Excerpts from the book - The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Martial Arts
Q.) You may have been asked this a number of times, but where did Tae Kwon Do or Taekwondo originate?
Master James Theros - Tae Kwon Do originated in Korea but can draw lineage from Korea to Japan and from Japan to China. In World War II the Japanese invaded Korea and attempted to make the Koreans into Japanese citizens. The Japanese forbid the Korean to practice their indigenous fighting arts and burned nearly all of their historical records and literature. During this time many of the Japanese soldiers who were martial artists befriended some of the local Koreans and allowed the Koreans to learn the art of Karate. When World War II ended in 1945, and Korea was freed from the Japanese occupation, the Korean masters continued teaching the same material that they learned from the Japanese, but they began to change the name of the art (some of the earlier names used for Tae Kwon Do were, Korean Karate, Kong Soo Do and Tae Soo Do). They also changed most of the names of the Kata (empty-handed patterns) that they had learned from the Japanese masters and began to make minor changes to movements to make them more "Korean."
In the 1950's a famous Korean master (General Choi Hong Hi) began developing a set of pure Korean forms and another group began developing a set of forms called, "Palgwe." The government decided that these forms were too similar in nature to the Japanese Karate forms and so, decided to create a second newer set of forms called, "Tae Geuk" that were purely Korean in nature. These newer forms are still used to this day. The other set of forms that were created by General Choi are also still in use today. The actual first generation lineage of both Tae Kwon Do and Karate can be traced back to China. Tae Kwon Do draws its original roots from Northern Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu, which is known for its many kicking techniques.
Q.) What are some of the key features and techniques of Tae Kwon Do?
Master James Theros - Tae Kwon Do (which means, "The Way of Hand and Foot") is nearly identical to Japanese Karate but prefers the use of kicks to a much higher percentage than Karate. Tae Kwon Do is 70% kicking and 30% striking. The footwork used in Tae Kwon Do sparring is among the best in the world and many of the sparring techniques have been adopted by other arts (Karate, Kung Fu, Muay Thai to name a few) because they are so effective for use in both self-defense and in sparring. Another interesting thing that many people are not aware of is that a large number of the actors in the 1970's and 1980's Kung Fu movies were actually Korean Tae Kwon Do masters. The most famous of these actors being Ho Chung Tao, also known as "Bruce Li," who did a lot of Bruce Lee impressionistic films at that time. Ho Chung Tao was a high-ranking Tang Soo Do master, which is why he favored kicking over punching in those films. Tang Soo Do was the original "traditional"
Q.) Is there anything you can add that would help a person make a decision about studying this form of martial arts?
Master James Theros - I think that every human being should have to do 3 things: 1. Work at a fast-food restaurant (after doing so the person will come to truly appreciate what hard work is all about, and will appreciate the other opportunities that they have available to them outside of that industry). 2. Serve in the military (the martial arts are "based" on military principles). The word "martial" means "military." Serving in the military, even in a non-combative mode will discipline a person like just about nothing else that I know of. You go in as one person and come out as a much better version of yourself. 3. Every person should have to study a martial art. I don't believe there is one martial art better than another, but, Tae Kwon Do is a fantastic place to begin, due to its relative simplicity and ease of learning, and many practitioners stay with Tae Kwon Do their entire lives. There aren't many football players still playing at the age of 50 or 60, and there aren't many gymnasts still performing at those ages either, but finding a martial artist at those ages (or even much higher) is commonplace. In a phrase, it's life-changing.
If you would like to learn even more about, Level 10 Martial Arts College, their information will follow.
Master James Theros
Level 10 Martial Arts College
5135 S. Emerson Ave.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46237