The Origins of Taekwon-Do
The term Taekwon-Do was first established on April 11, 1955 at a meeting of the merging of Korean Martial Art Kwans (Schools/Groups). Choi, Hong Hi (hereafter referred to as his Korean Military ranking, General Choi) came up with the term. General Choi’s journey to develop Taekwon-Do began with his prior knowledge of Taek Kyon, the ancient Korean art of foot fighting and his study of Karate in Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Soon after Korea was liberated in 1945, he was placed in a privileged position as a founding member of the newly formed South Korean Armed Forces.The former provided him with a definite sense of creation, and the latter gave him the power to disseminate Taekwon-Do throughout the entire armed forces, despite furious opposition.
The emergence of Taekwon-Do as an international martial art in a relatively short period of time was due to a variety of factors. The evils of contemporary society (moral corruption, materialism, selfishness, etc.) had created a spiritual vacuum. Taekwon-Do was able to compensate for the prevailing sense of emptiness, distrust, decadence and lack of confidence.
In addition, these were violent times, when people felt the need for a means of protecting themselves, and the superiority of Taekwon-Do technique came to be widely recognized. General Choi’s social stature, the advantage of being Taekwon-Do’s founder and his wonderful health also contributed to the rapid growth of Taekwon-Do all over the world.
General Choi had been born frail and weak and was encouraged to learn Taek Kyon at the age of fifteen by his teacher of calligraphy. In 1938, a few days before he was due to leave Korea to study in Japan he was involved in an unexpected incident that would have made it difficult to return home without risk of reprisals.
He resolved to become a black belt holder in Karate while he was in Japan. The skills he required were sufficient protection against those who might seek to do him harm. Not only was he able to return to Korea, but he subsequently initiated the national liberation movement known as the Pyongyang Student Soldier’s Incident. Like so many patriots in the long course of human history, his actions aroused the wrath of those in positions of power. He was imprisoned for a time in a Japanese army jail. In January of 1946, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the fledgling Republic of Korea army and posted to the 4th infantry regiment in Kwangju, Cholla Namdo Province as a company commander.
General Choi began to teach Karate to his soldiers as a means of physical and mental training. It was then that he realized that they needed to develop their own national martial art, superior in both spirit and technique to Japanese Karate. With this in mind he began to develop new techniques systematically. By the end of 1954 he had nearly completed the foundation of a new martial art for Korea, and therefore, on 11th April 1955, it was given the name “Taekwon-Do”.
With the passing of General Choi, the ITF group founded by General Choi in 1966 has splintered into many groups. We have elected to train under one of three original pioneering Grand Masters promoted to ninth degree by General Choi. Grand Master Rhee, Ki Hi (Scotland) was the first and Grand Master’s Sereff (CO) and Hwang (CT) where promoted on the same day.
1971 marked the year Grand Master 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 Taekwon-Do school. In 1974 Grand Master Hwang graduated from the first International Taekwon-Do Federation Instructors course held by General Choi, Hong Hi in Montral Canada. He also graduated from the ITF Umpires course. Grand Master 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. Grand Master 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 .
Grand Master Hwang currently oversees 15 Hwang’s School of Taekwon-Do, and many schools throughout the world. Traveling and giving seminars in places such as Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Canada, Greece, Italy, India, Ireland, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.
Based on an excerpt from Taekwon-Do (The Korean Art of Self Defense), General Choi, Hong Hi