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Tae Kwon Do in Modern Times

In the modern times of Korea, the Chosun dynasty [1392-1910] the imperial Korea and the Japanese colonial rule until 1945, Taekwondo was rather called "subakhui" than "Taekkyon" and it suffered an eventual loss of official support from the central government as the weapons were modernized for national defense, although the subkhui was still popular in the early days of Chosun.

The Chosun dynasty was founded on the ideology of Confucianism, which resulted in rejecting Buddhism and giving more importance on literary art than martial art. Nonetheless, the Annals of Chosun Dynasty tells about the contests of subakhui ordered by local officials for the purpose of selecting soldiers and others ordered by the kings who enjoyed watching subakhui contests at the times of feasts. It was also ruled by the defense department that a soldier should be employed when he wins three other contestants in the subakhui bouts. However, as the government progressed, the government officials began to lay more importance on power struggles than on the interest of defense, naturally neglecting promotion of martial arts.

Then, it was only in the days of King Jungjo after the disgraceful invasion of Korea by the Japanese [1592] that the royal government revived strong defense measures by strengthening military training and martial art practice. Around this period there was a publication of the so-called "Muyedobo-Tongji," a book of martial art illustrations, which 4th volume entitled "hand-fighting techniques" contained the illustration of 38 motions, exactly resembling today's Taekwondo poomsae and basic movements, although those motions cannot be compared with today's Taekwondo poomsae, which has been modernized through scientific studies.

Even under the Japanese colonial rule, some famous Korean writers, such as Shin Chae- Ho and Choi Nam-Sun, mentioned about Taekwondo, saying "present subak prevailing in Seoul came from the sunbae in the Koguryo dynasty," and "subak is like today's Taekkyon which was originally practiced as martial art but is now played mostly by children as games."

However, the Japanese colonial government totally prohibited all folkloric games including Taekkyon in the process of suppressing the Korean people. The martial art Taekkyon [Taekwondo] had been secretly handed down only by the masters of the art until the liberation of the country in 1945. Song Duk-Ki, one of the then masters testifies that his master was Im Ho who was reputed for his excellent skills of Taekkyon, "jumping over the walls and running through the wood just like a tiger." (explanation of taekkon techniques in muyedobo-tongji (general illustrations of techniques) (scene of contest).

At the time, 14 terms of techniques were used representing 5 kicking patterns, 4 hand techniques, 3 pushing-down-the-heel patterns, 1 turning-over-kick pattern and 1 technique of downing-the-whole-body. Also noteworthy is the use the term "poom" which signified a face-to-face stance preparing for a fight. The masters of Taekkyon were also under constant threat of imprisonment, which resulted in an eventual of Taekkyon as popular games.