Song Moo Kwan 송무관-松武館 & Why its more important then you think!

Coming soon will be a history of Song Moo Kwan (松武館-송무관) and really the history of the Korean Kicking and Punching arts from 1944 on.  It was very influential in the formation of the Korean Kwans (Chung Do Kwan 청도관-靑濤館, Moo Duk Kwan 무덕관-武德館, Chang Moo Kwan 창무관-彰武館) etc……learn directly from the founder and the current leader(s) of the Song Moo Kwan!

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Wall art for your home, school or office!  Hangul (Korean) and Hanja (Kanji/Chinese) related to your Korean martial art school, style or even organization.  There will be no more then 27 of any one design.  Each design will be hand made, inked and individually numbered by the up and coming calligrapher BongHwang 봉황.

Depending on what is being made most calligraphy will be on single set of the same material, below we see “HwaRang” in both Hangul and Hanga.  The first series will play a role in promoting the patterns of the Chang Hon system by providing high quality, one of a kind art work for your Dojang, home or office.  You will be able to pick and choose one or all the 25 patterns of the modern era of Taekwondo-Do!  But remember, not many will be made of each, so once they come up you will want to be quick!


HwaRang in Hanja



HwaRang in Hangul

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North Korean ITF president “steps down” after 13 years



New ITF President with : Željko Gvozdič, Ri Yong Son, Andreja Kosem Dvoršak, Bojan Potočnik, Kim Chol Gyu (ITF HQ VIENNA)


Chang Ung








The only North Korean member of the Pyongyang-based International Olympic Committee stepped down Thursday as the president of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF).

After 13 years leading the federation, Chang Ung, 77, was bestowed the position of honorary life president and replaced by Ri Yong-son, the executive director of the ITF and a seventh-degree taekwondo master.

A spokesman for the federation said that Ri replaced Chang, who completed his second six-year term, in an election Thursday by the North Korea-led international body, Voice of America (VOA) reported.

The announcement comes amid the weeklong ITF World Championships hosted in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in which 81 countries are participating. The event kicked off on Monday.

“It seems to be a part of a reshuffle happening under Kim Jong-un’s regime,” an official from an international sports body, who requested anonymity, told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The reshuffle has also sparked speculation that this could possibly be the start of a series of replacements made among sporting officials by Kim, North Korea’s supreme leader, who has made countless changes in leadership positions since coming to power.

Chang, a graduate of Pyongyang University of Physical Education and Sports, started his career in basketball. He was unanimously (ran unopposed) elected as president of the Vienna-based ITF in 2002 and was re-elected in 2009.

The organization was founded in Seoul in 1966 by the late South Korean Army Gen. Choi Hong-hi.

The honorary life president is described as the most senior position in the ITF.

“In this position, Professor Chang will focus his energy [toward making] ITF Taekwon-Do an official Olympic event, in conjunction with the WTF [World Taekwondo Federation] as well as the International Federation for Olympic Taekwondo,” the Original Taekwon-Do ITF said in a post Monday on its Facebook page.

The ITF is not recognized by the International Olympics Committee, and only the World Taekwondo Federation, headquartered in Seoul, is a member of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations. This bars North Korean martial artists in the ITF from competing in the Olympic Games.

The message also congratulated Ri, who served at the ITF Vienna headquarters as executive director-general for a decade, and as vice president of both the Korean Taekwon-Do Committee and North Korea’s National Olympic Committee.

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d7f952e4236afc03a202fc64913dc353_XLSEOUL, Korea (August 19, 2015) – International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach was made an honorary 10th Dan black belt in the martial art of taekwondo today, during a visit to the headquarters of the sport’s world governing body.

The IOC chief was personally awarded the belt by World Taekwondo Federation President Chungwon Choue.

“Thank you very much for the honor of the 10th Dan black belt,” Bach said – adding with a joke, “After I was informed of it, I started practicing!”
“There have only been three people in the world awarded the 10thDan,” Choue explained. “Former IOC Presidents Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge well as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.”

Attired in a taekwondo uniform, Bach then smashed a board with a punch before the awarding ceremony.

The IOC president had been greeted at the entrance to the WTF headquarters – opposite the West Gate of Seoul’s medieval Gyeongbok Palace – by uniformed members of the WTF Demonstration Team.

He then held a round-table discussion between himself, Choue and officials including IOC Member and Chair of the IOC Coordination Committee for PyeongChang Ms. Gunilla Lindberg, IOC Protocol Chief Ms.  Marina Baramia, IOC Director General  Christophe De Kepper as well as WTF Secretary General Hoss Rafaty, WTF Council Member and Russian Taekwondo Union President Anatoly Terekhov and Korean Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Kim Chong.

During the meeting, taekwondo’s preparations for the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the spread of taekwondo worldwide and an upcoming initiative by the WTF, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, which will teach taekwondo at refugee camps, were all discussed.

Bach was particularly interested in the status of female and Muslim athletes in the sport.  In the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 1, which had concluded in Moscow just three days ago, two Muslim female athletes – Turkey’s Nafia Kus and Iran’s Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin– had won gold medals.

The IOC president and his delegation were on a two-day visit to Korea. Before their courtesy call to the WTF headquarters,  they had met Korean President Park Geun-hye at the nearby presidential residence, the Blue House, to discuss progress on the upcoming 2018 PyeongyChang Winter Olympics.

ORGINAILLY PUBLISHED BY World Taekwondo Federation

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Kukkiwon Dan Test USA


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North Korean IOC member will come to Seoul “장웅 북한 IOC 위원, 오는 10월 남한 방문 계획”

ITF’s CHang Ung 장웅 & WTF Choe, Chung-won

Chang Ung, a North Korean representative to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), plans to visit South Korea in October to attend inter-Korean taekwondo events, according to foreign reports.

Chang’s scheduled trip is re-igniting controversy over which of the two Korea’s has the right to operate the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF).

Along with the Seoul-based World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), the ITF has served as a key institution in promoting Korea’s traditional martial art globally after it was established in 1966.

Both Seoul and Pyongyang have run separate ITF headquarters since the death of the South Korean founder, Choi Hong-hi, in June 2002.

The Korean-language edition of the Voice of America (VOA) reported that Chang, who is also North Korea’s purported ITF president, will come to Seoul on Oct. 6.

Chang is scheduled to tour well-known taekwondo sites from Oct. 3 to 8 across the Korean Peninsula, according to the U.S. media outlet.

It said Jung Woo-yong, a Korean American taekwondo grand master, has been

GM Chung and Chang Ung

organizing the project with support from other international taekwondo practitioners, mainly those from the U.S, to promote peace on the peninsula.

The VOA reported Jung drew support from Chang and other taekwondo officials during his visit to Pyongyang in June.

“I think Chang is the right person to facilitate active inter-Korean exchanges in sports and culture, given that he’s a heavyweight in international sports administration,” Jung said.

Without elaborating the details, the VOA said participants for the various events will gather in Pyongyang on Oct. 3 and join a sports exchange program for four days.

They are scheduled to cross the demilitarized zone and arrive in Seoul on Oct. 6.

They will travel to Taekwondowon, a mega-sized taekwondo complex, in Muju, North Jeolla Province as well as a stele built under the orders of Choi in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, before they leave the country on Oct. 8, according to the VOA.

The stele, located at 29th Army Infantry Division, was built in 1953 to show Choi’s passion for the sport during his service there as the division commander.

The Ministry of Unification, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, denied the VOA’s report.

“They have not asked us, have not consulted with us, and have been making announcements on their project solely on their own,” ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said.

A taekwondo practitioner in Seoul also said he will take legal measures against those responsible if the disputed events take place in South Korea.

“That includes unification ministry officials, and I do mean it,” said Oh Chang-jin, claiming he serves as the acting president of the ITF on the South Korean side.

He claimed North Korea has been claiming the right to operate the ITF after stealing key information from the ITF’s pro-North Korean officials when Choi died.

Choi, who helped North Korea join the ITF, died in Pyongyang in June 2002 during his visit there.

Since then, Chang has been serving as the ITF chief for the North Korean side.

South Korea has operated its ITF office separately under the leadership of Oh.

According to Oh, the ITF’s South Korean side has over 110 member countries, while its North Korean side has less than 30 members.

The ITF moved its headquarters from Seoul to Toronto, Canada in 1972 when Choi sought political asylum there after having a political conflict with the then-Army general-turned-dictator Park Chung-hee.

This triggered South Korea to launch the WTF in 1973, which now has over 200 member states.

Yi Whan-woo

북한의 국제올림픽위원회(IOC) 위원인 장웅 국제태권도연맹(ITF) 총재가 오는 10월 남한을 방문할 계획인 것으로 알려졌다.


미국의 태권도 전문 잡지인 ‘태권도타임스’의 정우진 대표는 16일 미국의소리(VOA) 방송과의 전화통화에서 장웅 총재가 10월6일 한국에 입국한다고 밝혔다.

GM Woo, GM Kimm, Mst. Vitale (May 2006)


정 대표는 ‘올 가을 미국인들이 주축이 된 세계 태권도인들이 남북한 군사분계선을 넘는 평화행사를 준비중’이라며 ‘장웅 총재도 합류하기로 했다’고 설명했다.


‘남북한 종단 행사’에 참가하는 세계 태권도인들은 10월3일 평양을 방문해 3박4일간 스포츠 교류 활동을 한 뒤 6일 군사분계선을 넘어 서울에 도착, 8일까지 무주 태권도원과 제주도 주먹탑 등을 돌아볼 예정이다.


장 총재는 이들과 함께 10월6일 군사분계선을 넘어 서울에서 제주도까지 내려가면서 대부분의 행사에 참여할 계획인 것으로 알려졌다.


다만 남한 정부 당국자와의 만남 여부 등은 아직 결정되지 않았다.


정 대표는 ‘IOC 위원이기도 한 장웅 총재가 세계 스포츠계에서 갖는 무게감을 고려할 때 남북한 문화교류의 물꼬를 틀 수 있는 적임자가 아닌가 싶다’고 말했다.


정 대표는 지난달 19∼23일 평양을 방문해 장웅 총재, 김경호 조선태권도위원회 위원장 등 북한 관계자들을 만나 ‘남북한 종단 행사’에 대한 지원을 약속받았다.


남한의 통일부는 행사에 대한 공식 신청이 들어오면 검토하겠다는 입장이다. (연합뉴스)

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What is your art?

You can choose more then one art….

What is your base and secondary martial arts, if not listed please let us know and we will add it!


Answer Votes Vote Count/Percentage
Taekwon-Do (Chang Hon, ITF)
19 Votes(54%)
Tae Kwon Do (ATA, WTA, otherwise non-affiliated)
2 Votes(5%)
Taekwondo (WTF, Kukkiwon)
3 Votes(8%)
2 Votes(5%)
Shototkan Karate
1 Votes(2%)
American Kenpo Karate
1 Votes(2%)
2 Votes(5%)
1 Votes(2%)
0 Votes(0%)
Muy Thai
0 Votes(0%)
Goju Ryu Karate
1 Votes(2%)
Kuk Sool Won
1 Votes(2%)
Tang Soo Do (all branches)
1 Votes(2%)
1 Votes(2%)

Total Votes: 35


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Interview of Chang Ung


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See the similarities and differences of two martial art pioneers, separated by race, religion, background and distance!  09/09/2011

Choi Hong Hi (9 November 1918 – 15 June 2002)

Edmund Kealoha “Ed” Parker (March 19, 1931 – December 15, 1990)

Learn how and why these two men from different cultures, different backgrounds, and different religions found that they could profoundly change how the martial arts are looked at and shared and taught throughout the world today.  How each man came up with nearly identical theories without having ever met (as far was anyone can tell), how each man seemed to know about the others art just by its descriptions and how each man defined and redefined there martial art of choice that no other (nearly) martial artist has done. The journey that both of these great martial artist took was long ago, during different generations, from different nations, and even different styles.  The age difference (13 years) between the two is interesting in that both men “defined” their martial art about the same time. 

Both men sought to give new names, sometimes recycling older names and at other times just redefining terms for their martial art. There are also striking differences.  Grandmaster Choi was short, standing only about five feet (152 cm) and was always slight in build, while Grandmaster Parker was 6 feet (183 cm) and always had a stocky build.  Grandmaster Choi, commonly called “General Choi” (he was a General in the South Korean Army from it’s birth and until his forced retirement in 1962, Gen. Choi has also especially since his passing been referred to as “Founder Choi, or Ambassador Choi.” 

Grandmaster Parker was commonly referred to as Senior Grandmaster of the Art (referring to American Kenpo) but his senior students usually just called him by the humble moniker of Mr. Parker or the “old man” (just never to his face).

Grandmaster Choi started to learn Karate (Shotokan) while he was a student worker in Japan in the 1930’s and Mr. Parker started to learn his art of Kenpo after first studying Judo and western style boxing.  Gen. Choi learned more out of self preservation (as he was born in a occupied and later war torn country) as did Mr. Parker (who was brought up in a rough US territory or Honolulu, Hawaii, not a state when he was born there.  Gen. Choi lived in a world where his own country was occupied by another race of people and Mr. Parker lived in “paradise” but even paradise has its tough areas.

Much has been written about both, Ed Parker has been written about more after his passing by many of his direct students like Lee Wedlake and his books like “Lessons with Ed Parker” and Rich Hale and his “The Kenpo Journal” and many others.  More was written about General Choi while he was alive oddly enough, this site has what may be the most complete info and interviews of General Choi, GM Kimm, He-young had and extensive interview prior to his death in Taekwondo Times, and has a book on the history of Taekwondo since.

One of the most striking similarities is the use of Mr. Parker and his “Marriage of Gravity/Gravitational Marriage” and Gen. Choi’s “sine wave.”  Both had seemed to develop this concept in terms of use in the martial arts sometime before the 1980s but both define them in the late seventy or early eighty’s.  “Marriage of Gravity” is defined as “The uniting of mind, breath and strength while simultaneously dropping your body weight along with the execution of your natural weapon(s).  Timing all of these factors with the dropping  of your body weight greatly adds to the force of your strikes.  This combined action literally causes a marriage with gravity, and makes vertical use of BODY MOMENTUM while employing the dimension of HEIGHT. (ED PARKER’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF KENPO 1992 ISBN 1-4392-4198-8) The term “Sine Wave” Sine wave motion is a movement unique to original Taekwon-do to create maximum force in every moment according to the theory of power. In almost every moment this sinewave is utilized. Sine wave is natural and simple, and often I heard an instructor say: “Simple and natural = beautiful”. 

What we actually do by performing this sine wave in Taekwon-do techniques is moving the center of our body mass by means of a motion, which would look like a sinus wave if we would draw it.

There are some key benefits to using sine wave that are linked to the training secrets of Taekwon-Do. Moving our center of mass in the motion of a sine wave requires us to keep our arms and legs bent while the body is in motion. To keep the arms and legs bent during motion we need to be relaxed. Relaxing the body adds speed to a technique because we are not all tensed up with one part of the body working against another. Small increases in speed produces large increases the power of a technique. 

Secondly, when employing a sine wave we have to use the knee spring properly. That is to say bending the knee is what moves our body up and down as we move forward. Using the knee spring while our body is in motion allows our center of mass to travel along a curve, which by definition is another form of acceleration, which then helps us accelerate into a target. Explanation of sinewave by the founder of Taekwon-Do – General Choi Hong Hi – during a seminar in Poland (1999).

Finally, when using sine wave we are dropping our body downwards at the end of the technique with helps us use gravity to our advantage and keep our acceleration building until the point of impact.  As you read the two, the concepts are similar, but yet, not exactly the same, although the end result is.  These two terms, tend to be the most striking, however, both gentleman, also defined or redefined the terms used.  Both sought to standardized the terms used in order to make teaching their arts not really more “simple” but more of an ability to teach as many as possible to promote their arts to the masses.

The IKKA (International Kenpo Karate Association) logo (left) and the ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation logo (right) of the two founders organizations

Posted on by Doug Nowling, Director - Master Instructor | Leave a comment


Absent political considerations there should be no valid reason to exclude Gen. Choi from any Martial Art Hall Of Fame. While his many accomplishments speak for themselves, many do not realize that some of what he did was unprecedented & at times unmatched in the TKD world. However because at various points in his life some of his personal political views concerning his unfairly divided homeland of Korea & certain governmental leaders back home resulted in some negativity that has unfortunately tainted his TKD record.

While Gen. Choi’s personal politics & views are his own, many feel that it should not impact what he did for TKD & how his work continues to influence millions globally in a very positive way. As a result you, as a TKD person, should take the time out to send an email to the new Taekwondowon in MuJu, South Korea respectfully requesting that Gen. Choi receive the highest honor possible for his international impact on TKD. We know 1 thing for sure, without Gen. Choi there would be no TKD. He of course named it. Now there still may have been another Korean Martial Sport that made it into the Olympics, but it would not have been TKD. So every single student of TKD, no matter his or her age, rank or location on this planet, owes some small debt of gratitude to Gen. Choi. PLEASE take a brief moment of your time to send an email to:

It is the least we can do & if not Gen. Choi, then really, who does deserve this honor?

You are not limited with your nominations. You can feel free to nominate anyone you feel is worthy. However if we don’t succeed in getting Gen. Choi honored, it probably will not be possible initially to have any of his followers acknowledged. Also please understand the Taekwondowon put out requests on their Korean language Facebook Page & website. They have also sent a request to the WTF for nominations. So if you don’t nominate Gen. Choi who will? There is no apparent visible outreach to the ITF side. Please do not allow politics to continue to get disrupt the martial art way of TKD’s “DO”! The Taekwondowon needs to here from all of us, as they are on record saying their new TKD Park is for all. So lets please give them the opportunity to demonstrate that wonderful posture with fair & just action by honoring the man who started it all.
Thank you


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Black Belts Win!

imageTwo Kido Kwan black belts competed April 26, 2014 in Corpus Christi, Texas U.S.A.

Eddie (left) 3rd place breaking, 2nd place Patterns(Choong Moo), 2nd place Weapons (Bo Staff)
Alan (right) 3rd place breaking (Me and Eddie tied), 2nd place sparring, 1st place Patterns (Po Eun !!! ), 1st place Weapons (Bo Staff).


These two black belts are direct students of Master (senior) Gwen F. Hall, VIII Dan (center) who helped judge in the tournament hosted by WarCats by Reymundo Gonzales, VII Dan.

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Survey Update

IF you take this survey, your answers will only count if you fill in the basic information asked.  This is in part to insure we don’t have duplicate posts etc.

AS OF 14/ July/2015 

4098 VOTES

President Choi, Jung-Hwa aka ITF-C HQ Middlesex United Kingdom  24%

President Chang Ung aka ITF-NK HQ Vienna, Austria                            28%

President Pablo Trajtenberg aka ITF-V HQ Beindorn, Spain                  19%

Secretary General Oh Chang Jin aka ITF-K HQ Seoul South Korea       9%

GM Hwang, Kwang-sung aka UITF Manchester , CT USA                       11%

GM Rhee, Ki-ha aka FGMR                                                                            04%

GM Phap Lu aka Chan Hon Ryu                                                                    01%

Choi at Press Conference

Choi, Jung-hwa

Chang, Ung

Chang, Ung


Pablo Trajtenberg

Pablo Trajtenberg

 Oh Chang Jin

Oh Chang Jin


Hwang Kwang-sung

Hwang Kwang-sung


Rhee, Ki-ha

Rhee, Ki-ha

Phap Lu

Phap Lu



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Taekwon-Do, Taekwondo, Tae Kwon Do, TaeKwon Do, A study of Words

Lots and lots of things have been said about “what is Taekwon-Do” and how to “spell Taekwon-Do”, Taekwondo, taekwondo, Taekwon do, Tae Kwon Do, TaeKwonDo etc.  Of course, going strictly by the way it is written in Taekwon-Do’s country of origin, well, it is just 태권도.  It has no space, no capitals and no hyphens.  Of course, the same is true when we look at the Hanja (Chinese/Japanese) way to write Taekwon-Do 跆拳道.

So, why do we have so many ways of writing this rather simple three syllable word?  Well, we could start with the etymology of this word.  Taekwon-Do is not a native Korean term!  It is a word of Chinese origin that has as many words in many tongues almost exclusively adopted by Korea.  The word also has or parts of the word also have strong Japanese ties.  As most know, Korea was a nation state of the Japanese Empire for some time.  So it isn’t unreasonable to see that terms of Japanese origin would sneak into the Korean vocabulary.  But before we head into the etymology of Taekwon-Do, let’s see what other authors, masters, grandmasters of Taekwon-Do say….

As to why the I.T.F. and the Kido Kwan uses the spelling of  “Taekwon-Do” well, simple put, General Choi when as personally by me, said the spelling in English should be “Taekwon-Do” with the emphasis on the – as “Taekwon” is the art, and greeting, and “Do” is the philosophy.

Choi, Hong-hi stated in his book TAEKWON-DO THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE copyright: 1965 that “Translated from Korean, “Tae” (t’ae) literally means to jump or kick or smash with the foot.  “Kwon” denotes a fist-chiefly to punch or destroy with the hand or fist.  “Do” means an art, or way or method.  Thus taken collectively “Taekwon-Do” indicates the punches, flying kicks, blocks, dodges and interceptions with the hands, arms and feet to the rapid destruction of the opponent (Choi 14).

In the fourth edition of Choi, Hong-hi’s book TAEKWON-DO (The Korean Art of Self-Defence) copyright: 1995 and more commonly referred to as the “condensed encyclopedia” he states: “Translated literally “Tae” stands for jumping of flying, to kick with the foot. “Kwon” denotes the fist-chiefly to punch or destroy with the hand or fist.  “Do” means an art or way-the right way built and paved by the saints and sages in the past.  Thus taken collectively “Taekwon-Do” indicates the mental training and the techniques of unarmed combat for self-defence as well as health, involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks and dodges with bare hands and feet to the rapid destructions of the moving opponent or opponents” (Choi 15).

Cho, Shi-hak also known as Henry Cho in his 1968 book KOREAN KARATE Free Fighting Techniques states that “Tae-kwon is the Korean word for karate recently adopted by the Korean Tae-Kwon do Federation. Tae-kwon do (tae meaning foot; kwon, fist; and do, martial art) is identical to Japanese karate, and the title is a literal description of an art consisting of foot and hand techniques.” (Cho 21)

Chun, Rhin-moon also known as Richard Chun in his 1976 book TAE KWON DO The Korean Martial Art stated that “Tae Kwon Do, “The Art of Kicking and Punching,” incorporates the abrupt, linear movements of Karate and the flowing, circular patterns of Kung Fu with its own incomparable kicking techniques to form an integrated system unique to Korea. (Chun 7, 8)

Son, Duk-sun & Robert Clark in their book KOREAN KARATE THE ART OF TAE KWON DO copyright 1968 says “Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art.”  And “Tae Kwon Do is essentially discipline: discipline of the mind, the body, and the spirit.” (Son 1, 5)

Jimmy M.S. Too in his book THE TECHNIQUES OF TAEKWON-DO A Modern International Martial Art simply states “Taekwon-do is an effective and superior form of martial art.  It employs hand and foot techniques for self defense.” (Too 28)

B.S. Huan in his book TAEKWON-DO says “TaeKwon-Do is the Korean martial art that was perfected by the Korean TaeKwon-Do movement in 1955 to supersede ancient Korean fighting arts.  And “Tae” means to jump or kick or smash with the feet” “Kwon means to block, punch, and strike with the hand or fist. And “Do” means “An art”. (Huan 17)

Clearly, we also have different ways of defining exactly what Taekwon-Do is as well.


Choi, Hong-hi “Taekwon-Do: The Art of Self Defense” Daeha Publication: Seoul, Korea. 1965

Choi, Hong-hi “Taekwon-Do: The Korean Art of Self Defense” International Taekwon-Do Federation: Printed in New Zealand. 1995

Cho, Shihak Henry “KOREAN KARATE Free Fighting Techniques” Charles E. Tuttle Company: Publishers Copyright 1968

Chun, RhinMoon Richard “TAE KWON DO The Korean Martial Art” Harper & Row Publishers, Copyright 1976

Son, Duk-sun & Robert Clark “KOREAN KARATE THE ART OF TAE KWON DO” Prentice Hall Press, Copyright 1968

Jimmy M.S. Too “The Techniques of Taekwon-Do” Bushido Publishers, Singapore, Copyright November 1975

B.S. Huan “TAEKWON-DO” Russ International Publishers Singapore, Copyright 1975

Posted in General Martial Arts, Kido Kwan, Korean Studies & History, Taekwon-Do (ChangHon) aka ITF | Leave a comment

image image image

Posted in Taekwon-Do (ChangHon) aka ITF | Leave a comment

Passing of Nam, Taej-hi

It’s with deep regret that we notify you that Grandmaster Nam, Tae-Hi (March 19, 1923- November 7, 2013) has passed away in a hospital near his home in Garden Grove, CA. USA. More to follow soon!

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2013 Midwest Open

The 2013 Midwest Open is less than 6 weeks away. I want to personally invite you to the Midwest Open Taekwondo Championship November 23rd & 24th in Decatur, Illinois. Every year we try to make things better than the last if possible. We will be starting the weekend with registrations & pre-registrations on Friday November 22nd from 5:00-8:00pm at the Decatur Conference Center & Hotel. There will also be plenty of training area for teams to practice before the event.
2013 midwest open poster

2013 midwest open packet
Saturday will consist of forms, sparring and grand champion award in forms along with our Chris Canning award and black belt scholarship. New for 2013!!! We have added electronic chest protectors (kpp) for all black belt divisions. The socks will be available for black belt sparer’s to rent for $5 at the tournament.

Sunday will be breaking, weapons and grand champion in those events. Again this year we will be having grand champion in forms, breaking and weapons and anyone that places 1st in their division will be allowed to compete for that award. We have added another Grand champion award in breaking as well. All grand champion awards this year will be 6′ trophies!!! In addition to those awards we will be having our special Chris Canning grand champion award. Instructors please submit names of anyone that you would like to recommend for this award.
We will also be having our Chris Canning $500 scholarship awarded to 1 black belt at the event. Please go to the tournament website for information.

We have worked hard on the tournament schedule to make sure that everyone knows what time they will compete. We have also improved our tournament website by adding spectator passes online. We also have discount competitor rates for multiple family members.

The tournament venue consists of a huge competition area with 6 matted rings and electronic scoring, staging area and separate warm up area. We also have a play area for young ones. The Decatur Conference Center & Hotel also is offering discount rates for rooms for anyone that is at the Midwest Open Taekwondo Championship. The newly remodeled hotel offers 2 restaurants, and indoor pool, hot tub and sauna, sports bar and a video game area.

As we have done in past years if you are an instructor bringing competitors, you will receive 1 free night stay at the tournament hotel for every 10 pre-registered competitors! The top 3 schools will receive an award. All children age 12 and under will receive an award and everyone that wins in forms, breaking or weapons has an opportunity at grand champion awards regardless of age or belt rank.

I am attaching all the tournament information for you and your school to look over. Feel free to pass this on. We are making every effort to assure that everyone has a great experience. The tournament staff will do their best to make sure the event runs smoothly and expeditiously. That all competitors, guests, coaches and officials are treated fairly and with respect. And that competitors get great and fair competition along with a great experience. I am always available for questions, comments or concerns before, during or after the event. If you have any questions do not hesitate to call or email me.

Feel free to get all the tournament information or sign up online at

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Totally Tae Kwon Do

The Kido Kwan and several of it’s members have  been featured or written articles that have appeared in Totally Tae Kwon Do, which is a downloadable PDF magazine for Tae Kwon Do enthusiasts across the globe. The magazine dedicated to all aspects of the martial art of Tae Kwon Do, arguably the world’s most popular martial art and Olympic sport. The magazine caters for all styles of the art, so whether you’re Ch’ang Hon/ITF, KKW/WTF or any other style of Tae Kwon Do, then the magazine will be of interest to you. So if you do Taekwon-Do, Taekwondo or Tae Kwon Do, then this magazines for you.

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Cherokee Nation Loses its first Martial Arts Grandmaster

An instructor of one of the Kido Kwan Directors has sadley passed…


WICHITA, Kan. – Wilson Vann, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and master instructor of martial arts, died on Aug. 8 at age 89.


Grandmaster In Hui Won, Grandmaster Wilson Vann, Grandmaster Kyo Yoon Lee

Born on June 11, 1924, in Short, Okla., he eventually joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific theater during World War II. After the war, he worked 36 years at Cessna Aircraft in Wichita before retiring and moving to Tahlequah, Okla., where he resided until 2011.

He owned Judo and Tae Kwon Do schools for more than 50 years, which produced many champions in national and international competition. He had a reputation as a noted instructor of martial arts in the U.S. and Korea, specializing in Tae Kwon Do and Kodokan Judo. He held a black belt in Judo and a ninth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do from the Han Moo Kwan. Han Moo Kwan was founded in August 1954 by Kyo Yoon Lee and is one of the nine original Kwans that later formed Kukkiwon Tae Kwon Do.

Vann is survived by his wife Loretta (Riner) of 65 years, three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

According to a Cherokee Nation email, “Vann was a proud Cherokee and a WWII veteran. For many years he taught young men and women Tae Kwon Do. Using martial arts as a platform, he also taught them much of what they needed to succeed in life. That teaching included working hard, being honest, never giving up. His students learned courage and commitment. He left us hundreds of heroes in waiting. They will support their families, help their friends, maintain a sense of honor; and, God willing, live a peaceful life. But when courage is needed, they will have it. And in great part, it will be due to the quiet, unassuming mentoring of a great man.”


GM Wilson Vann

Funeral and graveside services were expected be held on Aug. 14 at the Old Mission Cemetery and Funeral Home in Wichita. Memorials in Vann’s memory may be made to the American Cancer Society. Thoughts and memories may be shared in the online guestbook at

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Kukkiwon Has new President 국기원은 새로운 대통령을 가지고

 Master Lee Kyu-hyung, a taekwondo professor of Keimyung University, performs a poomsae demonstration for the WTF’s promotional film at the Midong Elementary School in Seoul, Korea, on July 12, 2008.

Master Lee Kyu-hyung, a taekwondo professor of Keimyung University, performs a poomsae demonstration for the WTF’s promotional film at the Midong Elementary School in Seoul, Korea, on July 12, 2008.

Master Lee Kyu Hyung (Kyemyeng University – 9th Dan) is the new President of Kukkiwon after being provisionally named yesterday by the Director of the organization’s board, Mr Hong. Master Lee Kyu Hyung will immediately start working for Kukkiwon, as he’s decided to make today his first day as the Chair-in-Office.

Mr Hong did also name some more positions within the organization yesterday: Oh Hyuen Deuk will be the Administrative Deputy Director, while No Sun Myeng was supposed to be the Director of Education, a position which he finally refused to take. Master Lee and Mr Oh have already started to actively work for the development of Kukkiwon.pp_1369_5_1263182025

Master Lee replaces Mr Kim Chung Gun, who was acting as the Chair-in-Office during Hong’s trip to USA. We will now await the official appointment of Master Lee, which is expected to happen in the coming days if there’s no public reaction against the appointment eventually.

Mr Hong did also name 11 new members of the Kukkiwon board last Friday August 16th.

– Lim Yun Taek (Seoul Taekwondo Association President)

– Kim Chul Ho (KTA Vice-President)

– Kim Tae Il (Taekwondo Professional Association President)

– Hwang In Sik (Kyengkido Association Vice-Presiedent)

– Kim Sang Chen (Kyeng Min University Professor)

– Kim Hyen Sueng (Former Congressman)

– Kim Chel Ki (Former Secretary General of the Pro Park Movement)

– Oh Hyen Deuk (Former Kukkiwon Vice-President)

– Kim Myeng Yeun (Congressman)

– Ham Jin Kyu (Congressman)

However, this list of new members of the Kukkiwon board has caused controversy, as the appointments were made on the same day that the former board was dissolved.

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2013 ITF World Championships (Sofia, Bulgaria)

560119_514772148565502_2081489971_nMEDAL RESULTS

There were 70 Countries represented at the World Congress meeting and over 800 participants from 58 Nations.


1- Pak Mi Hyang DPR KOREA
3- Chilingirova Mirela BULGARIA


Photo courtesy of Sarah McMahon (Scotland)


1 – Kim Kum Jong DPR KOREA
3 – Pushkareva Alina RUSSIA


1 – Kim Hyang Sim DPR KOREA
2 – Alieva Mehrangez TAJIKISTAN
3 – Zhuravlyova – Alyona UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1 – Ri Hyang DPR KOREA
2- Baranovskaya Anastasia RUSSIA
3 – Malcheva Albena BULGARIA


2 – Kress Andrey RUSSIA
3 – Murodzoda Parvizi TAJIKISTAN
3 Ri Chung Il DPR KOREA


1 Han Song Min 2 DPR KOREA
2 Tang Bo CHINA


2 Fartushniak Alexander RUSSIA
3 Chaloupka Jan CZECH REPUBLIC


1 Ri Myong Jin DPR KOREA
2 Piksaev Evgeny RUSSIA
3 Datiz Torres, Luis A. PUERTO RICO


Photo courtesy of Sarah McMahon (Scotland)


1 TEAM Adult Female DPR KOREA
2 TEAM Adult Female RUSSIA
3 TEAM Adult Female BULGARIA


2 TEAM Adult Male JAPAN


2 Ri Un Jong DPR KOREA
3 Taseva Eymi BULGARIA


2 Kim Kum Jong DPR KOREA
3 Moreno Giselle ARGENTINA
3 Laura Orgil ENGLAND


Photo courtesy of Sarah McMahon (Scotland)


1 Ri Hyang DPR KOREA
2 Koleva Amaliya BULGARIA
3 Khabibullaeva Ganjina TAJIKISTAN
3 Adushnaeva Iuliia RUSSIA


1 Pak Mi Hyang DPR KOREA
2 Malcheva Albena BULGARIA


1 Sin Jong Hwa DPR KOREA
3 Hambergerova Ilona CZECH REPUBLIC


1 Kim Su Ryon DPR KOREA
2 Chilingirova Mirela BULGARIA


Photo courtesy of Sarah McMahon (Scotland)


1 Choe Su Ryon DPR KOREA
3 Kolarova Katerina CZECH REPUBLIC


1 Kim Chol Hak DPR KOREA
2 Baglaev Boris RUSSIA
3 Khakimi Khasan TAJIKISTAN


1 Otsimik Evgeny RUSSIA
2 Ri Chung Il DPR KOREA
3 Akhmedov Alisher TAJIKISTAN


1 Rim Wi Sok DPR KOREA
3 Murodzoda Parvizi TAJIKISTAN
3 Yanchev Atanas BULGARIA


1 Hong pom DPR KOREA
2 Tkachev Mikhail RUSSIA
3 Naimov Muhammadjon TAJIKISTAN


1 Han Song Min DPR KOREA
3 Vrchovecky Jan CZECH REPUBLIC


1 Kress Andrey RUSSIA
2 Pak Yong Bom DPR KOREA
3 Rodriguez Baez, Angel PUERTO RICO


1 Martsevich Denis RUSSIA
2 Davidov Antoni BULGARIA
3 Aleksandr Antonov ESTONIA

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How DPRK Corruption is hurting the Taekwon-Do World

This is another article in a series that is focusing on the DPRK “influence” in the Taekwon-Do world.  Good or bad, the DPRK has had it’s hand in things.  I want reader to know that these articles are not a reflection of the average people of North Korea, they are Korean’s and as Korean’s we share a common bond of friendship and mutual respect.  We are mainly discussing the government and its agents and not those of the Korean peoples!


Chong Chon Gang 청천강호/淸川江號 (AP photo)

It is known quite publicly that the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korean (DPRK) AKA North Korea has had a system of corrupt officials, politicians and that the average citizens has about as much right to live a “free” life as a horse fly does.  The DPRK also routinely violates the laws of other nations, and most recently tried unsuccessfully to travel through the Panama Canal Zone which, the Panamanian government stopped and seized the cargo ship Chong Chon Gang 청천강호/淸川江號 where they found two MiG21 Fighter Jets, short and medium range missile and other contraband that is currently banned under UN mandates.

The Chong Chon Gang recently docked in Cuba, a very rare friend of the DPRK in the Western Hemisphere, and they make the claim the weapons were being refurbished by the DPRK however, this clearly isn’t the case, as both MiG fighters had fuel in them, and as any Navel personal will tell you, you only send fuel in equipment if you plan on using them!  This particular cargo ship has a long history, it has been detained by authorities all over the world, especially since 2003, it has been cited or detained by other nations such as the Ukraine, Iran, Egypt, Malaysia, Portugal, Philippines and more recently of course recently Panama.  This ship along with the majority of the DPRK cargo fleet routinely turns off its AIS (global maritime satellite position) which is mandated by international maritime law as well.

So, what does this have to do with Taekwon-Do?  Well quite frankly, on the surface of it….nothing, but when you look at the culture behind the DPRK, and the fact that they have 73 North Korean black belts (several in the Master status) now actively teaching throughout the world, mainly in the former Soviet Bloc counties, but, also in some “Western bloc” as well, like New Zealand, Japan, etc. They are now promoting a art that to them is 30 years old, and producing black belt instructors that truly don’t understand the art, either technically or spiritually.  This is based on first hand knowledge, actions they portray publicly, and privately.  And in a few examples there near god like devotion to the DPRK system.


DPRK coin showing “Juche Taekwon-Do”

I along with my guest writers and myself, we will go into detail on what it is like to train under a “DPRK” instructor and allow you the readers to compare that to training under other instructors.  If the DPRK instructors were truly teaching Taekwon-Do…then this article and any like it would not  be of interest, however, their brand of Taekwon-Do is not that of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), it is their own brand, that they use the ITF to have the ability to travel and teach “ITF Taekwon-Do” however, it is really “Juche Taekwon-Do” 주체태권도/主體跆拳道  and this is evident any time you see Taekwon-Do in North Korean medial, print or even commemorative coins and stamps!


The “Kukkiwon” of DPRK the Taekwon-Do Palace

Over the next series of weeks, we will publish first hand accounts of training, money raising, technical standards and other means used by instructors from the DPRK that you, the reader can judge for yourselves if the DPRK style instructors are teaching Taekwon-Do or are they furthering themselves, and or the DPRK regime.

Posted in General Martial Arts, Kido Kwan, Korean Studies & History, Taekwon-Do (ChangHon) aka ITF | Leave a comment

A Glimpse into TaeKwon-Do and Geo-Political Intrigue

          BY GWEN F. HALL

 The recent flap over funds collected by one of the three [ITF’s ®] for Black Belt promotion fees finding their way into North Korea’s treasury coffers is one more example of the Geo-Political intrigue surrounding Tae Kwon-Do’s history since its inception. Such intrigue is nothing new….a sad thing to admit.  A major reason Gen. Choi, Hong Hi ended up making Canada the headquarters of the original ITF was due to Geo-Political intrigue.


Officials board, author is center left

My entry into the original ITF® was in December 1972 as a second Dan and I received my certification as an independent national association in December 1976 with the ITF® Membership/Dojang plaque number 130. I remember sitting at a promotion celebration banquet table listening to a conversation between the General and a couple of other senior instructors where the topic was how the ITF® headquarters ended up in Canada (1972-1983).

Gen.Choi_Gwen Hall_12July1981_F - Copy

Author with General Choi prior to the championships

I gleaned a valuable perspective from that conversation which can best be summed up in a very critical sentence in that dialogue.  It was something to this effect “Tae Kwon-Do Black Belt Certifications are not for any country to control ; it is for the knowledgeable masters to appoint based only on standards of knowledge, skills and contribution to the Art: any people with the ability to learn and perform the art can become masters and no single countries government should control it.”

He also commented that Tae Kwon-Do should be for every nation and people no matter their political affiliation. He felt a person should not be denied the opportunity to learn TKD just because they live under a communist regime.

Author with Mr Sabree student "Veeji" performing Step Sparring for a small crowd

Author with Mr Sabree student Vishy Dadsetan performing Step Sparring for a small crowd


The emphatic nature with which the General expressed those statements glued to my memory. I learned soon thereafter that the reason General Choi was in Canada was because he would not agree to the South Korean government controlling any part of the Art’s furtherance, belt rankings, school authorization nor in any aspect including that TKD should be learned in communist countries. These were very hot issues between him and the South Korean leadership during the formative years of the ITF, even though the ROK 29th Infantry Division was where Tae Kwon-Do was refined and brought to maturity.


The author judging (far right) performance of  Gae Beak Tul with nearly NO audience participation


The warming up the black belt competiors

The upshot was that the General became “persona non grata” for his refusal to turn ITF management in any form over to them and his belief that Tae Kwon-Do was for every nation. The result was his relocation to Canada and pressure being placed on many of the original Korean Masters of the Art to abdicate from the General under threats toward their family members in South Korea. Many of them caved to the pressure and the outcome was South Korea forming its own organization – the WTF – with different patterns and training / school requirements

I understood the General believed the temptation for a country to use Tae Kwon-Do’s advancement and Black Belt Rank Certification as a geo-political instrument to further that countries political and international interests and agenda was very real. Such a usage or even implication of usage violated all purposes of not only the Art but also its leadership principals and responsibilities. Ergo, when General Choi would not agree to any South Korean involvement in the furtherance of Tae Kwon-Do and ITF management or operations, he was ousted and basically told to “never come back or else…”


Master Hall (L) December 2012

Thus began his lifelong saga to build the ITF without relinquishing any of its management over to any geo-political entity or country. His stand to keep the original ITF untarnished by such control and to keep such intrigue at bay while working to build the ITF and the art – his Chang Hon System – required his total energy.

This stance cost him personally and nationally. Accusations of communist influence dogged the ITF, especially in the early 1980’s, due in part, to a misunderstanding of the Generals heartfelt interest in reuniting his divided country. I remember being contacted by one Tae Kwon-Do group advising me to leave the ITF because “the General is a communist and being associated with him is bad”. Because of my military duties at the time and my security clearance level, I sought clarification on this subject from certain federal investigative bodies. I was given assurances that my affiliation and participation with the ITF was okay and not to be concerned.

1981 Cover

Cover for the 1981 USA Taekwon-Do Championships

1981 Directors

In side page of tournament booklet

At times this incapacity of individuals and groups to separate the Generals desire for a united Korea from his operation of the ITF became very volatile. A case in point was the verbal assaults hurled at General Choi and the heated demonstration against his attendance at the 1981 USA Tae Kwon-Do Championships held in the Chicago region for the selection of the USA team to attend the Internationals. The demonstration nearly shut the tournament down. The entire event took place in a huge stadium all but void of spectators who were unable to get past the picketers. I remember performing Kae Baek Tul, one step sparring and self defense to almost empty grandstands. The attendance was so low that the tournament host and organizer  “lost his shirt” financially due to this geo-political intrigue. He had only taken on the task because no one else wanted it and it resulted in several lean years for his Tae Kwon-Do school while he worked to pay off the debt he incurred hosting the event.

Other aspects of the Art and organization were also plagued with such intrigue. Jockeying for recognition and leadership supremacy among some IOC’s and the ITF was an ongoing exercise among various senior instructors. The efforts to maintain organizational integrity amid this morass was constant and electric.

The perpetual struggle eventually ended for the General with his death his never having seen his country united. He managed to keep the ITF organization from under any countries influence up until he allowed the removal of Ko Dang Tul from the requirements to be replaced by Juche in order to gain financial support for the ITF from North Korea. The North Korean government required the change. The reason was because Ko Dang commemorated the heroic patriot Cho, Man-Sik who opposed communism as a governmental approach. He did not believe it was good for his people. For his stand Ko Dang was executed at the behest of North Korean Dictator Kim Il Sung.

1981 Gen. Choi

General Choi bio and endorsement page

Kim, Il Sung approved of and was somewhat involved in the making of Juche which epitomizes the state sponsored ideology of North Korea; ie, human self determination – a principle that man is in charge of his destiny  – namely what was Kim, Il Sungs idea of his destiny. Kim, Il Sung did not want Cho, Man-Sik to be remembered or recognized as the patriot he was. If General Choi wanted North Koreas’ financial and governmental support, the sacrifice required by Kim was Ko Dang; ie, geo-political intrigue. In essence the General sadly and finally succumbed to passion before principle.

1981 Sabree

This was the championship that Master Hall (author) and then Mr. Sallah Sabree (4th degree) met and became life long friends.

That pattern change is still causing tides of intrigue. The removal of Ko Dang Tul for Juche Tul has now morphed into renaming the Juche Tul calling it Ko Dang in order to keep the original pattern name in the sequence of 24. This error is as bad as the first from the historical validity stand point. The philosophical meanings in the two Tul are very different as are the technique sequences.  Such meanings are a significant component of patterns. In one aspect it is those philosophical and historical meanings in patterns that help set Martial Arts apart from boxing and wrestling.

The confusion now being created by re-naming Juche calling it Ko Dang means the truth behind the two patterns meanings in diagram and history will be lost sooner than later.

If a school instructor desires to remain honest and uphold the tenet of integrity, then Ko Dang must be taught as Ko Dang with its true pattern diagram and historical significance being honored. The same goes for Juche – teach each one as it is – don’t mix them up and hodgepodge history and significance.

Master Hall (then a 4th degree) page inside the tournament booklet

Master Hall (then a 4th degree) page inside the tournament booklet.  And personally signed by Gen. Choi!

With all this being said, during the Generals tenure masters emerged from all nationalities and the ITF increased worldwide. The organization and art grew for decades until his death and the unexpected death of Grand Master Park, Jung Tae the Generals appointed successor – an appointment itself fraught with intrigue and family disunity.

The following fracture of the ITF resulting in at least three separate groups all claiming to be the legitimate “ITF” would cause to General to “turn over in his grave” if it were possible.  That fracture exemplifies misguided personal agenda and political intrigue. The failure to put their personal considerations and agendas aside in order to rebuild what had been the premier Tae Kwon-Do organization, contributed to my affiliation with another Chang Hon Tae Kwon-Do organization that exhibits the spirit and principles of the original ITF tenets. This organization meets my personal Martial Art principles and the spirit of “Pil Sung”  I learned from my first Korean instructor Master Eun, Sang Ki back in 1967. I will keep hoping the current [ITF’s®] will one day end their “Mexican Standoff” and rebuild the ITF. It’s not that hard if they really want to do it.


Tournament Official ID Badge

Geo-political intrigue, personal political ambitions and financial chicanery lace some Martial Art organizations. To receive any Black Belt rank in them is as simple as paying X amount of money for X rank Black Belt.

The Martial Art organizations working to remain disentangled from these cancers are the ones Martial Artists will seek to join in order to further their technical growth and mental / spiritual development. These organizations are identifiable by their technical skill, spiritual development, Art knowledge and ancestral standards firmly rooted in the principles that all rank advancement, not just Black Belt ranking, must not be bought; rather must be attained and recognized by technical skill, understanding / knowledge and Art Maturity / spiritual attainment presentation and documentation.  Exorbitant fees are not charged no matter the rank being sought for promotion. They hold equally expected standards for all their affiliate members and monitor those affiliates goals and actions to maintain irreproachability.

Instructors, Masters, Kwan leaders and Hoc Sang can all strive to prevent political intrigue – personal or geo, financial misuse, lack of integrity and lack of equity in their own personal venue of influence. If they all pursue those objectives, then Martial Art schools and organizations can be places of sanctuary for personal integrity development, Martial Art skill, knowledge attainment and their overall chosen Martial Arts advancement both personally and organizationally.

Pil Sung

Gwen F. Hall, Sah Hyung

Posted in General Martial Arts, Kido Kwan, Taekwon-Do (ChangHon) aka ITF | Leave a comment

Respecting the Past and Martial Art Legacy




            I began Martial Arts training in 1963 while a college student at the University of Kansas. The art was an Okinawan Karate style and upon graduation from college in March 1967 and moving to Chicago for employment at the Field Museum of Natural History, I looked for a Karate school to continue training. Not finding one like my style, I realized I would have to begin again in a new art. This search lead me to Master Eun, Sang Ki’s Do Jang at 6443 N. Sheridan Road.

            His school was on the second floor of a long building in what had once been a dance hall during the prohibition era. The school’s name, “Korean Karate Institute”, intrigued me and upon watching a class I decided I liked his techniques and dedicated teaching method better than the other schools I had visited. I also viewed his art as possibly more effective than what I had previously learned. Mr. Eun’s art was very different than what I had trained at college and included lots of high powerful kicks and what I believe to be more powerful hand techniques.  There were no women in the class at that time – just like at my college Okinawan Karate Do class. He welcomed me and I began my one month probationary training to change how I performed all of my techniques and learn all his requirements to keep my rank of 3rd class Brown Belt – 3rd Kyu in Japanese, 3rd Gup in Korean.

            To say I “lived” in the Do Jang is almost a true statement. I had to learn Korean terminology, change how I executed punches and blocks, learn new stances, how I stepped into stances, many new kicks and his system of Hyungs ( Forms ). This was during the mid to late 1960’s and the Chang Han patterns and terminology was not yet on the scene; ergo, the word Hyung rather than Tul ( patterns ).

            The Hyung system was called Ki Bon Il thru Oh ( Basic forms 1-5 ); Pyung Ahn Cho Dahn – Advance Form #1; Pyung Ahn E Dahn – Advance Form #2; Pyung Ahn Sahm Dahn – Advance Form #3; Pyung Ahn Sah Dahn – Advance Form #4,; Pyung Ahn Oh Dahn – Advance Form #5 and Chul Ki Cho Dahn, Chul ki E Dahn, and Bassai as a Black Belt.

            I also had to learn how to kick a heavy bag, including jumping over a bamboo pole while making a flying side kick as well as how to punch a padded pole.

             It was all very different and I loved every second of it. I passed the one month test and was also promoted to 2nd Gup. On 10 December 1967 I tested for and was promoted to 1st Gup Brown Belt. The Red Belt was not commonly used at that time as a grade or class rank color. On 9 October 1968 I tested for and was promoted to 1st Dan Black Belt, my certificate written in all Chinese (formal Korean ) conji and signed by Master Lee, Dong Joo and Mr. Eun.

            One Saturday afternoon, after class, I asked Mr. Eun the exact name of the “Korean Karate” style we were training and how it related to the words Tae Kwon Do on my Black Belt Certificate and on our class study pamphlet.  His face brightened and he explained that he wasn’t often asked that question.

            His answer was that the term “Korean Karate” was used because not many people would understand Korean words. USA people were somewhat familiar with the word ‘Karate’ and had a rough idea about it, but, that no one would know what our Art’s exact name – Kang Moo Kwan – or the general term Tae Kwon Do meant or even recognize them as a martial art.  “Everybody has heard about ‘Karate,’ but not Korean Arts, even U-Do.  They know ‘Judo’ and ‘Karate’ -Japanese words, not U-Do, Kang Moo Kwan and Tae Kwon Do – Korean words.  Maybe someday they will know.”

            The term Tae Kwon Do was used then as a general term to describe Korean kicking and punching methods.  Generally, at that time, the Arts people trained had specific names, i.e., Tang Soo Do, Moo Duk Kwon, Ji Do Kwon, Chang Mu Kwan and in our case – Kang Moo Kwan, my Korean Martial Art foundation stone and legacy.

            As I remember Mr. Eun’s account regarding Kang Moo Kwan, when Japans occupation of Korea began during 1905-1906, the practice of Korean Martial arts was forbidden under penalty of death. So, since Martial Arts training was not forbidden in Japan many of the Korean Masters migrated to Japan and continued training their arts. Over the decades their arts became influenced in various aspects by the different Japanese and Okinawan Arts movement systems thus affecting some technique execution methods. This can still be seen today.

            During the same period, a small group of Korean Masters chose to hide out in secluded areas and mountainous terrain of Korea rather than moving to Japan and continued their arts in secret. According to this account, the practioners of Kang Moo Kwan were among those that remained in Korea and existed prior to the end of Japanese occupation at the conclusion of

WW II. As such, Kang Moo Kwan was not affected by the various Japanese / Okinawan Arts body movement systems.

            Learning this helped me grasp the reason the movement method I learned in college was so very different from what I was learning from Mr. Eun. The way the two arts executed all of the blocks and punches, moved their feet in stance changing and the new techniques I learned from Mr. Eun that I had never seen before were obviously from different roots. The body movement systems required to execute the techniques were extremely different. The Art of GoJu-Ryu  / Shorai Kang school I trained in college moved in small circular motions, executed blocks close in, returned the punching arm to a high position close to the arm pit, and moved in staccato, short distance application. There were no high kicks or the variety of kicks. The kicks used were short and snapped at the knee.

            In contrast, Mr. Eun’s blocks were broad, large and flowing and the punching arms returned to belt level.  His favorite expression was “block in his space (referring to the opponent), fight the war in his country – not yours.”  His stances flowed naturally, not in a circular step and the action of changing from one stance to another flowed smoothly yet purposefully with the stepping motion adding power to the technique performed. The kicks used the hips, were long – fully extending the legs, not short and they were high, did not adversely affect the knees and included jumping or skipping. In summary, there was no comparison in the two Arts – only contrast. There was no trace of Japanese or Okinawan influence that I could see in any of the Art’s movements or techniques that I was learning from Mr. Eun.

            He also commented that there was a related Art to Kang Moo Kwan – Chan Do Kwan – which was a group formed after a disagreement in leadership thus causing two groups – Kang Moo Kwan and Chang Do Kwan. A close Tae Kwon Do Master friend of mine learned the story from another point of view – that Kang Moo Kwan came out of Chang Do Kwan.

            In any event, the small group of Kang Moo Kwan Masters, according to Mr. Eun, never went to Japan and continued training quietly during the Japanese occupation of Korea.  Mr. Eun trained that Art and was passing it along to us. My experience in the stark difference between Kang Moo Kwan and the Okinawan Art I learned in college then made sense and verified for me such a historical account.

            In January 1972 I was promoted to 2nd Dan under Mr. Eun in what was then the American Tae Kwon Do Federation.

            During that entire period from May 1967 through October 1972 we trained the specific Art of Kang Moo Kwan practicing the previously named forms – Hyungs.  Then, somewhere around October 1972, the Art specifically named TAEKWON-DO, practicing an entirely new set of now called “Patterns” (Tul) as opposed to “forms” (Hyung), rather suddenly appeared on the scene.  There were meetings among the various school directors and instructors in the mid-west region.  They voted to join the new organization and we (the color and lower black belts) were told every school had to change to new forms to now be called Patterns (Tul) named Chang Han style.  We were to all be tested in December 1972 for every school’s entrance into this new International System called ITF – International Taekwon-Do Federation – lead by a South Korean General named Choi, Hong Hi.

            I had joined the Navy in late 1971 and in December 1972 I was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center where I was conducting classes for Mr. Eun in the upstairs area of a building called Gym 500 during the evenings.  His main school was in Rockford, Illinois a couple of hours drive from the Navy Base which is situated on Lake Michigan north of Chicago.

            Like all of Mr Eun’s Black Belts and all the other instructors Black Belts, I was given a very short time to learn all the “General’s patterns” required to keep my 2nd Degree Black Belt rank in this new organization – the ITF.

            Mr. Eun explained that this was the wave of the future for Korean Martial Arts and that everybody was joining; he said the patterns were more vivid and more developed in technique sequencing.  No longer were we training the Art of Kang Moo Kwan:  now it was the Art of Taekwon-Do.  So, I worked day and night to learn my new requirements – Chon Ji through and including Gae Beck.  In December 1972 we all tested before General Choi and several other new Koreans to maintain our ranks.  The testing was held at Mr. Eun’s Do Jang in Rockford, Illinois and was attended by schools from all around the Chicago – Indianapolis mid-west region. 

            My testing was successful; my ITF 2nd Dan Black Belt dated 16 December 1972 was approved, the ITF was firmly planted in our area of the mid-west and Kang Moo Kwan (one of the smallest Kwans) as an identifiably named Korean Martial Art became a part of history, but not a legacy to be forgotten.

            Its movement dynamics – or way the body performs hand and feet techniques – can still be recognized and identified by some students of technique movement mechanics history.

            Persons trained in the Kang Moo Kwan linage now practice the Chang Han Tul system yet their movement methods – large, broad blocking techniques, full body hand attacking motions, extensive high kicking technique preparation training and approach to entire body conditioning for powerful hand and feet techniques, body flexibility and over all technique fluidity – are observably Kang Moo Kwan in nature and application.

            Mr. Eun used to say “Kang Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do makes a small person big and big person fast.”

            My close Master Martial Artist friend has referred to me as a “time capsule” and through my graded and black belt students,  Kang Moo Kwan, as a technique execution method and training approach regime, still lives and as such includes a few techniques not seen nor performed in the Chang Han Patterns.

            My training and instruction approach is modeled after my student experiences under Master Eun, Sang Ki and Master Lee, Jong Moon, a fellow and later the instructor at Mr. Eun’s Do Jang in Rockford, Illinois.  I use Mr. Eun’s stories, told us as training inspiration aids, and follow his approach to instruction.  I meld these with his technique execution and Mr. Lee’s methods of body conditioning and technique development to the Pil Sung philosophy taught by Mr. Eun to inspire and sustain my own training and that which I give to my Hoc Sang (students).  Though the Art I now practice and teach is Chang Han style pattern Taekwon-Do, Kang Moo Kwan roots are very apparent in my pedagogy.  It has always been my goal to pass along the dedication to the Kang Moo Kwan Martial Art method and instruction approach that I learned from Mr. Eun back in the mid to late 60’s and early 70’s.  I pursue daily the dedication to Martial Art training and growth he passed to me over 46 years ago.

            To my knowledge, those who remember or even know of Kang Moo Kwan are few and far between.  When Mr. Eun was telling me about our Art, he penciled the Korean Conji for Kang Moo Kwan on the back of one of his business cards and wrote the translation – Kang = Teaching, Moo = Martial Art, Kwan = Institute.  I still have that card.  At the time (1968) this amount of information was sufficient.  Today, I wish I had asked him more, asked him about his instructor’s instructor, and a little about them.

            That was then:  now that knowledge may forever be lost, unless by chance, there is another descendant of Kang Moo Kwan out there who perhaps trained under one of Mr. Eun’s fellow classmates when they were both students and who also became an instructor leaving the Kang Moo Kwan legacy in another ‘time capsule’ like myself.  If so, I would like to meet them and compare notes about the history of our Kang Moo Kwan roots.

            All of Martial Art style history is interesting, unique and needs to be protected from being forgotten. Mr. Eun once said “A tiger leaves his skin, a man leaves his name, one either of Honor or Dishonor”. A Martial Artists name is inevitably entwined in what and how he trains and teaches, either in honor or dishonor. Martial Art honor involves respecting the past; ie, learning and sharing an arts knowledge, skills and history. Practioners need to know from where their particular Martial Art method came and preserve the knowledge of those roots for strength, depth and endurance.  To that end is the purpose of this article.  Much of Martial Art history, in general, is not being passed down.  I encourage any fellow Martial Art practioners from 10th Gup to 9th Dan to dig into your past and learn the history of your Martial Art foundation stones. Keep that knowledge alive. Respect it by being sure of passing that legacy to your Martial Art progeny.  


Pil Sung

Senior Master, Gwen F. Hall (Sah Hyung)

Posted in General Martial Arts, Kido Kwan, Taekwon-Do (ChangHon) aka ITF | Leave a comment

Martial art taekwondo pioneers and promoters

By Andrew Salmon

Jhoon Rhee, left, Choi Hong-hi, center, and Kim Un-yong are three of the key figures who have taught, developed and marketed Korea’s most successful non-industrial export — martial art taekownndo — to the world. / Korea Times

By Andrew Salmon

Students at the University of Texas sport hall looked on as a wiry, barefoot Asian man, dressed in what looked like white pajamas, secured with a strip of black cloth, strode the length of the hall, punching the air and kicking above his head. Then he raised his knee, yelled, and kicked out at one of the gymnasium’s 40-foot-high wooden beams.

The veneer in the wood cracked all the way to the ceiling.

Astonished, the students watched intently as the little man called out members of the university football team to demonstrate on. Each — and he chose only the largest — was disposed of with the kind of fighting technique few Americans in the early 1960s had ever seen.

The man’s name was Jhoon Rhee. A recently retired major from the South Korean army who had emigrated to the United States in 1959, he was one of the first masters to demonstrate a martial art called “the way of foot and fist” — or in Korean, “taekwondo.”

As names, Jhoon Rhee, Choi Hong-hi and Kim Un-yong are not nearly as recognizable as those of the presidents, revolutionaries, chairmen, generals and sportspersons who have populated this column thus far, but they have been greatly influential in the international space, for they are three of the key figures who have taught, developed and marketed Korea’s most successful non-industrial export to the world.

Martial art is born 

Oddly, this most Korean activity has Japanese antecedents. By the mid-20th century, Korea’s traditional martial art, taekkyun — a folk sport frequently practiced alongside ssireum, or traditional Korean wrestling — was within one practitioner of extinction.

However, during the 1910-1945 colonial era, a number of Koreans had studied Japanese karate — itself, originally an Okinawan import. The most famous of these men, Choi Bae-dal changed his name to Oyama Masutatsu and remained in Japan, where he founded the famous Kyokushin system of karate.

But others taught in Korea, in their schools, or “kwan.” The arts practiced within were variously named kongsudo, taesudo and tangsoodo. It has been claimed by some that there was influence from traditional Korean styles, but the last living taekkyun master, Song Duk-ki, had no relationship with any of the original kwan. The masters of all had studied karate (though one had also studied kung fu) and the material taught was identical to karate in terms of uniforms, training methods and techniques

After the Korean War, the major kwan expanded to nine and in 1955, they met under the headship of Gen. Choi Hong-hi, who had instituted martial arts practice in military training, and agreed to coalesce under a new name suggested by Choi: “taekwondo.”

Taekwondo had government backing, but its Japanese origins did not sit well with a people who harbored sour memories of harsh colonial rule. So taekwondo was Koreanized: local terminology was adopted, a code of conduct written and the national flag emblazoned across uniforms and training halls. A long history was tacked on to the art, tracing taekwondo to the near-mythical warriors of the Goguryeo and Silla Kingdoms, while making little or no reference to Japanese influence. But taekwondo’s technical development would lead it far from its Japanese roots.

Taekwondo takes off

Korean firms won global success not for creativity, but for effective manufacturing and incremental innovation, i.e., starting as copycat makers, then moving up the value chain by tweaking and improving products here and there — a faster semiconductor, a thinner LED screen, etc. So it would be with taekwondo.

From the late 1960s onward, taekwondo began to change. Either consciously or unconsciously, taekwondo began to mirror taekkyun (which Choi, who had not founded one of the first kwan, had studied prior to learning karate) in its emphasis on kicks. Taekwondo masters developed a wide range of powerful thrusting, spinning and jumping kicks. And Koreans pioneered full-contact fighting competitions — a development rejected by Japanese karate organizations, who believed, erroneously, that their skills were too deadly to use full-force. (The only Japanese school which promoted full contact was led by the Korean, Choi/Oyama.) In light of combat experience, changes were made to both training methods and techniques. Taekwondo began to move from a martial art to a combat sport.

On the “mass manufacturing” front, moves were scientifically broken down into easily teachable segments and the solo forms of taekwondo — set sequences of linked moves — were simplified, enabling a single instructor to lead a class of dozens, even hundreds, of practitioners. This enabled systemization of the grading process, which, in turn, eased organizational management and oversight.

As these developments were underway, Koreans were heavily engaged in the Vietnam War. While Korean troops in the Korean War had often been poorly equipped and poorly led, in Vietnam, the “ROKs” proved tough and brutally effective, winning the respect of their American allies. All were trained in taekwondo, and soon they were teaching the art to their allies. The art’s internationalization had begun and as the Vietnam War came to its conclusion, a martial arts boom was surging across the United States.


While U.S. troops in Japan and Okinawa studied karate, GIs in Vietnam and Korea studied taekwondo. But Tokyo was pushing Japanese judo, not Okinawan karate as a global sport, while Seoul promoted taekwondo through the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), founded in 1966 under Choi’s headship. Under this program, instructors were dispatched abroad to promote the newly organized and rapidly sportifying art.

Choi himself fell afoul of Korea’s then-violent politics. In 1966, he reportedly visited North Korea, where he would subsequently introduce taekwondo. That was a standout moment in a series of events that remain murky to this day, but which include a long-simmering dispute between Choi and President Park Chung-hee. These events would lead Choi to leave South Korea and re-establishing the ITF under his own leadership on neutral ground — Canada — in 1972. (Even murkier events would follow: Choi’s son, Choi Jung-hwa, would later sensationally state that North Korea had hired taekwondo experts to kill President Chun Doo-hwan in the 1980s.)

To replace the ITF, the WTF, or World Taekwondo Federation, was founded in Seoul. To this day, the two organizations represent the North and South Korean versions of the martial art: the former remains the martial art Choi codified, the latter, a more sportified version. In today’s WTF, Choi’s role in taekwondo’s development and promotion has been heavily airbrushed.

However, it seems that the split between the two organizations may have furthered the internationalization of the art, as the two rival bodies competed to win national converts.

Regardless of their affiliation, many Koreans who instructed abroad, including early pioneers such as Rhee, found an eager international audience awaiting them, offering a far better living abroad than at home. Nowhere was this more true than in the United States.

Coming to America

In the early 1970s, Asian martial arts entered the Western world’s cultural mainstream thanks to the chop-socky thrillers of Bruce Lee and David Carradine’s “Kung Fu” television show. Although both Lee and Carradine espoused Chinese martial arts, kung fu teachers in the West were secretive, split between scores of different (and often esoteric) sub-styles, and lacked an overall organizational body.

The Koreans, on the other hand, were organized, visible, hard-working and more than willing to teach the Western public. In addition to their fearsome post-Vietnam War reputation as the “Prussians of Asia,” avuncular masters like Rhee promoted their art as a useful disciplinary and educational endeavor for children. And Korean taekwondo, with its arsenal of high, spinning and jumping kicks, was perfectly placed to catch the eye of a public for whom “Asian martial arts” tended to mean “high kicking.”

Soon, almost every American town had a taekwondo studio in its mall or main street, and martial artists nation- and soon world-wide either learned taekwondo or borrowed its kicks, which became popular weapons at cross-style martial arts tourneys.

Bruce Lee and Jhoon Rhee became friends and exchanged techniques; Rhee reportedly taught Lee high kicks, while Lee taught Rhee his hand techniques. That relationship paved the way for Rhee’s starring role in a forgettable auctioneer “When Taekwondo Strikes” (1973). Rhee (wisely) decided not to pursue a film career and stuck to teaching, though he did create an iconic TV ad, featuring a cute little girl and the strap line “Nobody Bothers Me!”

In 1973, Bruce Lee died. With martial arts movies storming global box offices, the question was who would fill his shoes. It fell to a Korean stylist to become the next global martial arts superstar: Chuck Norris, an all-American martial arts champion who had learned his kicks while stationed at Osan Airbase. Battling drug dealers, Viet Cong and terrorists, Norris emblazoned Korean kicks across popular culture.

To look again at taekwondo in business terms: the U.S. led global trends and success there enabled success anywhere. Taekwondo went global, disseminated by hard-working expatriate teams of Korean instructors, dispatched by the head office in Seoul, the global brand headquarters. But there was one multinational marketing platform for taekwondo still to capture: the Olympics.

Into Olympic Games 

Perhaps the defining moment that South Korea emerged onto the world stage was in 1988 as the host of the Summer Olympics. The standout scene of the opening ceremony was a mass display of taekwondo choreography; the art was also a demonstration sport in 1988. This achievement would largely be laid at the door of Kim Un-yong, the WTF head.

Unlike the ITF’s Choi, Kim was not a taekwondo practitioner himself, but a sports politician. The ITF and WTF promoted separate world championships in 1973 — the ITF in Montreal, the WTF in Seoul — but it was the WTF, with the backing of South Korea that had begun to draw ahead in the competition between the two governing bodies.

Kim, who would leapfrog from WTF head to vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), successfully lobbied to have WTF taekwondo included in the 1984 Asian Games, then the 1988 Summer Olympics, where it was a demonstration sport in Seoul. In 2000, it became a full medal sport in Sydney.

Kim himself did not reap the rewards of WTF success. In 1999, he received a “severe warning” from the IOC for securing jobs for his children. In 2004, he was arrested in Korea on charges of corruption and embezzlement, following the failure of PyeongChangWinter Olympics bid: he was accused of sacrificing PyeongChang to solidify his own position inside the IOC. He was jailed for two years and expelled from the IOC. It was a dramatic plunge for a man who had so successfully led the WTF, under which organization taekwondo became perhaps the world’s most popular martial art.

Tomorrow’s challenges

Taekwondo of the 21st century, like its Asian cousins karate and kung fu, is facing a new challenge in the global arena. Mixed martial arts competition, or MMA, has proven a massive hit with global television audiences, making it the first combat sport since pro boxing to succeed as mass entertainment.

Moreover, the broad technical range and “no-holds-barred” rule-set of MMA arguably makes it more effective as a fighting system than style-specific martial arts such as judo, taekwondo, karate and kung fu, none of which have won significant audiences beyond their own circles of practitioners. How Asian martial arts will be impacted by MMA in the long-term remains unclear.

Although the current WTF president, the respected academic Dr. Choue Chung-won, eagerly promotes the art’s internationalization — he once noted his pleasure at seeing a demonstration mixing taekwondo and tango — South Korean flags continue to be saluted in taekwondo training halls and sewn on taekwondo uniforms worldwide. It is hard to think of another Olympic sport that so closely binds itself to its country of origin.

And at home, its catchment pool may be dwindling. In the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, Korean taekwondo practitioners were hardcore martial artists in an era when few other extra-curricular activities were available. As growing prosperity makes young Koreans less hardy, ever-increasing leisure options create competition for martial arts.

Today, outside the military PT curriculum and pro-athletic training at sports universities, Korean taekwondo is almost exclusively the province of children. And with regular grade tests being taken by thousands, the once-vaunted black belt has lost its mystique.

Moreover, as of this November, Korea’s Cultural Heritage Committee has recommended taekkyun be listed as a UNESCO living cultural heritage. In a truly remarkable renaissance, the ancient martial art survived Song’s death in 1987. His students oversaw the art surging in popularity in the 1990s, mainly on university campuses. Today, even to the layman’s eyes, it is easy to distinguish between it and taekwondo. An official designation recognizing taekkyun, not taekwondo, as Korea’s traditional martial art, drives a further nail into the latter’s dubious history.

So taekwondo stands at a crossroads. Will it secure a full-time Olympic slot or not? Is it a martial art for adults, a combat sport for athletes, or an educational activity for children? Is it traditional or modern? Is it Korean or international?

Arguably, it is now deep and broad enough to be all the above, for the art’s astonishing global popularization mirrors Korea’s astonishing national ascent — the greatest national success story of the 20th century. However — like the peninsula — it remains divided among different governing bodies, with their own forms and competitive systems.

So what of Choi, Kim and Rhee?

Choi died in 2002 in Pyongyang, where he received a state funeral. He stated that he had taught the art regardless of ideology or nationality, but his ITF has splintered, leaving the WTF dominant. Even so, due to his influence on, and naming of the art, he is widely honored as “the father of taekwondo.”

Kim served his jail term, but never recovered his positions; his role in WTF taekwondo’s global success has largely been superseded by his personal disgrace.According to his website, he is today taking advisory roles in Korean sports organizations

Rhee, now in his 80s, never swerved toward movies or politics, but continues teaching taekwondo, including on Capitol Hill. An icon of physical fitness, he is so respected among America’s elite that, in 2000, he was named alongside Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein as one of the nation’s “most notable immigrants.”

Despite its political vicissitudes, the martial art these men taught, developed and marketed is an icon of modern Korea. Like kimchi, taekwondo is one of a handful of Korean words spoken and recognized worldwide.

Posted in General Martial Arts, Kido Kwan, Korean Studies & History, Taekwon-Do (ChangHon) aka ITF | Leave a comment

Highest-ranked female judo master dies at age 99 in San Francisco

By Alex Dobuzinskis (original post here)

Suggested for publication by Master Rick Balkin, Vice-Director KIDO KWAN

Keiko Fukuda 1962

Keiko Fukuda 1962

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Keiko Fukuda, the Japanese-born granddaughter of a samurai who learned judo from its founder and became the highest-ranked woman in the martial art, has died at age 99 in San Francisco, her friend and caregiver said on Saturday.


Keiko Fukuda 2011

Fukuda passed away of natural causes at her home on February 9, said Shelley Fernandez, 82, who lived with Fukuda, helped her run the Soko Joshi Judo Club for women in San Francisco and referred to the woman as her adopted older sister.

Standing only 4 foot 10 inches tall, Fukuda ventured into the fire-bombed streets of her native Tokyoduring World War Two to reach the dojo where she taught classes.

Fukoda continued to do judo exercises into her 90s, but used a wheelchair in her final years. At her dojo, she sat in a chair as her assistant teachers worked with students, and would chime in with instructions, Fernandez said.

“Up until the last, she was very lucid and she never forgot any judo techniques – ever,” said Fernandez, who added that Fukuda taught at the school three times a week until she died.

In July 2011, USA Judo conferred on Fukuda the rank of “10th dan,” the highest level of mastery possible in the martial art. She was the only woman in the world and the only person in the United States to ever achieve that status.

Only three others hold that title, and they are all men who received the promotion from the Kodokan Institute in Tokyo, which is considered the headquarters for the sport.

The Kodokan promoted Fukuda to “9th dan” in 2006, five years after she received that rank from the U.S.-based branch of judo. The same year the Kodokan promoted her, it vaulted the three current male holders of “10th dan” to that level.


Fukuda was born in Tokyo on April 12, 1913, into an upper-class family. Her grandfather was a samurai master of jujitsu who taught the martial art to Jigoro Kano, who went on to create judo. When Fukuda was 21, Kano invited her to join a women’s division at the Kodokan.

As a woman, Fukuda had been expected to marry and devote herself to such home-based arts as the Japanese tea ceremony, but instead she gave herself over to judo. The decision was chronicled in a documentary film about her life called “Mrs. Judo” that has been on the festival circuit in recent months.

“That was my marriage,” a tearful Fukuda said in Japanese in the film. “I chose judo over marriage. I never imagined I would live so long with this.”

Female judo teachers in Japan were not allowed to marry, and Fukuda did not want to give up the sport, Fernandez said.

In another restriction placed on Fukuda because of her gender, she was barred from competing on the mat against an opponent, Fernandez said. But she demonstrated judo techniques with a partner at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the year judo was introduced as an Olympic sport.

Fukuda came to the United States in 1966 and became a U.S. citizen six years later, founding her San Francisco-based school around 1970. Her motto for herself and those she taught was, “Be strong, be gentle, be beautiful.”

“Judo, it’s not just a sport, it’s a mental, physical and spiritual centering of your life, and it’s an art and a science as well, and her life was totally in balance,” Fernandez said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Todd Eastham)

Posted in General Martial Arts, Kido Kwan | Leave a comment