General Choi Hong Hi is truly a pioneer, a major component in tae kwon do’s establishment as a universal martial art and sport. Born in 1918 in South Korea (this is inaccurate). General Choi is the last living founder of a widely recognized and worldly martial art, and remains full of energy and vitality.
Not only has General Choi Hong Hi been credited as founder and president of the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), but without question, General Choi founded the name and system of tae kwon do, and presented it before a convening board of historians, politicians and martial artists 40 years ago. With little opposition or debate, it was accepted and christened as Korea’s martial art and self-defense method which would be spread throughout the vast regions of the world. With this, General Choi must be recognized for his labors that have benefited and touched so many.
At the same time, all who have played an instrumental role in tae kwon do’s evolution should be recognized. We must seek to remain objective and throughly understand the origin and lineage of tae kwon do by continuing to improve and build upon it. The new generation of pioneers includes such names as James Benko and Chuck Sereff, as well as such notable tae kwon do sports figures as Herbert Perez, Dana Hee and Jimmy Kim. Some make their mark as sports figures, others as martial artist. Since its inception, tae kwon do and many of its practitioners have achieved much success. Perhaps General Choi passes his torch on to others, one day his dream will come true-that tae kwon do “will spread to the moon and stars.”
On February 4, 1995 during a three day seminar in Santa Barbara, California which attracted martial artists from across the globe, General Choi granted only one interview – that which follows. I asked questions which many martial arts practitioners have always wondered about, and was able to tap into his innermost ideologies and grasp the various concepts and principles upon which tae kwon do is based. Truly, this was a historical event. by Robert Ferguson
RF: Mr. Robert Wheatley [Region 1 President, United States Taekwondo Federation] and Master Chuck Sereff [President, USTF] arranged my meeting with you. They’re both very kind for making this happen.
Gen. Choi: Yes, they’re both very nice. Master Sereff is an eighth degree, and the first non-Korean to be promoted to eighth degree. He has been loyal to me and the ITF SINCE 1967. He is like my son, and I love and trust him very much. People in this country [are] lucky to have such a nice instructor.
RF: You’re are given credit has having founded the name and system of tae kwon do?
Gen. Choi: Of course. I named this martial art on April 11, 1955.
RF: How long did it take you to contrive the system of tae kwon do and its principles?
Gen. Choi: I began to conduct my research in March, 1946. Day and night for nine and a half years, I researched and developed it until the end of 1954. In 1955, I named what I had designed tae kwon do. [It is based upon] power, science, mathematics and philosophy. As far as fighting is concerned, I applied military techniques.
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