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Master Class September 6th 2009, Stevenedge, Reading England.
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Master Choi never fails to impress. The son of General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of Taekwon-Do, Master Choi is now the president, leader and guardian of modern day ITF Taekwon-Do.

I use the word guardian intently.

His work over the last number of years has been to bring ITF Taekwon-Do into its rightful place in the world, as a martial art and a system of self defence.

When Taekwon-Do was initially developed by General Choi back in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. Its purpose was to enable the practitioner to develop raw power from the training methods involved. It was, undoubtedly a full contact system.

Over the years, and as Taekwon-Do became a worth while business concept, training methods changed to become a more family orientated, and child centred martial art. The training methods of old would have slowed Taekwon-Do from developing as a uniquely popular family martial art. It would have been the staple diet of genuinely hard men and head cases, such was the training methods.

It can be said that over the many years, Taekwon-Do has become a some what watered down version of its original mould.
It has inevitably become a system of sport and an art based on aesthetics rather than any sense of realism.

This now seems to be the target of change of the ITF and in particular, Master Choi Jung Hwa, who wants to see Taekwon-Do become a more realistic system of fighting. He wants to see an end to the pretty and dance based tul. An over emphasis on prettiness has over shadowed Taekwon-Dos true nature.

This latest master class was all about power and the use of kicks and strikes to create the utmost damage to any opponent.
Prettiness in performance was not an issue, in fact master Choi, as he always does, insists that to perform any Taekwon-Do strike or block with full power will of course pull the practitioner off balance, and this is ok. It means that in the first instance, power is to the fore. Training over and over will bring balance, inevitably.

To quote master Chois own saying - once you know one thing through and through, then you  know it for everything - this was the under current for the master class. There was repetitious training of single strikes and techniques until the concept was fully understood.

Taekwon-Do is going back to its roots. Its true identity is being revealed once again.
When you look at the many pioneers of Taekwon-Do, to name a very few, GM Nam Tae Hi, GM Rhee Ki Ha, Master Han Cha Kyo, GM CK Choi, GM JC Kim, all of these in their hay day, and some even now are power houses. Their training was real, it was gruelling and it was all about blunt force trauma.

When you look at the instructors that came out of these pioneers, and from our own point of view here in Ireland, Mr Aidan Walsh and Master Robert Howard (two of five) who were original students who came under GM Rhee were all about impact development. Even when I was training as a kid, Master Trevor Nicholls was all about raw power, and the destruction of the opponent. His destruction of six Irish boards with a lead leg side kick in Aughrim street sports centre, circa1992 is etched in my memory.

Many things in life come full circle, and these days I find myself training with and under one of those Irish pioneers, Aidan Walsh, who was instrumental along with others, Robert Howard, Liam Dandy, Frank Mathews, Brendan Roche and Tony Phelan in spreading Taekwon-Do around the Island of Ireland.
I shouldnt be surprised then to find that Mr Walshs primary concern in training is to learn how to hit hard, and be scientific it your delivery.

This master class was also a poignant one, after 30 odd years master Choi met with Mr Walsh for a trip down memory lane. In 1974, Mr Walsh was part of a demo team along with master Choi who performed a Taekwon-Do demonstration for General Choi on the back of a truck in Winnipeg, Canada. The two had a good old laugh as they recalled good times in Canada and at the residence of the General. The two Taekwon-Do stalwarts embraced each other. As someone who has only dipped his toe in the vast ocean of Taekwon-Do life, I found it was quite an historical moment.

I think all of us who travelled to England to train under master Choi share Mr Walshs opinion. Master Choi is genuine, and is not afraid to show the courage of his convictions.

During lunch with master Choi, he outlined his vision for Taekwon-Do in the near future. With South Korea now accepting him and the ITF with open arms, the ITF and Taekwon-Do in general is quit rightly slotting back into its rightful place, acknowledged and understood as being a complete martial art, now with all its priorities in the right place.

Power is key!

Thank you to all those involved in the UTA and England ITF for the kind invitation to the Master Class, Master Trevor Nicholls and Mr Glenn Horan - Thank you.

Elite Taekwon-Do Academy Ireland

Written by: Jon Mackey - 9th September 2009
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Jonathan Voorhout (Taekwon-Do South Africa) : 13th November 2009, 11:19


Silvia Ilieva (Bulgarian Federation of Traditional Taekwon-Do) : 10th September 2009, 08:07
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