Choi Hong Hi (9 November
1918 – 15 June 2002), also known as General Choi,
was a South Korean army general and martial artist who
is a controversial figure in the history of the Korean
martial art of taekwondo. Choi is regarded by many as
the 'Founder of Taekwondo'—most often by International
Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) organizations.
Others, such as World
Taekwondo Federation (WTF) organizations, portray Choi
as either an unimportant or a dishonorable figure in taekwondo
history, whether by omitting him from their versions of
taekwondo history or through explicit statements.
History of Taekwondon as
it is defined in Wikipedia.
The oldest Korean martial art was an amalgamation of unarmed
combat styles developed by the three rival Korean Kingdoms
of Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje, where young men were trained
in unarmed combat techniques to develop strength, speed,
and survival skills. The most popular of these techniques
was subak, with taekkyeon being the most popular of the
segments of subak. Those who demonstrated strong natural
aptitude were selected as trainees in the new special
warrior corps, called the Hwarang. It was believed that
young men with a talent for the liberal arts may have
the grace to become competent warriors. These warriors
were instructed in academics as well as martial arts,
learning philosophy, history, a code of ethics, and equestrian
sports. Their military training included an extensive
weapons program involving swordsmanship and archery, both
on horseback and on foot, as well as lessons in military
tactics and unarmed combat using subak. Although subak
was a leg-oriented art in Goguryeo, Silla's influence
added hand techniques to the practice of subak.
this time a few select Silla warriors were given training
in taekkyeon by the early masters from Koguryo. These
warriors then became known as the Hwarang. The Hwarang
set up a military academy for the sons of royalty in Silla
called Hwarang-do, which means "the way of flowering
manhood." The Hwarang studied taekkyeon, history,
Confucian philosophy, ethics, Buddhist morality, social
skills and military tactics. The guiding principles of
the Hwarang warriors were based on Won Gwang's five codes
of human conduct and included loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness,
valor and justice. Taekkyeon was spread throughout Korea
because the Hwarang traveled all around the peninsula
to learn about the other regions and people.
In spite of Korea's
rich history of ancient and traditional martial arts,
Korean martial arts faded into obscurity during the Joseon
Dynasty. Korean society became highly centralized under
Korean Confucianism and martial arts were poorly regarded
in a society whose ideals were epitomized by its scholar-kings.
Formal practices of traditional martial arts such as subak
and taekkyeon were reserved for sanctioned military uses.
Civilian folk practice of taekkyeon persisted into the
During the Japanese
occupation of Korea (1910–1945), all facets of ethnic
Korean identity were banned or suppressed. Traditional
Korean martial arts such as taekkyeon or subak were banned
during this time. During the occupation, Koreans who were
able to study and receive rankings in Japan were exposed
to Japanese martial arts.Others were exposed to martial
arts in China and Manchuria.
When the occupation
ended in 1945, Korean martial arts schools (kwans) began
to open in Korea under various influences. There are differing
views on the origins of the arts taught in these schools.
Some believe that they taught martial arts that were based
primarily upon the traditional Korean martial arts taekkyon
and subak, or that taekwondo was derived from native Korean
martial arts with influences from neighboring countries.
Still others believe that these schools taught arts that
were almost entirely based upon karate.
In 1952, at the height
of the Korean War, there was a martial arts exhibition
in which the kwans displayed their skills. In one demonstration,
Nam Tae Hi smashed 13 roof tiles with a punch. Following
this demonstration, South Korean President Syngman Rhee
instructed Choi Hong Hi to introduce the martial arts
to the Korean army. By the mid-1950s, nine kwans had emerged.
Syngman Rhee ordered that the various schools unify under
a single system. The name "taekwondo" was submitted
by either Choi Hong Hi (of the Oh Do Kwan) or Song Duk
Son (of the Chung Do Kwan), and was accepted on April
11, 1955. As it stands today, the nine kwans are the founders
of taekwondo, though not all the kwans used the name.
The Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) was formed in 1959/1961
to facilitate the unification.
In the early 1960s,
Taekwondo made its début worldwide with assignment
of the original masters of taekwondo to various countries.
Standardization efforts in South Korea stalled, as the
kwans continued to teach differing styles. Another request
from the Korean government for unification resulted in
the formation of the Korea Tae Soo Do Association, which
changed its name back to the Korea Taekwondo Association
in 1965 following a change of leadership. The International
Taekwon-Do Federation was founded in 1966, followed by
World Taekwondo Federation in 1973.
Since 2000, Taekwondo
has been one of only two Asian martial arts (the other
being judo) that are included in the Olympic Games; it
became a demonstration event starting with the 1988 games
in Seoul, and became an official medal event starting
with the 2000 games in Sydney. In 2010, Taekwondo was
accepted as a Commonwealth Games sport.
One source has estimated
that as of 2009, Taekwondo was practiced in 123 countries,
with over 30 million practitioners and 3 million individuals
with black belts throughout the world.
The South Korean government in the same year published
an estimate of 70 million practitioners in 190 countries.