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The term The Original Masters refers to a group of twelve South Korean taekwondo masters who were assembled in the early 1960s by the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA) to promote taekwondo worldwide.

By the end of World War II, the practice of martial arts had all but died-out in Korea. With the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1945, there was a quick resurgence of martial arts in Korea. The newly established martial arts schools (called “kwans”) came to be known as The Nine Kwans, each practicing its own martial arts style. At the urging of the government, the Nine Kwans came together in the form of the Korean Taekwondo Association to establish a single martial art that came to be known as taekwondo. The Korean government was keen to not only reestablish Korean culture after the occupation, but also to showcase Korean culture to the world. The goal of the Original Masters was to showcase taekwondo to the world.

Despite the name of their group, the Original Masters were not the masters of the original Nine Kwans. In fact, in many cases the Nine Kwans were still in the process of transitioning to the new martial art, taekwondo. These 12 practitioners then were considered original to the new martial art.

In alphabetical order, the Original Masters are: Choi Chang Keun, Choi Kwang Jo, Han Cha Kyo, Kim Jong Chan, Kim Kwang Il, Kong Young Il, Park Jong Soo, Park Jung Tae, Park Sun Jae, Rhee Chong Chul, Rhee Chong Hyup, and Rhee Ki Ha. See Wikipedia for more detail.

Name Rank Life Residence Organisation Affiliation
Choi Chang Keun (최창근) 9th dan c. 1940– Vancouver, Canada Tae Kwon Do Pioneers ITF
Choi Kwang Jo 9th dan 1942– Atlanta, USA Choi Kwang-Do Independent
Han Cha Kyo 9th dan 1934–1996 Chicago, USA Universal Tae Kwon Do Federation Independent
Kim Jong Chan (김종찬) 7th dan or higher 1935– Vancouver, Canada Jong Kim Martial Arts ITF
Kim Kwang Il 9th dan 1939–2001 Germany Kwang Mu Sul Taekwon-Do Independent
Kong Young Il 9th dan 1943– Las Vegas, USA Young Brothers Tae Kwon-Do Institute ITF
Park Jong Soo 9th dan 1941– Toronto, Canada Jong Soo Park Institute of Taekwon-Do ITF
Park Jung Tae (박정태) 9th dan c. 1943–2002 Mississauga, Canada Global Taekwon-Do Federation Independent
Park Sun Jae 7th dan or higher 1938-2016 Italy FITA WTF
Rhee Chong Chul (이종철) 8th dan c. 1935– Sydney, Australia Rhee Taekwon-Do Independent
Rhee Chong Hyup 7th dan c. 1940– Melbourne, Australia Rhee Taekwon-Do Independent
Rhee Ki Ha (리기하) 9th dan 1938– Glasgow, UK United Kingdom Taekwon-Do Association ITF

See Also[]


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