General Choi Hong-Hi
Tae Kwon-Do, is a modern martial art from Korea that is characterised by its fast, high and spinning kicks and also now its rapid hand techniques to rival the best in the world.
The earliest records of Martial Arts practice in Korea date back to about 50 B.C. These earliest forms of Korean martial arts are known as ‘Taek Kyon’. Evidence that Martial Arts were being practiced at that time can be found in tombs where wall-paintings show two men in fighting-stance.
Modern-day Tae Kwon-Do is influenced by many other Martial Arts. This is because Japan dominated Korea during 1910 until the end of World War II. During WWII, lots of Korean soldiers were trained in Japan. During this occupation of Korea, the Japanese tried to erase all traces of the Korean culture, including the martial arts. Tae Kwon-Do has been influenced in part by the quick, linear movements that characterise the various Japanese systems.
General Choi Hong-Hi’s beliefs and vision of a different approach to teaching martial arts led him to combine elements of Taek Kyon and Karate techniques to develop a modern martial art. He called it Tae Kwon-Do, which means “The way of the feet and the hands”, Following continued extensive research and development by the founder Major General Choi Hong Hi, (9th Degree Black Belt) the name “Tae Kwon-Do” was officially adopted when this martial art was inaugurated in South Korea on April 11, 1955. The philosophical values and the goals of Tae kwon-Do are firmly rooted in the traditional moral culture of the Orient. On the technical side, defensive and offensive tactics are based on principles of physics.
To the Korean people Tae Kwon-Do is more than a mere physical use of skilled movements. It also implies a way of thinking and life, particularly in instilling concept and spirit of strict self-imposed discipline and an ideal of noble moral rearmament.
General Choi Hong-hi required the army to train in Taekwondo, so the very first Taekwondo students were Korean soldiers. The police and air force had to learn Taekwondo as well. In 1959, General Choi was named President of the Korean Tae kwon-Do Association. In 1961 the Korean Taekwondo Union arose from the Soo Bakh Do Association and the Tae Soo Do Association. The South Korean Government was also overthrown in that year and General Choi Hong- Hi left for the United States.
In 1962 the Korean Amateur Sports Association acknowledged the Korean Taekwondo Union and in 1965 the name was changed to Korean Taekwondo Association (K.T.A.). General Choi Hong-Hi was president of the KTA at the time and he was asked to start the International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) as the international branch of the KTA.
Whilst in the United States General Choi Hong-Hi continued to introduce Tae Kwon-Do around the globe and established the ITF as a completely separate entity, in 1963.
TKD was introduced into the United Kingdom in 1967. Just four years after the foundation of ITF. Six years later the World Tae Kwon-Do Federation (WTF) was founded and in 1980 it was recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which made it a demonstration sport in the Olympic Games.
As the Founder of Tae Kwon-Do and President of the ITF, General Choi is credited as the father of modern Tae Kwon-Do and had the ability to share his art, based on traditional values, philosophy and training, with students around the world. He believed and practiced the virtues of freedom, justice and righteousness. After a lifetime of dedication to Tae Kwon-Do.
Gen. Choi Hong-Hi passed away on June 15th 2002.
(Tae Kwon-Do is sometimes also written as; Tae kwondo, Tae Kwon Do, Taekwon-do, Taekwon do”, Tae kwon-do, TKD, Taekwondo or t’aegwondo)