History -- United Tae Kwon Do Martial Arts - East Hartford, CT-United Tae Kwon Do

United Tae Kwon Do

Our School's History

United Tae Kwon Do was started in 1974 as the vision of Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee (1938-2016).  We are one of the longest continuously running Martial Arts Schools in America having produced countless masters who now operate their own schools across the country!  Located centrally in East Hartford, CT, students from all over central Connecticut and Southern Massachusetts regularly practice their martial art at our school.  Our children's classes provide confidence and discipline, and our adult classes provide exceptional self-defense and health benefits.  All of our instructors were personally trained by Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee!

Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee is well-known and highly regarded by the worldwide Taekwondo community. He was the 42nd Black Belt in all of Tae Kwon Do.  He was recognized by his fellow instructors as a man of great integrity and dedication. One of the elite individuals who hold the rank of 9th degree Black Belt issued by Kukkiwon (the World Taekwondo Headquarters), Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee is one of the very few Grandmasters of Taekwondo residing in the United States. He was the president of the United States Taekwondo Union (USTU) in 1985-1986 and was the current president of the United States Taekwondo Instructors Union (USTIU).

He began his study in Korea at an early age. Today, over seventy years later, he is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost martial artists in the world. Grandmaster Lee always humbly considered himself to be a student of his beloved art. Teaching with kindness and humor at the East Hartford, Connecticut school he founded in 1974, this busy instructor always found time to give each of his students his individual attention and guidance, seeing our potential even before we could. Training under Grandmaster Lee's direction proceeded in a no-nonsense atmosphere of maximum effort and mutual respect. A natural leader through his own example of total commitment and hard work, those students fortunate enough to have studied with Grandmaster Lee agree that the value of his instruction extends far beyond the training hall.

Even though his body passed on December 16, 2016, he still lives on with us.  Every technique we perform was given to us by Grandmaster Lee and we continue to hold ourselves to the high standards he demonstrated and taught us!  He always expected each of us to be our best, and we gladly honor his teaching by practicing this principle daily, in and out of the do-jang.

To learn more about Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee's incredible lifetime achievements, Click Here.




Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art which, translated literally, means "the art of hand and foot fighting".  It combines sharp, strong angular movements with graceful and free-flowing circular motions to produce a harmonious marriage of beauty and power.  With the addition of its own devastating kicking techniques, Taekwondo is a complete, integrated, and unique system of self-defense and personal improvement.  

It is no wonder that Taekwondo is the fastest-growing martial art in the world today, for its appeal is universal.  As a practical means of self-defense, as a satisfying and complete regimen of physical conditioning, as an aid to improved concentration and mental performance, the art of Taekwondo offers its riches to anyone who sincerely undertakes its study.  Within the training hall, there are no age, sex or racial barriers: all begin equally, as "white belts".  Under the watchful eye of the Master Instructor, each progresses at his or her own rate, according to individual effort and ability.


Taekwondo training addresses the whole individual - body, mind, and will -- and involves a great deal more than mere physical technique. To be sure, the student of Taekwondo is expected to develop strength, stamina, quickness, flexibility, coordination, and balance.  Along with a variety of effective hand and foot self-defense techniques, these physical skills are fundamental to the art, and can be perfected only through dedication and tireless practice.  However, the road to true mastery also requires that formidable physical accomplishments be balanced with the equally important mental characteristics of patience, humility, self-control, perseverance, concentration, and respect.  These, too, must be practiced faithfully, both in and out of class. Gradually, the lessons of the training hall begin to color other aspects of life.  Mind, body, and spirit become unified and transformed, and living becomes richer and more enjoyable.


"How long will it take?"  This is the question we all ask when starting out.  "How long to Black Belt?  How long before I can do those fancy spinning kicks?"  

The only possible answer to such questions is that it takes as long as it takes.  There are no magic shortcuts, no secret techniques, no mystical practices or occult books that will instantly transform a person into a martial artist.  Public attention tends to focus on the flashy aspects of the martial arts, the dramatic breaking techniques, and razzle-dazzle demonstrations.  In actual fact, training consists of very little "flash", and a great deal of hard work - constant, dedicated practice, and tireless physical conditioning.  With correct instruction and sufficient perseverance, anyone can attain their full potential in the art of Taekwondo, achieving that level of skill which, to the uninformed, appears to be "magic".  

It usually requires at least several years of serious study and practice to reach Black Belt level.  Gaining in skill, the student's advancement is marked by the award of colored belts which signify class rank; Hard won, each new badge of promotion can be worn proudly as a symbol of honest accomplishment, but, of course, it remains only a symbol.  The truly successful student is the one who has learned to enjoy walking the path, rather than worrying too much about the destination.  


Although the name "Taekwondo" is only about 70 years old, the origins of the art reach far back into Korean history.  During the Sixth Century, A.D ., the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms, Shilla, Baek Je, and Koguryo.  Shilla, the smallest, was in constant peril of being overrun by her more powerful neighbors, and in response to this pressure assembled an elite fighting corps chosen from among the aristocracy, known as the Hwarang Dan, or "Flower of Youth".  In addition to the regular military training of the day, the Hwarang subjected themselves to rigorous mental discipline and severe physical hardship in order to condition the body and will to great strength and long endurance.  Legend has it that they went into the mountains and along the seashore, studying the fighting styles of wild animals, and adapting the techniques of nature to their own advantage.  New movements were added to the existing form of weaponless fighting known as Tae Kyon, popular among the common people.  In addition to these new hand and foot techniques, the Hwarang also incorporated into their art certain Buddhist exercises in intense concentration, in order to achieve a harmonious integration of mind and body. 

Modern Taekwondo owes much to the valorous Hwarang Dan.  Although no one can say exactly how the technical skills of today's practice compare with the killing techniques used to such great effect on ancient battlefields, some strong similarities certainly exist.  There is no doubt at all that the ethical spirit of the art may be traced directly to the five-pointed code of conduct of the Hwarang, which emphasized the virtues of fidelity, courage, patriotism, obedience to lawful authority and a deep and abiding respect for all life.  To consider Taekwondo as simply a "sport", or just another means to "get in shape" is to deny the proud heritage of almost 2000 years.  The combined thought and experience of centuries has produced our modern art, which continues to draw strength and stability from the past.



Our school offers traditional martial arts training, where self-defense is an element of our training.  Rather than training students on a handful of self-defense techniques and hoping those are adequate, we focus on extensive training of the entire mind & body system, which provides the most effective self-defense possible.

Classes for the sole purpose of providing self-defense will never be effective in a real-life situation, because:
  • the attacker will have 100s or 1000s of methods of attacking and the few you learned will be inadequate,
  • during an attack situation, your frontal brain lobes shut down, leaving you with only those techniques you have practiced so many times that they are in the "muscle memory" of your body,
  • rather than focusing on some semi-effective defenses, the entire body must be utilized as a full system for actual self-defense to function properly, and
  • a few self-defense classes will give you overconfidence making you think you are able defend yourself in situations where the likelihood of actually defending is slim.  Running away, or sensing the danger early and avoiding the situation entirely, are highly preferred responses.
Our approach is highly effective, but requires a bit more of a commitment.  Our training system includes stretching, core strength, focus, speed, and entire body-system techniques for effectiveness, and should be practiced at least once a week for 2-5 years, for competency.