Taekwondo is a Korean martial art which originated from the oldest an amalgamation of unarmed combat styles developed by the three rival Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo , Silla and Baekje , where young men were trained in unarmed combat techniques to develop strength , speed , and survival skills . The most popular of these techniques was subak , with taekkyeon the most popular of the segments of subak . Those who show a strong innate talent selected as trainees in the new special warrior corps , called the Hwarang . It was believed that young men with a talent for the liberal arts may have the talent to become competent warriors . These warriors were instructed in academics as well as martial arts , learning philosophy , history , ethics , and equestrian sports . Their military training included war program involving swordsmanship and archery , both on horseback and on foot , as well as lessons in military tactics and combat using subak armed soldiers . Although subak was a leg -oriented art in Goguryeo using , Silla's influence added hand techniques to the practice of subak .
During this time some selected taekkyeon Silla warriors were given training by the early masters from Koguryo . These warriors then became known as the Hwarang . Hwarang set up a military academy for children in Silla called Hwarang -do , which means "the way of maturity . " Hwarang studied taekkyeon , history , Confucian philosophy , ethics , Buddhist morality , social skills and military tactics . The principles of the Hwarang warriors were based on Won Gwang the five codes of human conduct and included loyalty , filial duty , trustworthiness , valor and justice . Taekkyeon spread throughout Korea because the Hwarang trip around the peninsula to learn about the other regions and people .
Apart from the rich history of the Korean martial art of ancient and traditional , Korean martial arts faded into obscurity during the Joseon Dynasty . Korean society became highly centralized under Korean Confucianism and martial arts were poorly regarded in a society that aspired to and was epitomized by its scholar - kings . Formal practices of traditional martial arts such as subak and taekkyeon provided to military sanctions . Taekkyeon civilian training lasted until the 19th century .
During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945) , all facets of ethnic Korean identity banned or suppressed . Traditional Korean martial arts such as subak taekkyeon or prohibited during this time . During the occupation , Koreans were able to study and receive rankings in Japan exposed to Japanese martial arts . Others were exposed to martial arts in China and Manchuria .
When the occupation ended in 1945 , Korean martial arts schools ( kwans ) began to open in Korea under various influences . There are different views on the origins of art is taught in schools . Some believe that they taught martial arts that are based mainly on the traditional Korean art of self-defense Taekkyon and Subak , or Korean Taekwondo derived from the original , martial arts with influences from neighboring countries . Believed that schools teach the art that is almost entirely based upon karate .
In 1952 , at the height of the Korean War , there was a martial arts exhibition in which kwans displayed their skills . In one demonstration , Nam Tae Hi destroyed 13 roof tiles with a punch . After this demonstration , South Korean President Syngman Rhee instructed Choi Hong Hi to introduce the martial arts to the Korean army . In the mid -1950s , nine kwans has emerged . Syngman Rhee ordered the subject to various schools under one system . The name " taekwondo " was delivered by either Choi Hong Hi ( of the Oh Do Kwan ) or Song Duk Son ( of the Chung Do Kwan ) , and was accepted on April 11, 1955. As it stands today , the nine kwans is the founder of taekwondo , though not all kwans use the name . Korea Taekwondo Association ( KTA ) was formed in 1959/1961 to facilitate the unification .
In the early 1960s , Taekwondo made its debut worldwide with assignment of the original master of taekwondo to various countries . Standardization efforts in South Korea stalled , as kwans continues to teach taekwondo with different styles . Another request from the Korean government for unification resulted in the formation Korea Tae Soo Do Association , which changed its name back to the Korea Taekwondo Association in 1965 following a change of leadership . International Taekwon - Do Federation was founded in 1966 , followed by World Taekwondo Federation in 1973 .
Since 2000 , Taekwondo has been one of only two Asian martial arts ( the other being judo ) that are included in the Olympics , and became in 1988 taeknowndo event begins with games in Seoul , and became an official event began with the 2000 medal game in Sydney . In 2010 , Taekwondo accepted as a Commonwealth Games sport .
One source estimates that as of 2009 , Taekwondo was practiced in 123 countries , with over 30 million practitioners and 3 million individuals with black belts throughout the world . The South Korean government in the same year published an estimate of 70 million practitioners in 190 countries taekwondoin