Shotokan – Tae Kwon Do

TAE KWON-DO is a modern Korean martial art, known for dynamic kicks, and quick footwork. It is an all-around program that offers self-defense training, physical exercise, and artistic expression; all taught by an experienced professional instructor.


Meaning of the term “Taekwon-do

Literally translated, Taekwon-do breaks down to “tae” meaning to kick with the foot, “kwon” meaning to punch or strike with the hand, and “do” meaning art or way. Therefore, Taekwon-do translates to “the art of kicking and punching.” Its physical aspects come from the kicking and punching, while its spiritual aspects come from the art.

Although the literal translation of Taekwondo is the art of kicking and punching, it is only a superficial translation. “Do” in Korean implies a philosophical approach to life, a pathway to achieve enlightenment. Taekwondo is not only a method of self-defense, it is also a way of life. Students of Taekwondo, through rigorous physical training, try to improve themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. True Taekwondo practitioners extend the art to all aspects of their lives to achieve harmony with nature and a stable and peaceful existence.


When Karate was introduced to Korean Peninsula, some used politically correct 空手道 (Kongsoodo), and others the original 唐手道 (Tangsoodo). In 1944 Won Kuk Lee (이원국, 李元國) a pupil of Funakoshi opens Chung do kwan (청도관, 靑濤館) the first Tangsoodo school in Korea. Apart from the known fact that Lee studied under Funakoshi, the fact that 靑濤館 borrows a letter from Shotokan (松濤館) signifies that it's meant to be a direct lineage from Shotokan Karate. Choi Hong Hi (최홍희, 崔泓熙) also studied Shotokan Karate in Japan and has 2nd dan.

Choi kept practicing Karate after he went back to Korea, and later in Korean Army. In 1954, at the height of Korean War, Choi with 29th Infantry Division performed a demonstration in front of President Syngman Rhee. The legend goes that President praised the demonstration convinced that it was Taekkyeon. Fully aware of anti-Japanese sentiment, Choi had said that it was his original martial arts. Other account says that President has ordered the kwan leaders to unify to a single system so it could be introduced to Korean military. On April 11th of 1955, President Rhee certifies Taekwondo as the name selected by a committee headed by Choi, and on September 3rd of 1959 Choi renames Korean Kongsoodo Association to Korea Taekwondo Association. In other words, Karate was renamed to Taekwondo for political reasons, like Japanese renamed Chinese hands to Karate.

The lineage of Shotokan was influenced by educators who wanted to turn Karate into exercise. Meanwhile Taekwondo was introduced as practical combat martial arts to Korean army.

Another interesting twist is the post-war internationalization and attitude difference towards sports. While the Japanese Karate stuck to traditions and kata, Taekwondo did not shy away from sparring and turning it into point-based sport, especially the South Korean WTF branch. This allowed Taekwondo to be included into Olympics wearing gloves and all while Karate remains not included.