The Art & Sport of Taekwondo: Taekwondo began in Korea approximately 1300 years ago. The art was originally called Hwa Rang Do, which translates to “The way of the flower.” More specifically, this translation was understood as “the youth of manhood,” for its popularly attributed benefits to young adults. Over time, the art became known for its excellent defensive training techniques and realized a contemporary understanding as Tae (foot) kwon (fist) do (way), or “the way of the foot and fist.”
In ancient times, young Koreans were trained in a variety of survival, fitness, combat, and agility skills. Those exhibiting the highest aptitude for learning were admitted into an elite corps known as the Hwa Rang. These chosen few were then trained in the liberal arts of history, ethics, and philosophy in order to increase their grace and ability to critically think at higher levels. This educated caste became excellent tacticians and managers of both civil and military works.
The Japanese banned Taekwondo during its occupation of Korea in World War II, as its practitioners were considered a threat to Japanese dominion of the country. However, the art returned by popular demand once the Japanese were expelled from Korea. Since that time, it has become the most widely practiced martial art in the world. Shihap Kyeorugi (Taekwondo sparring) has even become an official Olympic sport.
Taekwondo Symbols: Taekwondo uses four of the eight Bagua, or Palgwe, diagrams. Each Bagua diagram represents a specific concept. The diagrams each have three lines which are either broken (depicting a yin line) or unbroken (a yang line) and faces a particular direction.
The Yin and Yang Symbol: Yin and Yang represent two forms produced by Taiji (Absolute), which is a delimited product of Wuji (Limitless). These forms seek to identify the complimentery but opposing forces within singular things and to compare the opposing forces of different things.
Qian Symbol: Facing northwest, this diagram conceptualizes expansive energy and the sky.
Kun Symbol: Facing southeast, this diagram depicts receptive energy and signifies that which yields.