[UNESCO description] Taekkyeon is a traditional Korean martial art that makes use of fluid, rhythmic dance-like movements to strike or trip up an opponent. The graceful movements of a well-trained Taekkyeon performer are gentle and circular rather than straight and rigid, but can explode with enormous flexibility and strength. The feet play as an important role as the hands. It also teaches consideration: a skilled Taekkyeon practitioner can rapidly dominate an opponent, but a true master knows how to make an opponent withdraw without incurring damage. The bout takes place with the sound of traditional Korean drums or a bamboo flute.
Taekkyeon’s written records first appeared in the early 18th century, explaining the key techniques and moves (Academy of Korean Studies 2020). A source in 1927 suggested that taekkyeon had been popular among the general public until the late Joseon Dynasty and declined, which enables the speculation that taekyyeon might have been suppressed under the Japanese colonial rule to repress Korean traditions and culture (Academy of Korean Studies 2020). Without the transmission systems established, taekkyeon was replaced by educating Japanese martial arts such as kendo and judo, officially adopted as school curricula (Academy of Korean Studies 2020). In the 1960s and 1970s, Master Song Deok-gi and Shin Han-seung started establishing the identity of taekkyeon and transmitted the martial art through different generations of disciples (Academy of Korean Studies 2020). The efforts to safeguard taekkyeon have been continued by the key figures and academia, which culminated with the designation as the National Intangible Cultural Heritage 76 in 1983 (Cultural Heritage Administration 2020). In 2011, taekkyeon marked another significant milestone in its history being listed on the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO 2020).
As of 2008, there were approximately fifty recognised practitioners and 85 training centres across the country. Living human treasure Jeong Gyeong-hwa and several other instructors are leading the preservation and transmission of taekkyeon in cooperation with the local government of Chungju, home of taekkyeon. The Chungju Municipal Taekkyeon Group promotes taekkyeon by performing at home and abroad and offering training courses to the public on a regular basis.
- Taekgyeon Preservation Society - Korea Taekkyeon Association - Chungju Municipal Taekkyeon Group
- Academy of Korean Studies. (2020). “Taekkyeon.” Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. Available at http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/SearchNavi?keyword=%ED%83%9D%EA%B2%AC&ridx=0&tot=5 (Accessed December 20, 2020). - Cultural Heritage Administration (2020). “Taekkyeon.” Available at Cultural Heritage Administration (2020). “Taekkyeon.” Available at http://www.heritage.go.kr/heri/cul/culSelectDetail.do?pageNo=1_1_1_1&ccbaCpno=1273300760000 (Accessed December 20, 2020). - UNESCO (2020). “Taekkyeon.” Available at https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/taekkyeon-a-traditional-korean-martial-art-00452 (Accessed December 20, 2020).