February 27, 2023
Informational Discover the Rich History of Korean Martial Arts
  • History of Korean Martial Arts
  • Korean Martial Arts

Korean Martial Arts has a long and storied history stretching all the way back to antiquity. Born out of necessity, these martial arts were used to defend and protect communities against invading forces. Although the exact origins are unknown, there is evidence that it has been practiced for thousands of years and passed down from generation to generation.

Over time, a variety of distinct and diverse martial arts styles have emerged from Korea, each one unique and distinct from the others. Some of the most popular styles include Taekwondo, Hapkido, Tang Sool, Kumdo, and Kuk Sool Won. All of these martial arts styles share common traits such as an emphasis on quick and precise movements as well as a strong sense of discipline.

Korean Martial Arts has long been a part of the Korean people's culture, seen as a way to stay healthy, reduce stress, and improve self-defense skills. In more recent times, these martial arts have evolved, with some modern practitioners adding modern elements such as sparring to their martial arts practice. Regardless, the core values of Korean Martial Arts remain – discipline, respect, and honor.

Korean Martial Arts, also known as Korean Traditional Martial Arts, have a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Known for their fast-paced movements and emphasis on discipline, these martial arts have evolved to become a significant part of Korean culture. In this article, we will explore the fascinating history of Korean Martial Arts, tracing its roots back to ancient times and learning about its evolution into the modern era.

The Early History of Korean Martial Arts

The origins of Korean Martial Arts can be traced back to the ancient kingdoms of Korea, which date back to around 57 BC. At this time, Korea was divided into three kingdoms: Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla. Each kingdom had its own unique style of martial arts, which were used for both self-defense and warfare.

The martial arts of Goguryeo were known for their powerful kicks and throws, while those of Baekje were known for their graceful movements and emphasis on strategy. Silla, on the other hand, was known for its swordsmanship, which was considered the most important aspect of its martial arts.

During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1876), martial arts training became more formalized, with schools and academies established to teach various styles. However, it was not until the 20th century that the term “martial arts” (or “muyae” in Korean) was officially used to describe these practices.

The Influence of Buddhism and Confucianism

Throughout Korean history, martial arts were closely tied to religion and philosophy. Buddhism, which was introduced to Korea in the 4th century AD, had a significant influence on the development of martial arts, particularly in the area of meditation and mental discipline.

Confucianism, which became the dominant ideology during the Joseon Dynasty, also played a role in the development of martial arts. Confucianism emphasized the importance of physical fitness and discipline, and many Confucian scholars practiced martial arts as a way to maintain their health and improve their mental focus.

Taekwondo - Korean martial arts

The Role of the Military

Throughout Korea’s history, martial arts have been closely linked to the military. In fact, many of the martial arts styles that were developed in ancient Korea were designed specifically for use in warfare. These styles emphasized hand-to-hand combat, weapons training, and strategic thinking.

During the Joseon Dynasty, the military played an important role in the development of martial arts. The government established official military academies where soldiers were trained in various forms of martial arts, including archery, swordsmanship, and unarmed combat. These academies also served as centers of martial arts scholarship, with scholars studying the various styles and developing new techniques and strategies.

The Modern Era

In the 20th century, Korean Martial Arts underwent a significant transformation. With the country’s independence from Japan in 1945, Korean Martial Arts were able to flourish once again. The Korean government recognized the importance of martial arts as a part of the country’s cultural heritage and began to promote their study and practice.

The most significant development during this time was the creation of Taekwondo, which is now one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Taekwondo was developed in the 1950s and 1960s by a group of Korean martial artists who sought to unify the various martial arts styles into a single system. Taekwondo emphasizes powerful kicks, fast strikes, and a strong emphasis on discipline and mental focus.

Kumdo - korean martial arts

Other styles of Korean Martial Arts also gained popularity during this time, including Hapkido, which focuses on joint locks and throws, Kukkiwon, which emphasizes speed and agility. Furthermore, Kumdo is Korean martial art that focuses on swordsmanship. It emphasizes the use of the long sword, known as the “jukdo,” and incorporates techniques such as cutting, thrusting and blocking. The practice of kumdo or gumdo aims to develop discipline, physical fitness, and mental focus.


What martial art does Korea use?

Korea has several martial arts, but the most well-known is Taekwondo.

Is hapkido Japanese or Korean?

Hapkido is a Korean martial art.

What is Kumdo?

Kumdo is a Korean martial art that focuses on swordsmanship. It involves the use of bamboo swords and protective gear for sparring.


Korean Martial Arts have a rich and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. From their early roots in the ancient kingdoms of Korea to their modern-day popularity around the world, Korean Martial Arts have evolved and adapted to changing times and circumstances.

Throughout their history, Korean Martial Arts have been closely tied to religion, philosophy, and military strategy. The emphasis on mental discipline and physical fitness has remained a constant throughout the centuries, as has the focus on self-defense and strategic thinking.

Today, Korean Martial Arts are practiced by millions of people around the world. These martial arts have become a significant part of global culture, from Taekwondo tournaments and Kumdo swordsmanship to Hapkido self-defense classes. The influence of Korean Martial Arts can also be seen in other areas, such as the rise of Korean pop culture and the growing interest in Korean history and culture.

As we look back on the history of Korean Martial Arts, we can see the ways in which they have evolved and changed over time. From their early roots in ancient kingdoms to their modern-day popularity, these martial arts continue to inspire and fascinate people around the world. Whether you are a martial arts enthusiast or simply curious about Korean culture, exploring the history of Korean Martial Arts is a fascinating journey that is well worth taking.

USHRK Kumdo, Kendo Classes Martial Arts Near Me

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