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14-Dec-2013 09:12:21 AM

General Choi Hong Hi was born on November 9th, 1918 in the Hwa Dae, Myong Chung District (now in D.P.R.Korea). 


 All taekwon-do exponents regard him as the Founder of Taekwon-do.

 As a child, Choi was frail and sickly, leading to his taking up of the classical but forbidden Korean art of Taekyon at the request of his father, during a period when the practice of any martial art was outlawed in his homeland.

Even at an early age, the future general showed a strong and independent spirit.  At the age of twelve, he was expelled from school for agitating the Japanese authorities, who were in control of Korea.  This was the beginning of what would be a long association with the Kwang Ju Students Independence Movement.

 After his expulsion, young Choi’s father sent him to study calligraphy under one of the most famous teachers in Korea, Mr. Han II Dong.  Han, in addition to his skills as a calligrapher, was also a master of Taekyon, the ancient Korean art of foot fighting.  The teacher concerned over the frail condition of his new student, began teaching him the rigorous exercises of Taekyon to help build his body.

 General Choi’s military career began in 1937, when he was forced, as were all Koreans to join the Japanese army as a student volunteer and fought for the Japanese during World War-II.

Whilst in the Japanese army, Choi trained in Shotokan Karate, achieving the rank of 2nd Dan Black Belt.

 During his enlistment General Choi was sentenced to 7 years jail when his plans to overthrow the Japanese military high command were discovered.

 General Choi was later sentenced to death and the execution was scheduled to take place on August 18th, 1944.

 On August 16th 1944, Korea was liberated from Japanese rule, and General Choi was released having escaped execution by only 2 days.

 In 1945, Choi enrolled in the Korean Military Academy, later to be commissioned to the rank of second lieutenant in 1946. Choi was soon company commander in Kwang-Ju, where the young second lieutenant lit the torch of his art by teaching his entire company.  Promoted to the first lieutenant, Choi was transferred to Taejon and put in command of the Second Infantry Regiment.  While at his new post, Choi began spreading the art not only to Korean soldiers, but also the Americans stationed there.  This was the first introduction to Americans of what would eventually become known as Taekwon-do in 1947.  Choi was first promoted to Captain and then major. 

By 1948, he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was a Taekyon instructor for the military troops of the R.O.K and the American Military Police School based in Korea.

 During the Korean War (1950-1953), Choi was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and in 1954 Choi was promoted to the rank of Major General.

 During his military career, General Choi constantly researched various martial arts, mainly Taekyon, Kung-fu and Karate – drawing from each to create the original version of Taekwon-do.

From 1953-54 brought the organization of the crack 29th Infantry Division at Cheju Island, which eventually became the spear head of Taekwon-do in the military and established the Oh Do Kwan (Gym of My Way), where he succeeded in training his new martial art to become the pioneer Taekwon-do instructors.  General Choi also commanded Chung Do Kwan, which was the largest civilian gym in Korea.

On April 11, 1955 General Choi led the Korean Army’s Taekwon-do demonstration team on a tour of China and Vietnam to promote his form of unarmed combat.  After breathtaking displays, both these countries adopted General Choi’s Taekwon-do as an integral part of their soldier’s military training. Korean instructors were in high demand to instruct to military personal in their new and affective martial art – Taekwon-do.

 In the year 1959 General Choi was elevated to two illustrious posts; President of his newly formed “Korea Taekwon-Do Association” and Deputy Commander of the 2nd Army in Tae Gu.

 In 1961, the Korean Taekwon-do Association was formed with General Choi as its President.  During the next few years, he led Taekwon-do demonstration teams throughout the world.

In 1965, the South Korean government gave approval to General Choi’s martial art and declared it as Korea’s national martial art.  As a Korean ambassador, and now a retired 3-star General, General Choi led a goodwill mission on tours of Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

For few years, General Choi was the Korean Ambassador to Malaysia, which led to that country’s enormous participation and popularization of Taekwon-Do.

The next several years saw the exponential growth of the ITF Taekwon-do, with General Choi tirelessly traveling the world to teach and expand his art.  During these travels, General Choi has been especially interested in promoting Taekwon-do as a worldwide non-political organization and martial art, not just a sport, has come true. 

 General Choi states in his book “TAEKWON-DO”

“All things are governed by the law of Yin and Yang, dark and light… happiness can often stem from catastrophic moments… My life has been a turbulent one, riddled with lonely fights and unfortunate adventure that few would envy… a life of self-exile thousands of miles distant from my beloved country.  Even so, it has truly been a worthwhile endeavor.

It is one of nature’s ironies that delicate plants such as orchids or tulips require extreme care while weeds flourish with no attention at all.  Wild panic grass, easily mistaken for wheat or rice, can actually prevent the growth of the genuine article.  I cannot help but despair over the tainted image of Taekwon-Do recently created by practitioners of sham Taekwon-do, who have nothing in common with the origin and art form except for a the borrowed name.

I console myself with this thought, like a counterfeit diamond that cannot cut glass, fraudulent Taekwon-do is appearance without substance and like a summer shower that quickly dries from the earth, or a hurricane that rapidly passes from the sky, phony Taekwon-do practitioners and imitators cannot endure.  It exists solely on the strength of political influence and is totally devoid of fundamental philosophy or technique based on logic.  As such, it is destined for an early exist.  The issue lies in our ability to differentiate between the true and the false.

 My dream has at last been realized --- the ultimate fantasy of spreading and teaching Taekwon-do with no regard to considerations of religion, ideology, national boundaries or race.  I can say without hesitation, that I am the happiest man alive.

 It is my earnest desire that Taekwon-do should retain its original concept and technique.  It is also my sincere hope that Taekwon-do’s emphasis on promoting a healthier body and mind will provide a significant contribution to human progress for many generations to come”.

On 15th June, 2002 General Choi the father & founder of Taekwon-do (who gave the world this wonderful & beautiful gift) took his last breath at the age of 83+.

He was cremated with full state honors at his birthplace, Pyongyang, D.P.R Korea.

The Ode To General Choi

Lyrics and music written and performed by Mr. Scott Downey, VI Dan
President of ITF Newfoundland, Canada

General Choi, General Choi
created TaeKwon-Do for all to enjoy.
He studied Karate, he studied TaeKyon
from a calligrapher known as Master Ill Dong

He was sent to the US in June 1949
for military training, had to leave his wife behind.
He returned to Korea, to fight in the war,
and the "fist division" insignia he wore.

Thank you General Choi, Thank you General Choi,
for creating TaeKwon-Do for all to enjoy.
Regardless of religion, nationality, or race,
you've given TaeKwon-Do to the entire human race.

He trained all his soldiers in the art of Tang Soo,
but the techniques were different, so that name would not do.
So he created a committee, to name his new Martial Art,
of which prominent citizens would be a part.

And on April 11th, 1955,
the name "TaeKwon-Do" was given its life.
The name was submitted, by General Choi
'cause the name resembled "TaeKyon" that he learned as a boy.


"Tae" means to kick, "Kwon" means to punch,
"Do" is the art that we all love so much.
Based on scientific movement and Asian philosophy,
General Choi leaves the world his "Legacy".

And through the International TaeKwon-Do Federation,
"True" TaeKwon-Do was spread to every nation.
And although he had many enemies along the way,
the "little giant" General perseveres to this day.

Chorus (twice)


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