The practice of Taekkyon never seems to have been widespread within the Korean peninsula, but it was practiced frequently around Hanyang, the capital city of the Chosun Dynasty. At the height of its popularity, even the king practiced Taekkyon, and Taekkyon matches were frequent. However, the next king outlawed Taekkyon matches, motivated by the gambling which took place around them - where people would gamble away their wives and houses - thus making it a purely military art. Subak split into two; yusul and Taekkyon, during the early Joseon Dynasty.

Taekkyon is documented as a living martial art in an 1895 book on Korean sports and games.
Taekkyon took a severe blow when Neo-Confucianism grew in popularity, and then the Japanese occupation damaged the art even more to the extent the art was virtually extinct. Taekkyon has enjoyed a resurgence in the decades following the end of the Japanese colonial period in 1945. The last "Old-School" Taekkyon practitioner, Song Duk-Ki, maintained his practice of the Art throughout the Japanese occupation and subsequently laid the seeds for the arts' regeneration. He became the first human cultural asset in taekkyon. Important Intangible Cultural Asset No. 76" on June 1, 1983. It is the only Korean traditional martial art which possesses such a classification.


Written by Conrad Howard — November 21, 2012

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