What is Tae Kwon Do?

Tae Kwon Do, literally translated to “hand foot way(art)”, is sometimes referred to as ‘Korean Karate’ because it is based on ancient Korean methods of self-defense. The techniques practiced in Tae Kwon Do are hundred of years old but were first introduced to the Korean population in the mid 1940’s. Introduced to the Olympic games in Seoul, Korea in 1988, most people are familiar with Tae Kwon Do as a spectacle of high and flying kicks and quick punching techniques. However, at One World Tae Kwon Do, Chung Do Kwan is the school of Tae Kwon Do practiced. Introduced to the United States in 1963 by Grandmaster Duk Sung Son, Chung Do Kwon puts an emphasis on solid ground based kicking and highly effective self-defense techniques.

What do you mean ‘schools’ of Tae Kwon Do?

In 1944 there was only one Tae Kwon Do school in Korea, but as the years went by, more schools or ‘Kwans’ began opening up. Although there were 8 main Kwans by 1953, the largest was the Chung Do Kwan Institute. This is why, if you have watched or practiced Tae Kwon Do in the past, this school may seem very different. Because the basics, forms and class structure vary from school to school, unless you have studied Chung Do Kwan before, you must start as at the beginner level regardless of your previous martial arts experience.


A Brief History 

Prior to the 1940's, practice of the martial arts was banned in Korea due to the Japanese occupation of the territory. However, the practice continued underground in the form of training in Tae Kyon. Many Korean's learned various Japanese martial arts while in Japan. One of these men was Grandmaster Woon Kook Lee who trained under Gigen Funikoshi, the great founder of Shotokan.

Grandmaster Lee became a 3rd Dan under Funikoshi in Shotokan before returning to Korea in 1944. This was before the end of the war so to start a martial arts school, Master Lee had to apply for a license with the Japanese government. They rejected the application twice, but finally allowed him on the third try. Master Lee began teaching Tang Soo Do (the Korean translation of Karate-Do, literally meaning "China Hand Way") in the Yung Shin School Gym in Sa De Mun, Ok Chun Dong district in Seoul. He named his school "Chung Do Kwan" which means Blue Wave Gym. One of the men that started training with Master Lee in the beginning was a Mr. Duk Sung Son, a young boxer. After the war was over (August 15.1945) there was civil unrest and gang fighting in the streets. During this time other martial art schools (Kwan's) were formed, some by students of Master Lee. In a few years there were many martial art schools. But, the largest was the Chung Do Kwan institute.

Under Master Lee's watchful eye and guidance, by 1947 the government saw the value in Master Lee's martial arts school -- teaching honor, courage, loyalty, and discipline. So finally the government began to support the training. Master Duk Sung Son was appointed headmaster over the Chung Do Kwan. In 1955 an effort was made by the various Kwans to have some sort of National Unity in the Korean Martial Arts. At this time he was teaching Tae Kwon Do to novice policemen and with his growing reputation he became the original chief instructor of Tae Kwon Do for the Republic of Korea's Army and Military Academy. Master Son and General Choi (of the ITF) were both on the panel that came up with the name "Tae Kwon Do" for the Korean martial art. In 1961 the Korean government put pressure on the Kwans to unify, forming the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA) with General Choi as president.

Some of the Kwan's, especially the Chung Do Kwan, wanted to keep their identity and training methods and remained aloof. But in 1962 the Korean government only recognized the rank of those in the KTA. Many of the Tae Kwon Do masters were frustrated with the restrictions this placed on Tae Kwon Do training, so in the early 1960's many Masters left Korea and formed Tae Kwon Do organizations outside of Korea. In 1963 Grandmaster Son and several of the Chung Do Kwan institute masters came to the United States. Then in 1966 Grandmaster Son united the Chung Do Kwan masters under the World Tae Kwon Do Association (WTA).

While in the United States Grandmaster Son has taught at West Point, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, New York University, Fordham, Stony Brook, and Providence. While at Fordham University, a young man named Michael T. Dealy came under the tutelage of Mr. Son and soon became the President of the Tae Kwon Do club at The Fordham Rose Hill Campus. Over the next three decades, Michael Dealy trained as Mr. Son’s top student, winning numerous tournament competitions and performing in countless Tae Kwon Do exhibitions around the world. During this time Mr. Dealy earned his Masters Degree in Comparative Literature and his Ph.D in Psychology from Fordham University. By the early 1990’s Michael Dealy had an astounding number of champion students of his own and founded the World Martial Arts Association (WMAA) which currently has chapters in New York, California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

Headquartered in Brooklyn NY, The WMAA is home to hundreds of students practicing Martial Arts all over the United States, with frequent training camps to the Catskill Mountains. Under Headmaster Dealy, currently 9th Dan, Tae Kwon Do is taught as an intense, vicious and practical art while focused on encouraging experiences and unconditional positive regard. Tae Kwon Do is for students of all ages, and families are encouraged to practice together. There is no better way to stay in shape while learning discipline, respect, focus, strength, and an indomitable fighting spirit. Everyone exists in the shadow of the mission....

A special thanks to Pat Natoli, 4th Dan for providing the content of this page.

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