Choi Hong Hi
|General Choi Hong Hi|
9 November 1918|
Hwadae, Myongchon County, North Hamgyong Province, Japanese Korea
|Died||15 June 2002
Pyongyang, North Korea
|Style||Taekkyeon, Karate, Taekwondo|
|Teacher(s)||Han Il Dong (Taekkyeon), Kim Hyun Soo (Karate)|
|Rank||9th dan, Grand Master, taekwondo (ITF), 2nd dan karate|
|Choi Hong Hi|
|Revised Romanization||Choe Hong-hui|
General Choi Hong Hi (9 November 1918 – 15 June 2002), also known as General Choi, was a South Korean army general and martial artist who is a controversial figure in the history of the Korean martial art of taekwondo.[a] Choi is regarded by many as the 'Founder of Taekwondo'—most often by International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) organizations. Others, such as World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) organizations, portray Choi as either an unimportant or a dishonorable figure in taekwondo history, whether by omitting him from their versions of taekwondo history or through explicit statements.
Choi was born on 9 November 1918 in Hwa Dae, Myŏngch'ŏn county, in what is now North Korea, which was then under Japanese rule. At the time, the place was named Meigawa-gun (Myongchon-kun), Kankyo-hokudo (Hamgyong-Pukto), Chosen, as part of the Empire of Japan. Choi's father sent him to study calligraphy under Han Il Dong, who was also "a master of Taek Kyon, the ancient Korean art of foot fighting" (Park, 1993, p. 241). Choi travelled to Japan, where he studied English, mathematics, and karate. In Kyoto, he met a fellow Korean with the surname Kim, who was a karate instructor and taught Choi this martial art. Choi also learned Shotokan karate under Funakoshi Gichin. Just before he had left Korea, Choi apparently had a disagreement with a wrestler named Hu, and the possibility of a future confrontation inspired him to train; in his own words, "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" (Park, 1993, p. 242). Choi attained the rank of 1st dan in karate in 1939, and then 2nd dan soon after.[b]
Choi had been forced to serve in the Japanese army during World War II, but was implicated in a rebellion and imprisoned, during which time he continued practicing martial arts. Following the war, in January 1946, Choi was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Korean army. From 1946 to 1951, Choi received promotions to first lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and then brigadier general. Choi was promoted to major general in 1954.
Choi combined elements of Taekkyeon and Karate to develop a martial art that he called "Taekwon-Do" (태권도; 跆拳道), which means "foot, hand, the way" or "the way of hand and foot" and it was so named on 11 April 1955. Choi founded the Oh Do Kwan, and held an honorary 4th dan ranking in the Chung Do Kwan. Due to accusations of dishonesty, Choi was stripped of his rank and position in the Chung Do Kwan. During the 1960s, Choi and Nam Tae Hi led the original masters of taekwondo in promoting their martial art around the world, though these would be only the first of many such endeavors.
ITF taekwondo organizations credit Choi with starting the spread of taekwondo internationally by stationing Korean taekwondo instructors around the world, and have consistently claimed that ITF-style taekwondo is the only authentic style of taekwondo, most notably in early sections of its textbooks. He was also the author of the first English taekwondo syllabus book, Taekwon-Do, published by Daeha Publication Company in 1965. In 1972, Choi went into exile in Canada after the South Korean government objected to his introduction of the sport into North Korea, and the South Korea government formed the WTF in 1973. He moved again in 1979 to North Korea where he was welcomed by the government and supported in his project of spreading Taekwondo to the world. He was remembered as the founder and champion of taekwondo.
Choi died of cancer on 15 June 2002 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Choi is listed in the Taekwondo Hall of Fame with various titles: "Father of Taekwon-Do," "Founder and First President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation," and "Founder of Oh Do Kwan." Choi is survived by his wife, Choi Joon Hee; his son, Choi Jung Hwa; two daughters, Sunny and Meeyun; and several grandchildren.
a. ^ The spelling of "taekwondo" varies widely in English usage. The WTF and affiliated organizations typically use "taekwondo," while the ITF and affiliated organizations typically use "taekwon-do" (as Choi used this spelling). In Wikipedia, the default spelling is "taekwondo." This article follows this standard, but uses "taekwon-do" when referring specifically to the ITF or affiliated organizations' names.
b. ^ In Park's (1993) article, the note on Choi's promotion to 2nd dan in karate is followed by a note about the outbreak of World War II, which would suggest that Choi's 2nd dan promotion occurred no later than the early stages of that conflict (c. 1939–1940).
- International Taekwon-Do Federation (Headquarters Korea which is officially recognised by Korean Government on 24 June 2009).
- International Taekwon-Do Federation (under Choi Jung Hwa, based in the United Kingdom). Retrieved on 15 January 2008; updated version retrieved on 9 October 2010.
- International Taekwon-Do Federation (formerly under Trân Triêu Quân; now under acting President Pablo Trajtenberg, based in Italy). Retrieved on 15 January 2008; updated version retrieved on 9 October 2010.
- International Taekwon-Do Federation (under Chang Ung, based in Austria). Retrieved on 28 January 2008; updated version retrieved on 9 October 2010.
- General Choi (ITFNZ) Retrieved on 15 January 2008.
- Present Day Taekwondo (WTF) Retrieved on 29 January 2008.
- Son, D. S. (1959): Letter in Seoul Shinmoon newspaper (16 June 1959) Retrieved on 20 September 2007.
- Park, S. H. (1993): About the author. In H. H. Choi: Taekwon-Do: The Korean art of self-defence, 3rd ed. (Vol. 1, pp. 241–274). Mississauga: International Taekwon-Do Federation.
- Goldman, A. L. (2002): Choi Hong Hi, 83, Korean general who created Tae Kwon Do, The New York Times (29 June 2002). Retrieved on 26 December 2007.
- "태권도신문". Tkdnews.com. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
- Kim, S. J. (2007): History of Taekwondo Retrieved on 18 September 2007.
- Franks, A. (1993): Taekwon-Do and imitators. In H. H. Choi: Taekwon-Do: The Korean art of self-defence, 3rd ed. (Vol. 1, pp. 10–11). Mississauga: International Taekwon-Do Federation.
- The Difficult Dialogue: Communism, Nationalism, and Political Propaganda in North Korean Sport, Jung Woo Lee and Alan Bairner, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 2009, 33: 390
- Taekwondo Hall of Fame Retrieved on 12 January 2008.
- Obituary: General Choi Hong-hi Biography in Moosin Magazine, 19 January 2015.
- Obituary: General Choi Hong-hi in The Guardian, 9 August 2002.
- Obituary: General Choi Hong-Hi in The Daily Telegraph, 26 June 2002.
- General Choi Hong Hi at the Taekwondo Hall of Fame, including a photograph of Choi's grave.