|"Pain is the best instructor, but no one wants to
go to his class."
Founder of Taekwon-Do
Choi Hong Hi (November 9, 1918 - June 15, 2002) was a South Korean army general and the founder of
Taekwon-do. As a retired Major-General, he was his country's first ambassador to Malaysia. He later fled
the country and eventually settled in Canada and North Korea for the rest of his life. General Choi was
born in what was to be North Korea during the Japanese Colonial Period and died in P'yongyang, the
North Korean capital. During his adult life, however, Choi lived in Japan, South Korea, and Canada gaining
the rank of Major-General during his career in the South Korean army. When written in combination with
ones name, the military title General refers to a particular rank, that represented in the US and ROK armies
by four stars worn on the collar. Choi, Hong Hi never held this rank; neither in the Army of the Republic of
Korea, nor in any other army. The rank of general does refer to a four star general. They are also
addressed as general. So in this case the rank and title are the same. However, a one star (brigadier)
general, two star (major) general and three star (Lt. General) are all properly referred to as general. So the
title to any general, regardless of stars is simply general. That is standard military protocol for the US and
ROK Army. Choi did serve in the Korean army. He was a general officer. As a Brigadier, (wearing one star)
Choi served as the Chief of Staff to General Paik Sun Yup, the first Korean officer to achieve four-star rank
in that army. He was also a Major General, two stars. From the public record, it appears that, as an officer in
the army of a nation fighting a terrible war on their own soil, Mister Choi never held a combat command
nor ever performed duties which would have placed him in harms way as a soldier. Choi did go on to
command an infantry division before retiring, but it was a training division, and stationed on an off-shore
island. As a boy he was educated in Korea under the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula. At
that time, many of the traditions of the Korean people were suppressed by the Japanese, including the
country's ancient martial arts, which were and still are renowned for the dynamic kicking techniques that
are taught in them. Choi Hong Hi claims he was trained in the Korean martial art of Taekyon in secret.
However, the Korea Taekyon Association states these claims were false. When he became older he went
to Japan to study at university, there he claimed to have trained in Shotokan Karate and achieved the rank
of black belt within two years of training, however, all the Kwan leaders who trained at the universities in
Japan, never saw him, and the Japanese masters did not know of him. He used NAM, Tae Hi to combine
aspects of karate with aspects of the ancient Korean martial arts to create Oh Do Kwan. General Choi
Hong Hi Dakin BurdickFridayAugust 9, 2002The GuardianGeneral Choi Hong-hi, who has died aged 83 of
stomach cancer, was a prime mover in the development of the Korean martial art of Taekwon-do: he
helped to shape it, name it and spread it to 123 nations, often through personal visits. His title derived from
a career that took him to the rank of major general in the South Korean army. Choi's martial arts
achievements were threefold. First, in 1952 he brought about the adoption of training in martial arts as an
aid to South Korean military conditioning. Secondly, he supported the development of Korean karate,
given the name Taekwon-do in 1955, which he believed was superior in both spirit and technique to
Japanese karate. Lastly, he and his students spread Taekwon-do across the globe, and saw it become a
medal sport in Sydney at the 2000 Olympics. Korean practitioners argued over a number of names for the
form of Korean karate unified during the 1950s and 60s, but Choi won acceptance for Taekwon-do, and in
1966 founded the International Taekwon-do Federation (ITF).For the rest of his life, he led demonstration
tours all over the world. His first manual in English, Taekwon-Do (1965), eventually led to the publication of
an entire encyclopedia on the art in 1985.Born in what is now North Korea when it was under Japanese
occupation, Choi fled to Japan to complete his education after a wrestler was set on his trail following a
gambling dispute. In 1942, he was drafted into the Japanese army, but was imprisoned for attempting to
escape to join the opposition Korean Liberation Army in 1945. Only the liberation of Korea saved him from
the death penalty. After the war, the division of Korea between north and south left him unable to return to
the land of his birth. He rose quickly in the new South Korean army, and, two years after the outbreak of
the Korean War in 1950, he created an officer training program and an infantry division that provided
Taekwon-do instructors. After the cessation of hostilities in 1953, his rise continued, and in 1961 he
supported the military coup d'etat, but suffered a setback when General Park Chung-Hee emerged as the
new president. In the late 1940s, Park had received a death sentence, later rescinded, from a military panel
that had included Choi, who was thus forced to retire from the military following the coup. In 1962, he was
sent to Malaysia as ambassador, but after his return to South Korea in 1965 he continued to find life under
the Park regime so intolerable that in 1972 he left for Canada. Choi took the headquarters of the ITF to
Toronto with him, and South Korea responded by forming a new organization, the World Taekwon-do
Federation (WTF), based in Seoul. Choi's final years were marked by his efforts to return to North Korea.
He introduced Taekwon-do there in 1980, and won further favor with the government by changing the
name of one solo practice form from kodang (after a North Korean democratic Christian moderate,
presumed slain by the Red Army in 1946) to Juche (after the isolationist policy of self-reliance advocated
by North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung). Though Choi's intention had been reconciliatory, unfortunately
South Korea saw it as treasonous. Shortly before his death in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, Choi
was able to announce through the ITF website, I am the man who has the most followers in the world: be
that as it may, the impact of Taekwon-do, with 50m practitioners after 50 years of existence, is undeniable.
Choi leaves his wife, two daughters and a son. Choi Hong-Hi, martial arts expert, born November 9 1918;
died June 15 2002
General Choi Hong Hi was born on November 9th, 1918 in the rugged and harsh area of Hwa Dae, Myong Chun District in what is now D.P.
R of Korea. In his youth, he was frail and quite sickly, a constant source of worry for his parents.
Even at an early age, however, the future general showed a strong and independent spirit. At the age of twelve he was expelled from school
for agitating against the Japanese authorities who were in control of Korea. This was the beginning of what would be a long association
with the Kwang Ju Students’ Independence Movement.
After his expulsion, young Choi’s father sent him to study calligraphy under one of the most famous teachers in Korea, Mr. Han II Dong.
Han, in addition to his skills as a calligrapher, was also a master of Taek Kyon, the ancient Korean art of foot fighting. The teacher,
concerned over the frail condition of his new student, began teaching him the rigorous exercises of Taek Kyon to help build up his body.
In 1937, Choi was sent to Japan to further his education. Shortly before leaving , however, the youth had the misfortune to engage in a
rather heated argument with a massive professional wrestler who promised to literally tear the youth limb from limb at their next encounter.
This threat seemed to give a new impetus to young Choi’s training in the martial arts.
In Kyoto, Choi met a fellow Korean, Mr. Him, who was engaged in teaching the Japanese martial art, Karate. With two years of concentrated
training, Choi attained the rank of first degree black belt. These techniques, together with Taek Kyon (foot techniques), were the
forerunners of modern Taekwon-Do.
There followed a period of both mental and physical training, preparatory school, high school, and finally the University in Tokyo. During
this time, training and experimentation in his new fighting techniques were intensified until, with attainment of his second degree black belt,
he began teaching at a YMCA in Tokyo, Japan.
Choi recounts a particular experience from this period of time. There was no lamp-post in the city that he didn't strike or kick to see if the
copper wires ahead were vibrating in protest.
"I would imagine that these were the techniques I would use to defend myself against the wrestler, Mr. Hu if he did attempt to carry out his
promise to tear me limb from limb when I eventually returned to Korea."
With the outbreak of World War II, the author was forced to enlist in the Japanese army through no volition of his own. While at his post in
Pyongyang, North Korea, the author was implicated as the planner of the Korean Independence Movement and interned at a Japanese
prison during his eight month pretrial examination.
While in prison, to alleviate the boredom and keep physically fit, Choi began practicing this art in the solitude of his cell. In a short time, his
cellmate and jailer became students of his. Eventually, the whole prison courtyard became one gigantic gymnasium.
The liberation in August 1945 spared Choi from an imposed seven year prison sentence. Following his release, the ex-prisoner journeyed
to Seoul where he organized a student soldier’s party. In January of the following year, Choi was commissioned as a second lieutenant in
the new south Korean army, the "Launching Pad" for putting Taekwon-Do into a new orbit.
Soon after, he made company commander in Kwang-Ju where the young second lieutenant lighted the torch of this art by teaching his
entire company and was then promoted to first lieutenant and transferred to Tae Jon in charge of the Second Infantry Regiment. While at
his new post, Choi began spreading the art not only to Korean soldiers but also to the Americans stationed there. This was the first
introduction to Americans of what would eventually become known as Taekwon-Do.
1947 was a year of fast promotion. Choi was promoted to captain and then major. In 1948, he was posted to Seoul as the head of logistics
and became Taekwon-Do instructor for the American Military Police School there. In late 1948, Choi became a lieutenant colonel.
In 1949, Choi was promoted to full colonel and visited the United States for the first time, attending the Fort Riley Ground General School.
While there, this art was introduced to the American public. And in 1951, brigadier general. During this time, he organized the Ground
General School in Pusan as Assistant Commandant and Chief of the Academic Department. Choi was appointed as Chief of Staff of the
First Corps in 1952 and was responsible for briefing General MacArthur during the latter’s visits to Kang Nung. At the time of armistice, Choi
was in command of the 5th Infantry Division.
The year 1953 was an eventful one for the General, in both his military career and in the progress of the new martial art. He became the
author of the first authoritative book on military intelligence in Korea. He organized and activated the crack 29th Infantry Division at Cheju
Island, which eventually became the spearhead of Taekwon-Do in the military and established the Oh Do Kwan (Gym of My Way) where he
succeeded not only in training the cadre instructors for the entire military but also developing the Taek Kyon and Karate techniques into a
modern system of Taekwon-Do, with the help of Mr. Nam Tae Hi, his right hand man in 1954.
In the latter part of that year, he commanded Chong Do Kwan (Gym of the Blue Wave), the largest civilian gym in Korea; Choi was also
promoted to major general.
Technically, 1955 signaled the beginning of Taekwon-Do as a formally recognized art in Korea. During that year, a special board was
formed which included leading master instructors, historians, and prominent leaders of society. A number of names for the new martial art
were submitted. On the 11th of April, the board summoned by Gen. Choi, decided on the name of Taekwon-Do which had been submitted
by him. This single unified name of Taekwon-Do replaced the different and confusing terms; Dang Soo, Gong Soo, Taek Kyon, Kwon Bup,
In 1959, Taekwon-Do spread beyond its national boundaries. The father of Taekwon-Do and nineteen of his top black belt holders toured
the Far East. The tour was a major success, astounding all spectators with the excellence of the Taekwon-Do techniques. Many of these
black belt holders such as Nam Tae Hi, President of the Asia Taekwon-Do Federation; Colonel Ko Jae Chun, the 5th Chief of Taekwon-Do
instructors in Vietnam; Colonel Baek Joon Gi, the 2nd Chief instructor in Vietnam; Brigadier Gen. Woo Jong Lim; Mr. Han Cha Kyo, the
Head Instructor in Singapore and Mr. Cha Soo Young, presently an international instructor in Washington D.C. eventually went on to
spread the art to the world.
In this year, Choi was elevated to two illustrious posts; President of his newly formed Korea Taekwon-Do Association and deputy
commander of the 2nd Army in Tae Gu.
The Korean Ambassador to Vietnam, General Choi Duk Shin was instrumental in helping to promote Taekwon-Do in this nation locked in a
death struggle with the communists. That same year General Choi Hong Hi published his first Korean text on Taekwon-Do which became
the model for the 1965 edition.
In the year of 1960, the General attended the Modern Weapons Familiarization Course in Texas followed by a visit to Jhoon Rhees Karate
Club in San Antonio, where the author convinced the students to use the name Taekwon-Do instead of Karate. Thus Jhoon Rhee is known
as the first Taekwon-Do instructor in America.
This marked the beginning of Taekwon-Do in the United States of America.
Choi returned to Korea as the Director of Intelligence of the Korean Army. Later that same year, he assumed command of the Combat
Armed Command with direction of the infantry, artillery, armored, signal and aviation schools.
The Year 1961, incidentally, was the year of maturation for both Choi’s military career and Taekwon-Do, with the command of the largest
training centers in Korea and the newly assigned command of the 6th Army Corps.
Taekwon-Do spread like wildfire, not only to the Korean civilian and military population but to the U.S. soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division
which was under his operational control. Through his students, Taekwon-Do was even introduced to the greatest military academy in the
world. West Point, In the same year, he also made Taekwon-Do a compulsory subject for the entire armed and police forces in south Korea.
1962, Choi was appointed as Ambassador to Malaysia, where, as a dedicated missionary of Taekwon-Do, the art was spread. In 1963, the
Taekwon-Do Association of Malaysia was formed and reached national acceptance when the art was demonstrated at the Merdeka Stadium
at the request of the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rhaman.
The same year, two important milestones took place; the famous demonstration at the United Nations building in New York, and the
introduction of Taekwon-Do to the Armed Forces of Vietnam under Major Nam Tae Hi, In February of the following year, a Taekwon-Do
Association was formed in Singapore, and the groundwork was laid for forming associations in the outer reaches of Brunei.
The same year, Ambassador Choi made a trip to Vietnam with the sole purpose of teaching the advanced Taekwon-Do patterns that he
perfected after years of research to the instructors group headed by Lt. Col. Park Joon Gi, in person. This was indeed a new era for
Taekwon-Do in that he was able to draw a clear line between Taekwon-Do and Karate by completely eliminating the remaining vestige of
Late this year, he was re-elected to be the President of the Korea Taekwon-Do Association upon returning home, which gave him a chance
to purify the Taekwon-Do society by cleaning up the political circles within its organization.
In 1965 Ambassador Choi, retired two star general, was appointed by the Government of the Republic of Korea to lead a goodwill mission
to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, United-Arab Republic, Malaysia, and Singapore. This trip is significant in that the Ambassador, for the first
time in Korean history, declared Taekwon-Do as the national martial art of Korea.
This was the basis not only for establishing Taekwon-Do Associations in these countries but also the formation of the International
Taekwon-Do Federation as it is known today. In 1966, the dream of the sickly young student of calligraphy, who rose to Ambassador and
the Association President of the most respected martial art in the world came true. On the 22nd of March, the International Taekwon-Do
Federation was formed with associations in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, West Germany, the United States, Turkey, Italy, Arab Republic of
Egypt and Korea.
In 1967, the father of Taekwon-Do received the first Class Distinguished Service medal from the Government of Vietnam and he helped to
form the Korea-Vietnam Taekwon-Do Foundation, presided by Gen. Tran van Dong. That same year the Hong Kong Taekwon-Do
Association was formed. In August, Choi visited the All American Taekwon-Do tournament held in Chicago, Illinois, where he discussed
expansion, unification, and the policy of the United States Taekwon-Do Association with leading instructors. This visit led to the formal
establishment of the U.S. Taekwon-Do Association in Washington, D.C. on November 26th, 1967.
During his visit, Choi also met with Robert Walson, fourth degree black belt and one of the foremost American authorities on Taekwon-Do,
to lay the ground work for a new edition of a book on Taekwon-Do.
In late 1967, the author invited Master Oyama to the I.T.F. Headquarters in Seoul to continue the discussion they had earlier at Hakone,
Japan, whereby Master Oyama would eventually change his techniques to that of Taekwon-Do.
In that same year, the President of the I.T.F. selected five instructors from the Armed Forces for Taiwan, at the request of Generalissimo
Chiang Kai-Shek. This request was channeled through General Chung II Kwon, then the Prime Minister of South Korea.
In 1968, the author visited France, as the chief delegate of the Korean Government, to attend the Consul International Sports Military
Symposium held in Paris. Taekwon-Do was a major topic on the agenda. Delegates from 32 countries witnessed demonstrations of
Taekwon-Do by a team of experts. That same year, the United Kingdom Taekwon-Do Association was formed and the author visited Spain,
the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and India with the hope of spreading Taekwon-Do.
When Choi returned to Korea he was presented with the first Sports Research Award from south Korea for his dedicated work on behalf of
the Korean martial art.
In 1969, Choi toured Southeast Asia to personally investigate the preparations of each country for the First Asian Taekwon-Do Tournament
that was held in September in Hong Kong. Immediately after the tournament, the author undertook a worldwide tour of twenty-nine
countries to visit instructors and gather photographs for the first edition of his previous book "Taekwon-Do". (copyright 1972)
August 1970, the author left for a tour of twenty countries throughout Southeast Asia, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. Choi, of course,
held seminars for international instructors every place he went and helped spread and weld the International Taekwon-Do Federation into a
In March 1971, Choi attended the Second Asian Taekwon-Do Tournament, held at Stadium Negara in Malaysia, which was opened with the
declaration of Tun Abdul Rhajak, the Prime Minister, and closed with the presence of their Majesties.
Also in this year, the author was asked by Gen. Kim Jong Hyun, head of the Army Martial Art department, to select qualified instructors for
the Republic of Iran Armed Forces.
The world tour of 1972 was quite retrospective in that Choi had an opportunity to introduce Taekwon-Do to those heads of state of Bolivia,
Dominica, Haiti and Guatemala respectively.
In this year, Choi moved the headquarters of International Taekwon-Do Federation, with the unanimous consent of member countries, to
Toronto, Canada, envisaging to spread this art eventually to the countries of Eastern Europe, according to the milestone he set up years
During these travels, the author has been especially interested in promoting Taekwon-Do among the youth of the world. The President of
the International Taekwon-Do Federation has been instrumental in introducing the art to numerous universities in Europe, America, the
Middle East and the Far East.
During the months of November and December 1973, General Choi and a specially selected I.T.F. Demonstration Team, consisting of Kong
Young II, Park Jong Soo, Rhee Ki Ha, Pak Sun Jae and Choi Chang Keun, all 7th degree black belts, toured Europe, the Middle East, Africa
and the Far East. A total of 13 countries were visited and new I.T.F. branches established in 5 of these countries. The tour was an
overwhelming success with a total of more than 100,000 people watching the demonstrations in Egypt alone. At each stop, general Choi
and the Demonstration Team were hosted by ranking representatives of the local governments.
1974 was indeed an exuberant and long remembered year for Choi, because the founder of Taekwon-Do was not only able to proudly
present the superiority of techniques as well as the competition rules of this art, but also to bring his dream into reality by holding the first
World Taekwon-Do Championships in Montreal.
In November and December of this year, he led the 4th International Taekwon-Do Demonstration Team consisting of 10 of the world’s top
instructors to Jamaica, Curacao, Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela and Surinam.
In 1975, Taekwon-Do alone had the privilege to demonstrate at the Sydney opera house for the first time since its opening. General Choi
visited Greece and Sweden to conduct seminars later in this year. In the middle of 1976 he toured Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Europe to
inspect Taekwon-Do activities, giving seminars at the same time. In November of the same year, Choi went to Holland to declare the
opening of the First European Taekwon-Do Championships held in Amsterdam.
September 1977, the founder of Taekwon-Do visited Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia following the Tokyo meeting in which he publicly
denounced the South Korean President Park Jung Hee who had been using Taekwon-Do for his political ends. Later that year he visited
Sweden and Denmark to aid in the formation of their National Associations of Taekwon-Do.
In May of 1978, General Choi toured Malaysia, Pakistan, Kenya and South Africa accompanied by Rhee Ki Ha. In this year he led the 5th
International Taekwon-Do Demonstration Team consisting of Choi Chang Keun, Rhee Ki Ha, Park Jung Tae and Liong Wai Meng to
Sweden, Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia. In September of the same year the Second World Taekwon-Do Championships was held in
Oklahoma City, U.S.A.
In June 1979, the All Europe Taekwon-Do Federation was formed in Oslo, Norway. After this historic event General Choi toured Sweden,
Denmark, West Germany, France and Greenland accompanied by Khang Su Jong and Rhee Ki Ha. In November of that year he led the 6th
International Taekwon-Do demonstration team consisting of Kim Jong Chan, Choi Chang Keun, Rhee Ki Ha, Park Jung Tae, Lee Jong
Moon, Chung Kwang Duk, Kim Suk Jun and Michael Cormack to Argentina.
The year 1980 was indeed an unforgettable one for the father of Taekwon-Do, both for himself and the future of his art. He and 15 of his
students, including his son Choi Joong Hwa, made a monumental trip to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This was the first time
Taekwon-Do was introduced to the people of North Korea, Choi’s birth place. In November of this same year, the first All Europe Taekwon-
Do Championships was held in London with 18 countries participating.
In January of 1981, Gen. Choi made a visit to Queensland, Australia, accompanied by Choi Chang Keun, to declare, open the first Pacific
Area Taekwon-Do Championships. At this time he helped to form the South Pacific Taekwon-Do Federation as well as the Australian
In June of the same year, the author led the 8th International Taekwon-Do Demonstration Team to Tokyo, Japan. In October, he conducted
a seminar for the founding members of Taekwon-Do in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and in November he proudly presented
the unified Taekwon-Do demonstration team consisting of North and South Korean instructors to the historic meeting called North and
Overseas Korean Christian Leaders, held in Vienna, Austria. In August, President Choi visited Argentina to declare the opening of the Third
World Taekwon-Do Championships held in Resitancia, Chaco.
In January 1982 the President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation formed the North America Taekwon-Do Federation in Toronto,
Canada. In this year, the author was finally able to realize his long anticipated dream (since 1967) when a Taekwon-Do gym opened for the
first time in Japan under the auspices of patriot Chon Jin Shik. It was indeed a very busy year for the President in that he visited Puerto
Rico in July accompanied by Master Park Jung Tae, to conduct seminars.
During the months of October and November he toured Greenland, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Austria, Denmark, Poland,
Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Finland, accompanied by Master Han Sam Soo, Park Jung Taek and Choi Joong Hwa to
promote Taekwon-Do. He also attended the First Intercontinental Taekwon-Do Championships held in December in Naples, Italy.
In October of the same year Gen. Choi met with Mr. Csandi, the Chairman of programming committee of I.O.C. in Budapest, Hungary to
discuss the recognition of I.T.F. by the I.O.C. In January 1983, General Choi made a visit to Colorado, U.S.A accompanied by Master Lee Suk
Hi, the President of North America Taekwon-Do Federation, to grade Charles E.Sereff, the President of the U.S. Taekwon-Do Federation, for
In February 1983, the author toured Latin America including Argentina, Columbia, Panama and Honduras to conduct a full scale seminar.
During his stay in Honduras he helped to activate the Central American Taekwon-Do Federation. During the months of March, April and
May he toured Santa Barbara, California, Europe and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to conduct last minute preparation of the
encyclopedia, the last product of his life-long research.
In October and November of the same year, he made a visit to Yugoslavia and Italy accompanied by Park Jung Taek and Choi Joong Hwa
to prepare photographs to be used for the Encyclopedia. In April 1984, President Choi declared the opening of the Fourth World Taekwon-
Do Championships held in Glasgow, Scotland. In the same month, he visited Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International
Olympic Committee, in Lausanne accompanied by Master Rhee Ki Ha, Charles Sereff and Kim Yong Kyu to prove that only the International
Taekwon-Do Federation is the world governing body of true Taekwon-Do.
In September the author invited key instructors such as Lee Suk Hi, Rhee Ki Ha, Park Jung Tae and Choi Joong Hwa to Pyongyang to
finalize the publication of the Encyclopedia. In fact, this was the time when the relocation of the I.T.F. to Vienna, Austria was seriously
In October of the same year, the President made an official visit to Budapest, Hungary to declare the opening of the 3rd All Europe Taekwon-
Do Championships. This indeed was of particular importance as it was the first large scale international event held in a socialist country as
far as the Taekwon-Do tournament is concerned.
In the following month, General Choi visited New York City along with masters Lee Suk Hi and Park Jung Tae to declare open the 3rd
annual General Choi’s Cup in North America. In December the 5th I.T.F Congress meeting was held in Vienna, where it was unanimously
decided to relocate the I.T.F. here by March of the next year. Also at the meeting, President Choi Hong Hi was re-elected for another term.
Mr. Jun Chin Shik, the President of Japan International Taekwon-Do Federation, masters Lee Suk Hi and Rhee Ki Ha were elected as Vice
Presidents with master Park Jung Tae as Secretary-General.
Without doubt, 1985 was one of the most significant years for the founder of Taekwon-Do as he was able to document all of the techniques
he had researched for years by publishing the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do. He was also able to establish a strong foundation for the
spreading of his art to the entire world, especially the socialist as well as the Third World countries by moving the International Taekwon-Do
Federation to Vienna, the capital city of Austria.
In April of this year, President Choi visited Puerto Rico accompanied by Tran Trien Quan, the President of the Canadian Taekwon-Do
Federation, James Limand Kim Suk Jun to attend the 1st Latin American General Choi’s Cup. In June, he visited East Berlin to attend the
opening ceremony of the 24th I.O.C. Congress.
In November of the same year, Gen. Choi, accompanied by Secretary-General Master Park Jung Tae and Tran Trien Quan, visited Norway to
honour the opening of the 1985 Scandinavian Taekwon-Do Championships.
In December, various festivals celebrating the 30th anniversary of Taekwon-Do was held in Quebec, Canada sponsored by the Taekwon-
Do Federation of Canada were highlighted with the presence of the Father of Taekwon-Do, Gen. Choi Hong Hi.
In June 1986 the founder took DPRK Taekwon-Do demonstration team to the People’s Republic of China. This visit eventually became the
motivation for the Chinese people to adopt the Korean martial art, Taekwon-Do.
1987 was a significant year for General Choi because he showed once again the indomitable spirit as well as perseverance to the Taekwon-
Do world by declaring the 5th World Championship in May in Athens, Greece, despite persistent interference of the South Korean dictatorial
In December of the same year, president Choi began to formulate the Promotion and Popularization Foundation of ITF boosted by the
pledge given by Mr. Chon Yon Shik, the elder brother of senior vice-president Mr. Chon Jin Shik, in the amount of 100,000,000 Japanese
The year 1988 was culminated by two important events. In May, the Hungarian government hosted the 6th World Championships in
Budapest which was by far, the largest in scale, finest in technique and also for the first time, televised via satellite throughout Europe.
In August, the Father of Taekwon-Do was at last able to realize his ultimate dream of introducing and teaching his art without regard to
religion, race, national or ideological boundaries, by leading the I.T.F. demonstration team to Moscow, U.S.S.R.
It is hoped that all instructors will follow his example by devoting part of their time towards introducing the art into the school systems in
their respective areas.
Merely introducing the art, however, is not enough. The instructor must also concern himself with imbuing and maintaining a positive
influence that will eventually serve as a guiding light to all students. Then and only then, can the instructor consider himself an apostle of
|Interview with General Choi Hong Hi
Founding Father of Taekwon-Do,
President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation
Interview by Maria Heron, (The Times)
On Friday 12th November, 1999, General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of Taekwon-do arrived in the UK at the invitation of the British United Taekwon-do Federation to
conduct a seminar of Taekwon-do for the Federation’s members.
Obviously opportunities to meet, let alone interview, the General are extremely rare, so when Master Choy, chairman of the BUTF, suggested that just such an interview
might be possible, BUTF.COM immediately jumped at the chance to cover the event.
The venue was the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Heathrow. Master R. Choy, Master T. Wolf, Master T.Y. Au and Grandmaster Rhee Ki Ha, who had also been invited by the BUTF,
were present at the interview.
Surprisingly, upon meeting General Choi for the first time one may be forgiven for not believing that this modest, polite &, apparently, gently spoken elderly gentleman
not only spawned a martial art which is now practiced by millions in all corners of the globe, but also led a student revolution in his teenage years, rose to the rank of
General in the Korean Army, was appointed as an Ambassador for his country and not least, was this year nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace.
It does not, however, take but a few moments, to realise that the General is extremely competent and forthright, not a bit ‘gently spoken’ and remains to this day, as
enthusiastic about his beloved Taekwon-do as he was on 11th April 1955, the day he named & presented the Art to the world:
Over the last 45 years, Taekwon-do has enjoyed unprecedented worldwide growth. This according to the General is entirely due to the development of Taekwon-do’s
‘scientific’ execution and explanation of technique:
“Easy to teach, easy to learn! A person with no martial training can see if a technique is performed correctly because Taekwon-do is scientific and it’s techniques are
based on basic principles of Physics.”
This is the General’s rationale, and one that would be difficult to dispute!
"I will supervise the future development of Taekwon-do from my grave!” He says with a grin. – We don’t doubt him for a second!
Q. What is TAEKWON-DO?
Taekwon-do is a version of unarmed combat for the purpose of self defence. It is however, not just that. It is a scientific use of body that has gained the ultimate use of its
facilities through intensive mental and physical training, that is of TAEKWON-DO
Q. What were your ambitions for TAEKWON-DO?
My concept of the art is that by developing an upright mind and strong body we will acquire the self-confidence to stand on the side of justice at all times. We shall be
family in common brotherhood with all men. We shall deliver diligence, & shall dedicate ourselves to building an ideal world in which morality, justice, religion,
philanthropy and trust will always prevail.
Everything is governed by Yin and Yang. Oriental philosophy is full of moral teachings. This was my motivation.
Q. How did the patterns of TAEKWON-DO come about?
When the Japanese invaded Korea they tried to remove the Korean nationality. You could not go to school and be educated if you were not Japanese. I was left a man
with no country and therefore no national pride.
The Patterns of TAEKWON-DO represent the history of Korea from time in legend to this century. The propagation of TAEKWON-DO throughout the world has also enabled,
through the patterns, a small part of Korean history to be learned by its practitioners. A part of Korea therefore now exists across the whole world and Korea’s nationality
and history can never be removed by oppressors again.
Q. How long did it take you to develop the patterns into the form we know them today?
I began my research in March 1946 into what was to be named TAEKWON-DO on April 11, 1955.My research ended in 1983. The patterns represent my study of the Art in
Q. There was a pattern many years ago for 2nd degrees called Kodang, why was this pattern replaced by Juche?
As new techniques were developed they needed to be represented in the patterns. The pattern Kodang was replaced simply because it represented the latest Korean
history, basically last in first out.
Q. How would you describe the perfect training session
The most important thing in training sessions is that the instructor is fully qualified to teach that which he purports to teach. If the instructor is not qualified, the session
cannot be perfect because it will become infected with imperfections of technique. A student can only learn what an instructor teaches. If the instructor is not able to
explain the true meaning and purpose of every movement he teaches, the student will never master what is being taught.
Q. Do you still practice the art each day.
I have followed a routine of training every day for the last 55 years which lasts approximately 60 & 70 minutes. I will probably continue this regime even in my grave.
Q. Do you follow a special diet
Yes, I eat everything my wife cooks for me. If you train regularly and correctly, and your health allows, there is no need to follow any special diet or take nutritional
Q. Can you foresee a time in the future when genuine (ITF) Taekwon-Do will replace WTF TAEKWON-DO in the Olympics.
The Olympic Games were originally contested by naked male competitors. It has, over the years been forced to accept social changes. It is my greatest pride that
TAEKWON-DO has been included in modern Olympic Games, in my lifetime. It is unique that the founder of an Olympic discipline survives to see such global recognition of
his work. It is unfortunate however, that due to the efforts of Korea to distance themselves politically from me, that the Olympics do not represent true TAEKWON-DO, but
that of an inferior and removed style.
Q. What efforts are being made by the ITF for the inclusion of TAEKWON-DO in the Olympic Games.
(Grand Master Rhee answers) I believe that martial arts are different to other sports and should not be categorised together. A basketball player needs to be extremely
tall, whilst a jockey, ideally, needs to be small. A student of TAEKWON-DO does not need to be bound by physical limitations. I therefore have had discussions regarding a
possible separate Olympic event much like the separate Winter Olympics. This event should include, and be representative of all Martial Arts and would therefore be a
celebration of the Arts.
Q. You obtained your black belt in Karate, what did that mean to you?
I originally learnt Karate when I first went to Japan because a man in my village, back home in Korea, had challenged me to a fight and I needed to know how to fight him.
After I gained my first black belt, I immediately realized that Karate did not offer all the answers. I found it lacking in many aspects and I was not confident to return to my
village and face my challenger. This is when I embarked upon my research into martial arts which was possibly the birth of TAEKWON-DO.
Q. You have recently been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Do you feel your recent nomination for the prize will help the ITF Olympic cause?
Whilst I am extremely honoured to have received such a prestigious nomination, I never expected to receive the award in the knowledge that possibly many more
deserving candidates were also nominated. The true significance of this honour is that I have been unequivocally recognized as the Founder of TAEKWON-DO, and
therefore the ITF is the only authority for genuine TAEKWON-DO
Q. Why is ITF headquarters now in Vienna and you, as its head, in Canada?
This decision was made by the ITF Congress to promote TAEKWON-DO in the Eastern Block countries. Geographically Vienna is central both to West and East. Because of
the political changes in Central Europe and the East we felt that moving the Headquarters to Vienna would be beneficial and assist in the integration of the ITF in these
Q. Who else in the martial arts community, not just TAEKWON-DO, has had an influence on you personally?
Q. Do you feel that the tragic death of a fighter at last year’s United States Open WTF Full Contact Championships reflected on TAEKWON-DO as a whole, or just on those
doing full contact sparing.
Firstly, that was not a true TAEKWON-DO event, because they do not understand that sparring is a tiny part of the true Art. They have attempted to glamorise sparring and
allowing full contact is only part of that glamorisation. True TAEKWON-DO sparring should be non-contact, allowing the practitioners to demonstrate their skills and
abilities without risk of bodily injury.
Q. TAEKWON-DO has always distanced itself from other martial arts by being continually developed and improved, what recent ground breaking changes have been made
and on what science have they been based.
As I said, my research ended in the mid 80’s, & I will make no more advances in my lifetime, the legacy of the development of TAEKWON-DO for the future remains with the
Masters of the Art from now on. I have entrusted the development to them.
Q. ITF New Zealand, claimed that you signed their guest book on their web-site. Did you?
What is a web-site?
Q. As we approach the dawn of a new millennium, what are your hopes and aspirations
I hope that TAEKWON-DO will continue vehemently to grow along the philosophy of no discrimination between race, religion, politics, age and sex. I have already achieved
more in my life time than one man could ever have hoped for. My dreams and aspirations have been fulfilled.
Q. You have always been the figurehead for TAEKWON-DO, how long do you consider you will be remain president of the ITF.
People cannot live forever, so I know my time is getting short maybe in a couple of years I may be retiring from my presidential post. Congress will elect a new one, but I
will not take my hand off TAEKWON-DO. I will supervise from the graveyard.
Q. Has it already been decided who will succeed you?
As I said, the next president of the ITF will be democratically elected by the ITF Congress.
Q. And finally, as Christmas is just around the corner what would you like
Everyone in the world to learn TAEKWON-DO!
|Special Thanks to all who have donated their time, recommendations and material to
help make this site the best website source on the Chang Huhn Patterns.
General Choi Hong Hi
|When an opponent makes the first move, you see his style.
When he is excited but you are calm, you use his strength