International Instructors Courses were approved by General Choi Hong Hi, the founding ITF President, initially to certify Korean instructors to go on teaching assignments abroad and over time became the main method of teaching the art of Taekwon-Do ITF to instructors across the world with the aim of standardising and improving fundamental technique and knowledge of ITF instructors. Since the passing of General Choi the ITF created the ITF Technical Committee to continue the legacy of our founder and to standardise ITF Taekwon-Do technique across the globe. The ITF technical and instruction committee travel around the world continuously teaching and improving the level of our instructors and masters.
The committee is chaired by Grand Master Marano from Argentina and currently comprises:
- Grandmaster Ung Kim Lan
- Grandmaster Pierre Laquerre
- Master Paul McPhail
- Master Jurek Jedut
Former members of the committee include ITF President, Grand Master Trajtenberg and ITF Director, Grandmaster Willem Jacob Bos from Italy, Grandmaster Paul Weiler from Germany and Master Clint Norman from Canada. As well as this many masters and instructors have been invited to assist the committee over the years.
International Instructors Courses consist of the following elements:
- The 24 patterns (Chon-Ji to Tong-Il)
- Step Sparring
- Free Sparring
- Self defence
- Fundamental Movements
History of the IICs
When the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) was established in Seoul (south) Korea in 1966 an early responsibility it took on was to train potential instructors for overseas teaching assignments. The founding President of the ITF General Choi Hong-Hi had envisioned and indeed worked on dispatching them since 1962, as his goal was to spread Taekwon-Do globally. The first Taekwon-Do instructors to go abroad were 4 Military Taekwon-Do Instructors who were officially deployed in December of 1962 by the Republic of (south) Korea’s Army. The team was led by then Major Nam Tae-Hi, who would later rise to the rank of Colonel before he retired from the ROK Army. He was a founding member of the ITF and also served as an early Vice President. Captains Seung Kyu Kim, Kyo Il Chu and Young Hwe Jung accompanied Grandmaster Nam. Captain Kim stayed with Grandmaster Nam for a full year, returning home to Korea on Christmas Eve in 1963.
The next two Instructors to go abroad to teach were dispatched to Malaysia at the request of General Choi, when he was Ambassador to that Southeast Asian Country. They were former Lieutenant Woo Jae-Lim and Master-Sergeant Kim Bok-Man. They had both recently completed their military careers and would become instrumental in spreading the Original Taekwon-Do in this region of Asia. They arrived in Malaysia in the spring of 1963, at first living in the Ambassador’s official residence, which he had already been turning into a Dojang. Many of the countries they set Taekwon-Do up in would go onto become founding member nations of the ITF just a few short years later, a testament to the vitally important contributions of their mission.
In 1964 the next instructors to be sent overseas were Masters C.K. Choi (Chang-Keun) and Rhee Ki-Ha. They were both former soldiers who taught Military Taekwon-Do under General Choi. This marked the first time in history Koreans were dispatched abroad with Taekwon-Do Instructors listed as their occupation in their passports. After arriving in Malaysia Master Choi eventually settled in Penang and Master Rhee in Singapore. It was here that Master Rhee also taught service men of the Royal Air Force, which later (1967) would officially invite him to introduce Taekwon-Do to the United Kingdom.
As the need kept growing for competent Taekwon-Do Instructors to be sent abroad, the ITF established the Instructors Course. The idea was the brainchild of Grandmaster Lee Jung-Woo, founder of the Jung Do Kwan and Corporal J.C. Kim (Jong-Chan). Corporal Kim taught the first couple of courses before he himself was deployed to Malaysia, the “Second Home of Taekwon-Do.” The courses were of 3 months duration.
No Soo Gil and Chong So Pil assisted the teaching of the first course. Among the first graduates were Kim Woo-Suk, Im Soon-Ho, Kim Jung-Rok, Park, Young-Soo, Lee Nam-Ho, Kim Myung-Ho, Kim Hong-Ki, Kang Young-Bok, Kim Sam-Nam, Jung Myung-Chang, Soon Kwan, Choi Ye-Bong, Cho Soo-Se and Kim Yong-Soo. Cho Soo-Se would go onto to be the Pioneer who introduced Taekwon-Do to Turkey. The Turkish government honored him by placing him on a postage stamp. Grandmaster Cho formed MaCho Martial Arts supply, which specialized in a design of the foam safety equipment for sparring. MaCho was an official sponsor of the ITF World Championships in Budapest Hungary in 1988. Choi Ye-Bong would join others in West Germany where he assisted in disseminating Taekwon-Do there, before he moved to Brooklyn New York. Grandmaster Choi continues to teach in America at a school he established in New Jersey back in the 1970s. He still hosts an annual open tournament. Grandmaster Kim Soo-Yong would go onto become the Chief Instructor at the ITF Instructor Courses in Seoul. He was a key salaried staff member who assisted in the running of the ITF during General Choi’s numerous trips abroad. When General Choi was forced into political exile in 1972, he tried in vain to get permission for Grandmaster Kim to move abroad to teach. However Dr. Kim Un-Yong, the KTA President since 1971 and the founding WTF President in 1973 prevented this from happening. Grandmaster Kim would eventually support the Kukki Taekwondo movement, but he stayed loyal and appreciative of General Choi’s efforts and love for Taekwon-Do.
In order to attend one must have been at least a IV Dan (4th Degree) and have the permission one’s Kwan Director. In addition to learning the new 24 Tuls (Patterns), the students studied the new ITF syllabus that was taking shape, as well as being introduced to General Choi’s concept of vertically moving the hip while executing most techniques. This new idea would eventually become known as Sine Wave. They also studied theory, English and Moral Culture. After successfully passing the examinations the top graduates of the class earned teaching berths outside of Korea.
In addition to Corporal Kim, some of the other Instructors were:
- No Soo Gil
- Chong So Pil
- Kim Chwa-Il
- Cho Sang-Min
- Kim Young-Soo
General Choi envisioned building an ITF Headquarters center that would also house their International Training Centre. However his political influence was beginning to be severely hampered, due to his outspoken criticism of the military dictatorship. So he was not able to follow through on this dream. By 1972 the political situation became untenable for General Choi, as the military dictator manipulated the elections the year before, suspended the constitution yet again, took control of the National Assembly, declared martial law and installed himself as president for life. General Choi fled for his safety to live a life in exile, afar from the homeland he loved. As a result the ITF would relocate to Toronto Canada and would undergo much change over the ensuing decades because of the Korean political situation.
With the ITF Headquarters now in the North American city of Toronto, the ITF needed to find a way to teach Taekwon-Do instructors and black belts the ITF syllabus so they could become certified International Instructors. It is only International Instructors who are authorized to teach internationally and conduct examinations for promotions. While all Black Belt Certificates must come from the ITF, an International Instructor may issue Gup certificates in their own name.
Since the politics of Korea resulted in such a great loss of potential instructors, as well as the home base in Seoul, alternative means to certify instructors needed to be established. The ITF for a time being operated out of the successful school network that Grandmaster Park Jong-Soo set up in Canada. He also was the Secretary General of the ITF. When the ITF held their first World Championship in Montréal Canada back in 1974, they also hosted a course for local and foreign instructors to prepare for that major event. The course may have actually been called an Umpire Course as it went over the competition rules, regulations and scoring system. However they also taught both fundamental movements as well as the 24 Patterns in place at the time. The extensive training took place over a 6-day period. That course was taught by General Choi and Grandmaster J.C. Kim (Jong-Chan), who also was the Chief Instructor for the first ones back in Seoul Korea. They were assisted by VI Dan (6th Degree) Instructors Park Jong-Soo, Rhee Ki-Ha and Kong Yong-Il
The 29 senior Instructors and black belts from around the world General Choi was able to assemble and have attend this first ever type of seminar were:
NAM Tae-Hi (1 of the 1st 3 Original Masters of TKD, Pioneer of TKD in Vietnam)
KIM In-Mook (Graduated 1967 ITF Course, Pioneer of TKD in Mid-West America 60s)
LEE Haeng-Ung (ATA Founder)
LEE Suk-Hi (A Pioneer of TKD in Europe & Canada)
KIM Jong-Chan (1st ITF Chief Instructor & a Pioneer of TKD in Malaysia & Canada)
CHOI Chang-Keun (1st Person to leave Korea as an official TKD Instructor)
PARK Jong-Soo (Pioneer of TKD in Europe & Canada)
RHEE Ki-Ha (A Pioneer of TKD in Singapore & the Pioneer in the U.K.)
KONG Yong-Il (Toured around the world performing with Gen. Choi)
HWANG Kwang-Joo (USA)
CHUNG Kee-Tae (Canada)
KANG Dong-Won (Founder of Traditional TaeKwon-Do Magazine)
EUN Sank-Ki (Canada)
PARK Jung-Tae (Pioneer of TKD in north Korea, a Pioneer to Japan & China)
CHUN Duk-Ki (Canada)
LIM Chang-Soo (USA)
KIM Nam-Kyun (America)
HWANG Kwang-Sung (Former Special Assistant to Gen. Choi, founder of UITF)
YANG Dong-Ja (Former President PanAm TKD Union & TKD Reform Leader)
YU James B.C. (USA)
YU Byung-Chool (USA)
WALSON, Robert (Referred to by Gen. Choi as the leading American authority on TKD)
SEREFF, Charles E. (President of the USTF)
CHOI Ik-Sun (Canada)
LOW Koon Lin (1st student of TKD in Malaysia, the 2nd Home of TKD)
YUN Ju-Ahn (USA)
POND, Daniel (Germany)
CHAANINE, David (1st Black Belt in Lebanon)
OH Chung-Won (Canada)
Until a more practical method could be put in place, it appears that an informal method of certifying instructors as International Instructors took place. At times it appeared that this responsibility fell onto Grandmaster Park Jong-Soo. Eventually the political pressure exerted on the Korean instructors, often through the infamous KCIA, resulted in even Grandmaster Park being placed into a predicament where he had no real viable choice, but to leave the ITF. This coincided with General Choi’s desire to return to south Korea and to introduce Taekwon-Do to the northern half of Korea. However another military coup took place, which disrupted those plans. General Choi then decided to go to the north, even though the new military dictatorship kept the doors to the south closed to him and his ITF.
After the historic 7th ITF Demonstration Team’s introduction of Taekwon-Do to north Korea, their government requested the ITF dispatch an International Instructor to teach Taekwon-Do there. Master Park Jung-Tae, then a VII Dan (7th Degree) was trained personally by General Choi, as they both lived near each other in Canada, and he became the first instructor to teach there. Master Park taught a special 7-month course from February to September of 1981 that was responsible for creating the initial core of north Korean International Instructors.
Towards the end of the course General Choi came in to teach the last few days and review the progress. He was accompanied by Master Rhee Ki-Ha, then an VIII Dan (8th Degree) living in the United Kingdom. General Choi was very pleased with the results. Master Rhee conducted an examination and it was agreed that out of the 44 graduates, 19 would be promoted to IV Dan (4th Degree) International Instructors and the remaining 35 who be certified at III Dan (3rd Degree).
A second special course was held the following spring in 1983. The Chief Instructor was Master Lim Won-Sup, a VII Dan (7th Degree) from Sweden. He was assisted by Instructor Choi Jung-Hwa, General Choi’s son, who would go onto serve as Secretary General under his Father’s Administration. Eventually many of the graduates would be dispatched by the ITF to teach overseas. They became the primary Pioneers who introduced Taekwon-Do to many places in the Soviet Bloc, Eastern Europe, other communist, socialist countries and nations aligned with the Democratic People’s Republic of (north) Korea, like China, Cuba and the U.S.S.R. Grandmasters Hwang Ho-Yong and Kim Ung-Chol, graduated of the 2nd special course would go onto become the first two North Koreans to achieve IX Dan (9th degree)
This influx of qualified instructors helped the ITF to regroup and establish strong footholds during the “Cold War” era in countries that the Republic of (south) Korea did not have any diplomatic relations with. Thus the ITF continued its proud legacy in leading the dissemination to most parts of the world. As the renewed strength of the ITF helped further the globalization of the “Original Taekwon-Do” General Choi decided to relocate the Headquarters to Vienna Austria in 1985. He did this, as Vienna was a modern city centrally located in Europe, along the “Iron Curtain” divide of Eastern and Western Europe. The strategic geographical location was also greatly enhanced by Austria’s political neutrality. This of course would ease travel restrictions and foster enhanced exchanges among the many national associations of the ITF.
The Office of the ITF Secretariat was now located on its 3rd Continent, from Asia (Seoul, Korea) to the Americas (Toronto, Canada) and Europe. Now all Europeans could take advantage of the proximity of the ITF Headquarters. The new building also housed a training centre. This facility would go onto become the location of the first International Instructors Course that would be the forerunner of the present day IICs. The training period was initially over a 2-week period in March of 1986. The graduates were presented their International Instructors Training Course certificates on the last day, which was dated March 22. This coincided with the 20th Anniversary of the formation of the ITF. Subsequent courses were conducted in Vienna as needed and also were moved around the world in order to make them more available to the international members. As the courses became more popular the length of the training moved to a week, as less time was required to fine-tune the participants, as the global standardization was taking hold.
The Chief Instructor was the late Master Park Jung-Tae. He was serving as the Secretary General and Chairman of the ITF Instruction Committee. When Grandmaster Park separated from the ITF and formed the Global Taekwon-Do Federation (GTF) General Choi personally took over the responsibility of teaching the IICs. By this time the length of the course coincided around weekends, to allow an even greater access to students and potential instructors. Around this period separate Umpire training and certification course were established to insure the technical emphasis was not weakened.
History was made when Grandmaster Charles E. Sereff became the first Non-Korean to teach an official International Instructor Course. The course was held in the United States from June 21st to the 23rd of 1996. This was just 30 years after the formation of the ITF.
Now the responsibility falls upon the various members of the Technical Committee that are authorized by the ITF leadership. The IICs continue to move around the world to help insure better access by the members. Since the passing of General Choi the ITF established a new technical committee, chaired by Grandmaster Marano IX Dan from Argentina. The first committee also included Grandmaster Pablo Trajtenberg IX Dan from Argentina and Grandmaster Bos IX Dan from Italy. Following the election of Grandmaster Trajtenberg as ITF President he stepped back from the committee to focus on his Presidential role and was replaced by Grandmaster Lan IX Dan from Germany. The Committee continues to evolve and has seen recent additions in Master Paul McPhail from New Zealand, Master Clint Norman from Canada and Master Pierre Laquerre from Canada. The ITF technical committee will teach their 100th IIC since the passing of General Choi in March 2015.