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History of Korean Taekkyeon

August 02, 2018

History of Korean Taekkyeon

Originating from the Korean Peninsula, tTaekkyeon is a traditional martial art that emphasizes foot movements known as "pum balgi." As shown in the photo to the left, practitioners of this Korean martial art must kick their opponent to score points, and the practitioner with the most points at the end of the match wins. Taekkyeon is unique from other martial arts, however, as it encourages practitioners to use their entire body to attack and defend rather than just their feet. To learn more about Taekkyeon and the history behind it, keep reading.

Origins of Taekkyeon

Taekkyeon has origins dating back to Korea's Jeongjo reign (1776 to 1800), during which it was first mentioned in a book titled "Manmulbo." The art was described as being a combative practice in which practitioners fought against each other using their hands and feet. However, it wasn't until the turn of the 20th century when Taekkyeon became widely popular in Korea's capital city of Seoul. This was due, in part, to a book published by Song Duk-ki, in which he discusses Taekkyeon and its importance as a martial art.

Techniques of Taekkyeon

One of the great things about Taekkyeon is that it incorporates a variety of elements into the art. Although kicking is the primary focus, practitioners are encouraged to use other body parts to attack and defend against an opponent. For example, practitioners of Taekkyeon can use leg locks, hand locks and even head butts. When learning Taekkyeon, practitioners must hone individual skills like knee jabs, jumps and kicks, which they can use to improve their Taekkyeon proficiency.

Taekkyeon Today

Taekkyeon is still practiced by thousands of people, many of whom prefer it over other Korean martial arts. In 1983, Song Duk-ki -- who was largely responsible for modernizing the art --  was given the highly acclaimed "living national treasure" status by the Korean government. He died shortly thereafter, but his presence continues to be felt through the world of Taekkyeon.

In South Korea, there are a few organizations that host Taekkyeon training and competitions. The Korean Traditional Taekkyeon Association (KTTA), for example, is one of the most popular Taekkyeon organizations. Its leader, Jeong Gyeong-hwa, was personally taught by Song Duk ki, so it's safe to say that he knows a thing or two about the art. The Korea Taekkyeon Federation (KTF) is another organization that hosts Taekkyeon training and competitions. Like KTTA, its leader also learned from Song Duk ki.


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