Korea: Early Times - 2000BC and Beyond
Prehistoric man needed skills to ward of assailants be they from other tribes or his own tribe therefore they developed a range of fighting skills. In peace time, the same skills were honed and kept alive in play and in friendly competitive combat. Records of early Korean communal life describe games of a martial nature, and it can be assumed that these games seeded many of the rudiments of what we now know as Taekwondo.
The Three Kingdoms
The Korean nation was founded when tribes from Mongolia migrated to the Korean peninsula. Three kingdoms developed: Goguryo (37BC-668AD) was in the north, Baekje (18BC-660AD) extended around the Han River basin in the central and western region, and Shilla (57BC-936AD) occupied the south east along the Nakdong River. The Shilla kingdom ultimately vanquished Baekje in 660AD, and Goguro in 668AD, this unifying the nation into one state.
Taekwondo historical prototypes
Murals and ceiling paintings located in the Goguryo capital of Tungku depict various aspects of communal life including men in combat practising what appears to be an early form of Taekwondo. Excavated tombs from this period also depict men wrestling, and in poses characteristics of Taekwondo. The murals tend to suggest that all classes of society from farmer to nobleman practiced martial arts.
Historical records indicate that the Baekje Kings encouraged the practice of martial arts which included Archery, horse-riding, traditional Korean wrestling and predecessors of Taekwondo such as Subakhui - a self defence art using both arms and legs.
Shilla was originally the weakest of the three kingdoms, surrounded by hostile neighbours. This circumstance led to the inception of the Hwarando, a warrior system which embodied high ethical standards and embraced the following code: Loyalty to country; Obedience to parents; Loyalty to friends; No retreat from attack; Refusal to kill senselessly. It was the strong code of the Hwarangdo which enabled Shilla to become the dominant of the three kingdoms, ultimately vanquishing the other two.