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The Art of Taekwondo

Taekwondo certainly takes root in man’s instincts to survive by means of protecting himself from outside threat with the bare-hand fighting skills, and it was developed into a systematized martial art in the times of three-kingdom era. The three kingdoms, i.e., Silla(founded in B. C. 57), Koguryo(B.C. 37) and Paekje(B.C. 18), were all antagonistic among themselves in their respective hopes to achieve national unification on the Korean Peninsula. They had to defend themselves also from foreign aggressions from China or Japan. Under such circumstances, each kingdom tried to consolidate national unity first, stressing the spirit of national defense among the people. That spirit was based on the traditional “seon” philosophy and the warriors accepted it as a martial spirit. Above all, Silla’s hwarangdo (youth warrior’s corps) was a typical example of inheriting this spirit. Their firm view of the state was derived from the thought of loyalty and filial piety, with which they could voluntarily abandon their lives for the sake of national security. In addition, the courage of “no retreat from fighting” was also another virtue of that spirit.

A third virtue was their practical thought of ethics, with which they pledged not to commit any ethical faults and never to betray their social obligations. After all, these spirits enabled the hwarangs of Silla to defend their kingdom and helped it conquer other two kingdoms, unifying the entire peninsula. Thus, the hwarangdo spirit inherited the Korean’s traditional thought based on the seon philosophy and gave birth to the Taekwondo spirit consisting of the thought of loyalty and filial piety, courage of no retreat from fighting and practical ethic thought of consistency in learning and acting. This thought, shaped into a peace thought, has been handed down to the present Koreans.