Technically 1955 signaled the beginning of Taekwon-Do as a formally recognized Martial Art in Korea. During that year a special board was formed which included elected politicians, military and business leaders, historians, instructors of the Oh Do Kwan and Chung Do Kwan and other prominent leaders of society. General Choi Hong-Hi summoned the board as he realized he would need support for his initiative to name Korea’s National Martial Art. During this period there were many efforts being undertaken to restore and reinvigorate Korean National Pride, as their culture suffered terribly during the colonial occupation. This drive was influenced by Presidential policy that frowned upon embracing leftover Japanese preferences. General Choi knew he would need the President’s eventual authorization and saw having prestigious members of society as helping to obtain that permission. The board approved the name Taekwon-Do, which he submitted. This single unified name of Taekwon-Do was to replace the confusing terms like Tang Soo Do, Gong Soo Do or Kwon Bup, which had their roots in foreign Arts. The 1st ROK President Dr. Seung-man Rhee, Ph.D approved the named as evidence by the Calligraphy of Taekwon-Do that he penned. Hence April 11, 1955 has become the date of Taekwon-Do’s official birth.
In 1959, Taekwon-Do spread beyond its national boundaries. The father of Taekwon-Do and nineteen of his top black belt holders toured the Far East. The tour was a major success, astounding all spectators with the excellence of the Taekwon-Do techniques.
In this year, Choi was elevated to two illustrious posts; President of his newly formed Korea Taekwon-Do Association and deputy commander of the 2nd Army in Tae Gu. In 1965 Ambassador Choi, retired two star general, was appointed by the Government of the Republic of Korea to lead a goodwill mission to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, United-Arab Republic, Malaysia, and Singapore. This trip is significant in that the Ambassador, for the first time in Korean history, declared Taekwon-Do as the national martial art of Korea.
This was the basis not only for establishing Taekwon-Do Associations in these countries but also the formation of the International Taekwon-Do Federation as it is known today. In 1966, the dream of the sickly young student of calligraphy, who rose to Ambassador and the Association President of the most respected martial art in the world came true. On the 22nd of March, the International Taekwon-Do Federation was formed with associations in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, West Germany, the United States, Turkey, Italy, Arab Republic of Egypt and Korea.
The philosophical values and the goals of Taekwon-Do are firmly rooted in the traditional moral culture of the Orient. On the technical side, defensive and offensive tactics are based on principles of physics, particularly Newton´s Law, which explains how to generate maximum force by increasing speed and mass during the execution of a movement.
Wanting to share the results of his philosophical reflections and his technical experiments, General Choi planned and wrote a unique reference work, the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do. In its fifteen volumes, he explained in detail the rules and practices of this art.
Always striving for excellence, General Choi presented Taekwon-Do as in a state of continuous evolution, open to changes that would improve its effectiveness. He wrote that anyone who believes he has fully discharged his duty will soon perish. Likewise, any undertaking that is perceived to have reached its objectives is likely to lose momentum, stagnate, and die.
Since the beginning, Taekwon-Do has never stopped evolving, driven by the strong will and a lot of hard work by its Founder. The leaders of the ITF today also recognize the need to evolve and they are equally passionate about the future of the organization.
Important Dates in the History of the ITF
Taekwon-Do officially named
March 22nd – ITF founded by General Choi Hong Hi, the Father of Taekwon-Do
First Asian Tournament
ITF headquarters moved to Toronto, Canada
First World Championships
First European Championships
First Pacific Championships
Wellington, New Zealand
All Europe Taekwon-Do Federation created
North American Federation created
Central American Federation created
ITF headquarters moved to Vienna, Austria
June 15th – passing of General Choi Hong Hi
The Honourable Russell Maclellan became Acting President
June 13th – election of Master Trân Trięu Quân as President of the ITF at the 14th Congress of ITF
June 1st – Re-election of Master Trân Triêu Quân for a second mandate as President of the ITF at the 16th Congress of ITF
30th October ITF is legally registered Minister of Internal Affairs in Madrid, Spain
Rec. Grupo 1/Secc. 2/ number 50813
Passing of Grandmaster Trân Triêu Quân
Grandmaster Pablo Trajtenberg became acting President
Election of Grandmaster Pablo Trajtenberg as ITF President
Re-election in 2015 of GM Trajtenberg as ITF President
Congress in Jesolo
Election of Grandmaster Paul Weiler as ITF President
Elected at the ITF Congress in Inzell, Germany, on April 28th 2019.