Our History

General Choi Hong Hi
Our History
Our History

General Choi Hong Hi

11-Oct-2013 10:12

Our Founder, General Choi Hong Hi, (2 Star) Major-General (Army Serial #10044)

Ambassador Choi was the “principle founder” of Taekwon-Do as credited by the Encyclopedia Britannica. As a founding member of the south Korean Army he taught martial arts to the soldiers assigned to him from 1946. He named Taekwon-Do and promoted it endlessly as the Korean Martial Art of Self Defense. He was the Vice President of a short-lived Taekwon-Do Association of Korea in 1957. He formed the Korean Taekwon-Do Association (KTA) in 1959 and served as the first President. Also in 1959 he wrote the first book on Taekwon-Do and led the Military Taekwon-Do Demonstration Team to Vietnam and Taiwan, marking the first time ever Taekwon-Do was performed abroad.

General Choi would devise 26 Patterns or Tuls. These were the first Korean forms ever created. In 1962 he personally introduced Taekwon-Do to Malaysia when he was assigned there as the first Korean Ambassador. In 1965 he led a Korean government sponsored Kukki Taekwon-Do Goodwill tour around the world. The tour formed the base in 1966 for creating International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), the world’s first global governing body for Taekwon-Do. This marked the first time ever that Korea was home to any international organization. The ITF would grow to have millions of members in well over a hundred countries and he would preside over 17 of their World Championships during his lifetime. General Choi traveled the world tirelessly to teach and promote the original Taekwon-Do. He authored 5 books on the subject, many of which had numerous editions and several reprints. His written works have been translated into at least 8 languages. He also oversaw the development of various sets of electronic recordings of what he created; making it the most documented Martial Art ever.

Background & Accomplishments

General Choi Hong-Hi was born in 1918 in Hwa Dae Ri, Ham Kyung Buk Do, a Province in the northeastern part of Korea near Cheongjin. It is important to note that when General Choi was born, Korea was a unified Nation. However Korea was suffering under a brutal occupation by Imperial Japan. Koreans often refer to this time as the “Dark Period.” When he was born Korea utilized the Lunar calendar. Using the Lunar calendar his birthday was November 9, 1918. However on the Western calendar it was December 22. However General Choi preferred to celebrate his birthday on November 9 on the Western calendar, thus combining the two cultures he would come to live within.

General Choi had been exposed to stories and some basic Taek Kyon techniques to bolster his health and confidence when he studied Calligraphy as a frail teenager. Ironically his Father sent him to study Calligraphy and the Chinese classics as he was expelled from his local Japanese controlled school for participating in protests as a youngster. This demonstrated early on his stubbornness, strong independence streak, affinity for justice and anti-Japanese sentiment, the latter influenced by his Father’s feelings that they shared. Years later as he grew older he went to Japan to further his academic education. While there he would go onto earn a II Dan Black Belt in a form of Shotokan Karate. Independent sources confirm that he did indeed teach Karate in Japan at a YMCA before returning home to Korea.

As World War II was winding down, the Japanese who were now clearly losing, resorted to forcefully conscripting Korean males into military service. Once drafted into service through no volition of his own, a young Choi Hong-Hi became involved in a plot to overthrow the Imperial Japanese Colonial Government. Eventually the plotters planned to join what some called the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army and the efforts of Korean guerrilla warrior Kim Il-Sung, who rose to be a commander of their underground resistance and independence movement. He was high on the Japanese most wanted list. The success of this movement and Korean resistance army was aided by the availability to move back and forth across the borders of China and the Soviet Union that were located in this northeast region of Korea. Traitors who were Korean collaborators reported the plans and General Choi and others were jailed. While he was imprisoned he trained in his Karate and at times even instructed the prison guards, as verified by a fellow inmate who was involved in the plot and also held in confinement as a jail mate.

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The end of WWII spared General Choi and he was released from captivity in Pyongyang. He went to Seoul and became instrumental in helping to set up the south Korean government, advocating for democratic national control and against communism. As a young 2nd Lieutenant he started to teach his soldiers Karate under the Tang Su Do label. As this Junior Officer moved up the ranks, he continued to spread this through not only his personal teaching efforts, but he also later recruited Korean Martial Artists to become instructors to teach the growing number of soldiers under his command. Even when he traveled to the United States for military training as early as 1949, he took the opportunity to display his martial art (most likely first Korean to do so).

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A prime example of this initiative to teach the martial arts to his soldiers was when as a General he was tasked to form a new Division on JeJu Island. The 29th Infantry would become known as the “Fist Division”. It was here that he had Lieutenant Nam Tae-Hi and Sergeant Han Cha-Kyo, members of the Chung Do Kwan transferred under his command and assigned to teach the Martial Arts to the soldiers of this new Infantry Division. The use of General Choi’s fist on the Division Flag and emblem was symbolic of the Martial fighting spirit the young General wanted to instill in his Troops. A monument was erected on JeJu Island to commemorate the historic “Fist Division” inauguration. This monument contains the Calligraphy of Gen. Choi, labeling and teaching about that Martial Spirit. As a result of this history JeJu Island has come to be known as the “Womb of Taekwon-Do”.

When this famous Division completed their training they moved to mainland Korea. General Choi arranged for a martial art demonstration for the south Korean President Dr. Seung-Man Rhee, PhD. The performance was in honor of both the President’s birthday and the 1-year anniversary celebration of the “Fist” Division’s formation. Their exhibition was so successful that the President stated that this should be taught to all the Troops! Dr. Rhee had also called what they showed Taek Kyon, an indigenous Korean martial folk game that predated the Japanese occupation. General Choi however knew that is was more correctly called Tang Soo Do. This event provided motivation to find a new name for what would become a Korean Martial Art of self-defense.

Later in the fall and winter of that year (1954) General Choi, utilizing both his advanced education and Calligraphy skills that involved extensive knowledge of Chinese characters and language, searched for and later conceived of the new term Tae Kwon Do. This label more accurately reflected the shifting emphasis on the use of the legs for kicking. It of course had a word for fist, but like the “Fist Division,” a hand formed into a fist signified strength. So Kwon was joined with Tae to describe the physical parts of their Martial Art. General Choi gave directions to his instructors to have the soldiers shout TAE KWON when saluting, to help cement usage of the new name. This tradition is still carried on by millions of students following the ITF even today every time they bow.

After General Choi created the new name of Taekwon-Do, he then engaged in several attempts to unify the civilian Martial Art Kwans as he had obtained the south Korean President’s approval as evidenced by the Calligraphy of Taekwon-Do that Dr. Rhee penned with his own hand. In 1957 he became the Vice President of a short-lived Taekwon-Do Association of Korea. The president of the Association at that time was a non-martial artist and politician named Lee Jae-Hahk. Then Master Son Duk-Sung the instructor of the Chung Do Kwan served as the Secretary General. General Choi also served as the honorary Kwan Jang Nim of the Chung Do Kwan, after their founder Grandmaster Lee Won-Kuk moved to Japan in 1950 to escape political maltreatment. The Chung Do Kwan was one of the 1st Korean Martial Art Kwans to open post WWII in Korea. It was a very influential Kwan and many of their members staffed General Choi’s military training programs as instructors and senior leaders.

In 1959 he led the 1st Taekwon-Do Demonstration Team abroad when he took the team to Vietnam and Taiwan in March. That same year he established and became the first Director of the Martial Art Department in the Army. On September 3rd, 1959 he formed the first Korean Taekwon-Do Association and served as the initial President. A couple of months later he authored the first book ever on Taekwon-Do, written in both Korean HanGul and Chinese HanJa. This book documented the first five Korean Patterns he created along with the assistance of the soldiers under his command. (Hwa-Rang, Chung-Mu, Ul-Ji, U-Nam and Sam-Il). This historic book is on display in the museum history section of the Taekwondowon in MuJu Korea.

General Choi would go on to author several other books, including the 1972 textbook that became known as the “bible of Taekwon-Do”, the unprecedented 15 Volume Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do in 1983, several condensed versions of that work, his 3 Volume Set of Memoirs, as well as a Guidebook on Moral Culture. His written texts have been translated into Korean, Chinese, English, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Dari (Farsi or Afghan Persian). He has received at least 3 Doctorate Degreeshonoris causa,” numerous awards and honors for his global work on Taekwon-Do including a Korean Government Sports Award in 1968.

(PhDs was awarded in 1992 Physical Education, 1999 Sports Science, 2001 Philosophy)

While still Ambassador to Malaysia he flew to Vietnam in 1964 to introduce his new Tuls to the Korean Military Instructors there for further dissemination. He also sent the manuscripts back to Korea where they were instituted there as well. After completing his diplomatic assignment he returned to Korea and in January of 1965 was elected the 3rd President of the Korean TAE SOO DO Association. He was successful in getting them to change the name to Tae Kwon Do by August of 1965, by a reported 1-vote margin. He then led as Ambassador-At-Large a Korean Government sponsored Kukki Taekwon-Do Goodwill Tour around the world later in the fall of 1965. On that global tour he also distributed his English book on Taekwon-Do: The Korean Art of Self Defense. This was the first book on Taekwon-Do written in the English language.

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Ambassador Choi moved the ITF Headquarters to Toronto Canada, a city that is a very diverse major metropolitan area in North America. This new location afforded him a geographically advantaged position half way between Asia and Europe, as well as due north from South America and the Caribbean. Strategically this would help to further the internationalization of Taekwon-Do as a global martial art. Canada would also be the host for the upcoming Olympics, something that General Choi desired to have his Taekwon-Do become part of.

In 1985 he again relocated the ITF Headquarters to Vienna Austria. Vienna is located in Central Europe and Austria maintains a long-standing neutral posture that allows equal access politically. This was especially important during the “Cold War” era and the days of the “Iron Curtain” divide of Europe and the global political polarization that resulted from competing political ideologies. This brilliant move helped Ambassador Choi to further his dream of spreading his Taekwon-Do all around the world, without regard for political ideology, national boundaries, race, religion or creed. A vision that he lived to see come true!

Today there are numerous national headquarters, national and allied associations of the ITF all around the planet. This is living proof of the fact that his dream was indeed realized.

After a life dedicated to the development of Taekwon-Do, a modern martial art based on traditional values, philosophy, and training, General Choi, Founder of Taekwon-Do and President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation, died on June 15th, 2002, in the country of his birth.

02-Oct-2013 10:35

General Choi Hong Hi, Founder and President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation died on June 15th, 2002, in Pyongyang, People’s Democratic Republic of Korea.


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Gen. Choi Highlights

A Partial Chronological Listing

  • A founding member of the ROK Army he taught Korean Martial Arts under the then popular Tang Su Do label to soldiers under his command since 1946
  • 1949 He traveled to the America for military training & took the opportunity to display his martial art there (most likely 1st Korean to do so)
  • 1953 formed the 29th Infantry “Fist” Division on JeJu Island using Korean Martial Arts to build character, strength, fighting skills and instill esprit de corps
  • 1955 (April 11) After conceiving the Taekwon-Do name he obtained the official authorization from the 1st ROK President Dr. Rhee Syngman, Ph.D
  • 1955 created the 1st two Korean Tuls or forms, then called Hyungs, Hwa Rang Tul & Chung Mu Tul, he would go onto to create 26 in total, all named after great Korean Patriots or significant events & themes in Korean history & culture
  • 1957 Vice President of the short lived Taekwon-Do Association of Korea
  • 1959 (March) Led the Military Taekwon-Do Demonstration Team to Vietnam & Taiwan; the 1st time ever Taekwon-Do was exhibited abroad
  • 1959 (September 3) Formed the Korea Taekwon-Do Association & was elected 1st President
  • 1959 (October) Wrote the 1st book ever on Taekwon-Do
  • 1959 Established and became the 1st Director of the Martial Art Department in the Army
  • 1961 Opposed the use of the new compromise name of TAE SOO DO & continued his development under the Taekwon-Do Banner
  • 1962 Personally introduced Taekwon-Do to Malaysia when assigned there as the 1st Korean Ambassador
  • 1963 (July) Formed the Malaysian Taekwon-Do Federation
  • 1964 Formed the Singapore Taekwon-Do Association
  • 1965 Vietnam Taekwon-Do Association formed
  • 1965 (January) Elected as the 3rd President of the Korean Tae Soo Do Association
  • 1965 (August) Successful in lobbying for changing the name to Taekwon-Do
  • 1965 Wrote the 1st English language book on Taekwon-Do
  • 1965 Led a ROK Government sponsored Kukki Taekwon-Do Goodwill Tour around the world
  • 1966 (March 22) Formed the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) in Seoul, Korea with the consent of 9 Nations around the world
  • 1967 Awarded the 1st Class Distinguished Service Medal by the Government of Vietnam
  • 1968 Introduced Taekwon-Do to C.I.S.M. as the Chief Delegate for Korea at their meeting in Paris, France
  • 1968 Korean (ROK) Government Sports Award
  • 1969 Published the 1st ever Taekwon-Do Magazine
  • 1972 Wrote a Textbook that was commonly referred to as the “bible of Taekwon-Do” – 6 Editions & 2 reprints up until 1986, 1st reprint needed the next year (73)
  • 1972 Moved the ITF Headquarters to Toronto Canada, a diverse major metropolitan area in a democratic Country strategically located in the center between Asia & Europe, as well as due north of South America & the Caribbean to help further facilitate the global spread of Taekwon-Do without regard to politics
  • 1974 Hosted the 1st ITF World Championships in Montreal Canada, which was the 1st ever World Championships outside of Korea which demonstrated that Taekwon-Do was truly an international sport & there they introduced 4 categories of competition, as well as team events, to help insure the Overall World Champion was a complete martial artist
  • 1978 The ITF World Championships were held in Oklahoma City, USA & expanded to female competitors for the 1st time ever in any World Championships
  • 1981 The ITF World Championships were held in Argentina; the 1st time ever a world championship was hosted in South America
  • 1983 Completed the 15 Volume Set of Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do, a written work truly unprecedented in the martial arts world which has at least 5 Editions or printings
  • 1984 The ITF World Championships were held in Scotland; the 1st time ever a Taekwon-Do world championship was hosted in the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Nation
  • 1985 Relocated the ITF Headquarters to Vienna Austria, a democratic Nation as Vienna is located in Central Europe and Austria maintains a long-standing neutral political posture, thus enabling him to continue his vision to disseminate Taekwon-Do without regard to nationality, politics, religion, race, creed or national boundaries, a personal dream he lived to see come true
  • 1987 The ITF World Championships were held in Athens, Greece; the 1st time ever a Taekwon-Do world championship was hosted in Greece
  • 1988 The ITF World Championships were held in Budapest Hungary; the 1st time ever a Taekwon-Do world championship was hosted in a communist country
  • 1988 Published a Condensed Version Single Volume Book of his previously published Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do which presently has at least 6 Editions
  • 1989 Named “Man of the Year” by Tae Kwon Do Times Magazine
  • 1992 Honorary Doctorate Degree awarded by the State Central Institute of Physical Education of Russia in Physical Education,
  • 1993 The ITF Junior (under 18) World Championships were held in Moscow, Russia the 1st time ever a Taekwon-Do world championship was opened to the junior age competitors
  • 1999 Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Canada, his adopted homeland
  • 1999 Formed the International Martial Arts Games Commission in Argentina, an Olympic type of event limited to just the fighting arts
  • 1999 Honorary Doctorate Degree awarded by the D.P.R. Korea State Commission on Academic Degrees & Titles in Sports Science
  • 2000 Wrote Moral Guide Book
  • 2000 Published a 3 Volume Set of Memoirs titled Taekwon-Do and I
  • 2001 Honorary Doctorate Degree awarded by Moldova State University in Philosophy
  • 1918-2002 Received numerous other awards and honors for his global work on Taekwon-Do & for teaching Taekwon-Do for decades to everyone, regardless of political ideology, national boundaries, race, religion or creed & as a vehicle to reunite his beloved Homeland of Korea
  • 2009 Honored posthumously by the Official Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame
  • 2014 Honored by the Canadian Government by having the gymnasium hall at Canada’s Embassy in Seoul Korea named Choi Hong-Hi Gym
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Advantages & Disadvantages

General Choi was a “founding member” (#44 of 110 Officer Candidates) of south Korea’s Armed Forces when he graduated from their first Military Academy in 1946. In 1962 a year after a military coup (May 16th 1961 Revolution) took place Mr. Choi was assigned to Korea’s Diplomatic Foreign Service Corp and sent to Malaysia as the 1st Korean Ambassador to that Southeast Asian Country. His involvement and work with personally introducing Taekwon-Do there, gave rise to Malaysia being called the “2nd Home of Taekwon-Do.” Ambassador Choi’s power he held and yielded in these high-level government capacities afforded him the opportunities to become the most significantly important and influential person in Taekwon-Do’s creation, development and global dissemination.
The tragic division of Korea by outside forces after the end of the Second World War has adversely impacted Taekwon-Do and General Choi as well. General Choi was a military senior of General Park Chung-Hee, whose Army serial number was 166, graduating from the 2nd Academy. Early on in Park’s military service he was charged with being both a communist and a Japanese collaborator. During the Colonial Occupation Park volunteered to join the Imperial Army of Japan and achieved the rank of Lieutenant. During Park’s court martial proceedings General Choi served on the Military Tribunal that convicted him. Park’s life was spared when he cooperated and informed on other members. The outbreak of the all out fighting of the Korean Civil War helped reinstate Park and salvage his Army career.
General Park led the military coup in 1961 in the name of the Army Chief of Staff, a Lieutenant-General Chang Do-Young, who General Choi supported. When it came to light that Lt. Gen. Chang was not leading the charge and was in fact deposed by Park, General Choi began his opposition to the rule of “his junior” who would become dictator. Since General Choi was not part of Park’s inner-circle, comprised of young commissioned officers of the 8th Academy and was born in the northern part of a then unified one Korea, he was not trusted. Park purged potential opponents by removing people from office, jailing some, while others suffered a worst fate. It was common to send some abroad, as was the case when General Choi was dispatched to Malaysia on a diplomatic assignment as the Korean Ambassador in 1962, returning by the end of 1964 after Park consolidated his power. Naturally one can see the root cause of the tensions between a dictator who yielded immeasurable power and a Patriot like General Choi, who eventually would lose his influence, as he was part of the process that sentenced a younger Park to death!
As time passed by, the tensions became so severe that General Choi was forced to flee to Canada to live a life in exile in 1972. That year has been recorded as the height of the brutal measures Park’s dictatorship employed. Once in Toronto General Choi relocated the ITF headquarters there with the consent and approval of the ITF Congress. Since he was outside of the immediate reach of the dictatorship General Choi raised his opposition voice. The military regimes used the power of the dictatorships to pressure those loyal Korean instructors of the ITF. The far-reaching pressure of the KCIA, as documented by extensive investigations by outside entities like the American Federal Government’s Senate, FBI and House Committees, also touched these ITF Masters and their families.
Eventually General Choi planned to go back to Korea after the Director of the KCIA shot and killed General Park in 1979. The plan involved going to both parts of Korea. However in the south another military coup resulted in continuing dictatorial rule that barred General Choi. In the north General Choi and the ITF’s 7th Demonstration Team was invited. The performances were well received and as a result the government in Pyongyang requested the ITF to send instructors to teach the “Original Taekwon-Do” there. This was a dream for General Choi and it allowed him to replenish his cadre of instructors with new Koreans, who along with their government’s support would help the ITF’s ongoing global dissemination of Taekwon-Do. Naturally this bonus came with a high price, as other Koreans used this to slander General Choi. However General Choi’s notable and honorable work resulted in him later on in his life in being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
It is important to understand some of the political complexities and the context of the “Cold War” era, if one is to more fully comprehend and appreciate the enormous gift of Taekwon-Do that General Choi and Korea gave to the world. Without General Choi Hong-Hi, there would be no Taekwon-Do. All students of Taekwon-Do, be they ITF, WTF or independent should follow the many examples of General Choi. It is by knocking down barriers that General Choi never let get in his way, such as race, religion, creed, national boundaries, politics or ideology, that Taekwon-Do students can truly help “build a more peaceful world.” It is fitting that present day Taekwon-Do leaders should acknowledge the common roots, which ultimately lead to General Choi for all students of Taekwon-Do. Everyone should pledge mutual respect as well as cooperation moving forward. All students past, present and future should follow these examples started by General Choi.

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Our History

Our History

Technically 1955 signaled the beginning of Taekwon-Do as a formally recognized Martial Art in Korea. During that year a special board was formed which included elected politicians, military and business leaders, historians, instructors of the Oh Do Kwan and Chung Do Kwan and other prominent leaders of society. General Choi Hong-Hi summoned the board as he realized he would need support for his initiative to name Korea’s National Martial Art. During this period there were many efforts being undertaken to restore and reinvigorate Korean National Pride, as their culture suffered terribly during the colonial occupation. This drive was influenced by Presidential policy that frowned upon embracing leftover Japanese preferences. General Choi knew he would need the President’s eventual authorization and saw having prestigious members of society as helping to obtain that permission. The board approved the name Taekwon-Do, which he submitted. This single unified name of Taekwon-Do was to replace the confusing terms like Tang Soo Do, Gong Soo Do or Kwon Bup, which had their roots in foreign Arts. The 1st ROK President Dr. Seung-man Rhee, Ph.D approved the named as evidence by the Calligraphy of Taekwon-Do that he penned. Hence April 11, 1955 has become the date of Taekwon-Do’s official birth.

In 1959, Taekwon-Do spread beyond its national boundaries. The father of Taekwon-Do and nineteen of his top black belt holders toured the Far East. The tour was a major success, astounding all spectators with the excellence of the Taekwon-Do techniques.

In this year, 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 1965 Ambassador Choi, retired two star general, was appointed by the Government of the Republic of Korea to lead a goodwill mission to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, United-Arab Republic, Malaysia, and Singapore. This trip is significant in that the Ambassador, for the first time in Korean history, declared Taekwon-Do as the national martial art of Korea.

This was the basis not only for establishing Taekwon-Do Associations in these countries but also the formation of the International Taekwon-Do Federation as it is known today. In 1966, the dream of the sickly young student of calligraphy, who rose to Ambassador and the Association President of the most respected martial art in the world came true. On the 22nd of March, the International Taekwon-Do Federation was formed with associations in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, West Germany, the United States, Turkey, Italy, Arab Republic of Egypt and Korea.

The philosophical values and the goals of Taekwon-Do are firmly rooted in the traditional moral culture of the Orient. On the technical side, defensive and offensive tactics are based on principles of physics, particularly Newton´s Law, which explains how to generate maximum force by increasing speed and mass during the execution of a movement.

Wanting to share the results of his philosophical reflections and his technical experiments, General Choi planned and wrote a unique reference work, the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do. In its fifteen volumes, he explained in detail the rules and practices of this art.

Always striving for excellence, General Choi presented Taekwon-Do as in a state of continuous evolution, open to changes that would improve its effectiveness. He wrote that anyone who believes he has fully discharged his duty will soon perish. Likewise, any undertaking that is perceived to have reached its objectives is likely to lose momentum, stagnate, and die.

Since the beginning, Taekwon-Do has never stopped evolving, driven by the strong will and a lot of hard work by its Founder. The leaders of the ITF today also recognize the need to evolve and they are equally passionate about the future of the organization.

Important Dates in the History of the ITF

1955 Taekwon-Do officially named
1966 March 22nd – ITF founded by General Choi Hong Hi, the Father of Taekwon-Do

ITF Foundation Day Demo Memebrs

1969 First Asian Tournament, Hong Kong
1972 ITF headquarters moved to Toronto (Canada)
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First World Championships, Montreal (Canada)

1976 First European Championships, Rotterdam (Netherlands)
1979 First Pacific Championships, Wellington, (New Zealand)
1979 All Europe Taekwon-Do Federation created
1982 North American Federation created
1983 Central American Federation created
1985 ITF headquarters moved to Vienna (Austria)
2002 June 15th – passing of General Choi Hong Hi

The Honourable Russell Maclellan became Acting President

2003 June 13th – election of Master Trân Trięu Quân as President of the ITF at the 14th Congress of ITF , Warsaw (Poland)
2007 June 1st – Re-election of Master Trân Triêu Quân for a second mandate as President of the ITF at the 16th Congress of ITF, Quebec City (Canada).

30th October ITF is legally registered Minister of Internal Affairs in Madrid (Spain) Rec. Grupo 1/Secc. 2/ number 50813

2010 Passing of Grandmaster Trân Triêu Quân

Grandmaster Pablo Trajtenberg became acting President

2011 Election of Grandmaster Pablo Trajtenberg as ITF President
2015 Re-election in 2015 of GM Trajtenberg as ITF President ( Congress in Jesolo)


Our Philosofy

Our Philosophy

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Quite often our philosophy is referred to as “ the DO “, or “ the Way “. Such philosophy states that the practical learning of Taekwon-Do is of little value if its spiritual side is relegated. Mind and body are considered inseparable as General Choi Hong Hi, founder of Taekwon-Do, laid special emphasis on this idea by joining the lettering of our art with a hyphen that links both parts, showing how essential this is to an harmonious and simultaneous development.

It means that the moment one takes up physical performance with tenacity and perseverance – the part we are likely to enjoy most – it also becomes necessary to apply our tenets and fully exercise them in practice, not as a mere repetition or as a memory habit but rather to adopt a way of living which will tune us with the power that practicing Taekwon-Do provides us.

In the words of our founder, courtesy ranks as the most important of such tenets, for it is a category that sets us in a different class from animals; only does the human being have the capacity to show courtesy and if we all showed it, there would be fewer social conflicts, since those conflicts many times occur for lack of finesse rather than because of profound disagreements over an issue.

Fostering integrity is essential in order to raise our self-esteem, by valuing our individuality we come to respect ourselves and understand that any meaningful achievement requires self-esteem.

Perseverance is the quality that will enable us to reach goals beyond our inborn skills. Nature may have endowed us with the very best ingredients but if we do not practice often enough, in the long run we shall be defeated by that practitioner who possesses the necessary tenacity and perseverance to train and train relentlessly, and overpower a more gifted rival.

Self-control is one of the essential principles in our practice, for it channels aggression and teaches us how to make that energy flow in a positive way, preventing any gratuitous violence that may be triggered by excessive energy. It is fundamental to keep a balance between reason and emotion, as a way of acquiring the necessary self-confidence when the moment demands to choose a certain course of action.

Indomitable spirit means precisely to muster all determination and courage for a wise choice in situations where we must overcome fear and it is this wild spirit which allows the Taekwon-Do practitioner to achieve their goals, no matter what inconveniences or obstacles might block the way and especially when freedom and justice are at stake.

As well as the student´s duties, the five tenets cited above are crucial to our philosophy. The first one states that one should “observe the tenets of Taekwon-Do”, then followed by “respect senior and elders”, which perhaps is not well rooted enough among the younger generations; this tenet is not only about respecting those who are more knowledgeable in our Taekwon-Do class but rather to be kind and considerate at all times towards elderly people by giving them our full attention and the thoughtfulness that they deserve. This starts in the relationship with our own children and our pupils, who will faithfully follow our example.

Do not distort the Taekwon-Do name¨. Here is a warning against making a wrong use of our knowledge and our sparring practice, preventing any transformation of this defense system into an attacking system and avoiding any obtainment of things by force and the misuse of our art. Again, this is related with the need for self-control as a way to limit aggressiveness.


¨Being a champion of freedom and justice¨ defines life itself as the true tournament and the choice of values, which the practitioner embraces as its main requirement, respecting freedom and enforcing its respect, which should be defended by a fair justice.


¨Helping to build a more peaceful world¨ is one of the duties which best synthesizes our philosophy, since the application of what is stated above turns the Taekwon-Do practitioner into a more qualified member in their contribution to the effective improvement of our society.


Empathy is that attitude which consists in knowing how to place oneself in our fellow being´s position, especially when they are suffering. Such predisposition will always bring about positive deeds, as long as we do not lose sight that the world is populated by all kinds of creatures, besides ourselves.


In peace with our conscience and by nurturing our spiritual growth, we may rely that younger generations will benefit from a social evolution that will add to a happier and more fulfilling life.


The key to developing the spiritual qualities we mention is not to merely repeat such statements every lesson but rather the in conviction we place in our beliefs and to be able to fully incorporate them into our lives.


The ITF possesses a special program launched by the late GM Tran Trieu Quan, which boosts the teaching of such values, and this program is available to all member countries. The culmination of such a program has been the responsibility of Dr. Janel Gauthier, who together with members of a committee, aim is to train for its tuition. Together we will be able to put it into practice, provided we are willing to carry out a profound and sincere analysis of our own behaviour, which is no easy task in a world which often favours a more materialistic approach.

(extract from “The Art of Taekwon-Do ITF” 2014)



The ITF wishes to acknowledge those who contributed to the development of Taekwon-Do and the ITF in the past, though some may no longer be with us, nevertheless we acknowledge their involvement in Taekwon-Do. They are sometimes referred to as Pioneers, the early instructors or first to bring Taekwon-Do to certain regions of the world, or to assist Gen. Choi in the development and promotion of the art of Taekwon-Do. This section of the website will take time to compile in a careful and accurate way and we ask for your help. If you have pictures, information or historical documents relating to the Pioneers of Taekwon-Do, please email communications@tkd-itf.org

1958 tkd book 2.5 TKD name written in Chinese Calligraphy by the ROK President Rhee, as it proves Gen. Choi obtained presidential authority for the new nameTAEKWON-DO: The Korean Martial Art of Self Defense first developed in the Republic of (south) Korea’s Army by Gen. Choi Hong Hi and soldiers under his Command. Gen. Choi conceived the name Taekwon-Do and was able to get the 1st President of Korea Seung-Man Rhee to approve the name. As a result the date April 11, 1955 has come to be associated as the birthday of Taekwon-Do. The purpose of the training was to instill confidence in military combat situations and to develop esprit de corps. As the soldiers and Gen. Choi retired from the military they continued to disseminate Taekwon-Do abroad. With the inception of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) on March 22, 1966 in Seoul the responsibility for the development and spread of this “Original Taekwon-Do” now fell to the ITF under the Presidency of Gen. Choi. As Taekwon-Do moved to the civilian population, self defense continued as a focus of the training, along with being a sport, a way of life and a tool for social development in hopes of “building a more peaceful world.”
Translated literally; “Tae” stands for jumping or flying, to kick or smash with the foot. “Kwon” denotes the fist-chiefly to punch or destroy with the hand or fist. “Do” means an art or way-the right way built and paved by the saints and sages in the past.


The Oh Do Kwan

photo 1



The Oh Do Kwan: Was the Military Gym that was co-founded by Gen. Choi and Col. Nam. After a very successful legendary demonstration in front of the 1st Korean President Dr. RHEE Seung-Man, in which the President directed Gen. Choi to teach the Martial Arts to all the Troops, the Oh Do Kwan became the facility to carry out that mandate. The name translates to gym of my way or my gym. Hence each individual soldier could feel at home in their gym, regardless of the Kwan they may have trained at on the civilian side. The Oh Do Kwan became the training centre that would produce the many instructors needed to spread Taekwon-Do throughout the Korean Military. Gen. Choi was the Director, Capt. Nam the Chief Instructor and Sgt. Han Cha Kyo the Assistant Instructor.

The First 3 Masters of Taekwon-Do

General Choi Hong-Hi, Army serial number: 10044

General Choi Hong-Hi, Army serial number: 10044


Col. Nam Tae-Hi, army serial number 210053

Col. Nam Tae-Hi, Army serial number: 210053



Sgt. 1st class, Han Cha-Kyo, Army serial number 9430128

Sgt. 1st class, Han Cha-Kyo, Army serial number: 9430128


 Early Military Taekwon-Do Instructors

Colonel Baek Joon-Ki (Army Serial #210430)

Colonel Baek Joon-Ki (Army Serial #210430)


Kang Suh-Chong

Kang Suh-Chong


Master-Sergeant Kim Bok-Man (Army Serial #0245228)

Master-Sergeant Kim Bok-Man (Army Serial #0245228)


Corporal Kim Jong-Chan

Corporal Kim Jong-Chan


Lieutenant-Colonel Kim Soo-Ryun

Lieutenant-Colonel Kim Soo-Ryun


Lieutenant-Colonel Kim Suk-Kyu

Lieutenant-Colonel Kim Suk-Kyu



Colonel Ko Jae-Chun (Army Serial #206717)

Colonel Ko Jae-Chun (Army Serial #206717)


Lieutenant-Colonel Lee Sang-Koo


(2 Star) Major-General Woo Jong-Lim (Army Serial #209252)

(2 Star) Major-General Woo Jong-Lim (Army Serial #209252)

Sgt. Uhm

Sergeant Uhm Woon-Gyu

GM Hyun

Grandmaster Hyun Jong-Myun

Reasons for ITF

ITF Foundation Dates

Founding members of ITF (1966)

 ITF Honorary Founding Memebrs

 ITF Founding Memebrs 1 ITF Founding Members 2

 ITF Founding Members1972


Republic of Korea

Republic of Korea

(W.) Germany

(W.) Germany










United Arab Republic (of Egypt)

United Arab Republic (of Egypt)



Republic of Vietnam

Republic of Vietnam


ITF Activation 2

ITF Activation


ITF Instructors Dispatched Abroad by 1969

ITF Instructors Dispatched Abroad by 1969


ITF Early Organisational Chart

ITF Early Organisational Chart


ITF Proposed HQ

ITF Proposed HQ

ITF Foundation Day Demo Members

ITF Foundation Day Demo Members

Key members that led the ITF over the years

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.37.06 PM


Founder & President 1966-2002


Founding Member, 1st Promotion Committee Chairman, Past Vice President


Founding Member who was perhaps the most important person actually responsible for the logistics in setting up the ITF, 1st Chief Instructor of Instructor Courses, Designed ITF Crest & Plaque, Former Chairman of the Technique & Merger Committees, Past Secretary General, Instructor of the 1st International Umpire Course, Host of the 1st World Championships, Member of the 4th & 6th ITF Demo Teams, 1974 & 1979


Founding Member who was perhaps the most important person in establishing bases for ITF Member Nations by teaching TKD throughout Southeast Asia & introducing TKD to Vietnam, Head of the 1st ITF Demo Team 1967-8


Founding Member who introduced TKD by demonstrating in Vietnam in 1959 & on the Goodwill around the world in 1965, 1st Chairman of Planning Committee & Former Chairman of the Tournament Committee


Founding Member who introduced TKD by demonstrating it on the Goodwill around the world in 1965, Past Secretary General, Member of the 2nd, 3rd & 4th ITF Demo Teams 1968, 1973 & 1974, Former Member of the Consultative Committee


Past Secretary General & Former Chairman of the ITF Instruction Committee, traveled worldwide as the Chief Instructor, Member of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th ITF Demo Teams, 1974 & 1978-81


Founding Member, Member of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th ITF Demo Teams 1968, 73, 78, 79, 80, Host of the 4th World Championships, Past Vice President


Founding Member who introduced TKD by demonstrating it on the Goodwill around the world in 1965, Member of the 2nd ITF Demo Team 1968, Former Chairman of the Discipline Committee


Founding Member, Member of the 1st ITF Demo Team 1967-8, Former Chief Instructor, Former Vice-Chair of Umpire Committee


Founding Member, Member of the 3rd & 5th, 6th ITF Demo Teams 1973, 78, 79, Former Chairman of Umpire Committee, Designed ITF Tree Logo


Former Chairman of Merger Committee, ITF Spokesperson & Special Assistant to Gen. Choi


Founding Member, Former Chief Instructor


Founding Member, Former Chief Instructor


Founding Member, Member of the 3rd ITF Demo Team 1973, Former Chairman of the Expansion Committee


Founding Member, Member of the 2nd & 3rd ITF Demo Teams 1968, 1973


Past Vice President, Former Assistant Auditor, Member of the 4th & 7th ITF Demo Teams, 1974 & 1980


Past Secretary General, Member of the 7th ITF Demo Team1980


Member of the 6th ITF Demo Team 1979, Former Special Advisor


Past Vice President & Secretary General, Former Chairman of Collegiate & Promotion Committees, Member of the 7th ITF Demo Team 1980


Founding Member, Chairman of the Master’s Promotion Committee


Founding Member, Member of 2nd ITF Demo Team 1968


Founding Member, Past Vice President, Former Chairman of Title Committee


Member of the 1st ITF Demo Team 1967-8, Former Chief Instructor & Chairman of Merger Committee


Former long term Under-Secretary General & Secretary General, Treasurer


Member of the 5th ITF Demo Team, Former Chairman of the Consultative Committee


Founding Member & Member of the 2nd & 4th ITF Demo Teams, 1968 & 1974


Former Chairman of the Promotion Committee, Member of the 4th ITF Demo Team 1974


Former Chairman of the Umpire Committee, Member of the 4th & 7th ITF Demo Teams 1974 & 1980


Former Chairman of the Tournament Committee, Host of the 1990 & 2007 World Championships, Past President who played a vitally important role in navigating the ITF through turbulent times following the passing of General Choi & moving the ITF forward in a professional manner well suited for the 21st Century, before he himself passed away tragically in a massive earthquake in the service of those less fortunate


Promoted to IX Dan Grandmaster by General Choi

590289491208-1 - Version 21st July, 1997               GM Rhee, Ki-Ha                 GB-9-1

8th December, 1997     GM Charles E. Sereff         A-9-1

8th December, 1997     GM Hwang, Kwang-Sung   K-9-1

1st May, 2001                GM Park, Jong-Soo           C-9-1

1st March, 2002            GM Van Binh Nguyen        A-9-2

1st March, 2002            GM Duc Dang                     A-9-3

  • 21st March, 2002          GM Jung, Woo Jin              A-9-4

ITF Publications
ITF Books, Articles, Interviews
ITF Books, Articles, Interviews

ITF Publications

Written Educational Resources by General Choi

1959 TKD Book Front Cover IMG_2892 IMG_2893 IMG_3385 DSC05501 - Version 2-1


The Original Taekwon-Do that began in the ROK Army as Military Taekwon-Do is perhaps the most thoroughly documented Martial Art ever. Efforts that helped make this a reality started when a young man name Choi Hong-Hi graduated from the 1st Military Academy at the start of 1946, just months after Korea was liberated by a long term occupation by Imperial Japan. The newly Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant Choi kept a daily journal as he began to teach the soldiers under his command when he was deployed to KwangJu as a Company Commander. His notes would include Martial Art moves that he arranged in Patterns that he named after great Korean Patriots or significant historical events or themes of Korea. This founding member of the ROK Army was fiercely determined to create Korea’s own modern Martial Art.


IMG_4499 IMG_3466 IMG_2994 IMG_3382 72 book later Ed


In 1959 he wrote the first book ever on Taekwon-Do, the Art he named and received Presidential authority for just a few years earlier. This book is indeed very rare as copies of his books were ordered destroyed by the military dictatorship after Choi, now a 2-Star Major General fled for his safety in 1972 to live a life of exile, away from the dictator he openly opposed. Thankfully one of General Choi’s protégées, Lt. Colonel Kim Soo-Ryun defied the   order and preserved a copy that is now on display in the museum at the Taekwondowon in MuJu Korea. Grandmaster Jung Woo-Jin has preserved another known copy and a digital version is available as an historical artifact. This treasure of history contains the first 5 Korean Patterns, then called Hyungs ever devised. They were Hwa-Rang, Chung-Mu, Ul-Ji, U-Nam and Sam-Il. It was written using both Korean HanGul and Chinese HanJa. By 1960, just the following year a 2nd edition was already needed. This printing however removed the Pattern U-Nam, as it was named after Korea’s first President Dr. Rhee, who ran from the Country as a result of widespread protests against the corruption of his autocratic rule.

General Choi then authored a new book on Taekwon-Do in 1965. This was the first book ever on Taekwon-Do in the English language. There was also a Korean language version of the book as well. This was the book that Ambassador Choi distributed when he took his ROK government sponsored Kukki Taekwon-Do Goodwill Tour around the world that same year. The book played a part in helping to cement Taekwon-Do as a Korean Martial Art of Self Defense as well as entice other Martial Artists to adopt this new system, which in turn became the base for establishing the ITF the very next year (1966). He was able to include 16 more Patterns, bring the total to 20.  This book was reprinted a couple of times, including 1968 and a printing by Grandmaster Park Jong-Soo in 2007. The 1965 Korean edition served as the basis for the 1966 ROK Army Taekwon-Do Manual. This book was issued to the soldiers for their training until the mid 1970s when they switched training methods after General Choi exiled from Korea.
IMG_3384  IMG_2996  IMG_2997  DSC04381 IMG_3451
The next book written by General Choi was unprecedented in the Martial Arts. It was a textbook that contained 519 pages and became commonly referred to as the “bible of Taekwon-Do.” This work more clearly showed the progress away from the Karate roots that were still somewhat evident in his pervious 2 books. It also contained his signature 24 Patterns with the addition of Eui-Am, Yon-Gae, Moon-Moo and So-San Tuls. The book was so popular that another printing had to be made the very next year. The so-called “bible of Taekwon-Do” had 6 editions and 2 reprints from 1972 to 1986.
Since the 1972 textbook by General Choi, other Martial Arts have published comprehensive books as well. However no other Martial Art in history has ever had a 15 Volume set of Encyclopedias that so fully documented their Art. General Choi did this when he finished the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do in 1983. It has been described as having approximately 5,000 pages and 30,000 photographs. It took until 1985 to actually be printed, as the military dictatorship exerted pressure through the arm of the KCIA preventing any Korean from assisting General Choi with this venture. Luckily Grandmaster Jung Woo-Jin bravely took on the responsibility and so far 5 editions have been printed.
 IMG_3419 IMG_3452  IMG_3003  IMG_3381  IMG_3540
General Choi realized the benefit of having a single volume condensed version of the Encyclopedia so students could take it to class and seminars. So starting in 1988 there have been 6 editions of the Condensed Encyclopedia. General Choi saw fit to search for some of the wisest sayings and axioms that have been written since recorded time. He translated them and consolidated some of the best in a Moral Guidebook he produced. This incredible Korean National and Patriot worked tirelessly over his lifetime, constantly circling the globe to teach Taekwon-Do and introduce others to Korean culture, their history and etiquette, as well as time honored wisdom from the Orient and other great philosophers of the world. Luckily for us he daily journal that he kept for decades also served the basis for his 3 Volume set of Memoirs. Volumes 1 and 2 have been written in English and Korean, while Volume 3 has only been written in Korean and is awaiting an English translation.
 Moral Guidebook  IMG_2995  IMG_3491  IMG_3379  IMG_3445
The written works of Ambassador Choi Hong-Hi have been translated into at least 8 languages, including Korean, Chinese, English, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Dari (Farsi or Afghan Persian). We are not aware of any Martial Art or Martial Artist that can boast of this accomplishment. He has received at least 3 Doctorate Degrees “honoris causa,” numerous awards and honors for his global work on Taekwon-Do including a ROK Government Sports Award in 1968. In 1999 he was nominated by Canada, his adopted homeland for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2014 the Canadian Ambassador to Seoul Korea honored him by naming their Embassy gymnasium hall Choi Hong-Hi Gym. This clearly is an indication illustrating Canada’s great admiration and appreciation for their citizen for his great contributions to mankind. Thankfully General Choi left us so much written guidance for the ages.
(PhDs (h.c.) were awarded in 1992 for Physical Education, 1999 for Sports Science, and 2001 for Philosophy)

“The Art of Taekwon-Do ITF” by the ITF Technical Committee


This book was published in 2014 by the first ITF technical committee of Grand Master Hector Marano, Grand Master Pablo Trajtenberg and Grand Master Willem Jacob Bos.

“It is our intention that this book helps to spread the standardization of Taekwon-Do ITF techniques produced over a decade (2003-2013), to ensure that the entire International Taekwon-Do ITF world will speak a common language and to encourage new questions from practitioners, which in return inspire us to new challenges.

This book by no means attempts to replace what has already been written in the past, but tries to be a quick updated reference, which allows the basis of a dialogue, covering doubts, and questions that arose whilst teaching during various International Instructor Courses (IIC).” (Extract from Prologue of the Art of Taekwon-Do ITF)

The ITF Kids Development Program Books for Instructors and Students

The ITF Kids Development program has two books as educational resources, one for instructors and one for the students. The TKD Program provides the students with a 166 page Study Book which is full of cartoon illustrations. The study book has been written also to help parents or carers of the children to be involved with the program. They are encouraged to read the Study Book with their child at home, as parents play a major part in the students’ social integration. The parents’ involvement will reinforce what their children are learning in class.. The Instructors manual contains the syllabus as well as lots of resources including exercises and games to use in class.

Quadrathlon Taekwon-Do ITF

quadQuadrathlon Taekwon-Do ITF” written by Master Tadeusz Loboda. The book refers to the range and potential of the International Taekwon-Do Federation – ITF in 2010 and the development of an original, unique and exceptional sport and martial art Taekwon-Do ITF.

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