Taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art

Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Republic of Korea



Taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art

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 important a role as the hands. In spite of its gentle impression, Taekkyeon is an effective martial art highlighting a broad variety of offensive and defensive skills employing all available fighting methods. 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. As a part of seasonal farming-related traditions, Taekkyeon serves to facilitate community integration, and as a sport accessible to all plays a major role in promoting public health. Taekkyeon is also practised by a great number of people as a daily activity. There are approximately fifty recognized practitioners of Taekkyeon at present, and the Korean Taekkyeon Association plays a significant role in the transmission and promotion of this traditional martial art.


Decision 6.COM 13.44

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:

  • R.1: Taekkyeon is a traditional martial art that has been passed from generation to generation and promotes cooperation and solidarity among its practitioners;
  • R.2: Inscription of Taekkyeon on the Representative List could improve the visibility of similar martial arts around the world as a part of intangible cultural heritage;
  • R.3: A wide range of safeguarding measures includes raising awareness, research and financial support to the master and assistants to encourage transmission;
  • R.4: The nomination process has benefited from the participation of key institutions and practitioners and they have provided their free, prior and informed consent;
  • R.5: At the request of the groups and individuals concerned, Taekkyeon was designated in 1976 as Important Intangible Cultural Heritage by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Division of the Cultural Heritage Administration.

Inscribes Taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.



© 2009 by Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea

These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website