The history of Taekwondo is generally assumed to be short, not even a hundred years. This, in fact, is erroneous. The history of Taekwondo stretches through the millennium.
A couple of thousand years ago, when Korea was split into three kingdoms, young men were chosen for special training in warfare. This training consisted of all aspects of military training, including bow and arrow, equestrian sports, combat strategy, and so on. These men were the high elite, chosen because of their high athletic and mental abilities.
These young soldiers were called the Hwarang, and they trained in a martial art called Subak. The various styles of Subak were eventually combined to give advanced training in footwork and fistwork. The most popular and efficient of the Subak arts was called taekkyeon.
During the middle ages martial arts training began to recede. This was because of the Chinese philosophy, especially the school of Confucianism. The bent of society was more towards manners and politeness, and the practice of the martial arts was more confined to the backyards of lone teachers.
Then came the Second World War and the Japanese invasion. The Japanese were committed to destroying anything resembling Korean culture, and any traces of Taekyyeon or Subak were ruthlesslysquashed. While this was cruel and oppressive, there was a bright side, for the Japanese decided to teach their own martial arts.
Koreans eagerly embraced the hard core concepts of Karate. The martial arts began to grow again, and were represented by nine Kwans, or houses. Eventually, after the war was done, the nine houses were brought together under the Taekwondo banner.
Still, the Koreans wanted their own identity, and the Japenese kata, and even the accompanying Chinese influences, were discarded in favor of new forms. These new forms, though lacking in power, were easy to teach, and taekwondo began to be grow and be taught to the rest of the world. Currently, Taekwondo is one of the most popular martial arts on the planet, being taught in over 123 nations with over 30 million students.
The final phase in this history of Taekwondo is ongoing. Koreans are starting to search for the power of their original Martial arts, and even looking into the heavy duty influences of the Japanese influenced schools. Ultimately, the Korean martial art of taekwondo will manifest the power of the Japanese forms, the heady philosophies of the Chinese arts, and create a link with the original Subak arts taught so long ago.