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Founder Of Taekwon-Do Passes Away In Pyong Yang

Founder Of Taekwon-Do Passes Away In Pyong Yang, North Korea

General Choi Hong Hi, Founder of Taekwon-Do and President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation, died in Pyong Yang, North Korea, at 8:25pm (local time) on 15 June 2002. He was 83 years old.

Three New Zealanders, Paul McPhail 6th degree black belt, Gray Patterson 4th degree and Mark Banicevich 4th degree, were fortunate to attend a seminar with General Choi in Jamaica in November 2001. General Choi seemed very fit and healthy at the time, but his health rapidly declined earlier this year.

Paul McPhail said, “General Choi was a true legend of our time, and it was a great honour to have met him and trained under him. He was a real inspiration in that he trained everyday without fail, and he was always teaching you - at every opportunity. He emphasised not only the importance of good technique, but also to have high moral standards.

“General Choi had a tremendous influence on Taekwon-Do in New Zealand, and he has in ITFNZ a strong group of Taekwon-Do Instructors who will continue to each his Art for years to come. There are tens of thousands of people who have taken part in Taekwon-Do since it was introduced here in 1970 – and we all have General Choi to thank for that.”

General Choi Hong Hi

Although General Choi was born, and died, in North Korea, he considered himself to be from a united Korea, having lived 27 years of his life in North Korea and 27 years in South Korea. He dreamed of seeing a reunited Korea, but his death sees this dream as yet unfulfilled.

He was a founding member of the Republic of Korean Army, and retired as a Three Star General. He was later the South Korean Ambassador to Malaysia, before retiring to pursue teaching Taekwon-Do.

General Choi formed the International Taekwon-Do Federation in 1966, of which he was President until his death. He was also President of the International Martial Arts Games Committee.

According to his philosophy, Taekwon-Do should be taught to anyone, regardless of religion, ideology, or race. Through his tireless efforts, Taekwon-Do is now practiced by millions of people in over 120 countries. Thousands of students and instructors had the opportunity to train with the Founder while he toured to teach almost continuously over the last forty years.

General Choi taught four seminars in New Zealand (1991, 1993, 1996 and 1998) to the benefit of hundreds of New Zealand students. ITFNZ Taekwon-Do has 58 clubs and over 1500 members throughout New Zealand.

General Choi was survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

What is Taekwon-Do?

Taekwon-Do is a version of unarmed combat designed for the purpose of self defence. It is more than just that, however.

It is the scientific use of the body in the method of self defence; aiming to gain the ultimate use of one’s body through intensive physical and mental training. Though it is a martial art, its discipline, techniques and mental training are the mortar for building a strong sense of justice, fortitude, humility and resolve. It is this mental conditioning that separates the true practitioner from the sensationalist, content with mastering only the fighting aspects of the art.

Translated literally “Tae” means 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 art or way.


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