Original masters of taekwondo

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The Republic of Korea sent the original masters of taekwondo to introduce this Korean martial art across the world

Original masters of taekwondo is a group of twelve South Korean martial art masters assembled by the Korea Taekwon-Do Association (KTA) in the early 1960s to promote the newly established art of taekwondo.[1][2][3][4][5][6] In alphabetical order following Korean naming conventions, they are: Choi Chang Keun, Choi Kwang Jo, Han Cha Kyo, Kim Jong Chan, Kim Kwang Il, Kong Young Il, Park Jong Soo, Park Jung Tae, Park Sun Jae, Rhee Chong Chul, Rhee Chong Hyup, and Rhee Ki Ha.[3]

The group came under the leadership of Choi Hong Hi (1918–2002),[1][2][3][4] inaugural President of the KTA and later founder of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), and Nam Tae Hi (1929–2013),[7][8][9][10] known as the Father of Vietnamese Taekwondo. Many of these men held senior positions in the ITF under Choi, but several left over time. Most of the men settled in North America, while others settled in Europe or Australia.

The phrase "original masters of taekwondo" is used to describe this group of men, but does not indicate that they were the first (or original) masters in the KTA. The leaders of the nine kwans that unified to form the KTA was a different group of men who, while perhaps senior to some of those listed as "original masters of taekwondo", were practising arts with other names, such as tae soo do, kong soo do, and others. Some of those leaders resisted using the name taekwondo. The men in the present group were among the first to adopt and promote the name taekwondo.

History[edit]

Demonstrations and tours[edit]

The original masters of taekwondo featured in the earliest demonstrations of taekwondo as a Korean martial art outside South Korea. The following table summarises demonstrations or instructional tours for which references are available.

KTA: 1959–1965
Date Place(s) Masters involved References
March 1959 Far East: Taiwan · Vietnam C. K. Han [1][2][11][12]
February 1964 Singapore K. H. Rhee [13][14]
1964 Penang, Malaysia C. K. Choi [15][16][17]
1964 Yugoslavia S. J. Park [18]
c. 1964 Brunei · Hong Kong · Indonesia · Malaysia · Singapore C. C. Rhee [19]
c. 1964–1965 Malaysia · Singapore C. H. Rhee [20]
c. 1965 Adelaide, Australia C. C. Rhee [21][22]
c. October 1965 United Arab Republic (now Egypt) · Italy · Malaysia · Singapore · Turkey · West Germany C. K. Han, J. S. Park [11][23][24][25][26]
1965–1967 Vietnam J. T. Park [27]
Early ITF: 1966–1980
Date Place(s) Masters involved References
1966 Netherlands J. S. Park [25]
c. 1966–1967 Hong Kong · Indonesia · Malaysia · Singapore K. J. Choi [28][29]
1967 Japan C. K. Han [23][24]
1967 United Kingdom K. H. Rhee [13][30][31]
1968 Hong Kong C. K. Han [23][24]
1968 Canada J. S. Park [25]
c. 1968–1969 Paris, France K. I. Kim, S. J. Park, K. H. Rhee [32]
March 1970 Toronto, Canada J. T. Park [33]
1970 Perth, Australia C. C. Rhee [34]
1970 Vancouver, Canada C. K. Choi [15][17]
1970 United States of America K. J. Choi [35]
1971 Singapore C. K. Han [23][24]
1971 United States of America C. K. Han [23][24]
1972 Apollo Stadium, Adelaide, Australia C. C. Rhee, C. H. Rhee [34]
November–December 1973 Africa · Europe · Far East · Middle East C. K. Choi, Y. I. Kong, J. S. Park, S. J. Park, K. H. Rhee [2][11][14][15][16][25]
July 1974 Sydney, Australia C. H. Rhee [34]
1974 Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada Y. I. Kong, J. S. Park, K. H. Rhee [36]
9 March 1975 Kelvin Halls, Glasgow, United Kingdom C. K. Choi, K. I. Kim, Y. I. Kong, J. S. Park, J. T. Park, S. J. Park, K. H. Rhee [14]
c. early 1978 Kenya · Malaysia · Pakistan · South Africa K. H. Rhee [2][37]
May 1978 Hungary · Poland · Sweden · Yugoslavia C. K. Choi, J. T. Park, K. H. Rhee [2][11][15][16][37]
1979 Denmark · France · Greenland · Sweden · West Germany K. H. Rhee [2][37]
November 1979 Argentina C. K. Choi, J. C. Kim, J. T. Park, K. H. Rhee [2][37][38]
Late ITF: 1981–2002
Date Place(s) Masters involved References
January 1981 Queensland, Australia C. K. Choi [2][15]
1981 North Korea J. T. Park [11]
October–November 1982 Austria · Czechoslovakia · Denmark · Finland · Greenland · Hungary · Poland · United Kingdom · West Germany · Yugoslavia J. T. Park [2]
November 1984 New York, United States of America J. T. Park [2]
November 1985 Norway J. T. Park [2]
1987 Buenos Aires, Argentina J. T. Park [38]
1990 USSR K. H. Rhee [2]
Post-H. H. Choi: 2003–
Date Place(s) Masters involved References
25–27 April 2003 Solvalla Sports Institute, Espoo, Finland K. H. Rhee [39]
2–4 May 2008 Vancouver, Canada J. C. Kim, J. S. Park [40]
27–28 September 2008 Beijing, China J. S. Park [41]
2–3 December 2009 Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia K. H. Rhee [42]

Relationship with H. H. Choi[edit]

Many of the original masters of taekwondo went on to prominent roles in the ITF in the late 1960s and 1970s. As time passed and many of these masters left the ITF, their photographs were removed from Choi's series of taekwondo textbooks and replaced with photographs of current ITF masters.[1][43] One of the main reasons for their departure was Choi's insistence on initiating relationships with North Korea, during a period in which that country and South Korea were "technically at war" (Gillis, 2003, p. 104; C. K. Choi, 2010, p. 147),[44][45] or at best, had "no diplomatic relations" (C. K. Choi, 2010, p. 147)[45] or "no diplomatic ties" (World Taekwon-Do Alliance).[15] At least one of the masters reported that it was with regret that he stopped supporting Choi.[45] North and South Korea are still considered to be technically at war.[46]

Seven of the masters settled in North America: Chang Keun Choi (Canada, 1970),[17] Kwang Jo Choi (USA, 1970),[35][47] Cha Kyo Han (USA, 1971),[23] Jong Chan Kim (Canada),[48] Young Il Kong (USA, c. 1968),[49] Jong Soo Park (Canada, 1968),[25] and Jung Tae Park (Canada, 1970).[50] The leaders of the group also settled in North America: H. H. Choi moved to Canada[2][44] and T. H. Nam settled in the USA.[7] Three of the masters settled in Europe: Kwang Il Kim (West Germany, now Germany, c. 1970), Sun Jae Park (Italy, c. 1970), and Ki Ha Rhee (United Kingdom, 1967).[14] Two of the masters settled in Australia: Chong Chul Rhee (c. 1965),[21] and Chong Hyup Rhee (c. 1970).

C. K. Choi, J. C. Kim, Y. I. Kong, J. S. Park, and K. H. Rhee have maintained the strongest links with the ITF. H. H. Choi had personally promoted C. K. Choi to 8th dan (1981),[16] Y. I Kong to 9th dan (1997),[51][52] and K. H. Rhee to 9th dan (1997).[13] Strangely missing are Park Bu Kwang and Kang Ik Mu.

Biographies[edit]

The following table summarises the status of the twelve original masters of taekwondo.

Name Rank Life Residence Organisation Affiliation
Choi Chang Keun (최창근) 9th dan c. 1940– Canada Vancouver, Canada Tae Kwon Do Pioneers ITF
Choi Kwang Jo 9th dan 1942– United States Atlanta, USA Choi Kwang-Do Independent
Han Cha Kyo 9th dan 1934–1996 United States Chicago, USA Universal Tae Kwon Do Federation Independent
Kim Jong Chan (김종찬) 7th dan or higher 1937– Canada Vancouver, Canada Jong Kim Martial Arts ITF
Kim Kwang Il 9th dan 1939–2001 Germany Germany Kwang Mu Sul Taekwon-Do Independent
Kong Young Il 9th dan 1943– United States Las Vegas, USA Young Brothers Tae Kwon-Do Institute ITF
Park Jong Soo 9th dan 1941– Canada Toronto, Canada Jong Soo Park Institute of Taekwon-Do ITF
Park Jung Tae (박정태) 9th dan c. 1943–2002 Canada Mississauga, Canada Global Taekwon-Do Federation Independent
Park Sun Jae 7th dan or higher  ?– Italy Italy FITA WTF
Rhee Chong Chul (이종철) 8th dan c. 1935– Australia Sydney, Australia Rhee Taekwon-Do Independent
Rhee Chong Hyup 7th dan c. 1940– Australia Melbourne, Australia Rhee Taekwon-Do Independent
Rhee Ki Ha (리반하) 9th dan 1938– United Kingdom Glasgow, UK United Kingdom Taekwon-Do Association ITF

Choi Chang Keun[edit]

Main article: Chang Keun Choi

C. K. Choi was born around 1940 in Korea. He began his martial arts training in the South Korean army in 1956, studying taekwondo and karate.[17] Choi taught taekwondo in Malaysia from 1964, and moved to Vancouver, Canada, in 1970.[17] In 1973, he held the rank of 7th dan.[12] Choi was promoted to 8th dan in 1981 by H. H. Choi,[16] and attained the rank of 9th dan in 2002.[17] He is still based in Vancouver.

Choi Kwang Jo[edit]

Main article: Kwang Jo Choi

K. J. Choi was born on 2 March 1942,[28] in Daegu, Korea.[35] His martial art training began when he was still a child, learning kwon bup.[28][35] Choi served in the South Korean military and came into contact with H. H. Choi there.[28][35] Around 1966–1967, he taught taekwondo in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.[28][29] Choi moved to the United States of America in 1970 to seek medical treatment for injuries sustained from martial arts training.[35][47] In 1987, he founded his own martial art system and organisation, Choi Kwang-Do.[35] He is based in Atlanta. Choi holds the rank of 9th dan in his own martial art, Choi Kwang-Do.

Han Cha Kyo[edit]

Main article: Han Cha Kyo

C. K. Han was born on 20 July 1934 in Seoul, Korea.[24][53] He trained under three martial art masters: Tae Hi Nam, Duk Sung Son, and Woon Kyu Um.[23][24] Han was the first of the original masters of taekwondo to demonstrate overseas, participating in the March 1959 tour of Taiwan and Vietnam.[1][2][11][12] Following a career in the South Korean military, he emigrated to the United States of America in 1971, settling in Chicago.[23] Han founded his own organisation, the Universal Tae Kwon Do Federation, around 1980.[54] He continued teaching taekwondo until his death in 1996.[55]

Kim Jong Chan[edit]

J. C. Kim was born in 1937.[56] He taught taekwondo in Malaysia in the mid-1960s.[57] In 1979, ranked 7th dan, he taught and demonstrated in Argentina along with C. K. Choi, J. T. Park, and K. H. Rhee.[38] A letter by Kim published in the July 1985 issue of Black Belt magazine lists his title at the time as President of the 'World Tukido Council.'[58] He is based in Vancouver, Canada.

Kim Kwang Il[edit]

K. I. Kim contributed to the introduction of taekwondo into West Germany.[32][59] He was head instructor of the ITF in West Germany, but was relieved of this duty in October 1971.[26] In 1975, Kim was ranked 6th dan.[14] He promoted Rolf Becking, head of the ITF Germany Technical Committee, to the rank of 2nd dan in 1976 in Stuttgart, West Germany.[60] Between 1974 and 1977 Kim had a restaurant in Stuttgart and had completed training as a Brewmeister prior to 1974.[citation needed]

Kong Young Il[edit]

Main article: Young Il Kong

Y. I. Kong was born in 1943 in Korea.[48] He began training in the martial arts as a child in 1952, starting with Shotokan karate.[48] From 1963 to 1967, Kong served in the South Korean army, attaining the rank of Sergeant.[48][51][52] He participated in several demonstration tours across the world.[2][11][14][36] Following a career in the South Korean military, Kong emigrated to the United States of America just before or in 1968.[49] He and his younger brother, Young Bo Kong, founded the Young Brothers Taekwondo Associates in 1968.[49] Kong was promoted to the rank of 9th dan in 1997 by H. H. Choi in Poland.[51][52] He is based in Las Vegas.

Park Jong Soo[edit]

Main article: Jong Soo Park

J. S. Park was born in 1941 in Chung-Nam, Korea.[25] He trained in taekwondo under H. H. Choi.[61] In 1965, he was invited to be the coach of the German Taekwon-Do Association, and moved from South Korea to West Germany.[25] The following year, he moved to the Netherlands and founded the Netherlands Taekwon-Do Association.[25] In 1968, Park settled in Toronto, Canada.[25] Park holds the rank of 9th dan,[25] and is still based in Toronto.

Park Jung Tae[edit]

Main article: Jung Tae Park

J. T. Park was born in 1943 or 1944 in Korea.[62][63] He began training in the martial arts as a child, starting with boxing before moving on to judo and then taekwondo. From 1965 to 1967, Park directed military taekwondo training in Vietnam.[27] He emigrated to Canada where he met his future wife, Linda, in Toronto in 1970.[50] In 1984, Park was ranked 8th dan in the ITF.[64] He founded his own organisation, the Global Taekwon-Do Federation (GTF), on 14 June 1990—the year after his departure from the ITF due to North–South Korean political issues.[62][65][66] Park was based in Mississauga until his death in 2002.

Park Sun Jae[edit]

S. J. Park is a pioneer of taekwondo in Italy.[32][67] In 1964, he visited Croatia to present seminars on his art.[18] He introduced taekwondo to Italy around 1968.[68] In 1968, he was ranked 5th dan,[69] and in 1975, he was ranked 7th dan.[14] He was elected Vice-President (Italy) in the European Tae Kwon Do Union (within the World Taekwondo Federation) at the union's inaugural meeting in 1976.[70] In 2002, he was a member of the arbitration board for the WTF's World Cup Taekwondo championship in Tokyo.[71] On 15 February 2004, the Executive Council of the WTF elected him as Acting President of the WTF following Un Yong Kim's resignation from the presidency of the organisation.[72] He is Vice President (Italy) of the WTF.[73] Park was President of the Federazione Italiana Taekwondo (Italian Taekwondo Federation) around 1998,[68] and still held the position as of 2008[74] and 2009.[75]

Rhee Chong Chul[edit]

Main article: Chong Chul Rhee

C. C. Rhee was born around 1935 in Korea. As a youth, he trained in martial arts, basketball, boxing, gymnastics, and weights.[21] Later, he was an instructor in the Korean Marines for three years, teaching unarmed combat to the Marine Commandoes, Marine Brigade Headquarters, and the Marine 2nd Infantry Division.[21] Rhee helped introduce the art of taekwondo to Southeast Asia—most notably in Malaysia and Singapore, but also in Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Brunei.[19] He founded his own organisation, Rhee Taekwon-Do, in Adelaide, Australia, around 1965.[21][22] Rhee came to be known as the Father of Australian Taekwondo.[21] He is based in Sydney.

Rhee Chong Hyup[edit]

C. H. Rhee was born around 1940 in Korea. In the mid-1960s, he contributed to the introduction of taekwondo to Malaysia and Singapore.[20] He arrived in Australia in 1970 and settled in Melbourne, Australia. Rhee is in charge of Rhee Taekwon-Do operations in Melbourne.[76][77]

Rhee Ki Ha[edit]

Main article: Ki Ha Rhee

K. H. Rhee was born on 20 March 1938 in Seoul, Korea.[14] His martial arts training began when he was around 7 or 8 years of age, learning judo from his father.[13] He later learned karate from one of his schoolteachers.[13] When Rhee served in the South Korean military forces, he came into contact with H. H. Choi and learned taekwondo in the 35th Infantry Division.[13] From February 1964, he taught taekwondo to Royal Air Force personnel in Singapore.[13][14] He emigrated to London on 2 July 1967.[14] He attained the rank of 8th dan in 1981, and was promoted to 9th dan by H. H. Choi on 1 July 1997 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.[13] Rhee came to be known as the Father of British Taekwondo,[30] as well as the Father of Irish Taekwondo.[13] He is now based in Glasgow.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]