Tae Kwon Do is the name of the martial art and international sport which has developed independently over about 20 centuries in Korea. The main feature of Tae Kwon Do is that it is a free-fighting combat sport using one’s bare hands and feet to repel the opponent. The entire body is a weapon for a Tae Kwon Do practitioner. One is easily able to defend against an aggressor by use of hands, elbows, knees or feet. The practice of Tae Kwon Do gives an individual the mental attitude of modesty and generosity are fundamentally based on self-confidence, and are beneficial to the lives of individuals, as well as to their families, neighbors and nation.

Translated literally; TAE () means “to kick or smash with feet.” KWON () refers to “punching or destroying with the hand or fist.” DO () is “the art”, the way, and the method.”


People in primitive ages, no matter where they lived, had to develop personal skills to fight in order to obtain their food and to defend themselves against their enemies, including wild animals. The long experience of ancient people, in defending themselves, have led to the development of more effective skills of their own in the use of their hands and feet in fighting, thus creating primitive form of the Tae Kyon (old name of Tae Kwon Do).

The origin of Tae Kwon Do in Korea can be traced back to the Koguryo dynasty, founded in 37 B.C. Tae Kwon Do was also practiced during the Silla dynasty. Silla was a kingdom founded in the Southeastern part of the land some 20 years before Koguryo in the North. Silla was famous for it’s Hwa-Rang-Do, made up of youths of noble families, devoted to cultivating mind and body in order to better serve Silla. Hwa-Rang-Do not only used the Tae Kwon Do practice for their unarmed combat study as an essential part of physical and military training, but also recommended it as a recreational activity. The Hwa-Rang-Do played an essential role in unifying the three kingdoms, Silla, Koguryo, and Bakjai. (Silla was the smallest kingdom of the three.)

Korean culture and the native martial arts were strongly influenced and enriched by this group of men, and modern students of Tae Kwon Do owe them a debt of gratitude for preserving and refining the various forms of unarmed combat present during this era. Understanding of Hwa-Rang-Do’s philosophy is an essential part of mastering Tae Kwon Do.

Many studies and researches show that many fighting stances, skills and formalized movements used in the three kingdoms closely resemble the present stances and forms of Tae Kwon Do. Therefore, it can be inferred that people in the three kingdoms practiced an art very much like the one we study today.

Today, Tae Kwon Do has grown as a unique Korean self-defense art for about 20 centuries. The history of Tae Kwon Do proves that it is far more than a self-defense form or such as a trust and courage, Tae Kwon Do develops self confidence and respect. With all these things in mind we can understand why Tae Kwon Do is, “a way of life“.


The tenets of Tae Kwon Do should serve as a guide for all serious students of the art.


Tae Kwon Do students should attempt to practice the following elements of etiquette:

1. To promote the spirit of mutual concessions.
2. To be ashamed of one’s vice contempting that of other’s.
3. To be polite to one another.
4. To encourage the sense of justice.
5. To distinguish the instructor from student and senior from junior.


In Tae Kwon Do, the word integrity assumes a looser definition than the one usually presented in Webster’s dictionary. One must be able to define right and wrong, and have the conscience, if wrong, to feel guilt. Listed are some examples, where integrity is lacking:

1. The instructor who misrepresents himself and his art by presenting improper techniques to his students because of a lack of knowledge or apathy.
2. The student who misrepresents himself by “fixing” breaking materials before demonstrations.
3. The instructor who camouflages bad techniques with luxurious training halls and false flattery to his students.
4. The student who request rank from an instructor, or attempts to purchase it.
5. The student who gains rank for ego purposes or the feeling of power.
6. The instructor that teaches and promotes his art for materialistic gains.


There is an old Oriental saying, “Patience leads to virtue or merit”, “One can make a peaceful home by being patient for 100 times.” Certainly, happiness and prosperity are most likely brought to the patient person. To achieve something, whether it is a higher degree or the perfection of a technique, one must set his goal then constantly persevere. Robert Bruce learned his lesson of perseverance from the persistent efforts of a lowly spider. It was this perseverance and tenacity that finally enabled him to free Scotland in the fourteenth century. One of the most important secrets in becoming a leader of Tae Kwon Do is to overcome every difficulty by perseverance.


This tenet is extremely important inside and outside the do jang, whether conducting oneself in free sparring or in personal affairs. A loss of self-control in free sparring can prove disastrous to both student and opponent. An inability to live and work within one’s capability or sphere is also a lack of self-control.


“Here lie 300, who did their duty”, a simple epitaph of one of the greatest acts of courage known to mankind. Although facing the superior forces of Xerxes, Leonidas and his 300 Spartans at Thermopulae showed the world the meaning of indomitable spirit. It is shown when a courageous person and his principles are pitted against overwhelming odds. A serious student of Tae Kwon Do will at all times be modest and honest. If confronted with injustice, he will deal with the belligerent without any fear or hesitation at all, with indomitable spirit, regardless of whosoever and however many the number may be.