General Choi talks about his amazing life – once missing only three days until his execution – and the beginnings and development of Taekwon – Do. Now osemdesetleten remains energetic force within the association of martial arts of the twentieth century and shining example to all who will take in the Art of the new millennium.
To understand my conversation with General Choi eat, you need to understand the relations between the peoples of the Far East: China, Korea and Japan, by linking geography, culture and 5,000 years of history. Huge land of China has always been like an older brother of Korea. After the Asian practice, this means that China has watched over Korea and help it in the difficult times of foreign invasions.
The relationship between Korea and Japan is a little different. With the introduction of methods of construction of temples and Japanese education in traditional disciplines and Buddhist sutra Korea has played the role of an elder brother in the early stages of their relationship.
Japan was the restoration of the Meiji Dynasty authorities first of the three countries, which adopted Western culture and science. Cesar is again seized power, he encouraged his subjects to learn more from the West. And so is Japan, armed with Western weapons, he can defeat China in 1894 and 1910 and joined occupied Korea. Korean people is 35 years desperately fought for its independence, which was achieved only after the end of World War II. Even today, many Koreans feel hatred towards the Japanese.
My interview with General Choi eat, I worked on 1 August 1998 and from 27 February to 1 March 1999. These interviews are part of my continuing research in the history of Korean martial arts.
(Author’s remark: As the original interview made in Korean, are all possible translation errors and misunderstandings sole responsibility of the author.)
General Choi, thank you cater to my request for an interview. One of the interesting facts that I have heard about you is that you have two names and two birthdays. Is this true?
Yes, both are true. I was born in Korea, 9 November 1918. At that time, the Korean calendar based on the lunar cycle, every month had 27 or 28 days. In the 60s of the last century, Korea has adopted the Western calendar based on the solar cycle, each month has 30 or 31 days. According to the Western calendar, my birthday 22 December. And even though I have two birthdays, November 9, 1918 he is the one who celebrate it.
As for my names, the first Choi Hong Hi, given to me by my father at birth in 1918. My other name is Taekwon – Do, which gave me the God of the 1955th
How did you begin to train their martial arts?
The training inspired me famous event during the Japanese occupation of Korea. In 1930, a group of Japanese students insulted and harassed a group of Korean students to train for Kwang Ju City. When the train arrived in Kwang Ju, are furious and irritated Korean students surrounded the Japanese and roughly beaten. Later, the Japanese police arrived and cruelly suppressed the Korean Veterans.
The news of the incident spread rapidly through Korea. In protest against the outrageous acts of the Japanese students and police, students staged strikes and protest rallies in schools throughout the country. In the school where I went, I was one of the leaders of the protest movement. I have planned and led a protest in my school, which is why I was expelled from the Japanese school system.
My father, himself strongly against the Japanese, took me to worry about my future, he urged the public to study Chinese characters and the art of Chinese characters. He said that this knowledge could one day get a job as a maker of tombstones. And so I went to study for a Master Han, Il Dong-u, known kaliografu. From him I also learned Taek Kyun, my first martial arts.
What has prompted you went to Japan? And why did you start karate?
For several years I studied kaliografijo and Chinese characters. My father was pleased with the level of knowledge and skills that I have reached. During this time I was also increasingly been started interested in Western culture, science and law. Some of my friends were studying about the West in Japan. During their vacation home they told me about their studies and invited me to join them in Japan. So I therefore decided to go to Japan.
A few days before to travel, I lost all my money in a card game. This money was intended to travel and stay in Japan. I begged Mr. Hur-but to give me back some of the money he won from me. He rejected me saying that the purpose of the game to raise money, not to deliver it. When he got up to leave, I grabbed a nearby bottle of ink and start it. The bottle was struck in the forehead, that he passed out. While both blood and ink flowed down his face, I took the money from his pocket and ran home. A few days later I arrived in Kyoto, Japan.
I knew that I can not ever go home without having previously learned any form of self-defense. First of all, I thought, to learn boksati, but my friend Kim, Hyun Soo, convinced me that I go with him to watch Karate at the University of Dai Dong Sa. A few days later I started training Karate.
Later, they moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. Why did you move and how was life in Tokyo?
My original plan was to enroll in college in Kyoto. A year and a half I was constantly taught English and mathematics and practiced Karate. But the exams for the fourth year I have not done. In Tokyo I moved because I felt that I have a better chance to enroll in the local school.
My good friend from my hometown Lee, Jong Ryun, who lived in Tokyo, I jepomagal in housing. Again, I studied English, mathematics and Karate. Finally, I passed the exams and enrolled in the 4 year old Dong Higher Business School, what we actually allow entry to law school at the University Chong Eng.
At the university, I practiced Karate under the direction of Master Guchin Funagoshi-ja, a founder of Shotokan. Under the guidance of the Master’s Funagoshi I regularly train in the Shotokan (Dojo) and attended special training (night walk) from Tokyo to Kamakura City.
Then, when I was promoted to 2nd degree black belt in Karate, my friend Yoon, Byung In-om began teaching Karate on the roof of the YMCA building in Tokyo. Later, after the liberation of Korea in 1945, the Master Yoon returned to Korea and created the Kwon Bub Club at the Seoul YMCA.
How did you end up in the Japanese army? And how it happened that you were accused of betraying and send you to jail?
By the end of 1942 and I have a few others already knew that Japan lost the war, so it would be really foolish to join the Japanese army. But this time, most Korean students could not longer attend school, but they have forcibly recruited into the army. Many were hiding from inn to inn, in order to avoid mix. Finally, the police caught me and recruited me into the Japanese army on 20 October 1943rd
I was sent back to Seoul to join other callable Korean students with the basic exercises at Seoul National University. Then they sent us 42 unit Pyung Yang Division.
There was a lot of resistance among soldiers. Shortly after our arrival, I joined a group of thirty Korean students – soldiers who have planned an escape in the Baek Doo Mountains in mandžursko – Korean border. There to join the Underground Korean Liberation Army and fought against the Japanese occupiers. Our plan to escape failed, unfortunately. All of us were arrested and tried for treason. Initially, I was sentenced to seven years in prison. But later they changed the conviction and 18 August 1945 to be executed. Just three days before my execution, my land freed Japanese occupation forces. August 15, I went from prison Pyung Yang.
After Korea was liberated, you served as director of voluntary student groups. Later you have enrolled in the Military English School. Can you tell us something more about their activities at this time?
When my friends are students – soldiers and I left prison, we heard the call Kun Joon or the Steering Committee on Self-Government in Seoul. The radio is aired invitation of Mr. Yu Woon Young-a, head of the Committee to arrive in Seoul and help. Under his leadership, we have formed a voluntary student group for the maintenance of law and order, because it had not yet been established Korean police.
Mr Yu was later murdered. Voluntary student group s broken into two parts: one part is supported communism, the second part, I conducted myself, but democratic ideals.
In this role, I had the opportunity to meet Major US Army Major Reas-a, manager of the Military English School. This school would later become the Korean Military Academy. For this meeting, I became one of the 110 founding fathers of the Korean Army.
After you have been called for a second Lieutenant in the Korean Army, we were sent to the 4th Regiment in Kwang Ju City. Please tell us about their assignments and experiences in Kwang Ju.
When I arrived at the headquarters of the 4th Regiment in Kwang Ju, I found that the local police are very well organized. Police forces were more numerous and were given greater power and authority than we in the Army. Police officers are often arrested members of the Armed Forces under the accusation of petty crime and the punishment beaten.
This was intolerable and I ordered that no soldier should not single out the military base. Furthermore, I am in regular military exercises included training Tang Soo (Karate). But my conscience is ashamed of the decision to teach Karate. As a man I despised the Japanese, how you should therefore taught karate to its Korean soldiers? And then I started researching martial arts. I wanted to create a new Korean martial art based on scientific movement and contained a mentality to adequately Korean soldiers.
I researched and practiced and perfected I have this new art for nine years. In 1955, I created the Korean martial art of Taekwon – Do.
The Korean War broke out on 25 June 1950, and lasted three years. What was your main duties during the war?
June 1949 I was ordered to go to the US Higher Military School (Advanced Military Training School). When I received the order, I was just on our honeymoon and really did not want to leave his young wife. But I am a soldier and I obey orders. Under the leadership of Colonel Choi, Duk Shin, four were aboard the ship for the United States.
During the trip one day I was practicing strokes with a foot on the deck, when suddenly the shoe with my legs flew into the air and then into the Pacific Ocean. Since I could not wear just one shoe, I took off the other one and throw it in the ocean. Then I returned to my room.
Upon our arrival in the United States, we first went to the Ground General School at Fort Riley in Kansas and later at the Higher Command School (Advanced Command School) at Fort Benning-u, Georgia.
Among the military exercises I had the opportunity to teach the art of Tang Soo my classmates. We graduated on 23 June 1950, just two days before the outbreak of war in my country.
We hastened to return to Korea. Upon my arrival I was given the mandate to establish a school for officers. During my tenure as deputy manager of the schools I visited Master Lee, Won Kuk, the founder of Chung Do Kwan. He told me that in Japan due to “personal reasons” and asked me to replace him as head of Chung Do Kwan. I accepted his request, but because I was a general in the army, I accepted the position of honorary director and set the Master Son, Duk Son of a head of Chung Do Kwan.
When our troops crossed the 38th parallel, I was transferred to the First Corps. One of my first tasks was to meet with General Douglas Mac Arthur-eat, Supreme Commander of American troops. He visited the front line and I was selected to his report on the current battle situation. With him came many other US generals. After half an hour of reporting, I asked him if he has any questions. He replied: “I have no issues, everything is clear.” And then he walked over to me and shook asked by my name.
You have created the 29th Infantry Division, also known as the “first division”. Can you tell me how you formed this division and created its unique iconic symbol?
In September 1953 I was General Baek, Sun Yub, the chief commanding officer in the Korean Army, asked that formed 28 Division. I asked him if this will be the last division, formed during the war. He replied: “No, in a few months will be formed another division.” So I asked him if I could set up the last division, the 29th Infantry Division and has acceded to my request.
The first thing I tackled was that I developed a recognizable flag of the division. Since the number 29 is 2 symbolized the divided Korean peninsula, number 9, I imagined as my fist. I designed the flag as my fist over the Korean Peninsula. Then, when they saw the flag and 29 people gave the nickname “Fist Division” or “Ik Keu Division.”
My second task was to choose a divisional commanding officer. To assist in military exercises I chose Colonel Ha, Chung Kab and Lt.-a. Colonel Kim, Hwang Mok-a. I recalled Master Nam, Tae Hee and Master Han, Cha Kyo-yes, that would help me train the soldiers in Tang Soo. The characteristics and quality of techniques were now quite different from the Karate that I had practiced in Japan.
My officers and Tang Soo inštruktorjema I gave very precise instructions: “When the soldiers train Tang Soo, everyone must bow instructor, regardless of military rank. Outside the gym heal vršijo according to military rank. ”
Due to the combination of military exercises and training Tang Soo was our division unique among all others in the Korean Army. We were prepared to fight with or without weapons.
In 1954, President Seung Man Rhee while watching a demonstration of Tang Soo 29th Division commented: “This is Taek Kyun. All of our soldiers should train this skill. “What is the meaning they had a demonstration and the president’s remark?
In June 1954, the First Division left Cheju Island to be connected to each corpus in the province of Kang Won in the eastern part of Korea. In mid-September, we had a joint celebration of the fourth anniversary of the Second Corps and the 1st anniversary of the 29th Division. As part of the ceremony 29 Division demonstrated Tang Soo techniques. President Rhee was standing (the half-hour demonstration never once sat) and with great interest watching our presentation. When Master Nam, Tae Hee broke roofing tiles with his fist, the President pointed to his knuckles and asked me: “Is this the part you use for breaking bricks?” I replied: “That’s right, sir.” Then President I turned to the other generals in the audience and said: “This is Taek Kyun. I wish that all of our soldiers train this skill. ”
In fact, many generals in the Korean Army did not want to make me train their soldiers in Tang Soo. But the president’s statement is much easier to introduce Tang Soo to the rest of the army. In order to achieve this goal, I had to build a building, where they would be educated and trained instructors martial arts. When the 29th Division moved its Headquarters to Yong Dae Ri west of the mountains Sulrak Mountain, I ordered the construction of a gymnasium. I named it Oh Do Kwan and a Master Nam, Tae Hee began to teach military instructors in Tang Soo.
Due to the President’s comparisons of our skills with Taek Kyun-om I started to think that Tang Soo needed a new name, a name that would be close to Taek Kyun-u. The techniques I taught were neither Tang Soo nor Taek Kyun and I urgently needed a new name.
In 1955, they organized the Advisory Committee for naming the martial arts. Why did you create this group and what problems did you face during the meetings?
As I have said before, I studied, practiced and taught Tang Soo ever since I was drafted in the 4th Regiment in Kwang Ju City in 1946. The art was based on Asian (oriental) philosophy, techniques on scientific movement. Our show before the President Rhee was a great success. I created the name Taekwon – Do and in 1955 I felt that the time has come to announce this new name skills. Instead of simply declared myself a new name, it seemed wiser for that purpose to establish an Advisory Committee. At that time, many civil dojang’s used names like Tang Soo, Kong Soo or Kwon Bub, because many generals in the Korean Army did not approve of my activities.
The committee were some VIPs like. Mr. Cho, Kyung Jae, Vice-President of the National Assembly, General Lee, Hyung Keun, the Commander in Chief Army, presidents of newspaper companies, etc. At the meeting, I explained that the name Taekwon – Do means the art of kicks and punches. While there were some members more of a name or Tang Soo Soo Kong, were finally all agreed to use the name Taekwon – Do. But one of the members suggested that the President Rhee’s asking for approval of the name. The name was sent to the president Rhee and he rejected it. He felt that Taek Kyun was a traditional martial art and that we should use this name. I went to Mr. Kwak, Young Joo’s, Presidents principal officer, and Mr. Suh, Jung Hak-a, A Head of President’s protection, and I explained to them that this is a new skill, very different from the old Taek Kyun-a. I asked them to try to persuade the President to accept the new name. I finally got permission from the President to be able to use the new name of Taekwon – Do.
Then, when the President approved a new name, I bade the old signs Tang Soo before the Oh Do Kwan om and Chung Do Kwan om replaced with the new Taekwon – Do signs. Master Nam, Tae Hee I was taught to Taekwon – Do soldiers greet each other with “Tae Kwon Do”.
The name Taekwon – Do gradually spread in military circles through Oh Do Kwan and to civilian students through Chung Do Kwan.
If you think of it, I think I can introduce a new name Taekwon – Do only because I was a general with two stars, because I had an influential friend to General Lee, Hyung Keun-u, the Supreme master of the Army and because I was on good terms with President Seung Man Rhee through calligraphy and Tang Soo.
In 1959, you were going Taekwon – Do team at the tournament in a good mood after Vietnam and the Republic of China. How did you organize this trip? What importance is given to this presentation?
In mid-summer 1957, President Rhee invited President Go Din Diem to visit Korea. On the official program of the visit was the presentation of Taekwon – Do. While watching the demonstration, President Diem said, “I understand now why Korean soldiers are so strong and disciplined.” His remark he heard my friend, General Choi, Duk Shin. Later, General Choi was appointed Ambassador in Vietnam. He asked the President Diem to invite a Korean Taekwon – Do team to present art in Vietnam. President Diem invited the team We have also got an invitation to visit the Republic of China.
Twenty-one Taekwon – Do-Identifying was selected for the demonstration team. We were given two weeks of specific preparation in the gym of the Headquarters of the Army.
Presentation in Vietnam has been very successful. We were invited for two weeks and during this time more than 300,000 people watched and enjoyed in our presentations. Due to the success of the tour our President Diem asked to extend my stay for a week. During one of our demonstrations, General Tiu, manager Military Academy and later President of Vietnam, remarked: “I never thought that the human body is capable of such power. It is a martial art that should be practiced in Vietnam. ”
Meaning trip was twofold: the first is the fact that Korea in the 5,000 years of its history for the first time presented their culture, soul and techniques of a foreign country; the other is the fact that in 1962 the Vietnamese government officially asked Korea to send a group of instructors to Vietnam to military and civilian sklupine taught Taekwon – Do.
Before returning to Korea we stopped in Taipei, China. There he was welcomed by General Yu. In his welcoming speech he said, “China and Korea are fraternal nation for over a thousand years. It is very likely that China bring Taekwon – Do in Korea at the time of the Kingdom bat. (Bat was legendary Chinaman, who founded the kingdom bat before the birth of Christ.) I Prikril his indignation, and in response the audience said: “Yes, China and Korea were fraternal nation throughout its history. But Taekwon – Do is a new martial art that I created in 1955. There is no Taekwon – Do-ja was not against Christ. ”
We made presentations in Dae Buk and in Dae-Nam. Our presentation in Dae Buk was attended by many high-ranking officials of the Chinese government, including Chiang, Kyung Kuk-om, son of Presidents and other important man in the Republic.
When we did schedule a presentation, the Chinese wanted to add some time to show Byuk Jang Sool or a Kung Fu. We were happy because we have confidence in our ability to overcome the popularity of Kung Fu. During our performance we experienced a real ovation. People rose to their feet and applauded our skills, impact and defense against weapons techniques.
Korean Ambassador to the Republic of China, General Kim, Hong Il, told me: “A year ago, I cried with sadness, because the Chinese have overcome our volleyball team to a single point. Now, crying with happiness because I see that the art of Taekwon – Do-yeah high above the art of Kung Fu.
What obstacles did you face when you organized the first Korean Taekwon – Do Association?
In 1959 I worked in the Main Army Headquarters in Seoul and I can focus more time on Taekwon – Do. I founded the Department of Mu to (martial arts) and was appointed as the first leader.
In Seoul it was one of my goals to bring together the major Taekwon – Do groups and form the Korea Taekwon – Do Association. Originally, I did intend to set up a Korean Martial Arts Association. Unlike the Korea Sports Association, which favored the contest, I wanted to Korean Martial Arts Association focus on Asian philosophy. But the leader of the martial arts of Judo and Kumdo have already joined the Korea Sports Union. I had no choice but to myself I plug Association.
In order to be able to join the Alliance, we should choose a common name for martial arts, using kicks and punches. While he was Taekwon – Do already widely known and practiced in the Army, the Oh Do Kwan, Chung Do Kwan and many civilian schools still uporaboljale names like Tang Soo, Kong Soo or Kwon Bub.
In late autumn 1959, I invited the leaders of the four main Kwan’s to his home. No, Byung Jik represented Song Moo Kwan; Yoon, Byung kWe, Ji Do Kwan; Lee, Nam Suk, Chang Moo Kwan and Hwang, who represented the Moo Duk Kwan. I am representing the Oh Do Kwan and Chung Do Kwan.
I told them that we must unite under a common name that could be applied for membership in the Korea Sports Union. I explained to them that Taekwon – Do in the army is already well known and that we are under that name worked presentations in Vietnam and the Republic of China.
No, Byung Jik and Lee, Nam Suk persisted in using the name Tang Soo and Hwang, Ki wanted to use Tang Soo. I told them: “I do not understand why you insist on the use of names of Japanese Karate. The essential purpose of this meeting is to finally give up the Korean variants of the names of Japanese Karate: Kong Soo and Tang Soo. ”
I raised my voice and said: “Now we have our own philosophy and techniques of Korean identity, so combined under a single name Taekwon – Do.” Finally, the masters agreed and formed Korea Taekwon – Do Association.
I was elected president of the Association, No, Byung Jik and Yoon, Byung kWe became Vice-President Hwang, Ki was determined for the Chairman of the Board.
It was the first time that the leaders of the six main Kwan’s agreed to use the name Taekwon – Do. While we waited for a response to our request, on 19 April 1960 student uprising occurred, which threw the government of President Rhee’s and our hope for a reception in the Sports Alliance it is going after mushrooms. It took another two years, that our application is finally approved.
16 May 1961, you participated in the military coup that seized power and later made General Park, Chung Hee as President of Korea. What factors led to your strife with him?
First let me explain the relationship between the generals Park-Om and me. I was one of the 110 founding fathers of the Korean Army. General Park was my subordinates and I have always been, addressed to “Mr”.
The reason that I joined Pucu, was to me one of my colleagues said that movement led by General Chang, Do Young, a member of the General Staff of the Army. Later I found out that General Park only used the name in order to convince others to join Pucu. After successful coup, General Park accused General Chang a counterrevolution and exiled in the United States.
Initially, General Park promised the Korean people that the Pucu managed to return to the army. In fact, he and his followers busy with preparations for assuming the presidential office.
General Park-in, I was advised to stick to the promise given by the people, and soon returned to the Army, so people would be able to continue to respect. Instead followed my advice, I was forced to retire and appointed me Ambassador to Malaysia.
Why is 1962 the Korea Taekwon – Do Association changed its name to the Korea Tae Soo Do Association?
With my appointment as Ambassador to Malaysia in 1962, I again tried to register the Korea Taekwon – Do Association with the Korea Sports Union. Then the leading positions in Kwon’s already a new generation of masters. I asked Um, Eung Kyu-ja, President of Chung Do Kwan, Lee Jong Woo, Chief Instructor of Ji Do Kwan and Lee, Nam Suk-a, President of Chang Moo Kwan to his home.
During the meeting, the conversation revolved around the question, what name to choose. I told them that was the name of Taekwon – Do is already selected, and if they want to discuss another name to go ahead. With these words I left the meeting.
A few days following the publication in the newspapers that the name Taekwon – Do changed to Tae Soo Do and that I was elected President of the Korea Tae Soo Do Association. I rejected this position because I did not agree with the name change. Anyway, I walked in Malaysia and I knew that the more years I will not return to Korea. I recommended The General Chae, Myung Shin for the post of President, which is of me received a black belt fifth day in Taekwon – Do.
To take care of the future of Taekwon – Do-yes, I ordered Um, Eung Kyu, President of Chung Do Kwan, Nam, Tae Hee, President of Oh Do Kwan, and Hyun, Jong Myung-u, President of the Student Taekwon – Do association to establish the Korea Taekwon – Do association. And then I went to Malaysia.
What you have achieved as Korean Ambassador to Malaysia?
When I arrived in Malaysia, the people did not know much about Korea. I have decided that it is best to introduce them to Korea through my calligraphy (the art of writing) and Taekwon – Do. So, I sponsored an exhibition of my Calligraphy and displayed next to pictures of Taekwon – Do. Reporters who reported the opening, showed great interest in Taekwon – Do and asked me to demonstrate some Taekwon – Do techniques. I took off to the shirts and they show some Taekwon – Do techniques. The next day, the articles and pictures of my demonstration appeared in many newspapers, but in Seoul did not approve.
Displaying techniques in your own t-shirt, the members of the Korean government seemed unworthy ambassador.
But the President of the Government of Malaysia, Dung Ku Rama, praised my show Taekwon – Do’s and asked me to prepare a demonstration of Taekwon – Do-ja to the commemoration of the Malay Independence Day in 1963. Only Taekwon – Do-ja was broadcast on television. It was seen by the audience throughout Malaysia, as well as the viewers in neighboring countries. Soon this country have asked that they send Taekwon – Do instructors to teach their citizens the martial arts. Now the Taekwon – Do spreading throughout Southeast Asia and in each country was founded national Taekwon – Do Association.
In February of 1964, I flew to Saigon, Vietnam, to meet with Major Baek, Joon Ki-eat, head of Korean Taekwon – Do instructors in Vietnam. Major was a great military officer and a good Taekwon – Do instructor. All Taekwon – Do instructors in Vietnam gathered at a seminar where I introduced the Tul that I had created. Because the seminar was organized very quickly, it was the only place where we can be practiced, the roof of the hotel. It was terribly hot and very humid. Korean Ambassador to Vietnam, General Shin, Sang Chul, who was present at the seminar expressed concern for my health in such conditions. At the seminar, all the instructors learned the new Tul and then began to teach in Vietnam.
Later I sent the manuscript of the new Tul a Leek. Colonel Woo, Jong-u Lim, Head of Oh Do Kwan in Korea and instructed him to teach him the Oh Do Kwan and in the Korean army.
By the summer of 1964, I finished 20 of 24 forms (Tul) and created a solid fund of techniques and forms an emergent textbook Taekwon – Do in English. Also during this time, the new Tul becoming more and more popular in Southeast Asia and Korea.
When you returned in 1965 in Korea, you have become President of the Korea Tae Soo Do Association. Soon after your return, you changed the name to the Korea Taekwon – Do Association. Tell me, please, what were the conditions in the Taekwon – Do in Korea.
When I returned to Korea, was the Korea Tae Soo Do Association was a member of the Korea Sports Association. Rules for competitions in Tae Soo Do-they were not much different from those of Japanese Karate. I knew I had to change things and that I remembered an old Korean river: “If you want to catch the tiger cub, you have to cross the tiger’s den.” And so I became the president of the association.
Shortly thereafter, I called a meeting of the General Assembly and proposed to change the name from Tae Soo Do to Taekwon – Do. Name change was voted by the difference of a single vote, and I remember delegate who cried and lamented the change of name. The reason that I managed to change the name was that I, despite its disagreement with General Park-om on political affairs, to keep the reputation and power as a retired general with two stars and ambassador.
In 1966 you formed the International Taekwon – Do Federation (ITF). What was your purpose in setting up the organization and who you are at this time to help?
In 1965, when I was President of the Korea Taekwon – Do Association, my Korean Ambassador to West Germany, my friend, General Choi, Duk Shin, said that much interest in the tour Taekwon – Do demonstration team in Europe. He arranged with respect to official invitations for a tour through six European and Asian countries.
Proper documentation of the travel allowance I sent the Presidential Office. For the tour I chose the name “Kukk Taekwon – Do Goodwill Demonstration Team” (shot of good will to demonstrate national Taekwon – Do). This was the first time that I used the term Kukk Taekwon – Do (National Taekwon – Do) in an official document.
Team members were Han, Cha Kyo, Park Jong Soo Kwon, Jae Hwa and Kim Joong Keun. I was the team leader. We have traveled to Germany, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia and Singapore. The tour has been very successful and has consequently led to the creation of Taekwon – Do Associations in these countries.
On 22 March 1966, representatives of nine countries gathered in Seoul to establish the International Taekwon – Do Federation (ITF). Mr. Kim, Jong Phil, Chairman of the ruling Kong Hwa Dang party, was elected honorary president, and I was elected President. Lee, Han Ra, the Malaysian Secretary for Trade and Industry, was elected Vice President, Um, Eung Kyu the Principal Secretary and Lee, Jong Woo The Chairman of the Technical Committee. The newly established International Taekwon – Do Federation was throughout Korean history, the first example of an international organization based in Korea and the Korean President.
Member States of the International Taekwon – Do Federation (ITF) were Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, West Germany, United States, Italy and Egypt. The organization is a mere two years has risen to thirty Member States.
How is it that he became Taekwon – Do so popular and that it was so widely practiced during the Vietnam War?
Vietnam was the first country where it is so widely taught Taekwon – Do. As I said, our demonstration of Taekwon – Do-ja in 1959 so impressed President Go Din Diem to ask for instructors to teach the Vietnamese military. The first group of instructors, who arrived in Vietnam in 1962, was led by Major Nam, Tae Hee. These instructors have taught both the Vietnamese military and civilians, as well as Korean and other foreign soldiers in Vietnam.
As the war expanded, the increase in the number of instructors sent to Vietnam. Until 1973 it was in Vietnam shipped 647 Taekwon – Do instructors. They brought newer techniques and new Tul-e, I have been developed. The strength of Korean soldiers, obtained by Taekwon – Do training, it has had a psychological effect on the Viet Kong. With training Taekwon – Do-ja Korean soldiers have developed excellent physical condition, strong mentality and superior combat techniques. Head of the Viet Kong-but its troops were advised to rather withdraw than cope when encountering Korean soldiers.
Ironically, that Taekwon – Do spread so because of the war. Many foreign soldiers who have Taekwon – Do learned in Vietnam, later invited their instructors to visit them in their home country. Because of Vietnam, many instructors have the opportunity to teach Taekwon – Do throughout the world.
General Choi, I would like to ask you a difficult and personal question. What were the reasons for your exile from Korea?
Then, when he was a second elected President, General Park Chung Hee had consolidated its power in Korea. The political situation in the country I was raised to believe that I ended up under house arrest or jail if I do not support his policy. I saw what he did to his political opponents. In such political circumstances I would not have the freedom to promote Taekwon – Do or run the International Taekwon – Do Federation. And Taekwon – Do was my life.
After the elections, President Park sent Kim, Un Young-a, Deputy Head of President’s protection, to take over the Korea Taekwon – Do Association. Shortly thereafter, the Korea Taekwon – Do Association began to interfere in the affairs of the International Taekwon – Do Federation.
August 1971 I chaired a meeting of the Standing Committee of the International Taekwon – Do Federation. At this meeting, I said: “My dear members, president of the ITF Korean, but this does not mean that the Korean government can be operated or managed by the ITF. It is an international organization that can not allow any country to pressures affect our decisions. After this meeting, I started planning my secret departure from Korea.
Is there any particular reason that you chose to go into exile in Canada?
Yes. The first reason is that Canada, despite its belonging to the Western bloc to maintain a neutral position in international affairs. I felt that I’m from Canada will be free to travel to the land of the east and west block and in third world countries to spread the art of Taekwon – Do.
Another reason is the fact that Canada is geographically roughly in the middle between Europe and South America, so that it can travel on two continents.
The third reason is that my dear student Park Jong Soo, has created a strong foundation of Taekwon – Do in Canada and led a very successful school. This is to facilitate the relocation of the seat of the International Taekwon – Do Federation to Canada.
And last but not least, I also know that in Montreal, Canada, the 1976 Olympic Games. With a base in Canada, I had a good opportunity to promote Taekwon – Do as an Olympic event.
What was the reaction of the Korean Government when it was learned that a retired Korean general two-star living in exile in Canada?
President Park sent many prominent members of the National Assembly to try to persuade me to return to Korea. They told me that I was President promised a place in the Cabinet as an example. Foreign Affairs Secretary or Ambassador in the land of my choice.
After I rejected these initial attempts, he sent many of my good friends, to convince me to come back. When this also failed, the President kidnapped my son and my daughter and threatened their death, if they do not come back. My answer was: “Taekwon – Do means more to me than my son.”
President Park, who is well acquainted with my character and determination, ordered Kim, Un Young-u to establish the World Taekwon – Do Federation (WTF), which will fight against the International Taekwon – Do Federation (ITF).
Any problems you encounter after 25 years of exile?
Nobody knows how lonely the life of a man in exile. I have no money and no friends who could joke and laugh. But I have never regretted my decision to leave Korea because I got the opportunity to spread Taekwon – Do throughout the world. And I taught Taekwon – Do without regard to race, religion, nationality or ideology. In this respect, I am the happiest man in the world and I am proud that I have in this world left their mark.
Spreading Taekwon – Do-ja is a very demanding job. Constantly traveling, I organize seminars, presentations and lead chair championship. And all this is done despite the fact that we officers of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency and Korean diplomatic personnel threatened with death.
Agents of the Korean government have told airport officials that I was the leader of the terrorist organization, which serves the President of Korea to live and to refuse me entry into the country. The pressure are the owners of gyms, let us not resign for seminars. Many times we had to organize seminars in public parks.
On several occasions, they send my old pupils with a mission to kidnap me. After a life I served well armed killers. Officers KCIA (Intelligence) threatened the parents of ITF instructors who teach in other countries, if these instructors continued to associate with me. Or they are threatened instructors that they will not renew passports, if they continue to hang out with me. And so I eventually left the majority of instructors in other countries.
Due to the pressure exerted by the Korean government implemented over me, I became stronger than ever and I focused all my energy into developing new Taekwon – Do techniques. Worldwide teach the same system of Taekwon – Do.
General, in 1974 he organized the first World Taekwon – Do Championships in Montreal, Canada. Does the championship continue today?
Yes, in September 1999 the 11th World Championship in Argentina. By 1969 he had the International Taekwon – Do Federation has 30 member countries. The first World Cup I planned in Korea, which never materialized.
When I arrived in Canada, I found that I have more freedom to plan and organize the championship. The first happened in Canada, followed by a championship in the United States, Argentina, Scotland, Greece, Hungary, Canada again, North Korea, Malaysia, Russia, and again this year in Argentina. At the world championships compete in sparring, forms and breakingu (breaking)
Many people tell me that you are a political act against the Korean government. Would you like to comment on these allegations?
People should distinguish between “anti-government” and “against the dictator.” I fought against the dictator Park Chung Hee and his followers.
Park Chung Hee, I know better than anyone else. I believe that Park had no qualifications for president and I have always been convinced that Park is not a legitimate president.
He graduated from the Japanese Military Academy and fought against the Korean Revolutionary Army during the Japanese occupation. After the independence of Korea has joined the Korean Army and then led the uprising against the Korean government. During his trial at a court-martial, I was one of the judges who sentenced him to death.
With it, I was involved in a military coup, because I believed that movement led by General Chang, Do Young, the Commander in Chief of the Army. But Park has abused the General’s name and deceived so many generals who participated in the coup. General Chang and I were among the judges who were involved in the Park pampered military trial. While some of the generals, including myself, objected to his candidacy for president, Park forced us that we are retired, General Chang but was sent into exile in the United States.
After Park became president, he changed the Korean Constitution so many times that it actually became “President for life”. Using the Korean Intelligence (KCIA) is accurately determined freedom of the Korean people.
Indeed, the political situation forced me into exile in Canada. In Canada, I tried to inform the world of what is happening in Korea. Through the media, I urged the Korean army to throw a dictator Park and Korea reimbursed democracy.
Park’s dictatorship lasted 18 years, from 1961 to 1979. But what happened? Park lost his life because he trusted the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) to General Kim Yae Kyu
Park’s death did not lead to the end of the totalitarian regime. General Chun Doo Hwan and General Ro, Tae Woo took the power and continued the military Government until the beginning of 1990. In these circumstances, I will continue my fight against the dictatorship, not against the Korean people.
When and why did you visit North Korea? How did this visit change the destiny of the International Taekwon – Do Federation (ITF)?
One of the reasons that went into exile in Canada, this was to spread Taekwon – Do throughout the world without regard to ideology, race, religion or nationality. In Canada, I came up with the idea, it would be wise to begin to teach Taekwon – Do in North Korea and I started to train instructors who would do the job. Via North Korea could spread Taekwon – Do in other communist countries and in third world countries.
In capitalist countries, I saw many unqualified coaches who have opened their schools only to make money. I decided to create a North Korea instructors who were not contaminated by Western consumer mentality. In this way you can develop a genuine philosophy and techniques of Taekwon – Do. I thought also that this trend be encouraged and motivated instructors in the free world.
Most of the Taekwon – Do instructors that I have coached and taught in other countries, I started to leave, when he founded the World Taekwon – Do Federation (WTF). In 1980, there were only ten Taekwon – Do instructors with me. When I left my faithful disciples, my heart hurt. But these events have offered me the opportunity to develop the new techniques and find new sources of instructors.
In 1982, I was Mr. Kim, Yoo Soon, President of the Sports Association of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, invited to bring a demonstration of Taekwon – Do team in North Korea. Vice Prime Minister Chung, Joon Ki and many other high state officials adopted petnajstčlansko demonstration team at the airport in Pyongyan-gu.
During our two-week tour we visited several places and our presentation were all very successful. They were even so successful that I before departure, Minister Chung said, “We decided to start to teach Taekwon – Do in our country, so please send us Taekwon – Do instructors.”
After my return from Pyongyang-six months but I trained Master Park, Jung Tae in the basement of my home while deleting all characteristic features of Karate.
Master Park went to North Korea and began teaching Taekwon – Do in February 1982. He taught for seven months and received a monthly salary of $ 2,000.00. In September 1982, I returned to North Korea and conducted a two-day seminar where I taught the fine details form (Tul) and techniques.
I tested 44 pupils. 19 of them passed the exam for black belt – fourth degree, the rest of the black belt – the third step. After the examination was Master Rhee, Ki Ha very happy and asked me how they learned so much form (Tul) and techniques in such a short time. It was a miracle of Taekwon – Do. I also was very impressed and I told Master Rhee and Master Park-u: “Now I have enough Taekwon – Do instructors to spread Taekwon – Do throughout the world!”
With new instructors we organize presentations in Pyongyang Nam Pho and Chung Jin City. We were greeted with great enthusiasm. I praised Master Park-but for his excellent teaching in North Korea and gave him a black belt – the eighth day.
Today, North Korea Training Taekwon – Do’s taking place in all primary and secondary school gyms. The level of training of Taekwon – Do’s in North Korea are among the highest in the world. Many North Korean instructors went overseas to other countries to teach Taekwon – Do.
Throughout history, the peoples of Korea, China and Japan culture exchange among themselves and waged war against each other. When was Taekwon – Do first brought to China and the importance of the introduction of Taekwon – Do-ja in China?
As you know, Korea and China geographically closely linked. China is a very big country with Korea acted as if the older brother acted with his younger brother. Taekwon – Do is this mentality upside down. The Government of the Republic of China invited the Korean demonstration Taekwon – Do team to appear in Taipei in 1959 after a three-week tour in Vietnam.
We made presentations in Dae Buk and in Dae-Nam. Our performance in Dae Buk was attended by many high-ranking Chinese government, including Chiang, Kyung Kuk-om, Presidents son and second most influential man in China.
In 1967, during the state visit to the Republic of China President Chiang, Kai Sek asked the Prime Minister Jung, Il Kwon-but to send Taekwon – Do instructors to teach Chinese soldiers. I have chosen five of the best instructors Taekwon – Do’s and sent them to China under the leadership of Lt.. Colonel Hong, Sung In-a. When I visited Taipei a year later, my pores. Colonel Hong said: “Now, Korea has become the nation of teachers and China a nation of learners.” Taekwon – Do changed the attitude of the older – the younger brother of the relationship teacher – student.
The introduction of Taekwon – Do-ROM in the People’s Republic of China was no easy task. Mainland Chinese (from inland) believed that all Asian martial arts originated in China. They want to learn martial arts of other countries. Until 1982, I collected a large number of instructors and asked Mr. Deuk Joon, Vice President of Sports Association of the Democratic People’s Republic of China, in the name of our contact with mainland China.
Indeed, both the land agreed to exchange martial arts programs and in 1986 I took a group of thirty North Korean instructors in a friendly tournament in Beijing. Mr. Suh Jae, President of China Wu Shu Federation, it was warmly received. We had a presentation in Beijing-u and Sian City. The arena was packed with spectators and our success is ultimately persuaded China to quietly (unofficial) approve teaching Taekwon – Do-ja in China.
The following year, I was Professor Choi, Bong Ki Yun Byun University invited seventy students learn Taekwon – Do. And so it gradually began to teach Taekwon – Do throughout China.
General, when you Taekwon – Do products back to Japan? What was the significance of the introduction of Taekwon – Do-ja in Japan?
One of the main reasons why I created Taekwon – Do, was that it was separated from the Japanese Karate. I wanted to show the superiority of philosophy and techniques of Taekwon – Do over Karate ja-compliant. Since 1960 I dreamed to open a school Taekwon – Do in Tokyo, patiently but I had to wait for 20 years.
In 1981, I was invited to introduce Taekwon – Do in Korean docking conference in Tokyo. Masters Park Jung Tae, Kim Suk Joon and Jong Suk Young, have made an excellent presentation of Taekwon – Do. Later, Mr. Jun, Jin Shiki came to me and begging me to build a Taekwon – Do school in Tokyo. He was one of the most important Korean businessmen in Japan and offered me all the financial support. September 1982, we opened a school in Tokyo.
I am very grateful to Mr Jun-u, who had died a few years ago. With his help every day thousands of Japanese teaches Taekwon – Do. When I see Japanese students bow to the Korean Flag and to Korean instructors in mind going back to the time of the Japanese occupation of Korea. I bow to the memory of all the victims in order to achieve the independence of Korea.
Once you’ve worked with Mas Oyamo when trying to develop Taekwon – Do, but vajino partnership was not successful.
In 1966, I was while returning from a visit to the United States stopped in Tokyo. One of my friends told me that Mas Oyama was in the process of obtaining Japanese citizenship. As you know, Mas Oyama was born in Korea. Even very young he left his home and most of his life spent in Japan as a Korean citizen.
I decided to visit him and try to persuade them not adopted Japanese citizenship. First, I praised his achievements in Karate-ROM, and then I spoke about the life of his brother in Korea. I told him that Korea needs people like him, and that it should be returned to Korea. Total should spread Taekwon – Do. If this were done, his name would become part of Korean history. Master Oyama replied that he understood what I told him and then he went home with the promise to visit me the next day.
The next morning I was from Mr. Lee, Sung Woo, a good friend of Master Oyama, learned that it was Master Oyama after our conversation last night, visited him and said: “I was born in Korea, but early on I came to Japan. With the help of Prime Minister Sato’s I achieved the success that I have today. Mr. Prime Minister has encouraged me to become a Japanese citizen. ”
After talking with Mr. Lee-eat I felt that Master Oyama was wavering in relation to his decision to become a Japanese citizen. So I invited Master Oyamo in Korea. We visited Seoul and the DMZ. For him, I organized a demonstration of Taekwon – Do-ROM. Later on, we also went to his hometown, where he visited his brother and relatives. I allow him an interview on KBS TV.
Before returning to Japan, I was at the airport Kimpo said: “A simple man I am. I do not believe that to survive in such an environment. “And then he left Korea.
Although our paths have separated, we become sworn blood brothers. I am the elder brother and Mas Oyama is my younger brother.
Why do you think Taekwon – Do spread rapidly around the world?
The reasons are certainly more. The first is the development of transportation. Since 1959, I have traveled thousands of miles to be staged demonstrations, conduct seminars and championships. Without jets it would be impossible to travel the world.
Another reason is the development of printing technology and electronics industry. Millions of Taekwon – Do students and instructors taught Taekwon – Do-ROM from my books, video recordings and CD-ROMs.
The third reason is that Taekwon – Do contains cutting-edge techniques in quality above other martial arts. The philosophy is based on my personal experiences and Asian wisdom. The techniques are based on scientific movement. And lastly for this deserving instructors Taekwon – Do-ja worldwide.
Do you believe that the merger of the International Taekwon – Do Federation (ITF) and the World Taekwon – Do Federation (WTF) has contributed to the unification of North and South Korea?
Yes. North Korea is a member of the ITF and South Korea is a member of the WTF. The merger of Taekwon – Do-ja would motivate various groups, including politicians, to work for the reunification of the two Koreas. Taekwon – Do instructors do not have the same freedom of speech as instructors worldwide. So should instructors in other countries play a greater role and should serve as a bridge between South and North Korea.
In order to open the door between the two sides, should instructors from other countries to visit and attend seminars, demonstrations and championships of both Federations. Frequent meetings of the instructors of the two groups would eliminate mistrust. In this way, it created the environment would be a very important step towards the reunification of Korea.
What would you like to do first when you come back to Korea?
First, I would like to visit the grave of my mother and her tribute. All my life I stayed her debtor, but I could not be with her on her last day because I was in Malaysia.
Secondly, I would like to visit some of his old friends. To revive memories of the good old days when we were in the army. And finally, I would like also to visit their Taekwon – Do students to see how they live today.
General, I know that you are in excellent health. It astonished me is the fact that you have every day seminar taught by six hours.
Yes, I’m over 80 years, but currently I am in excellent health. But who knows what will happen tomorrow?
Thank you, sir, that you told me about his life work in Taekwon – Do.
Following the direction of the General Choi he succeeded by his son Choi Jung Hwa.
Choi Jung Hwa 9th degree was promoted to IX Degree on the 50th Anniversary of Taekwon-Do, April 11th 2005.
Choi Jung Hwa was born on Cheju Island, Korea in 1954. His earliest recollections of training are around 6 years of age, shortly before General Choi’s hectic schedule and diligent work in spreading Taekwon-Do globally. Constantly surrounded by visiting high- ranking instructors, Choi Jung Hwa trained with many instructors during this period.
He served many years on the ITF Board, accompanying his Father throughout seminars across the world and later conducting many International Seminars in his own rite. Choi Jung Hwa has impressed those who he has trained alongside with his skill within the art, but more importantly, as a person.
Choi Jung Hwa was democratically elected as President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation at the 2001 ITF congress. However, Choi Jung Hwa wished it so that his father remain the ITF president for a further 2 years. This was not to be, as our founder sadly passed away less than 12 months later. Choi Jung Hwa has since then as the direct heir of General Choi Hong Hi, continued his father’s work, rightfully inheriting the title as President, of the international Taekwon-Do Federation, and in doing so continuing the teaching of true Taekwon-Do.
‘For many years I tried to instigate change within the International Taekwon-Do Federation from the inside, many aspects were rotten to the core, and with the stronghold some people had over General Choi it became impossible to change. The members spoke democratically by electing me as the next President. That appointment was seen as a threat to those who had their own future plans for the ITF after the founder’s death, and they used their influence over him to have the election result overturned unconstitutionally. The ITF constitution did not allow them to expel the president-elect, without following the appropriate channels. This was confirmed by the ITF’s own legal adviser, who since resigned. General Choi had the wrong intentions for ITF in his later years, and tried unsuccessfully to assume all control to North Korea, this was unsatisfactory and many ITF people refuse to accept this situation.’
Choi Jung Hwa 2002
Our president works extensively, promoting taekwon-Do around the world the way it was intended to be done so. He is responsible for promoting and developing the art in many Eastern European countries such as Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Romania the former USSR and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, he has also instigated the introduction of Taekwon-Do to many African nations. The ITF World Championships held in Korea in 2004 created History, as it was the return of Taekwon-Do to it’s birthplace, and Choi Jung Hwa’s. As well as expansion, Choi Jung Hwa seeks preservation. Preservation of authentic and true Taekwon-Do, so that it may remain and be handed down from generation to generation in it’s purest form.
‘Let us not forget the legacy, nor the indelible impression that he has left in the lives of all who are dedicated to the essence of the beloved art of his invention. I know my father would command us all if we continued with the same vigor and zest which personified his life, the promotion of Taekwon-Do worldwide’
Choi Jung Hwa
As much as our president emphasizes the correct interpretation of ‘Taekwon’, in its technique, application, theory and reason. Choi Jung Hwa also places an equal if not greater emphasis on the ‘Do’. Therefore, the Moral and cultural aspects of Taekwon-Do are addressed consistently by Choi Jung Hwa, so that all demonstrate and understand the ethical qualities required to hold any position within Taekwon-Do, particularly those of seniority and authority.
I hope that people delve more diligently into the moral culture and morality because that is what Taekwon-Do stands for’
Choi Jung Hwa
‘We only want to pursue our martial arts goal and will continue to contribute for the benefit of society, not for a handful of athletes, or for the glory of one country’
Choi Jung Hwa
I believe that through the free exchange of information we will be able to build a more knowledgeable, peaceful and democratic world’
(Željko Gvozdič and GM Choi Jung-Hwa, South Korea 2010)