Taekwondo was developed over several decades in the mid-twentieth century. Schools of martial arts in Korea began to use the name ‘Taekwondo’ in the 1950s.
The martial art that would later be called ‘Taekwondo’ began in the late 1930s and 1940s, when a number of Koreans (who would later go on to found Taekwondo) trained in Karate in Japan – often under pivotal figures in Karate such as Funakoshi Gichin. When these Koreans returned to Korea, they established martial arts schools of their own.
This led to the start of the ‘Kwan Era’ of Taekwondo (kwan is a Korean word that’s used to refer to a martial arts school), which lasted from the 1940s to the 1960s. The martial arts schools in this era initially taught a variant of Karate, but over time, they gradually developed the art to include more kicking techniques, taking some inspiration from the native Korean martial art of Taekkyon.
Various attempts were made to unify these separate schools of martial arts into a single, Korean martial art. These attempts had various levels of success. The name ‘Taekwondo’ was proposed as a name for this new martial art, and over time gradually became more popular.
The date that many people associate with the inauguration of Taekwondo is the 11th of April 1955, which was when a naming committee, comprising of a number of influential figures in Taekwondo, agreed on the name ‘Taekwondo’. However, the martial art itself had begun development before this date, and continued to be developed after it.