Choi Hong Hi

General Choi Hong-Hi was born in 1918 in Hwa Dae Ri, Ham Kyung Buk Do, during the occupation of Korea by Imperial Japan. He was introduced to basic Taek Kyon techniques as a teenager while studying Calligraphy for health and confidence. Expelled from a Japanese-controlled school for participating in protests, he later earned a II Dan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate in Japan. Forced into military service by the Japanese during World War II, Choi became involved in a plot to overthrow the colonial government. Despite being jailed for his involvement, he continued to train in Karate and even instructed prison guards. The success of the resistance movement was aided by the ability to move between China and the Soviet Union in the northeast region of Korea. Choi's strong independence, sense of justice, and anti-Japanese sentiment shaped his actions and decisions throughout his life. His dedication to martial arts and resistance against the occupation were evident even in the face of adversity. General Choi's story is a testament to his perseverance and determination in the face of oppression.

 After being released from captivity in Pyongyang at the end of WWII, General Choi became instrumental in setting up the South Korean government and advocating for democratic control. As a 2nd Lieutenant, he began teaching Karate under the Tang Su Do label to his soldiers, eventually recruiting other instructors to teach in the army. When forming the 29th Infantry Division on JeJu Island, General Choi had members of the Chung Do Kwan assigned to teach martial arts to the soldiers, leading to the division being named the "Fist Division" in honor of the martial fighting spirit instilled in them. A monument on JeJu Island commemorates the historic inauguration of the division and General Choi's commitment to martial arts.

After a successful martial arts demonstration for President Dr. Seung-Man Rhee, the President suggested that this martial art should be taught to all troops. General Choi recognized the need to find a new name that reflected the use of legs for kicking, and in 1954, he conceived the term Tae Kwon Do. Through his knowledge of Chinese characters and language, he created a name that emphasized the physical aspects of their martial art. General Choi directed his instructors to have soldiers shout TAE KWON when saluting, helping to popularize the new name. This tradition continues to be practiced by millions of students in the International Taekwon-Do Federation.

 General Choi's efforts to unify the civilian Martial Art Kwans led to the creation of the Taekwon-Do Association of Korea in 1957, where he served as Vice President. He also served as the honorary Kwan Jang Nim of the Chung Do Kwan, an influential Kwan in Korea. In 1959, he led the first Taekwon-Do Demonstration Team abroad and established the first Korean Taekwon-Do Association, serving as its initial President. That same year, he authored the first book on Taekwon-Do, documenting the first five Korean Patterns he created.

Over the years, General Choi authored several books on Taekwon-Do, including the renowned "bible of Taekwon-Do" in 1972 and the 15 Volume Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do in 1983. He received multiple accolades and honors for his global work on Taekwon-Do, including three Doctorate Degrees. General Choi continued to promote Taekwon-Do worldwide, moving the ITF Headquarters to Toronto, Canada, and later to Vienna, Austria.

General Choi's vision of spreading Taekwon-Do regardless of political ideology or boundaries came to fruition as the ITF expanded globally. His dedication to developing Taekwon-Do as a modern martial art based on traditional values and philosophy made a lasting impact. General Choi passed away on June 15, 2002, in Pyongyang, marking the end of a life dedicated to the advancement of Taekwon-Do.