Taekwon Do is the art of self-defense that originated in Korea. It is recognized as one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world, reaching back over 2,000 years. The name was selected for its appropriate description of the art: tae means “to strike or break with foot” kwon means “to strike or break with fist” and do means “way”, “method”, or “path”. Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the way of the hand and the foot.


The oldest Korean martial art was an amalgamation of unarmed combat styles developed by the three rival Korean Kingdoms of GoguryeoSilla, 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 being the most popular of the segments of subak. Those who demonstrated strong natural aptitude were 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 grace to become competent warriors. These warriors were instructed in academics as well as martial arts, learning philosophy, history, a code of ethics, and equestrian sports. Their military training included an extensive weapons program involving swordsmanship and archery, both on horseback and on foot, as well as lessons in military tactics and unarmed combat using subak. Although subak was a leg-oriented art in GoguryeoSilla‘s influence added hand techniques to the practice of subak.

During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910–1945), all facets of ethnic Korean identity were banned or suppressed. Traditional Korean martial arts such as taekkyeon were banned during this time. During the occupation, taekkyeon was hidden. Now, Koreans who were able to study and receive rankings in Japan were instead 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 differing views on the origins of the arts taught in these schools. Some believe that they taught martial arts that were based primarily upon the traditional Korean martial arts taekkyon and subak, or that Taekwon Do was derived from native Korean martial arts with influences from neighbouring countries. Still others believe that these schools taught arts that were almost entirely based upon karate.

In 1952, at the height of the Korean War, there was a martial arts exhibition in which the kwans displayed their skills. In one demonstration, Nam Tae Hi smashed 13 roof tiles with a punch. Following this demonstration, South Korean President Syngman Rhee instructed Choi Hong Hi to introduce the martial arts to the Korean army. By the mid-1950s, nine kwans had emerged. Syngman Rhee ordered that the various schools unify under a single system. The name “Taekwon Do” was submitted 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 are the founders of Taekwon Do, though not all the kwans used the name. The Korea Taekwon Do Association (KTA) was formed in 1959/1961 to facilitate the unification.

In the early 1960s, Taekwon Do made its début worldwide with assignment of the original masters of Taekwon Do to various countries. Standardization efforts in South Korea stalled, as the kwans continued to teach differing styles. Another request from the Korean government for unification resulted in the formation of the Korea Tae Soo Do Association, which changed its name back to the Korea Taekwon Do Association in 1965 following a change of leadership. The International Taekwon-Do Federation was founded in 1966, followed by World Taekwon Do Federation in 1973.

Since 2000, Taekwon Do has been one of only two Asian martial arts (the other being judo) that are included in the Olympic Games; it became a demonstration event starting with the 1988 games in Seoul, and became an official medal event starting with the 2000 games in Sydney. In 2010, Taekwon Do was accepted as a Commonwealth Games sport.

Warwick TKD Affiliation

We can trace our roots back to First Grand Master Rhee, Ki Ha, the father of British Taekwon-Do. Warwick TKD is a full member of the Taekwon-Do United Kingdom which is affiliated to the International Taekwon Do Federation.

The Taekwon Do United Kingdom association was founded in 2011 by the president Master John Archer VII Dan and a number of other high ranking instructors including Mr Martin Noddings VI Dan.





White Belt (10th Kup) – Signifies innocence and lack of knowledge within Taekwondo
White Belt with Yellow Stripe (9th Kup)
Yellow Belt (8th Kup) – Represents the seed taking root in the earth, as Taekwondo takes root in its student
Yellow Belt with Green Stripe (7th Kup).


Green Belt (6th Kup) – Signifies the growing plant and the student’s growing Taekwondo skills
Green Belt with Blue Stripe (5th Kup)
Blue Belt (4th Kup) – Represents the skies, the direction in which the plant is growing
Blue Belt with Red Stripe (3rd Kup).


Red Belt (2nd Kup) – Red signifies danger, warning the student and those around him of his abilities
Red Belt with Black Stripe (1st Kup).