to combine the arts and rename the Korean martial art Tae Soo Do.

1957: General Choi recommends to the kwans that the name be changed to Tae Kwon Do. Adopted by the kwans.

1958: Master Hwang Kee Hwang removes the kwan Tang Soo Do Moo Duck Kwan from the Tae Kwon Do umbrella. He forms the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do.

1960: Organizations by the K.T.A. begin to dispatch Korean masters of Taekwondo to other countries to hold demonstrations and to open dojangs (schools).

1960: General Choi sends a Taekwondo team from South Korea to North Korea on a goodwill mission. The South Korean government and general public are outraged and demand his resignation.

1963: Master Duk-Sung Son (Chung Do Kwan) comes to New York City, United States, and founds the World Taekwondo Association.

1965: General Choi retires from the Korean military to dedicate his life to developing Taekwondo.

1966: General Choi founds the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) with support from Vietnam, West Germany, Malaysia, Turkey, Italy, United Arab Republic, Taiwan, and United States. The ITF is a separate organization from the Korean Taekwondo Association.

1967: The US Taekwondo Association is formed.

1968: General Choi meets with Master Haeung Ung Lee and teaches him the forms.

1969: American Taekwondo Association is founded by Master Haeung Lee, based in Omaha, Nebraska.

1971: Dr Un Young Kim is elected president of the K.T.A.

1971: President Chung Hee Park of South Korea announces that Taekwondo will become the national sport of Korea and allocates funds for the promotion and building of Kukkiwon (WTF headquarters).

1972: Kukkiwon building Is completed.

1972: General Choi leaves South Korea, moving ITF Headquarters to Toronto, Canada.

1973: The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) is established, and dissolves all associations with the ITF. Kukkiwon becomes the official headquarters and training facility of the WTF. Chung Do Kwan aligns itself with the WTF.

1973: World Taekwondo Championships are held in Kukkiwon, with 19 countries participating.

1974: US Taekwondo Association is renamed the US Taekwondo Federation.

1975: The WTF affiliates with the GAISF (General Association of International Sports Federation).

1976: The International Military Sports Council (CISM) adopts WTF Taekwondo into the World Military Championships.

1976: The European Taekwondo’s Union’s inaugural meeting held in Spain with the first European Taekwondo Championships.

1976: The WTF English quarterly magazine was first published. The name changes to WTF Taekwondo in 1981.

1976: First meeting of the Asian Taekwondo Union in Melbourne, Australia.

1977: The nine different kwans (Chung Do Kwan, Ji Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Soo Moo Kwan, Han Moo Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Jung Do Kwan, and Kang Du Won) recognize the Kukkiwon and WTF as the promotional body of Taekwondo, and agree to the black belt certification process and certificates.

1978: Pan American Taekwondo Union holds its first Pan American Taekwondo Championships in Mexico City, Mexico.

1979: African Taekwondo Union holds first African Taekwondo Championships.

1980: The international Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes the WTF at the 83rd session in Moscow, Soviet Union.

1981: WTF Taekwondo is accepted as a World Games event.

1982: ITF’s General Choi attempts to make ITF Taekwondo an Olympic sport by reaching out to the International Olympic Committee.

1983: WTF Taekwondo is accepted as a Pan American Games event.

1984: The ITF moves its headquarters to Vienna, Austria.

1984: General Choi and the ITF publish Encyclopedia of Taekwondo.

1986: The Federation International du Sport Universitaire (FISU) adopts Taekwondo as an event in the World University Championships.

1986: ITF sends demonstration team to China, a country which eventually embraces Taekwondo.

1988: Taekwondo is an exhibition sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

1990: Central American Sports Organization adopts Taekwondo as an official sport in the Central American Games.

1991: The Goodwill Games, Inc,, adopts WTF Taekwondo as an official sport for the third World Games.

1992: Taekwondo is again an exhibition sport at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

1992: Taekwondo is adopted by the Olympic Council of Asia as an official sport for the Asian Games.

1994: WTF Taekwondo is adopted as a full participatory sport for the 2004 Sidney Olympic Games.

1996: WTF Taekwondo is a exhibition event in the Atlanta Olympics.

1997: Taekwondo is adopted as an official sport for the second World Military Games, in Zagreb, Croatia.

1998: The general assembly of the Supreme Council of Sports in Africa (SCSA) includes Taekwondo as a official sport in the seventh All African Games.

2000: The IOC committee confirms that Taekwondo will be an official sport in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

2002: Membership of countries affiliated with the WTF reaches 168.

2002: General Choi, “Father of Taekwondo,” dies of stomach cancer.

2002: The selection of a successor to General Choi is controversial. The ITF splits into three branches: ITF Vienna, headed by Tran Trieu Quan (whom General Choi had named as his successor); ITF North Korea, headed by Chang Ung; and ITF Canada, headed by Choi Jung Hwa (General Choi’s son).

2004: Amidst charges of corruption, WTF President Kim resigns. Dr. Sun Jae Park is elected as acting president.

2004: Dr. Chung Won Choue is elected as the new president of the WTF.

2004: Taekwondo is an official sport in the Athens Olympic Games.

2005: WTF Taekwondo is declared an official sport for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

2006: The World Taekwondo Federation includes affiliations of 182 different countries

2008:Taekwondo participates as a official sport in the Beijing, China 2008 Olympics games.

2012: Taekwondo participates as an official sport for the London, England, 2012 Olympic games.

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