Kwan: in Korean literally means building or hall, but when used in martial arts it can also refer to a school or clan of martial artists who follow the same style and/or leader.
At the time, there were 9 major Kwans throughout Korea and once someone joined a particular Kwan, it was very difficult to transfer to another Kwan. When someone wanted to transfer to another Kwan, his original Kwan Jang had to authorize and approve the transfer, but in reality the Kwan Jang usually threatened the member using authoritative means in an effort to persuade the potential transferee to not leave. This was a critical issue in those days.
Chung Do Kwan
Won Kuk Lee, seated in the middle and next led by
Duk Sung Son, the back row, second from the right.
After the independence of Korea, the Chung Do Kwan, one of the five key Dojangs, was founded first. It symbolized Chung Do Kwan's name: "Bluewaves" meaning a youngster's spirit and vitality.
Chung Do Kwan's founder, LEE Won Kuk, moved to Japan when he was 19 years old in 1926. While in Japan, he first attended middle and high school, and then entered the Law School of Chuo University. Then he entered Japan's Karate headquarters, the Song Do Kwan (Shotokan). He received Karate instruction from Karate's father, Gichin Funakoshi. There, he learned Karate with Song Moo Kwan's founder, RO Byung Jick.
Later, he moved back to Korea and taught Tang Soo Do in the Yong Shin school hall in Suh Dae Moon Gu's Ochun Dong, Seoul because he had a good relationship with Japan's Cho-sun Governor General Abe in 1944. This led to the rumor that he was pro-Japanese.
Later, Oh Do Kwan's founder, CHOI Hong Hi said: "After independence, LEE Kwan Jang was charged with acts of pro-Japanese and stood in a special civil trial."
LEE Won Kuk was a precise person. He had the strong body of a martial artist and glaringly sharp eyes. His expression was very strict. Right after Independence Day, he seemed to offset his pro-Japanese deeds by developing a good relationship with the people of the National Police Headquarters. He led the efforts to get rid of Seoul gangsters. The Chung Do Kwan was once called "the National Police Headquarters Dojang".
After the Korean War, the Chung Do Kwan membership was less than 200. GM LEE Won Kuk visited the school twice and watched the lessons. The primary instructors were YOO Ung Jun and SON Duk Sung and "Promotion Testing was held every six months".
Graduates of the Chung Do Kwan were: 1) YOO Ung Jun; 2) SON Duk Sung; 3) UHM Woon Kyu; 4) HYUN Jong Myun; 5) MIN Woon Sik; 6) HAN In Sook; 7) JUNG Young Taek; 8) KANG Suh Chong; 9) BAEK Joon Ki; 10) NAM Tae Hi; 11) KO Jae Chun; 12) KWAK Kuen Sik; 13) KIM Suk Kyu; 14) HAN Cha Kyo; 15) JO Sung Il; 16) LEE Sa Man; 17) RHEE Jhoon Goo (Jhoon Rhee); and 18) KIM Bong Sik.
From Inchon, which became the center of the Chung Do Kwan's annex Kwans, more schools were opened. They were: 1) KANG Suh Chong's Kuk Mu Kwan; 2) LEE Yong Woo's Jung Do Kwan in Suh Dae Moon Ku; 3) KO Jae Chun's Chung Ryong Kwan in Kwang Ju; and 4) CHOI Hong Hi's Oh Do Kwan. The Oh Do Kwan especially had active Chung Do Kwan members who were in the military after the Korean War.
General Choi Hong Hi and GM Lee Won Kuk
attending a Chung Do Kwan Promotional Testing for Dan Certification
The Chung Do Kwan's first Kwan Jang was LEE Won Kuk; the second was SON Duk Sung; and the third was UHM Woon Kyu. When SON Duk Sung became the Kwan Jang of the Chung Do Kwan, UHM Woon Kyu, HYUN Jong Myun, and NAM Tae Hi had conflicts with regard to the issue of who should eceive the nomination from LEE Won Kuk and become the nJang
1st Anniversary of Choson Yunmoo Kwan 3/3/1947
Founder CHUN Sang Sup is circled.
He was a student of Gichin Funakoshi at Takushoku University.
The Ji Do Kwan was founded by an elite member, CHUN Sang Sup, on May 3, 1946 as the Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan Kong Soo Do Bu.
When he was a teenager, he learned Judo and learned Karate while studying abroad in Japan. After Independence Day, he opened the Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan Kong Soo Do Bu at the former Judo school, Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan, where he taught Judo and Karate. He began to recruit new members. He had a slender figure and was not particular, but was an intellect and always wore suits. "However, during the Korean War, he vanished, the Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan Kong Soo Do Bu was abolished and it was renamed: Ji Do Kwan"
After Independence Day, the Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan taught no gup to 8th gup in high, middle and low classes. The student's Kwan number was based on gup promotion, and not only the day of the first registration as a student.
The Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan was started in Seoul, but the major development and structural growth was spread from Chun Ju, Cholla Buk Do as a center. Then, CHUN Il Sup opened another school in Kunsan, Cholla Buk Do in May 1947, and spread his school's reputation from Jun Joo to Kunsan, I Ri, Nam Won, Jung Uep and more.
During the Korean War, the Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan's name was changed to Ji Do Kwan. "After CHUN Sang Sup was kidnapped to North Korea, the Ji Do Kwan (Wisdom Way School) was opened and ran by YOON Kwe Byung and LEE Chong Woo until 1967".
However, through the process of unification with the Korea Tae Soo Do Association, the Ji Do Kwan had conflicts between YOON Kwe Byung and LEE Chong Woo. Led by LEE Chong Woo (Ji Do Kwan), LEE Nam Suk (Chang Moo Kwan), UHM Woon Kyu (Chung Do Kwan), HYUN Jong Myun (Chung Do Kwan/Oh Do Kwan) and others planned to unify, but YOON Kwe Byung and HWANG Kee (Moo Duk Kwan) declined and persisted on their self testing committee.
Ji Do Kwan graduates were 1) BAE Young Ki; 2) LEE Chong Woo; 3) KIM Bok Nam; 4) PARK Hyun Jung; 5) LEE Soo Jin; 6) JUNG Jin Young; 7) LEE Kyo Yoon; 8) LEE Byung Ro; 9) HONG Chang Jin; 10) PARK Young Kuen and others.
Ji Do Kwan's distinguished difference from other schools was mainly based on Tae-ryon (Sparring). When Taekwon-Do tournaments became active from the beginning of the 1960's to the 1970's, Ji Do Kwan distinguished itself. The major representatives were LEE Seung Wan, CHO Jum Sun, HWANG Dae Jin, CHOI Young Ryul and more.
Ji Do Kwan's representing annex was the Han Moo Kwan. But, LEE Kyo Yoon said: "the Han Moo Kwan root is not in Ji Do Kwan, but rather in the Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan." This shows the debate of the origins of the school.
Ji Do Kwan's first Kwan Jang was CHUN Sang Sup; the second Kwan Jang was YOON Kwe Byung and the third LEE Chong Woo.
Moo Duk Kwan
After Independence Day, the Moo Duk Kwan started as the "Transportation by Rail Committee Tang Soo Do Bu" at the railroad system at Yong San Station, Seoul. The Department of Transportation allowed the Tang Soo Do Dojang as a traffic service, but the exact date is unknown. We only know that it was founded after 1946.
HWANG Kee claimed that he learned Kuk Sool when he worked for the Southern Manchuria Railroad in 1935, but other Taekwon-Do seniors denied this claim saying that there was no evidence.
Moo Duk Kwan was nearby the Yong San Railroad station, so it was called the "Railroad Dojang". The first Moo Duk Kwan dan holder was KIM Woon Chang. Others were: 1) HONG Chong Soo; 2) CHOI Hui Suk; 3) YOO Kwa Young; 4) NAM Sam Hyun; 5) KIM In Suk; 6) LEE Bok Sung; 7) HWANG Jin Tae; 8) WON Yong Bup; 9) CHUNG Chang Young; 10) LEE Kang Ik, and others who were all railroad personnel. The Moo Duk Kwan used the trains to open a school in different railroad station's storage rooms and spread its power. When someone said Moo Duk Kwan, one would think about the railroad.
When the Moo Duk Kwan had rank testing’s, the Chung Do Kwan's LEE Won Kuk and Song Moo Kwan's RO Byung Jick visited and built a good friendship, but regarding Dan certificates and promotions, they had disagreements with HWANG Kee.
In 1955, the Moo Duk Kwan Central Gymnasium was opened near Seoul Station in Joong Gu's Dong Ja Dong, Seoul. In the same year, 9 more annex schools were opened and it held the friendly China-Korea International Tang Soo Do Championships.
But in 1960, the Moo Duk Kwan had a big change. The Moo Duk Kwan was no longer 1953's Korea Tang Soo Do Association, and it was changed to a Korean traditional name: "the Korea Soo Bahk Do Association."
Later the Moo Duk Kwan had big headaches because of HWANG Kee's persistence in not unifying with the KTA. Finally, in March 1965, KIM Young Taek and HONG Chong Soo led the Moo Duk Kwan unification with the KTA without HWANG Kee.
After that incident, LEE Kang Ik became the next Kwan Jang, but soon after resigned with HONG Chong Soo becoming the third Kwan Jang. After, OH Se Joon became Kwan Jang. "The Moo Duk Kwan's customs were the strongest among the first five big Kwans."
Chang Moo Kwan
Historic photo taken after the 2nd Chang Moo Kwan demonstration at Seoul YMCA February 19, 1949. The diamond surrounding his head identifies Grandmaster Byong In Yoon. The square surrounding his head identifies Grandmaster Lee Nam Suk.
YOON Byung In, who taught Moo Do with CHUN Sang Sup in the Cho-sun Yun Moo Kwan, founded the Chang Moo Kwan in 1946 at the YMCA in Jong Ro, Seoul. He spent his childhood in Manchuria and learned "Joo An Pa", a Chinese martial art. Right before Independence Day, he went to Japan to study abroad and learned Karate, receiving the 5th Dan rank. Nihon University's Karate founder TOYAMA Kanken saw YOON Byung In's Chinese martial art and was impressed. Later, they exchanged their martial arts and became good friends.
YOON Byung In's passion towards martial arts was so high that he received the 5th Dan in Karate. He was the Karate Team Captain at Nihon University. This showed his martial art ability was high.
Right after Independence Day, he became the Physical Education instructor at Kyung Sung Agricultural School and started teaching Moo Do. Later, in 1946, YOON opened the YMCA Kwon Bup Bu in nearby Jong Ro, Seoul.
He had a good relationship with Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan's CHUN Sang Sup, and once CHUN and YOON were called brothers because they trained so much together. CHUN Sang Sup's younger brother CHUN Il Sup said: "YMCA Kwon Bup Bu's YOON Byung In and LEE Nam Suk trained with the Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan in the beginning, so I can say the Yun Moo Kwan and the YMCA Kwon Bup Bu were brother Kwans."
YOON Byung In was basically a traditional Moo Do man. His body was small, but was trained with martial arts and full of energy. His behavior was blunt. He did not know how to wear his clothes and shoes fashionably. He wore a pair of oversized US Army boots and his left baby finger was cut off, so he had to wear a pair of special white gloves, even in the summer.
He taught his martial art "Ju An Pa Kwon Bup" to his students according to their body sizes, so the students could learn martial arts that suited their body specialty.
Before the Korean War, on June 24, 1949, the YMCA Kwon Bup Bu held a Yun Moo Demonstration. PARK Chul Hee demonstrated the "Jak Do Kwon", PARK Ki Tae demonstrated
"Bong Kwon" and Chung Do Kwan's SON Duk Sung, UHM Woon Kyu and LEE Yong Woo demonstrated "Chan Jo"
On December 21, 1948, participants at the 1st. Promotion Test at Ministry of Communications Chang Moo Kwan Department posed for commemorative photo. Grandmaster Byong In Yoon is 5th from the left, and Grandmaster Lee Nam Suk is 4th.
YMCA Kwon Bup Bu practice sessions started at 4:30 pm. In the beginning, more than 500 members were recruited, but after three months, only 180 members were remaining because of the severity of the training. After YOON disappeared, LEE Nam Suk opened a Kong Soo Do school and started teaching.
After the Korean War, LEE Nam Suk and KIM Soon Bae reopened the YMCA Kwon Bup Bu as the Chang Moo Kwan. "The Chang Moo Kwan was represented with a symbol of two dragons." But according to LEE Chong Woo, the Chang Moo Kwan name was used by YOON Byung In as a favorable name before the Korean War.
YMCA Kwon Bup Bu graduates were: 1) LEE Nam Suk; 2) KIM Sun Gu; 3) HONG Jung Pyo; 4) PARK Chul Hee; 5) PARK Ki Tae; 6) KIM Ju Gap; 7) SONG Suk Joo; 8) LEE Joo Ho; 9) KIM Soon Bae and others.
2nd Kwan Jang LEE Nam Suk and 3rd Kwan Jang KIM Soon Bae had conflicts with HONG Jung Pyo and PARK Chul Hee. This led to HONG and PARK leaving the Chang Moo Kwan and opening their own school, the Kang Duk Won, in nearby Shinsuldong, Seoul, in 1956
Song Moo Kwan
Grandmaster RO Byung Jick
The Song Moo Kwan was founded by RO Byung Jick in Kae Song on March 11, 1944. Song Moo Kwan founder RO Byung Jick studied together with Chung Do Kwan founder LEE Won Kuk in Japan. "They both studied Karate under Gichin Funakoshi." Right before Independence Day, he returned to Korea and taught youngsters Karate as a hobby at an archery place, the Kwan Duk Jung.
RO Byung Jick explained his school's name: Song Moo Kwan the word "Song" meant pine tree, which meant green and a long life. Also, Song was one of the Koryo capital city name, Song Do. And Song was also borrowed from the Song Do Kwan "Shotokan" when I learned Karate under Gichin Funakoshi while studying abroad.
RO's practice sessions started one hour earlier with warm up exercises consisting of lifting weights and then practicing on the Kwon Go (maki-wara). He was known as a powerful puncher and kicker from his students.
RO always let his students punch the Kwon Go at least 100 times and then started the real practice. "If students received the 4th Gup or higher, he let them spar." Like any other dojang, he was known to let his students practice in cold weather during winter and in the hot weather during summer.
RO Kwan Jang's student, and the 2nd Kwan Jang, LEE Young Sup reflects: "Every six months, there was promotional testing. Mainly one step sparring, three step sparring, free sparring and patterns were used to decide promotions. But free sparring was for 4th gup and higher, and 1st Dan required breaking boards. If these rules were broken, the Kwan Jang was very upset."
The Song Moo Kwan graduates were: 1) LEE Hwae Soon; 2) LEE Young Sup; 3) KIM Hong Bin; 4) HAN Sang Min; 5) SONG Tae Hak; 6) LEE Hwi Jin; 7) JO Kyu Chang; 8) HONG Young Chang; 9) KANG Won Sik and others. However, its power and customs were the weakest among the first big five Kwans.
Oh Do Kwan
Original Oh Do Kwan Pioneers:
Gen. Choi Hong Hi GM Choi Chang Keun GM Young Il Kong GM Rhee Ki Ha GM Jong Soo Park
"The Oh Do Kwan is a product of former ROK Army members CHOI Hong Hi and NAM Tae Hi."
NAM Tae Hi made a big contribution to the Oh Do Kwan, which was founded by CHOI Hong Hi in the 3rd Army Yong Dae Ri base. For General CHOI, NAM Tae Hi was a treasure.
NAM registered at the Chung Do Kwan right after Independence Day. After he learned Tang Soo Do from LEE Won Kuk, he taught Tang Soo Do at the Military Signal School in 1947. This led to his faith and loyalty with the military. A handsome man with excellent administrative skills, NAM's Tang Soo Do was great. After he met General Choi of the 29th Infantry Division in Chejudo, this was the beginning of his changing life.
The Oh Do Kwan "Gym of my way" had new members that were mostly former members of the Chung Do Kwan. They were: 1) NAM Tae Hi; 2) HAN Cha Kyo; 3) WOO Jong Rim; 4) KO Jae Chun; 5) KIM Suk Kyu; 6) KWAK Kuen Suk and others. Instructors were HYUN Jong Myun and others who were from the Chung Do Kwan. After HYUN Jong Myun taught for more than 10 years since 1954, he became the Kwan Jang. "There was a rumor that this relates to General CHOI Hong Hi, it is said he became the Chung Do Kwan's Honorary Kwan Jang."
After ROK President RHEE Syng Man sponsored General Choi, the Oh Do Kwan grew rapidly since 1955. "His plan to teach Tang Soo Do to everyone in the military led to changing Tang Soo Do's name to Taekwon-Do." When he taught Taekwon-Do, he instructed his students to yell out "TAE KWON". When the Vietnam War broke out in the early 1960's, General Choi sent Taekwon-Do instructors to Vietnam. This led to the discrimination against "Civilian Dojangs" and the growth and reputation of the "Military Dojangs."
Taekwon-Do instructors were sent to Vietnam in December 1962. NAM Tae Hi was the head of the group, and KIM Seung Kyu, JUNG Young Hwi and CHOO Kyo were the instructors. Until the evacuation of the ROK military, 657 instructors were dispatched. Successive generation Taekwon-Do instructors were 1) NAM Tae Hi; 2) BAEK Joon Ki; 3) CHOI Dong Hee; 4) KIM Suk Kyu; 5) KO Jae Chun; 6) KIM Bong Sik; 7) JUNG Byung Kil; 8) KIM Sueng Kyu. Mostly, they were former Chung Do Kwan members.
However, when new military recruits who had Taekwon-Do Dan rank joined, the Oh Do Kwan only approved Chung Do Kwan Dan ranks. The Dan ranks from other Kwan’s were not approved and they were called "Civilian Dan Rank", so the new recruits had to pass another test to receive Dan rank in the military. This caused complications between the Oh Do Kwan and other Kwan’s.
Regarding this issue, General Choi defended the action and said: "The Oh Do Kwan had frequent exchanges of basic patterns and similar practice sessions with the Chung Do Kwan, but the Ji Do Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan and other schools had different structural patterns. So the military needed to test their members."
HYUN Jong Myun was the second Oh Do Kwan Kwan Jang, KWAK Byung Oh (Jak Ko) was the third, and BAEK Joon Ki was the third Kwan Jang for the Oh Do Kwan.
After CHOI Hong Hi founded the International Taekwon-Do Federation, CHOI deviated from the KTA and this weakened the Oh Do Kwan because his attention was now on the ITF.
Tribute to General Choi Hong Hi
General Choi Hong Hi Father of Taekwon-Do Born 1918, Kilju Died 2002, Pyongyang
General Choi Hong Hi, Founder and President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation died on June 15th, 2002, in Pyongyang, People’s Democratic Republic of Korea.
On April 11th, 1955, a special board of masters, historians, and other important members of Korean society held a meeting. Their purpose was to coordinate the various
"Kwans" (schools) and select a name for the newly-organized Korean style martial art. After reviewing several different names for the new style, they chose the name submitted by General Choi Hong Hi. That name was "Tae Kwon Do".
General Choi is recognized around the world as the Father of Taekwon-Do and the Founder of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) and he created the ITF system that we know today.
Kang Duk Won
The Kang Duk Won was founded after the Korean War in 1956 by two people who practiced martial arts at the YMCA Kwon Bup Bu. They were HONG Jong Pyo and PARK Chul Hee. The first Kwan Jang was HONG Jong Pyo.
The Kang Duk Won was founded after YMCA Kwon Bup Bu's founder, YOON Byung In, was kidnapped to North Korea. HONG Jong Pyo and PARK Chul Hee had conflicts with LEE Nam Suk and KIM Soon Bae, which led to a separation. Regarding this, Kang Duk Won's second Kwan Jang, PARK Chul Hee, said: "After the Korean War, when the members were scattered, the Chang Moo Kwan and Kang Duk Won came out of the YMCA Kwon Bup Bu's root. Therefore, we cannot say that the Kang Duk Won was from the Chang Moo Kwan."
After starting the dojang in Shin Sul Dong, Seoul in 1956, Kang Duk Won was named, which meant: "a house of teaching generosity". This motto became the symbol of the Kang Duk Won.
The Kang Duk Won was not a big school. The first members were 1) LEE Kum Hong; 2) KIM Yong Chae (5th KTA President); 3) LEE, Jung Hoo; 4) LEE, Kang Hwi; 5) HAN Jung Il; 6) KIM Pyung Soo; 7) JI Seung Won; 8) IM Bok Jin and others.
Later the Kang Duk Won constantly moved from Chang Sin Dong to Chung Jin Dong to Suh Dae Moon Gu to Seoul Gymnasium to Suh Dae Moon Gu Lottery and other places. When LEE Kum Hong became the third Kwan Jang, the Kang Duk Won moved to In Sa Dong and settled there. Presently, the Kang Duk Won Moo Do Hwe continues on.
Han Moo Kwan
LEE Kyo Yoon founded the Han Moo Kwan in August 1956, and it was the leader of the new schools in the mid 1950's. Even now, LEE Kyo Yoon denies that the Han Moo Kwan was a split from the Ji Do Kwan. After the Cho-sun Yun Moo Kwan's CHUN Sang Sup was kidnapped to North Korea during the Korean War, everything was in chaos, so LEE Chong Woo opened the Ji Do Kwan, and he himself opened the Han Moo Kwan. Therefore Han Moo Kwan's root is not Ji Do Kwan, but rather from the Cho-sun Yun Moo Kwan. This is LEE Kyo Yoon's claim.
LEE Kyo Yoon says: "In November 1950, I came back to Seoul and taught Tang Soo Do (Taekwon-Do). But the Cho-son Yun Moo Kwan's LEE Jae Hwang said the building I was using was a Yudo place, so he insisted that I leave. After thinking for a long time, I went to visit Vice President LEE Sang Mook of the Korean Amateur Sports Gymnasium and he allowed me to start a Taekwon-Do club and teach."
Back then, the Han Kuk Che Yuk Kwan taught boxing, Judo, wrestling, weight lifting and fencing as a universal gym. With the permission of LEE Sang Mook, LEE Kyo Yoon taught Taekwon-Do (Tang Soo Do) temporarily and secured 200 members. However, conflicts with LEE Chong Woo became amplified and with LEE Sang Mook's suggestion, he temporarily stopped teaching Taekwon-Do.
Then he went to Chang Sin Dong of Jong Ro Gu, Seoul at the backyard of Kang Moon High School to open his own school. This led to the founding of the Han Moo Kwan. The period of the Chang Sin Dong was a hardship.
"He called his tent with a straw mat for a floor, a … Dojang."
Jung Do Kwan
The Jung Do Kwan was founded by LEE Yong Woo, right after the Korean War in 1954 at the Lottery in Suh Dae Moon Gu, Seoul. The Jung Do Kwan had no conflicts or disagreements with the Chung Do Kwan, which was a unique difference from the other Chung Do Kwan branch or annex Kwans.
LEE Yong Woo discusses the naming of his school: "I wanted to open a dojang, but just couldn't think of any good names. At that time, my training buddy, UHM Woon Kyu in the Chung Do Kwan suggested to take out the dot from Chung character and name my school the Jung Do Kwan. This was a very good idea I thought. The meaning of Jung Do, 'Stepping the right way', was the identical meaning of a martial artist's spirit, so I've decided to name my school the Jung Do Kwan."
Back then, the Jung Do Kwan's area was about 100 pyong. However, word of LEE Yong Woo's unique training program that was distinctive from other schools attracted many students. To meet the increasing number of students, LEE Yong Woo taught five different classes, which finished late at night.
With the school's motto, "I am an honorable man without shame", the Jung Do Kwan opened additional schools in Masan, Wool San, Chang Won, Mok Po and Kim Je, spreading its power.
The Jung Do Kwan's first students were: 1) JANG Yong Gap; 2) KIM Jae Ki; 3) KIM Ki Dong; 4) OH Bu Woong; 5) JOO Ki Moon; and 6) PARK Tae Hyun. Later, following in their footsteps were 1) PARK Kyung Sun; 2) SHIM Myung Gu; 3) KIM Myung Hwan; 4) KIM Hak Kuen; 5) CHUN Young Kuen; 6) CHUN Sun Yong; 7) LEE Jong Oh.
During the mid 1950’s there were many Kwans in Korea, each placing a different philosophy on techniques and training, based on their origins.
"There were about 40 different Kwans who ushered in the age of
Submitted by: Grandmaster Robert Dunn
Founder of the Jun Tong Taekwon-Do Federation