The term taekwondo was coined in 1955 by South Korean Gen. Choi Hong-hi and thus he was controversially credited as the art’s founder. The art draws from Japanese karate and Korea’s oldest martial art, taekkyon.
Taekwondo was born of power struggles. Along with Nam Tae-hi and Han Cha-kyo, Gen. Choi Hong-hi adopted the Ch’ang Ho School (Kwan) of Taekwondo patterns from their original Oh Do Kwan. To unify the new martial kwans under a single banner, the Korea Taekwondo Association was formalized in 1959/1961. Then in 1966, KTA member Gen. Choi Hong-hi formed a splinter group called the International Taekwon-Do Federation, while others created the World Taekwondo Federation. The formation of taekwondo has arguably led to more disunity than unity.
Because taekwondo has its footing in the Korean military, where the hands are considered too valuable to be used in combat, taekwondo emphasizes kicking skills.
The spirit of taekwondo is secretly hidden in the written calligraphy of the words. The motion of the strikes and blocks are revealed by the brush strokes’ order and in the direction in which the word is written.