Taekwondo gets its name

The year 1955 signaled the beginning of Taekwondo as a formally recognized martial art in Korea. As previously mentioned, in the 1950's, General Hong Hi Choi had developed and was teaching a new style of Taekkyon he called Taekwondo to the Korean army, air force, and police.

On April 11, 1955, a special board composed of many martial arts grand masters.  At this meeting, General Choi proposed that the new art should be called Taekwondo. Duk Sung Son says that he passed a piece of paper to Choi suggesting the name and that Choi took credit for it. Since Taek-wondo translates to 'tae' meaning a kick or strike with the foot, 'kwon' meaning a punch or strike with the fist, and 'do' meaning the way of, it described the arts use of strikes using both hands and feet. The name Taekwondo was unanimously adopted by the board. At first, President Rhee re-jected the name, preferring to use the name Taekkyon, but General Choi convinced him that Taek-wondo was a better name for the new art.


Although most of the kwans merged under the common name of Taekwondo, there were a few who did not. It has never been clear which of the original eight did merge but Moo Duk Kwan remained a separate art called Tang Soo Do  remains as a recognized separate art in itself. The new Taekwondo name appealed to the newly nationalistic Koreans since it was a totally Korean ex-pression. It also had a close connection with the old name Taekkyon, in both pronunciation and meaning. It indicated that the art employed both hands and feet, unlike terms such as Tang Soo (Chinese hand) or Karate (empty hand), which imply hand techniques only. Since this eventful meeting, Taekwondo has been recognized worldwide as the name for the Korean martial arts.