It was only relatively recently that martial arts evolved from a tool to train warriors for combat, into a method of spiritual and physical education, and then into the sport of sparring. These changes began with the transformation of Japanese Kendo from a method of large-scale battlefield warfare into a method of safe personal combat between two people. Judo underwent a similar process in which it evolved from combat techniques into a sport. To accomplish this transformation, both had to develop a way for two people to test their skills against each other safely. This was accomplished by making modifications to the fighting techniques and training methods and introducing sparring techniques. Japanese karate also evolved from a lethal combat art into a sport for use by the general public by using these methods. This stress on the sporting aspects of karate influenced the developers of Taekwondo, which was based upon Japanese karate.
For much of the early 1900s, a variety of martial art styles existed throughout the Korea. These styles varied from one another according to the amount of influence each master had absorbed from the numerous Chinese and Japanese styles they had studied and the extent to which the native subak/taekkyon had been modified over the years.
Taekkyon had very little influence on early Taekwondo. Until the 1960s, taekwondo was essentially shotokan karate. As stated before, by the time of the Japanese occupation, Koreans had lost interest in the martial arts. There were few native martial artists left, and since they were forced to teach in secret during the Japanese occupation, they had to restrict the number of students they could accept. At the same time, many Koreans went to Japan for an education and returned with some knowledge of either judo or shotokan karate. Thus, by the end of the occupation, only a small number of Koreans were familiar with Korean martial arts, while the Japanese arts were diffused throughout the populace. This was especially true for those of the upper classes who had a Japanese education.
After the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, exiled Koreans returned to Korea bringing with them martial arts they had studied in other countries. Korean martial arts were influenced by the quick, straight-line movements that characterize the various Japanese martial arts. Hand techniques from China, Japan, and Okinawa were combined with Taekkyon’s foot techniques to form new Korean martial arts styles. Korean people began regaining the thought of self-reliance and traditional folk games resumed their popularity.
Hapkido is a Korean martial art that developed independently of taekwondo. It is still popular in Korea and around the world but it has not gained the worldwide popularity of taekwondo. Hapkido stresses spinning (to throw off opponents and gain stability and power) and joining (using the opponent's power against the opponent).
Martial arts in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK; North Korea) probably disappeared after the communists took control in the 1950s. Private instruction in the martial arts would tend to support resistance to the state, and like the Japanese before them, the communists did not allow such resistance.
As the native arts and Japanese arts gained in popularity in Korea, several kwans (schools) that taught Japanese influenced martial arts sprang up in Korea.
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