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Founder President  General Choi Hong Hi (1918-2002)
 Grand Master Choi Jung Hwa
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MARCH 12, 2006-MALAYSIA DINNER BANQUETKEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MICHAEL TIBOLLO
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“Kepada semua, selamat dating ke Malaysia !” For those of you that don’t speak Malay, “Welcome everyone to Malaysia!”

The International Taekwon-Do Federation is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. We will be celebrating this historic milestone because it is an achievement in commitment and dedication.

Over the past forty years, numerous changes have occurred in the world. There have been advances in science and medicine, great men and women have been born and many people that have contributed to the improvement of our lives have also unfortunately died. Forty years ago, set against this vast back drop, a little Korean man, who would become known as the “little giant” would give birth to an organization that would institutionalize a martial art as a way of life. So came to be the International Taekwon-Do Federation!

The fundamental reason I believe for General Choi’s success was his commitment and dedication to a philosophy that sought as one of its principals to make the world a better place.

The legacy of Taekwon-Do and the ITF will continue now through the dedication and commitment of President Choi, the legitimate leader of the ITF, together with the support of his students throughout the world.

History teaches us great lessons if we choose to open our ears and hearts to the past. I believe that looking at our history we can answer the question as to why our organization has grown and why it will go on notwithstanding any adversity along the way.

I believe that our history demonstrates that our organization has grown because it is more that just the “art of punching and kicking”. I believe as we all do that the “do” in Taekwon-Do is a “way of life”.

In the Chinese culture, it is what is known as “Dao”. In the Christian faith, Paul called it the “Way”.

As practitioners of Taekwon-Do, we believe that our martial art is the “righteous way”.

I would like to take the next few moments to try to describe in my own words what the “way” is.
At first, most of you will say that the “way” is physical fitness, perfecting the body and disciplining the mind. I submit to you that it is much more than that.

Taekwon-Do has as one of its basic principals that of respect. Respect for seniors, respect for people in authority, respect for fellow man, respect for self and above all else, respect for nature.

Taekwon-Do teaches us to be courteous to our fellow man and have integrity in our interactions with others. It teaches us to live up to our principals and not stop when faced with adversity. It teaches us to control our emotions and think through the many challenges we face each day.

Taekwon-Do teaches us selflessness and the importance of community.

As you can see, Taekwon-Do is a holistic approach to life.

It teaches the importance of conditioning the body, (the “gin”) in Chinese it teaches the importance of conditioning the mind (the “shin”) and it teaches the importance of conditioning the spirit (the “tai”).

Clearly, Taekwon-Do is a philosophy, touching on each of these elements.

I believe the way of Taekwon-Do as a philosophical discipline is about understanding the truth and the reality of life as it is in the world and then trying to live it.

To live Taekwon-Do requires commitment. I found a poem written by Katie Marshall Flaherty called “Pompilio’s Garden” which I think summarizes what commitment is all about. I would like to share it with you now:

“Pompilio’s Garden”

Pompilio’s face is leather bronzed
And creased so deeply
His eyes fold when he grins—
His brown picket teeth lean out
From his lips in a wince.
In the sharp sun, he leans on his weary spade.
The topsoil now under his grimy soles—
once yards up the hillside—
is what’s left of his stone-jumbled garden,
washed down the mountainside again
by the same hurricane gale
that embedded the last thatch straw from his roof
into this palmtree bark.
His foot is cut by a shard from
his own earthen wedding jug,
pitched against the corrugated tin tangle.
Like a mule he will pack the topsoil
back up the hillside by next season
like a gnarled stump, he’ll curl
fingers into muck, root for moisture,
stand bent but sturdy in the wind,
sigh, pray on this incline
to sustain his family
on rocks, onions and beans.

Pompilio’s commitment is the commitment we need in Taekwon-Do.

Our Founder gave us the tools and garden within which to work. Intertwined in our development as a martial art, we have been shown the “righteous way”. It is now up to us as mentors, teachers and members of a larger community to show the world what we have been taught. There is no time to despair when confronted with adversity.

In the future, think of Pompilio, when you are questioning your commitment to the “way”. It is easier to give up and walk away but our history, our Founder teaches us differently.

We must work together as an organization under the leadership of President Choi to build on the legacy left by his father. Success will only come through remembering our past, working hard for our future and living the “righteous way”.

Our future is bright. We have the history and experience to guide us.

I would like to express our gratitude to everyone that has helped make this event a success. Mrs. Chew, the unsung hero behind the scene, thank you for supporting Master Chew. He is a pioneer of Taekwon-Do who has dedicated his life to teaching the “way”. Master Chew, your example is an inspiration to your students and to all of us. To Mr. Oh from Korea, Mr. Lee in Japan, Mr. Sng from Singapore, Mr. Cheah from Hong Kong and Mr. Basnet from Nepal, you, are the guardians of our way in Asia. It is difficult to work in this garden and there will be times of despair when the earth from beneath your feet will feel like it is washing away. Do not despair. Remember our history, our Founder, our President and our traditions.

Spend time repeating your patterns for this will bring you perfection of form
Spend time focusing your mind and channelling your energy, this will bring you clarity of purpose

Spend time reflecting on your words and actions, this will guide you in life and bring you inner peace, cleanse your spirit and do away with ego.

Remember to be patient, time, the final uncontrollable element will ensure that through maturity and the mastery of these elements you will be following the way and leading a wholesome life.

Do we have a philosophy of Taekwon-Do? Yes, we do. Will our organization continue to strengthen and grow? Absolutely, it is a “way” of life that all of us and many more around the world have chosen to live!

Terima Kasih (“Thank you”)

Written by: Mr Tibollo - 20th March 2006

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