General's Biography

General Choi Hong Hi, Father of Taekwondo
Born 1918, Kilju
Died 2002, Pyongyang

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. On April 11th, 1955, a special board of masters, historians, and other important members of Korean society held a meeting. Their purpose was to coordinate the various "kwans" (schools) and select a name for the newly-organized Korean style martial art.

After reviewing several different names for the new style, they chose the name submitted by General Choi Hong Hi. That name was "Tae Kwon Do". General Choi is recognized around the world as the Father of Taekwon-Do and the Founder of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) and he created the ITF system that we know today. See General Choi Hong Hi interview (early 1974).


General Choi Hong Hi - Father of Taekwondo

General Choi Hong Hi was born on November 9th, 1918, in the Hwa Dae Myong Chun District of Korea. At the age of twelve he started to study Taek Kyon, an ancient Korean method of fighting with the feet. Later, when he was studying in Japan, he met a Karate teacher who helped him earn his first degree Black Belt in less than two years. He then intensified his training, striving to earn his second degree. Around the same time, he started teaching.

Conscripted into the Japanese army during World War II, he was posted to Pyongyang where he was imprisoned. Wanting to maintain his good physical and mental health during his imprisonment, he practiced karate, alone at first, then by teaching it to the staff of the prison and the other prisoners. Becoming an officer in the new Korean Army after the end of the war, he continued to teach his martial art to his soldiers as well as to American soldiers serving in Korea.

His beliefs and his vision of a different approach to teaching martial arts led General Choi to combine elements of Taek Kyon and Karate techniques to develop a modern martial art. He called it Tae Kwon Do, which means "the way of the feet and the hands", and this name was officially adopted on April 11th, 1955. In 1959, General Choi was named President of the Korean Taekwon-Do Association. Seven years later, on March 22nd,1966, he created the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF). As the Founder of Taekwon-Do and President of the ITF, he had the ability to share his art with students everywhere.

Today, Taekwon-Do training is available around the world. 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 of cancer on June 15th, 2002, in the country of his birth.

Taekwondo is a version of unarmed combat for the purpose of self defense. It is however, not just that. It is a scientific use of body that has gained the ultimate use of its facilities through intensive mental and physical training, that is TAEKWONDO.

General Choi Hong Hi, Father of Taekwondo