The export of Taekwondo

In Korea, the study of Taekwondo spread rapidly from the army into high schools and colleges. Public dojangs sprang up everywhere. Taekwondo had begun to blossom. The first leaders of the KTA saw the potential for the spread and growth of their art and used their authority to send instructors and demonstration teams around the world. Korea quickly began to export its new martial art.


In 1963, a Taekwondo demonstration was performed at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. On November 26, 1967, the United States Taekwondo Association was formed.


In 1962-1963, Taekwondo entered Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. In February 1963, a Taekwondo association was formed in Singapore and groundwork was laid for forming associations in the outer reaches of Brunei. In 1964, Chong Lee introduced Taekwondo into Canada. In 1965, Byung Jick Ro, accompanied by General Choi led a goodwill Taekwondo mission to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Singapore. In 1965, Jay Hyon introduced Song Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do to the United States with the founding of his 'Karate Center' in Minneapolis, Minnesota and many other Korean masters spread out from Korea, bringing with them the art of Taekwondo


On January 17, 1971, Dr. Un Yong Kim (not a martial artist), who was serving as Deputy Chief of the Presidential Protective Forces, was elected president of the KTA. He had been instrumental in organizing the building of an advanced Taekwondo training establishment in Seoul, Korea. On March 20, 1971, Korean President Park Chung Hee declared Taekwondo the national sport of Korea and allocated funds to build the 'Kukkiwon,' which would serve as the central gymnasium and world headquarters for Taekwondo. Construction began in 1971 and it was completed on November 30, 1972. The Kukkiwon became known as the 'Mecca of world Taekwondo.'


On May 28, 1973, the first biennial World Taekwondo Championship was held at the Kukkiwon, with the participation of 19 countries. The success of this event proved that Taekwondo had been internationally recognized as a valid sport as well as being an extremely effective method of self-defense. The event started Taekwondo toward becoming a world sport.


During the meet, several KTA leaders including Chong Woo Lee, Won Kyu Um, and Nam Suk Lee called for establishment of a worldwide Taekwondo organization to help get Taekwondo into the Olympics. Representatives of the participating countries at the meet formed a new, worldwide organization to promote Taekwondo on an international level, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). They elected Dr. Un Yong Kim as president and the WTF absorbed the KTA.


On January 8, 1977, nine of the largest kwans unified, recognizing the Kukkiwon as the black belt promotional body for Taekwondo. The WTF replaced kwan names with serial numbers. The kwan serial numbers are as follows: (1) Song-Moo-Kwan, (2) Han-Moo-Kwan, (3) Chang-Moo-Kwan, (4) Moo-Du-Kwan, (5) O-Do-Kwan, (6) Kang-Duk-won, (7) Jung-Do-kwan, (8) Ji-Do-Kwan, and (9) Chung-Do-Kwan.


August 7, 1978 can be considered a historical date for Taekwondo, because it was on this day that the Kwans finally compromised and signed a Proclamation finalizing Kwan Unification. The Proclamation stated:


'Taekwondo will strive hard to unify and will eliminate the different Kwan of the last 30 years. Since 1972, we unified the Taekwondo terminology and poomse in order to minimize the differences which existed between the different Kwan. With respect to Dan Promotion Tests, the Sabum in the individual Dojang will recommend the candidates for rank advancement. We will do our duty to treat everyone as equals and to work towards a clean administrative procedural system. Because Taekwondo is our National Sport, we promise to be good leaders and unify all Taekwondoin throughout the nation. We will close all Kwan offices and the Chong Bon Kwan will instead coordinate with the Kukkiwon so that we can keep our administration clean. We promise to do our part to unify Taekwondo.'


In October 1979, Dr. Un Yong Kim was elected president of the non-Olympic International Sports Federation of the General Assembly of the International Sports Federation (GAISF).


In July 1980, at the Eighty-Third International Olympic Committee Session meeting in Moscow, the World Taekwondo Federation was granted IOC recognition and became a member of the Olympic Games. It hoped to participate in the 1984 Olympic Games.


In May 1981, the IOC approved the inclusion of Taekwondo in the 1988 Olympic Games to be held in Korea as a demonstration sport and finally as an official Olympic sport in the 2000 Olympics held in Australia.


Currently, Taekwondo has over 100 million students in more than 200 countries around the world.