Taekwondo Gets Its Name
The year 1955 signaled the beginning of Taekwondo as a formally recognized martial art in Korea. As previously mentioned, in the 1950's, General Choi Hong Hi had developed and was teaching a new style of Taekkyon he called Taekwondo to the Korean army, air force, and police. At the time, his Taekwondo was a merely Korean version of Shotokan karate that he had learned in Japan.
On April 11, 1955, a special board composed of many martial arts grandmasters, archeologists, historians, and prominent leaders met to develop a new name for Tae-soo-do. Attending the board were Mr. Yoo Hwa Chung; Mr. Son Duk Sung director of the Chung Do Gym; General Choi Hong Hi Commander of the 3rd District and head of the chung-do-kwan; General Lee Hyung Kun the Joint Chief of Staff; Mr. Cho Kyung Kyu the Vice Speaker of the National Assembly; Mr. Chung Dae Chun Senator, Mr. Han Chang Won President of Political Newspaper; Mr. Chang Kyung Rok; Mr. Hong Soon Ho; Mr. Ko Kwang Rae; and Mr. Hyun Jong Myung.
At this meeting, some members favored the names Tangsoo and Kongsoo, but General Choi proposed that the new art should be called Taekwondo. Duk Sung Son says that he passed a piece of paper to Choi suggesting the name and that Choi took credit for it. Since Taekwondo translates to "tae" meaning a kick or strike with the foot, "kwon" meaning a punch or strike with the fist, and "do" meaning the way of, it described the arts use of strikes using both hands and feet. The name Taekwondo was unanimously adopted by the board, but Mr. Yoo said " I completely agree with the name of Taekwondo submitted by General Choi Hong Hi, I think, however, it would be utterly significant that we have the approval from the President Synghman Rhee since giving a name to a martial art is so important". All the members unanimously agreed. The name was sent to President Rhee. At first, President Rhee rejected the name, preferring to use the traditional name Taekkyon. General Choi approached Mr. Kwak Yong Joo, the President's Chief of Staff, and Mr. Suh Jung Hak, the Director of the President's Protective Forces, and explained to them that this was a new art, much different from the old art of Taekyon. He asked them to try to persuade the President to accept the new name. Finally, Choi received permission from President Rhee to use the new name Taekwondo.