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Tae Kwon-Do History

Key facts and events from the history of Tae Kwon-Do

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These historical Tae Kwon-Do facts and much more, taken from Alex Gillis' excellent book "A killing art : The untold history of Tae Kwon-Do", wikipedia and Grandmaster Choi Chang-keun's website, are depicted on the javascript timeline below.

Alternatively, you may view the text version of these historical Tae Kwon-Do events.

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Timeline of key facts and events from the history of Tae Kwon-Do

Below are a list of the key facts and events from the history of Tae Kwon-Do.

Major-General Choi Hong-hi

Major-General Choi Hong-hi, the founder of Tae Kwon-Do
  • 9 Nov 1918 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi a founder of Tae Kwon-Do born in Korea.
  • 1938 - Choi Hong-hi has a gambling dispute with a local wrestling champion, Haak-Doon Huh, and decides to flee to Japan.
  • 1940 - Choi Hong-hi obtains a 1st degree black belt in Karate.
  • 1942 - Choi Hong-hi finishes middle school in Japan and also gains a 2nd degree black belt in Karate.
  • 1942 - Choi Hong-hi returns to his village in Korea.
  • 1943 - Choi Hong-hi tries to escape being drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army but is eventually stationed with the 30th division in Pyongyang.
  • 1944 - Choi Hong-hi is arrested by the Japanese military for his part in the Pyongyang incident - a Korean revolt against the Japanese.
  • 1946 to 1956 - Military career of Choi Hong-hi. Received promotions to first lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel then brigadier general. He was promoted to Major-General in 1954.
  • 1954 - Son Duk-sung, the leader of the Chung Do Kwan after Lee Won-kuk fled to Japan in 1950, awards Choi Hong-hi an honorary 4th degree black belt [in Tang Soo Do].
  • 1956 - The South Korean president orders Choi Hong-hi to quit the military because of corruption charges.
  • 1956 to 1961 - Choi begins work on his book on Tae Kwon-Do. Choi Hong-hi, borrowing much from Shotokan Karate’s founder (Gichin Funakasi), begins work on a book on Tae Kwon-Do; adds an important innovation: the "theory of power" using classical mechanics to summarize the relationship between mass, speed and power.
  • 1959 - Choi Hong-hi rejoins the South Korean military as acting head of an army corp.
  • 1960 - Choi Hong-hi issues a 2nd edition of his book on Tae Kwon-Do entitled ’Introductory Tutorial to Tae Kwon-Do’.
  • 1962 - Choi Hong-hi is given an ambassadorship to Malaysia by the South Korean president, Park Chung-hee.
  • 1962 - Choi Hong-hi busily lays the foundations for Tae Kwon-Do starting the 3rd and 4th associations in Malaysia and Singapore.
  • 1962 - With the help of some of his pioneers, Choi Hong-hi creates the 24 patterns of Tae Kwon-Do. ’He wrote the moves and we physically demonstrated them until they looked good.’ said Choi Chang-keun (now a Grandmaster of Tae Kwon-Do).
  • 1964 - Choi Hong-hi rounds up his students from the Oh Do Kwan and Chung Do Kwan for a new mission: to promote Tae Kwon-Do and to puclish a new book.
  • 1965 - Choi Hong-hi’s new book of Tae Kwon-Do is published containing step-by-step photographs of, Taekkyon inspired, complicated jumping, spinning and flying kicks.
  • 1965 - Choi Hong-hi becomes president of the KTA convincing the South Korean president to rename it and call it the Korean Tae Kwon-Do Association from the Korean Tang Soo Do Association.
  • 1969 - Choi Hong-hi helps Rhee Jhoon-goo start a Tae Kwon-Do Association in the United States.
  • 1972 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi and Name Tae-hi flee South Korea and transfer their ITF headquarters to Toronto, Canada.
  • 1974 - The South Korean government finally allow Major-General Choi Hong-hi’s son and daughter to leave South Korea; they are reunited in Toronto, Canada.
  • 1975 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi finally meets his brother in Sweden and begins negotiations with the North Koreans about visiting North Korea, money, the renuification of the two Koreas and the distribution of Tae Kwon-Do.
  • 1980 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi and a team of 15 Tae Kwon-Do masters from South Korea, United States, England, Greece and Yugoslavia visit North Korea.
  • 1981 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi moves to North Korea. During this time he finishes his 15 volume encyclopedia on Tae Kwon-Do.
  • Apr 20 2001 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi conducts his last Tae Kwon-Do black belt seminar in Canada.
  • Jun 15 2002 GMT - Major-General Choi Hong-hi a founder of Tae Kwon-Do dies from cancer in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Choi Jung-hwa - Choi's son

Major-General Choi Hong-hi's son, Choi Jung-hwa
  • 1981 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi’s son, Choi Jung-hwa, deposits money in a bank account in Geneva, Switerzland, to pay for the assassination of the South Korean president; he flees to North Korea when the the South Koreans are tipped off.
  • 1992 - Choi Jung-hwa, returns to Canada to face trial over the plot to assassinate the Soth Korean president. He is sentenced to 6 years in prison but only serves a year.

Nam Tae-hi - Choi's right hand man

Nam Tae-Hi played a Large Part in the Development of Tae Kwon-Do
  • Mar 22 1929 GMT - Was the right hand man of Major-General Choi Hong-hi and played a large part in the development Tae Kwon-Do.
  • May 18 1951 GMT - Yongmun Mountain incident. A famous but horrific lesson in how to defend a mountain top against 360-degree attack - Nam Tae-hi survives over three days and nights killing over a dozen men in unarmed combat.
  • 1953 - Nam Tae-hi is summoned by Major-General Choi Hong-hi to Cheju Island to teach Korean Karate (Tang Soo Do) to the South Korean 29th Infantry Division. Fifty soldiers arrived to train 8 hours a day under Captain Nam including: Kim Suk-kyu, Woo Jong-lim and Han Cha-gyo; from the civilian Chung Do Kwan: Choi Chang-keun, Uhm Woon-kyu, Lee Chong-woo, Hyun Jong-myung and Rhee Jhoon-goo.
  • 1962 - Nam Tae-hi posted to Vietnam to teach soldiers unarmed hand to hand combat.

Nguyen Van Binh

  • 1962 - Between 1962 and 1975, a Vietnamese office, Nguyen Van Binh, one of the first experts to train soldiers in Tae Kwon-Do, taught martial arts in his Oh Do Kwan to over 60,000 students.

Rhee Jhoon-goo

Rhee Jong-Goo
  • 1964 - Pat Burleson, Rhee Jhoon-goo’s first black belt, wins Rhee’s First National Karate Championship in the United States.
  • 1970 - Pat Burleson and Rhee Jhoon-goo decide that the aggression in sparring must be toned down and so safety quipement and a points system are introduced.

Kim Un-yong

Kim Un-Yong - The father of Olympic Taekwondo and founder of the Kukkiwon The Kukkiwon logo
  • Mar 19 1931T - Kim Un-yong, future leader of Olympic Tae Kwon-Do, born in Taegu, Korea.
  • 1960 - By 1963, Kim Un-yong worked for the KCIA and was posted to the United States. He was a linguist who spoke perfect English, as well as Japanese, French, German and Spanish; classically trained pianest too. During this time, Kim also worked on various KCIA operations in the United States and Asia.
  • 1970 - With the backing of the South Korean president, Park Chung-hee, political leaders and several martial artists, Kim Un-yong becomes president of the Korean Tae Kwon-Do Association at a time of turmoil between Choi Hong-hi and the other martial arts leaders in Korea.
  • November 9 1971 to November 30 1972 - Kim Un-yong uses his connections to raise $1 million and start the construction of a Taekwondo buildingon top of a hillside in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea. The Kukkiwon (also known as World Taekwondo Headquarters) is home to the World Taekwondo Academy and is the offical governing body established by the South Korean government.
  • May 25 1973 GMT - The Korean Tae Kwon-Do Association and the Kukkiwon host the first World Taekwondo Championships.
  • 1975 - Kim Un-yong awards himself an 8th degree black belt in Taekwondo.
  • 1990 - Kim Un-yong is implicated in a bribery scandal during Salt Lake City’s early 1990s bid for the Olympic games.
  • November 15 2001 - Kim Un-yong resigns as president of the Kukkiwon.
  • 2003 - Kim becomes vice president of the International Olympic Committee.
  • 2004 - Kim Un-yong is found guilty by a court in South Korea of emblezzing more than $3 million dollars and is jailed for 2 years; he is released after serving only 1 year.

Choi Chang-keun

Chang-keun Teaching a technique at a Recent Seminar run by the Tae Kwon-Do Association of Great Britain Choi Chang-keun
  • 1962 - Choi Chang-keun wins the first Korean Tae Kwon-Do championships in Sparring and Patterns in Won Ju City, South Korea.
  • 1963 - Choi Chang-keun wins the first Korean Tae Soo Do [Tae Kwon-Do, Tang Soo Do, Kong Soo Do] full contact heavy-weight championship in the 3rd, 4th and 5th degree black belt division.
  • 1964 - Choi Chang-keun invited by the Malaysia Tae Kwon-Do Association to teach Tae Kwon-Do and becomes the first professional Tae Kwon-Do instructor to be recognized by the Korean Government.
  • 1970 - Choi Chang-keun opens the first Tae Kwon-Do school in Vancouver, Canada.
  • 1981 - Choi Chang-keun is awarded an 8th degree black belt in Tae Kwon-Do by the International Tae Kwon-Do Federation.
  • 1981 - With deep regret, Choi Chang-keun drops support for Major-General Choi Hong-hi because of his ties with North Korea.
  • 1979 to 1990 - Choi Chang-keun creates the sparring patterns.
  • 2002 - Choi Chang-keun is awarded a 9th degree black belt in Tae Kwon-Do.

Rhee Ki-ha

  • Jul 2 1967 - Rhee Ki-ha introduces Tae Kwon-Do to the United Kingdom.

Kim Dae-jung

Kim Dae-jung
  • 1987 - The South Korean police and agents trained in Tae Kwon-Do try to stop Kim Dae-jung from forming a new democratic party in South Korea.

Chang Ung

  • Jun 15 2002 GMT - Major-General Choi Hong-hi chooses Chang Ung, a North Korean, as his successor to head the ITF.

Koo Cheon-soo

  • 2003 - In December 2003, Koo Cheon-soo, the elected leader of the KTA after Kim Un-jong resigned, is arrested by the South Korean police on charges of bribery and of rigging the KTA election.

Tae Kwon-Do

  • 1952 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi names the first Tae Kwon-Do pattern Hwarang after the hwarang an elite group of warriors from the Silla dynasty.
  • 1954 - As part of the anniversary celebrations for the First Army Corps, the division complete patterns, self-defence, bayonet-defence and sparring drills in front of the South Korean president Rhee Syng-man. Nam Tae-hi also breaks 13 clay roof tiles with a downwards punch.
  • 1954 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi orders the construction of a new military martial arts gym in Kwangwon Province, Korea. Soon, Nam Tae-hi needs a microphone to help train 300 men in the gym alone!'
  • 1959 - Choi Hong-hi and other Korean martial arts leaders finally unify some of the styles and organisations placing them within the Korean Tae Kwon-Do Association.
  • Apr 11 1955 GMT - South Korea’s president, Rhee Syng-man, agrees to call the military martial art that Choi Hong-hi and Nam Tae-hi developed, Tae Kwon-Do.
  • May 16 1961 GMT - Park Chung-hee (former Japanese collaborator) seizes power and becomes president of South Korea.
  • Feb 14 1967 GMT - South Korean soldiers demonstrate the practical effectiveness of Tae Kwon-Do on the battlefield when they are faced with a numerically superior Viet Cong.
  • 1965 - Major-General Choi Hong-hi and his ace team comprising Han Cha-gyo, Park Joog-soo, Kim Joong-keun and Kwon Jae-hwa tour Turkey, Malaysia, Singapore and West Germany.
  • Mar 22 1966 - Choi Hong-hi resigns from the KTA and forms the ITF and within 2 years Tae Twon Do spread to more than 30 countries.
  • June 17 1967 GMT - Beginning in West Germany, the Korean CIA, an ITF instructor (Kim Kwang-il) and one of Choi Hong-hi’s Tae Kwon-Do pioneers are involved in the abduction, from several countries, of 203 Koreans. The abductees are returned South Korea where they are tortured and accused of being spies for North Korea.
  • Nov 1 1967 GMT - Korean Marines win the National Tae Kwon-Do championships in Korea'
  • 1968 - Kim Kwang-il, a Tae Kwon-Do instructor, establishes the West Germany ITF which he headed until the mid 1970s.
  • 1968 - Korean Marine headquarters include Tae Kwon-Do training for non-commissioned officers and enlisted Marines. The soldiers go on to develop a more lethal form of Tae Kwon-Do: Mu Chuck Do.
  • 1971 - In addition to a new business tax, the South Korean president, Park Chung-kee, announces that the martial arts gyms need permits: 80% fail to get the required permits.
  • 1973 - With the CIA providing protection, Choi Hong-hi and his 7th degree masters: Park Jong-soo, Choi Chang-keun, Kong Yong-il, Pak Sue-jae and Rhee Ki-ha, board a plane to begin a world tour.
  • 1974 - With help from Nam Tae-hi and Yang Dong-ja, the ITF hold their first World Championships in Montreal, Canada.
  • 1974 - The West German and Turkish Tae Kwon-Do associations defect from the International Tae Kwon-Do Federation and join the World Tae Kwon-Do Federation.
  • 1974 - The South Korean regime convince and force thousands of gyms to line up with Kim Un-yong’s WTF.
  • June 10 1975 - Lee Jai-hyon, over the next five years testifies against the South Korean government about its illegal activities in the United States and Canada, dubbed Koreagate.
  • 1988 - South Korea win 9 out of 16 gold medals in Tae Kwon-Do amid rumours of pressure being applied to the judges.
  • 1992 - Taekwondo is included as the third demonstration sport at the summer Olympic games in Barcelona after successful lobbying by Kim Un-yong.
  • 2000 - 85 out of 89 International Olympic Committee members vote to include Taekwondo as an offical Olympic sport in the 2000 summer Olympic games in Sydney, Australia.
  • Jun 15 2002 - The ITF fracture into three groups after the death of Major-Genreal Choi Hong-hi.
  • 2004 - Taekwondo is included as an offical Olympic sport in the 2004 summer Olympic games in Athens, Greece.
  • May 28 1973 - Uhm Woon-kyu and Lee Chong-woo help establish and lead the WTF in South Korea.
  • 1975 - The WTF gain GAISF membership over the International Tae Kwon-Do Federation and Karate: this is the first step towards joining the Olympics.
  • 1980 - The International Olympic Committee grants recognition to the WTF: another step to becoming an Olympic sport.
  • 1981 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, announces that South Korea has won the vote to host the 1988 summary Olympics. The IOC also announces that Tae Kwon-Do is to be included as one of two demonstration sports at the 1988 games.
  • Aug 21 1983 - The infighting and political situation that existed between the World Tae Kwon-Do Federation and International Tae Kwon-Do Federation led a group of leading Tae Kwon-Do practitioners in the United Kingdom to form the TAGB.
  • 1988 - The TAGB become a founder member of the BTC - the only sports body officially recognised by the United Kingdom Sports Council.
  • 1993 - The TAGB become a founder member of the TI - an organisation whose purpose it to unite WTF and ITF Tae Kwon-Do practitioners throughout the world.
  • Sept 11 2010 - Tae Kwon-Do International hold the IX Tae Kwon-Do World Championships in Telford, United Kingdom. Amongst the honoured guests are Grandmaster Choi Chang-keun and Alex Gillis, author of ’A Killing Art: The untold history of Tae Kwon-Do’.