Biography of General Choi, Hong-Hi

Gen. Choi, Hong-Hi was born on November 9 th , 1918 in the rugged and harsh area of North Korea . In his youth, he was frail and quite sickly, a constant source of worry for his parents. Even at an early age, however, the future general showed a strong and independence spirit. At the age o twelve, he was expelled from school for agitating against the Japanese authorities who were in control of Korea. This was the beginning of what would be a long association with the Kwang Ju Students’ Independence Movement. After his explosion, young Choi’s father sends him to study calligraphy under one of the most famous teachers in Korea , Mr. Han II Dong. Han in addition to his skills as a calligrapher, was also a master of Taek Kyon, the ancient Korean art of foot fighting.

The teacher, concerned over the frail condition of his new student, began teaching him the rigorous exercises of Taek Kyon to help build up his body. In 1937, Choi was sent to Japan to further his education. Shortly before leaving, however, the youth had the misfortune to engage in a rather heated argument with a massive professional wrestler who promised to literally tear the youth limb from limb at their next encounter. This threat seemed to give a new impetus to young Choi’s training in the martial arts. In Kyoto , Choi met a fellow Korean, Mr. Kim, who was engaged in teaching the Japanese martial art, Karate. With two years of concentrated training, Choi attained the rank of first degree black belt. These techniques together with Taek Kyon (foot techniques) were the forerunners of modern Taekwon-Do.

They followed a period of both mental and physical training, preparatory school, high school, and finally the University in Tokyo . During this time, training and experimentation in his new fighting techniques were intensified until, with attainment of his second-degree black belt, he began teaching at a YMCA in Tokyo , Japan. Choi recounts a particular experience from this period if time. There was no lamps-post in the city that he didn’t strike or kick to see if the copper wires ahead were vibrating in protest. “ I would imagine that these were the techniques I would use to defend myself against the wrestler, Mr. Hu, if he attempt to carry out his promise to tear me limb when I eventually returned to Korea ”

With the out break of the World War II, the author was forced to enlist in the Japanese army through no volition of his own. While at this post in Pyongyang , North Korea , the author was implicated as the planner of the Korean Independence Movement, known as the Pyongyang Student Soldier’s Movement and interned at a Japanese prison during his eight month pretrial examination. While in prison, to alleviate the boredom and keep physically fit, Choi began practicing his art in the solitude his cell. In a short time, his cellmate and jailer became students of his. Eventually, the whole prison courtyard became one gigantic gymnasium. The liberation in August 1945spared Choi from an imposed seven year prison sentence. Following his release, the ex-prisoner journeyed to Seoul where he organized a student soldier’s party. In January of the following year, Cohi was commissioned a s second lieutenant in the new south Korean army, the “Launching Pad” for putting Taekwon-do into a new orbit.

Soon after, he made company commander in Kwang-Ju where the young second lieutenant lighted the torch of this art by teaching his entire company and then promoted to first lieutenant and transfered to Tae Jon in charge of the Second Infantry Regiment. While at his new post, Choi began spreading the art no only to Korean soldiers but also to the American stationed there. This was the first introduction to Americans of what would eventually become known as Taekwon-do. 1947 was the year of fast promotion. Choi was promoted to captain an then major. IN 1948, he was posted to Seoul as the head of logistics and became Taekwon-do Instructor for the American Military Police School there. In 1948, Choi became a lieutenant colonel.

In 1949, Choi was promoted to full colonel and visited the United States for the first time, attending the fort Riley Ground General School . While there, this art was introduced to the American public. And in 1951, brigadier general, During this time, he organized the Ground General School in Pusan as assistant Commandant and Chief of the Academic Department. Choi was appointed as Chief of Staff of the First Corps in 1952 and was responsible for the briefing General MacArthur during the latter’s visit to Kang Nung. At the time of the armistice, Choi was in command of the 5 th Infantry Division. The year 1953 was an eventful one for the General, in both his military career and in the progress of the new martial art. He became the author of the first authoritative book on military intelligence in Korea . He organized and activated the crack 29 th infantry Division at Cheju Island, which eventually became the spearhead of Taekwon-do in the military and established the Oh Do Kwan ( Gym of my Way) where he succeeded no only in training the cadre instructors for the entire military but also developing the Taek Kyon and Karate techniques into a modern system of Taekwon-do, with the help of M.r Nam Tae HI, his right hand man in 1954.

In the latter part of that year, he commander Chong Do Kwan ( Gym of the Blue Wave), The largest civilian gym in Korea : Choi was also promoted to major general. Technically, 1955 signalled the beginning of Taekwon-do as a formally recognized art in Korea . During that year, a special board was formed which included leading master instructors, historians, and prominent leaders of society. A number of names for the new martial art were submitted. On the 11 th of April, the board summoned by Gen. Choi, decide on the name of Taekwon-do which had been submitted by him. This single unified name of Taekwon-do replaced the different and confusing terms: Dang Soo, Gong Soo, Taek KYon, Kwon Bup, etc.

Unfortunately General Choi passed away on June 15th, 2002 in Pyongyang , North Korea

(Taken of condensed book of Taekwon-do: Art of self defense, General Choi Hong HI. Pag 747-748-749)