Chung Do Kwan History

Chung Do Kwan History

Chung Do Kwan was the first kwan or school of the modern Korean martial arts to be established on the newly liberated Korean Peninsula. The name Chung Do Kwan means, “The School of the Blue Waves.” This represents a youthful spirit and vitality. The system was founded by Lee, Won Kuk and the school was located in Seoul. Lee begin his career in the martial art when he traveled to Japan in 1926, at the age of nineteen. He attended Chuo University. During his time at the University he be became exposed to Shotokan Karate and is said to have studied directly from the founder of the system, Funakoshi Sensei. Lee eventually returned to Korea and began teaching the martial arts in September of 1944. The location of his kwan was at the Yong Shin School in the Suh Dae Moon Gu section of Seoul. During the period of Japanese occupation it was virtually impossible for a Korean national to open a school of martial arts in their homeland. Due to Lee’s close relationship with the Japanese Governor General of Korea, Lee was allowed to open his school of Karate. This led to widespread rumors and deep distrust of Lee that he was a Japanese sympathizer. In fact, upon Korean independence in 1945, Lee stood trial for his Japanese affiliations – which caused him to temporarily close the doors to his school. He was not convicted and upon his acquittal he became very proactive in his stance about Korean independence and formed a tight alliance with the Korean National Police. So much so, that when the Chung Do Kwan was reopened at Gyun Ji Dong, Si Chun Gyo Dang, Jong Ro Gu, Seoul, in April of 1946, it became referred to as the National Police Headquarters dojang. In 1951, due to the age of Lee, Won Kuk , he asked Son, Duk Sung to take over as the Grandmaster of the studio, which he did. Many of the Korean schools of martial arts were closed during the Korean War. Chung Do Kwan was no exception. It reopened its doors for the second time in 1953. By this point, however, the founder, Lee Won Kuk rarely visited the school. Son, Duk Sung and the instructors he either trained or respected became the primary instructors of the kwan. There is an interesting fact regarding the Chung Do Kwan. Son, Duk Sung was the instructor who provided General Choi, Hong Hi with his 4th Dan certificate. Son, details that this was an honorary degree. He later canceled this certificate, and revoked Choi’s honorary Kwajang (Grandmaster) status when General Choi sent him a 6th Dan certificate which he insisted that Son must sign. Son also expelled Nam, Tae Hi, from Chung Do Kwan during this same time period. Choi and Nam were the founders of the Oh Do Kwan, which will be discussed later in this paper. The first seventeen Black Belts of Chung Do Kwan were:

Yoo, Ung Jun,

Son, Duk Sung,

Uhm, Woon Kyu,

Hyun, Jong Myun,

Min, Woon Sik,

Han, In Sook,

Jung, Young Taek,

Kang, Suh Chong,

Baek, Joon Ki,

Nam, Tae Hi,

Ko, Jae Chun,

Kwak, Kuen Sik,

Kim, Suk Kyu,

Han, Cha Kyo,

Jo, Sung Il,

Lee, Sa Man,

Rhee, Jhoon Goo – the Father of American Taekwondo.

As time progressed, several Kwans which derived their basis from Chung Do Kwan opened in Korea. They include:

Kuk Mu Kwan, founded by Kang, Suh Chong,

Jung Do Kwan, founded by Lee, Yong Woo,

Chung Ryong Kwan, founded by Ko, Jae Chun,

Oh Do Kwan, founded by Choi, Hong Hi and Nam, Tae Hi.

Credit: Master Earl Weiss, 7th Dan, ITF for the Chung Do Kwan history.