Written By Don Warrener
Tae Kwon Do’s founder Grandmaster Choi Hong Hi was most certainly a leader and visionary for one of the world’s most popular martial arts.
He was the one who was able to see that Korea needed its own martial art with its own name and it was he who had the ability to join together the different martial arts in Korea under one roof. Moo Duk Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Tang Soo Do, and Chun Do Kwan were the original styles that formed the new art that incorporated all the Korean arts.
He realized that for him to propagate Korea’s new art he needed as one of the ingredients an individual who firstly was technically gifted and secondly embraced his ideals of honor, integrity, humility and discipline. This person he chose was Jong Soo Park the first heavy weight Champion of Korea 1963 and one of the kindest most intelligent and honest gentlemen we have ever met.
He began his training in the 1957 and found himself training and demonstrating the patterns of Tae Kwon Do the day the art was founded in 1964 in Seoul Korea. He then became part of the first Korean Tae Kwon Do Demonstration team that traveled around the world including Malaysia, Africa, Germany and many more countries in 1964. He was later asked to come back to Germany in 1964 and set up Tae Kwon Do training in Germany and then in he went to Holland where he was the first man to introduce the art to the Dutch as well before finally moving to his present home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
He is now carrying on his teacher’s (General Choi) last wishes in an attempt to unify two world’s of Tae Kwon Do the International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) of which he is proudly apart of and the The World Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF) and at the same time doing his part to see one Korea as well.
Not is he just on this mission that is humongous in proportion but he is still teaching, training, researching and most certainly not living off of his reputation. His technical skills are still there and although at the age when most men his age are sitting back and talking about the good old days and wishing they could wake up and it would be 1972. Not so with Jong Soo Park he is making plans for his masters level summer training camp where all are welcome to attend and for his all new series of instructional DVD’s called Mastering Tae Kwon Do produced by Rising Sun Productions Hollywood California which include not just the normal competition aspects of the art but also self defense, throwing, chokes, locks, patterns, combination kicks and just so much more it is amazing.
“Tae Kwon Do is a Korean art not a south Korean or north Korean art it is ”
He sees modern Tae Kwon Do as one of the ways North Korea and South Korea can hopefully some day be unified again into one Korea the same, as he wants to see one Tae Kwon Do. “When I sat at the bed of the founder he told me straight to my face that he wanted one Tae Kwon Do not two.” “He was very sick at the time but he told us not to worry about him as his passing like everyone else’s is inevitable.” “What he wanted more then anything was to see one Tae Kwon Do and one Korea.” ” I have sense then dedicated the rest of my life to just that and the new DVD series I have just released is dedicated to our founder General Choi Hung Hi.”
Over the years Tae Kwon Do Olympic style has been criticized as being similar to chicken fighting by its detractors and Grandmaster Park agrees that in some ways it is not a true representation of Korean Tae Kwon Do also many Grandmasters and Masters have lied about our roots and we have nothing to be ashamed of telling people that Tae Kwon Do goes back 1000 years is just plain wrong. It does not go back to ancient times it is new and exciting.
In fact Tae Kwon Do goes back to the end of WW2 when our founder was in prison in Kyoto Japan and a fellow Korean named Kim who was a guard befriended him and taught him the basics, the forms or patterns of Japanese Karate probably what would later be called Shotokan. General Choi was sentenced to death but fortunately he was released at the end of WW2 and returned to Korea where he began his life time dream of establishing a Korean hand to hand system of combat.
Yes it is true says Park that our Tae Kwon Do does have much more kicking then the other arts as this is part of our history and culture as we have always played games as school children where we kicked a small feathered bird like in badminton and we also practiced balancing a pole on our feet, but the truth is that our Tae Kwon Do came from Japanese Karate the same as Japanese Karate came from Okinawan Karate the same as Okinawan Karate came from Chinese Kung Fu. This is nothing to be ashamed of, as it is the truth. What is also important is that we Koreans must not make up stories like this that make people think we are storytellers. We are a proud and honest people and we should stand tall and proud of the truth about our art. Remember I was there the day Tae Kwon Do was formed and all the Grandmasters agreed that General Choi’s name selection TAE KWON DO was the best for the new Korean art if it was to become recognized world wide. I was also there when we had to come up with all kinds of names for the kicking techniques in Korean and in fact I was the one who invented the spinning hook kick and we had to give it a name. We were doing this for General Choi’s first book on Tae Kwon Do, which was originally released in 1965 (it has just been released by General Choi’s wife in conjunction with Masters Publication. In fact if you look at the book you will see that I am featured in this book as the technical model in many of these photos as this was General Choi’s desire.
Our kicking with double, triple, combination kicks, jumping, turning, twisting, spinning and so much more combined with hand techniques make it very unusual and in my opinion much more exciting to watch as an art form especially from a sport point of view then many others like karate or Judo which may be great good martial arts but they are not exciting and the possibilities and endless combinations of Tae Kwon Do techniques are what have got it into the Olympics now with some fine tuning we will dominate the martial arts in the Olympics. As well, it is as we all know, an excellent form of self defense.
Grand Master Park has many plans on how he will do his best to bring about one Tae Kwon Do. His first being the creation of this DVD series called Mastering Tae Kwon Do that teaches Tae Kwon Do the way he learnt it from its founder and then he will do his best to get both sides of Tae Kwon do to sit down and discuss how they can create a more practical Olympic Tae Kwon Do that exemplifies Korea’s martial art and the first being implementing the forms in the Olympic art and once again using the hands to score points so that it is a more practical presentation. Plus the idea of giving points for blocking as well as striking.
Grand Master Park is constantly traveling the world to present his art the way he learnt it from Founder Choi Hong Hi.
For further information on Grand Master Jong Soo Park you can go to his web site at “www.jongpark.com” or you can go to the Rising Sun Web site and read all about his new DVD series www.risingsunproductions.net
Don Warrener is a Free Lance writer based in Hollywood California.