Taekwon-do and I, Choi Hong-Hi's memoirs
Okay, I’m actually pretty excited about this. I just got Gen Choi’s memoirs on an inter-library loan. This thread is going to serve as my notes that I’ll take as I read, and hopefully at some point this will lead to an article or an investigation. I doubt many people will be that interested, but if you are and want to comment or respond, I invite you to.
In case anyone is wondering “ummm, why?” The answer is simple. Choi was the founder of the second largest TKD org in the world, a ROK General and the guy who actually coined the name Taekwondo (or, as he liked to write it, Taekwon-do). He also made many outrageous claims, including that he was the Founder/Father of (all) TKD, and was IMO a purveyor of bullshido (e.g. subscribed to the “TKD is too deadly for contact sparring” reasoning). There is questionable evidence that he actually could fight at all. He is alternately a great Korean General who did a lot for his country, or a traitor who fled to the north and lied about his MA background. Of course, his memoirs are his own views of things. So if he is bullshido, these aren’t going to admit that. But it may provide the seeds for further investigation, and at least lock down exactly what he did claim and what views of TKD and MA in general he did hold.
I’ll be quoting things I find interesting or telling and jotting down my thoughts on them.
Starting with this
I have two different names. One is Choi Hong Hi, which was given to me by my parents; the other is Taekwon-Do which was given by heaven.
Yikes. I have also read this with the alternate translation, “…Taekwon-Do which was given by God.” Now even if you want to explain this as referring to destiny, it begs the question of why he would claim his name is the name of his martial art. I find it not surprising to think that he believed he was the personal embodiment of the art. Nevermind whether he could actually fight or not.
In fact, as I read about him I find myself comparing him to other MA style founders like Mas Oyama or Helio Gracie. Those guys are both famous for actually fighting. They are famous for their challenge matches and exploits and the styles they founded reflect that. The style Choi founded (and for the time being I acknowledge him as the founder of ITF TKD) also seems to reflect his lack of those exploits.
Though I had a weak body, I won if I got into a fight, no matter how big the opponent was.
Heh. Sure you did. This, from his childhood days, marks the first reference to him fighting. I hope there are more. It is interesting that so far he has made a big deal in the first chapters (and even repeats it in this quote) that he was weak, small and sickly as a boy. And yet, the chapter I pulled this quote from paints him as a consummate athlete, good at track and field, soccer, climbing trees and, apparently, fighting.