Grandmaster Hwang, KwangSung was born in Taegu Korea. Taegu is the third largest city south of the 38th parallel, and is south east of Seoul and north of Busan. At the age of eleven, he started his martial arts training in Tangsoo Do (MooDuk Kwan) in Taegu. After graduating with a degree in Political Science from KyungPook National University he had to do his national service with the Republic of Korean Army as a commissioned officer (2nd Lieutenant) in 1964. Serving as a Korean Airborne and Ranger officer and serving his
country in Vietnam. He was stationed in Saigon, Chu Ly, and several others. He taught Taekwon-Do to the Korean Tiger Division, the Korean Army, the US Army and the US Marines along with the Vietnamese Army. Receiving commendation medals from Korea and Vietnam. 1970 marked the end of his national service from the ROK Army as a Captain, and Service Company Commander of the 26th Infantry Regiment ROK. Also known as the Taekwon-Do Division.
1971 marked the year Grandmaster Hwang was invited to the US and first taught a credited class at Manchester Community Technical College, and then one year later in 1972 he opened his first of many Taekwon-Do school. In 1974 Grandmaster Hwang graduated from the first International Taekwon-Do Federation Instructors course held by General Choi, HongHi in
Montréal Canada. He also graduated from the ITF Umpires course. Grandmaster Hwang also happens to be one of the first three* Grandmaster’s (9th Degree black belts) ever promoted by General Choi, HongHi. The others are Grandmaster Rhee of the UK, and Grandmaster Sereff of the US. (*There were many others, these were just the first three)
Grandmaster Hwang has served as Director of the USA Junior Taekwon-Do team every Junior World Championships since 1990 and was the 1989 and 1992 USA Senior Taekwon-Do Team Director. Grandmaster Hwang served as
special assistant to General Choi, was the Official Spokesman of the ITF, and served as Chairman of the ITF Promotion and Merger Committees. In addition, as Secretary General of the ITF for a short period after the death of Gen. Choi.
GM Hwang, Kwang-Sung is NO LONGER a member of the I.T.F. He is on his own, and issues certificates under the title of “Unified International Taekwon-Do Federation.”
Grandmaster Hwang had been a member of the I.T.F. from 1966 until 2003 however, he was not a ‘prime mover & shaker’ in the I.T.F. In the USA he was allowed to start an organization when he refused to follow the leadership of then Master Charles “Chuck” Sereff and the United States Taekwon-Do Federation®. In 1988 Gen. Choi under the understanding that more/many Korean instructors would return if then Master Hwang created an organisation called the KoreAmerican Taekwon-Do Union (K.A.T.U.) which never happened! After his promtion to I.T.F. grandmaster (K-9-1) was he given more responsibility, as he was the only Korean in all of North America that still followed Gen. Choi as all other Korean (and more senior black belts) had left the General. General Choi felt obligated to give him a position within the I.T.F. He was given the title of “Chairman of the Merger Committee” however, he was not able to promote any mergers of Taekwon-Do (I.T.F./W.T.F.) and in fact put out a public statement that was later ‘recalled’ as the W.T.F. & Kukkiwon had inidcated that they had no such talks with the I.T.F. or Grandmaster Hwang. Later he was given the title of “Assitant to Gen. Choi” which as everyone knows means “mouth piece.”
General Choi in all the years with the I.T.F. had only hosted one (1) General Choi instructors course. In contrast the other USA organisation hosted Gen. Choi dozens of times! Over the years and especially since 2006, GM Hwang has lost nearly all of his original Taekwon-Do (senior) black belts. He has since promoted people at an astronomical rate all for the greed of money. Even his most senior (direct) student had left because GM Hwang was promoting people in Taekwon-Do all for money, and taking more and more money or demanding money for his signature and so the instructor of his own children left him in 2006 after other seniors left him as well.
Grandmaster Hwang’s Promotion Dates
•It’s been reported (incorrectly) that GM Hwang was the first “Korean to be promoted to I.T.F. 9th Dan AKA Grandmaster. This is absolutely incorrect! The first (1st) Korean promoted by General Choi/I.T.F. is Grandmaster Rhee, Ki-ha of the UKTA. However, GM Hwang states that since his I.T.F. certificate is K-9-1, K indicating Korean, while GM Rhee’s is GB-9-1, however, GM Rhee was in fact promoted first. And GM Hwang refused to change his I.T.F. designation like GM Rhee had done to his ‘home’ country. GM Hwang has been in the USA since 1971 but never wanted his certificates to reflect his new home country despite that GM Rhee had done.
9th Degree K-9-1 08 Dec. 1997
8th Degree K-8-16 02 May 1987
7th Degree K-7-51 01 Nov. 1981
6th Degree K-6-107 28 April 1975
5th Degree K-5-213 06 Feb. 1971
4th Degree K-4-197 20 Jun. 1970
3rd Degree K-3-40 18 Sep. 1968
Joined ITF 1966
Joined Oh Do Kwan Taekwon-Do 1963
2nd Degree Tangsoodo 1961
1st Degree Tangsoodo 1957
Started Tangsoodo 1955
An Interview with GM Hwang (October 1995)
Q. Why did you begin martial arts training?
A. I started for survival, for self-defense and to learn to fight. When I began I didn’t understand that Martial Arts was for discipline, self-control, integrity and modesty. That was the Korean martial art of the time. Years later General Choi developed the present Taekwon-Do and it became Korea’s national martial art. At this time, I became truly educated. It wasn’t until that point that I learned the art as it was meant to be.
Q. Why did you leave your homeland of Korea?
A. As a young man I was interested in different countries, in different lifestyles. During the Vietnam War I met many Americans and learned much about this country. Fortunately, I had the chance to come to America when I was invited here to teach Taekwon-Do. I stayed here as an instructor and eventually became a citizen.
Q. Describe the ITF, its origins and present functions.
A. The origins of Taekwon-Do began when Korea was occupied by Japan. The Japanese wanted the Koreans to speak Japanese, to change their last names to Japanese names and, of course, to change the Korean martial art. In 1945, when World War II ended, all the countries involved became independent and liberated. However, Koreans were still training in Japanese or Chinese martial arts. General Choi, Hong Hi thought that was very sad, and he was also ashamed. He felt Korea should have its own martial art. Korea had one, but was unable to continue because of the changes that the war brought about. General Choi had been trained in many different martial arts. Using all that knowledge, he developed Taekwon-Do for his Korean homeland. In 1955, famous martial artist, politicians, generals, and other prestigious people of Korea, met with General Choi. It was the General who suggested that Korea’s national martial art became Taekwon-Do. All these people agreed with General Choi’s suggestion. On April 11, 1955, Taekwon-Do was born and all Koreans began training.
General Choi made 24 different patterns or tuls, from Chon-Ji to Tong-Il. Tong-Il means unification. In 1955, General Choi was already working toward unification of Korea as well as with Taekwon-Do. The Soviet Union occupied the 38th parallel and above (North Korea) and the Untied States occupied South Korea. Still there is that separation. I think if everyone left Korean people alone, they would unify, as would Taekwon-Do. The two entities are related. General Choi also promoted Taekwon-Do in Southeast Asia and in Europe. In 1966, he established the International Taekwon-Do Federation and Taekwon-Do was then spread throughout the world. In 1960, there was a military revolution and a new government formed. The new president of the Korean government and General Choi disagreed about using Taekwon-Do as a political tool. General Choi wanted to see Taekwon-Do as a pure national martial art. Therefore, General Choi lost the presidents support. In 1972, General Choi was forced into exile, and he now lives in Canada.
The International Taekwon-Do Federation was exiled along with General Choi and is no longer in Korea. The Following year, 1973, the Korean government established the WTF (World Taekwondo Federation). With the powerful Korean government’s support, the WTF has done well in their own way. The ITF lost 90 percent of its instructors to the WTF because of that power. Naturally, those ITF instructors had little choice but to obey their government. Their visas and passports were Korean and although they were sent to other countries to instruct, they are obligated to follow the WTF. I, on the other hand, had my own contract with the Untied States and was under no obligation to follow the Korean government’s authority. The International Olympic Committee chose the WTF as it was the larger organization and held the largest number of students or potential competitors. The ITF didn’t die though. We’ve been working hard and rebuilding our organization with General Choi as the president. General Choi travels year round all over the world giving seminars. The ITF is still big and strong, but what is more important than even our size is that our techniques are unified throughout the world. I help General Choi by traveling to many places to speak about the ITF. Recently I was in the Philippines, the Dominican Republic and Ireland.
Q. Which countries are exclusively WTF members?
A. The country of Cuba, but we are working towards obtaining their membership as General Choi was invited to visit them in 1994. We hope that Cuba will join the ITF soon.
Q. Discuss KATU and how that organization came about.
A. Taekwon-Do came from Korea as did many of its masters. KATU was established to guide those masters who want to become involved with the ITF. In the United States we have the USTF (United States Taekwon-Do Federation) which is a governing body of the ITF. The USTF and KATU are sister organizations with the same goal of working for the ITF. The ITF sponsors two world games. One is for men and women, the other for junior students, 13-17 years old. The USTF will be responsible for the Senior World Championships, KATU for the Junior World Championships. The two organizations work well together, sending individuals or teams to these games. KATU will host the Junior Worlds Games in the United States in 1997.
Q. Explain the ITF slogan, ‘Dedicated to preserving human dignity.’
A. All humans have dignity. We all need to be treated with courtesy. We all should strive to acquire perseverance. The five tenets are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. All humans can aim to achieve these qualities. If one just wants to fight, that is not preserving human dignity. Behind each punch is five methods of respect. Without this, we’re going backwards. Hurting one another is nothing but aggression. It’s the knowledge and respect for mankind behind the physical part of a martial artist that makes a difference.
Q. Do you see Taekwon-Do as an art or a sport?
A. Taekwon-Do is art and sport, but without art there is no value to the sport. Several years ago, General Choi established the IMGC (International Martial Arts Game Committee). The goal of the IMGC is to put together its own games, keeping the original various martial arts’ identities. Right now the Olympic Committee is looking only at sparring. In the Martial Arts Games, we’re looking at all the parts of these arts. In addition to sparring, we have the tuls (patterns), power breaking, special techniques and free special techniques. An example of a free special technique would be when you jump up and you kick three, four or five times before landing. Like ice skating or gymnastics, there are many components that make up Taekwon-Do. Many martial arts organizations are contacting the IMGC to support the arts components.
Q. Many people confuse Karate with Taekwon-Do. Why do you think this is so?
A. Karate was introduced in the United States long before Taekwon-Do. The public uses that term generically when they see a martial art. However, Taekwon-Do expands, so does the public’s knowledge of the difference.
Q. There are obvious differences between a child marital artist and an adult martial artist. Why is no distinction made?
A. All martial artists have a goal of self-improvement and self-practice, so age is not a factor. In competition, however, participants are grouped by age and weight so a distinction is made there. A black belt of any age must always work to improve the self.
Q. Describe a true martial artist.
A. In one word, integrity.
Q. How do you feel about the way martial arts are depicted on TV and in the movies?
A. Movies are made to be dramatic and are commercialized. The movies can be overdone, all the blood and violence, but they do a pretty good job because the good guy always defeats the bad guy. It’s difficult to be both a good actor and a good martial artist. Bruce Lee started acting at age seven and picked up good techniques along the way.
Q. The martial arts have become very popular in our country. Do you feel that most teachers are committed to the art, or that many are using this popularity for financial gains?
A. I see many good instructors who are becoming successful financially, but someone who has neither good technique or business knowledge will not last long. There is opportunity. It is a job. If you don’t have both a good business sense and good martial art skill, don’t open a school. You should continue training. The problem arises when a teacher goes over the line and pays more attention to making money than to teaching students. That’s nonsense.
Q. You aren’t a large man. Do height and weight affect one’s ability to master Taekwon-Do?
A. If you are large, your Taekwon-Do can be more effective, but that does not mean you can’t master Taekwon-Do. If a man is six feet and 250 pounds and he punches at the same speed as me, his power is greater. However, mastering Taekwon-Do means self-practice, self-training and self-achievement. Whether big or small, one is mastering Taekwon-Do. Taekwon-Do is the most effective of martial arts. General Choi is not a large man. He developed a martial art that would be effective regardless of size. There are many, many different kicks and punches. If General Choi was a large man, Taekwon-Do would probably not have developed as it did. General Choi developed a method of self-defense that promotes maximum power for small and even handicapped human beings.
Q. Describe the differences between a master and a grandmaster.
A. One becomes a master at the seventh dan level. I have former students who call themselves grandmaster. One can call themselves whatever they choose, but that is disrespectful. That is very wrong. I feel there is only one grandmaster, General Choi, HongHi. I’m an eighth dan, and someone could call me a grandmaster, but that would be wrong. There is no comparison between people who call themselves grandmaster and General Choi.
Q. How often do you teach?
A. I teach at my dojang about ten hours weekly. Every other week I do seminars, and I teach a monthly black belt class for all the schools I oversee. I’m also teaching every Sunday for three hours, preparing the U.S.A. Junior Team for competition.
Q. Do you continue to train?
A. My training is primarily done through my teaching. As I teach I work to better my techniques and to maximize my power, I’m always looking for new techniques, to better my chief instructors and myself. Occasionally, I have a lesson with General Choi. I am blessed to have that opportunity. Through General Choi I am able to continue to learn and pass along that knowledge.
Q. In this interview, you have spoken a great deal about General Choi, when and where did you meet him?
A. I first met General Choi during my military training. By then I had heard of him often through the news. He is God to me. I remember he picked his right foot up for about ten minuets as he spoke and demonstrated before putting it down again. I had never seen anything like that! General Choi is truly the founder of Taekwon-Do as history will show. I worked for several years as General Choi’s spokesman; this was quite an honor. I ended that position when I moved on to the ITF merger committee. In the year 2000, the Olympics plan to hold only WTF competition. I feel that all Taekwon-Do practitioners should have the opportunity to participate, regardless of the federation they follow. I’m dedicating a lot of time working on finding compromises between the ITF and the WTF.
Q. Presently, General Choi is the only ITF ninth dan. When do you plan to test for ninth degree black belt?
A. In oriental philosophy, the number nine is the greatest or biggest number and it represents the end. It follows that in martial arts, the ninth degree is the greatest achievement. In May of 1998, I should be ready to test for ninth dan, however, I will not become the same degree as my master, my general. Out of respect for General Choi, I don’t even think about it. Promotion is not that important to me. My dream is to become good, a better eight dan.
Q. Obviously, you greatly admire General Choi?
A. General Choi is a Korean treasure, a patriot. General Choi not only did much for Taekwon-Do, but also for his Korean homeland. He fought for the independence of Koreans. For 36 years our country was under Japanese control. General Choi was forced to join the Japanese military which he hated. While in the military, he secretly worked for the Independence Movement, knowing that if he was caught he would be executed. Finally, he was caught. While in jail, awaiting his execution, the war ended and his life was saved. My respect and admiration for him are partly for those reasons. In terms of Taekwon-Do, General Choi founded our national martial art. We had one, but we lost it during those years of occupation. Few men could dedicate themselves to that massive task. There is no question in my mind that he is a great man.
Grandmaster Hwang currently oversees 1 Hwang’s School of Taekwon-Do (all others have split or been closed), and just a very few schools throughout the world and most of them by loose association only. Over the years Grandmaster Hwang has lost 99% of all his original students, and has now even lowered his standards in order to keep the income streaming in. Other then a handful of maybe five members (original ITF Black Belts), all his other members have no ITF background and he now has non-ITF background members running his organization. So, Grandmaster Hwang is now nothing more then an independent “contractor” in the world of Taekwon-Do.
This is further substantiated by the fact that on 10 November 2007 a seminar was held with Grandmaster Hwang & Grandmaster Rhee, Kiha in Florida. The event held less the 20 people for two 9th Dan’s promoted by General Choi in 1997! None of Grandmaster Hwang’s students or rather former students were in attendance! No one outside of one person from Grandmaster Hwang’s organization traveled any distance for this event! Even with the added boost of another Grandmaster didn’t help promote Grandmaster Hwang. It is a shame that a 9th Dan promoted by General Choi, HongHi can no longer command a group more then 20!
This is an example of how far the apple has fallen from the tree, and if it is not the cause of the Grandmaster, then, this is the cause of the promoter(s). And while those few (about 15) I am sure enjoyed their time with these two Grandmaster’s, it’s clear that they didn’t much benefit technically in Taekwon-Do, and were “talked” to more then “taught” in Taekwon-Do.
Click here to look at photos of the event (This takes you off site to the web site of the host of this event, The site was “moved or deleted” because of the very sad fact the photos showed a very poor turn out!) This will show you the sad truth of the fact, and I truly feel sorry for Grandmaster Hwang, as he at anytime in the past could command alot larger crowd, but today…………