Three main types of Taekwondo developed in Korea, each with different characteristics. The types are:
- The shorin school was Okinawan in origin. It was characterized by light, speedy movements that were best suited for smaller, lighter, quicker persons. It was best for speed development.
- The shorei school was Japanese in origin. It was characterized by slow, forceful movements that were best suited for larger, heavier, slower persons. It was best for muscular development.
- The changhon (blue cottage, the pseudonym of General Hi) school was characterized by fast and slow, and light and forceful movements used together with extensive footwork. It was best for all around development of all body types.
In Korea, the study of Taekwondo spread rapidly from the army into high schools and colleges. Public dojangs sprang up everywhere. Taekwondo had begun to blossom. The first leaders of the KTA saw the potential for the spread and growth of their art and used their authority to send instructors and demonstration teams around the world.
Korea quickly began to export its new martial art under the direction of General Choi Hong Hi. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, thousands of Taekwondo demonstrators performed around the world before fascinated governments. With few exceptions, governments followed up such exhibitions with requests for Korean instructors to teach Taekwondo in their countries.
In 1959, Choi Hong Hi toured the Far East with his top nineteen black belts. The tour was a major success, astounding spectators with Taekwondo's kicking techniques. Many of these same black belts later went on to spread Taekwondo to the world. Nam Tae Hi became President of the Asia Taekwondo Federation. Colonel Baek Joon Gi became the 2nd Chief of Taekwondo Instructors in Vietnam and Colonel Ko Jae Chun later became the 5th Chief. Han Cha Kyo became the Head Instructor in Singapore and Cha Soo Young became an international instructor in Washington D.C.
In 1960, General Choi attended the Modern Weapons Familiarization Course in Texas, visited Jhoon Rhee's Karate Club in San Antonio, and convinced the students to use the name Taekwondo instead of karate. This meant that Rhee became the first Taekwondo instructor in America and it marked the beginning of Taekwondo dominance in the United States. Choi returned to Korea as the Director of Intelligence of the Korean Army and he later assumed command of the Combat Armed Command with command of the infantry, artillery, armored, signal, and aviation schools. In 1961, Taekwondo was introduced to West Point, the United States Army military academy, and it was made a compulsory subject for the entire South Korean armed and police forces.
The Korean Ambassador to Vietnam, General Choi Duk Shin, was instrumental in helping promote Taekwondo in Vietnam, which was in a death struggle with the communists. In 1962, South Vietnamese troops requested to be taught Taekwondo. Tae Hi Nam, Seung Kyu Kim, Lee Kwon Young, and another instructor were sent by the oh-do-kwan to teach fifty soldiers from various branches of the Vietnamese Armed Forces. Two of the instructors returned to Korea after six months, but Tae Hi Nam and Seung Kyu Kim stayed a full year, returning on Dec. 24, 1963. In that same year, Ambassador Choi Duk Shin made a trip to Vietnam to teach advanced Taekwondo patterns to a group of instructors headed by Lt. Col. Park Joon Gi.
In 1963, a Taekwondo demonstration was performed at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. On November 26, 1967, the United States Taekwondo Association was formed.
In 1962-1963, Taekwondo entered Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. In February 1963, a Taekwondo association was formed in Singapore and groundwork was laid for forming associations in the outer reaches of Brunei. In 1964, Chong Lee introduced Taekwondo into Canada. In 1965, Choi Hong Hi led a goodwill Taekwondo mission to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Singapore. In 1966, Park Jong Soo introduced Taekwondo into the Netherlands. In 1969, General Choi toured Southeast Asia to investigate the preparations of each country for the First Asian Taekwondo Tournament that was held in Hong Kong in September 1969. During a 1972 world tour, General Choi introduced Taekwondo to the heads of state of Bolivia, Dominica, Haiti, and Guatemala.
Taekwondo had developed such reputation for being an effective fighting system that, during the Vietnam War, the South Vietnamese Government requested Taekwondo instructors to train the troops. Vietnam was the first foreign country where Taekwondo was taught on such a large scale. As previously mentioned, President Ngo Din Diem (1901-1963) was greatly impressed with the Taekwondo exhibition in 1959 and requested instructors to teach the Vietnamese military. The first group of Taekwondo instructors was led Major Nam Te Hi who arrived in Vietnam in 1962 on active duty. These instructors taught Taekwondo to the South Vietnamese military units, South Korean troops, and United States Green Berets.
Korean President Park sent 312,853 South Korean soldiers to fight alongside Americans in Vietnam, during the period of September 1965 to March 1973. The Korean forces were commanded by Major General Chae Myung Shin, later Lieutenant General, for which South Korean Government was richly rewarded by the United Sates under presidency of Lyndon Baynes Johnson (1908-1973). The Korean primary area of operations was in II Corps along the central Vietnam coast from Phan Rang, South of Cam Ranh Bay, to Qui Nhom, further north. The ROK Marine Corps 2nd Blue Brigade Dragon landed in Vietnam in September 1965 and operated in Northern areas until February 1972. The Capital Tiger Division also arrived in September 1965 in Qui Nhon. The ROK 9th White Horse Division landed at Ninh Hoa near Cam Ranh Bay in September 1966 in the more southern area of their area operations. At any one time, there were about 50.000 Korean troops in Vietnam. Future Korean military dictators, Chun Doo Hwan, term (1980-1988) and Roh Tae Woo, term (1988-1993), served under Chae as Korean military officers in Vietnam, receiving much of their leadership training while there. A total of 5,083 Koreans were killed during the Vietnam war.
The efficacy of Taekwondo proved itself during the Vietnam War in battlefields by the Koreans soldiers. The Taekwondo techniques used in the military then were distinctly different from what we know as Taekwondo today. The life or death circumstances in the battlefield honed the techniques. The Guinness Book of Records in the 1970s defined Taekwondo as Korean Karate used for killing in Vietnam. As the war escalated, the number of instructors sent to Vietnam increased. By 1973, 647 Taekwondo instructors had been sent to Vietnam. The strength of Taekwondo training in Korean soldiers had a negative psychological affect on the Vietcong.
Through Taekwondo training, Korean soldiers had developed excellent physical conditioning, a strong mentality, and superior combat techniques; The leaders of the Vietcong advised their troops to retreat, rather than fight, if they came into contact with Korean soldiers.
Ironically, Taekwondo experienced great growth because of the war. Many foreign soldiers who had learned Taekwondo in Vietnam later invited their instructors to visit them in their native country. Through Vietnam, many instructors gained the opportunity to teach Taekwondo throughout the world.
During November and December 1973, General Choi and a specially selected demonstration team, consisting of Kong Young II, Park Jong Soo, Rhee Ki Ha, Pak Sun Jae, and Choi Chang Keun, all 7th degree black belts, toured Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East. Thirteen countries were visited and the tour was an overwhelming success with more than 100,000 people watching the demonstrations in Egypt alone.
In 1974, the First World Taekwondo Championships were held in Montreal, Canada. In November and December 1974, General Choi led the Fourth International Taekwondo Demonstration Team, consisting of 10 of the world’s top instructors, to Jamaica, Curacao, Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, and Surinam.
In November 1976, General Choi went to Holland to declare the opening of the First European Taekwondo Championships held in Amsterdam. In September 1977, he visited Sweden and Denmark to aid in the formation of their National Associations of Taekwondo. In June 1979, the All Europe Taekwondo Federation was formed in Oslo, Norway.
In 1980, Choi and 15 of his students, including his son Choi Joong Hwa, made a monumental trip to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This was the first time Taekwondo was introduced to the people of North Korea, Choi’s birthplace. In November 1980, the First All Europe Taekwondo Championships was held in London, with 18 countries participating.
In January 1981, General Choi visited Queensland, Australia, to open the First Pacific Area Taekwondo Championships. During the trip, he helped form the South Pacific Taekwondo Federation as well as the Australian Taekwondo Federation.
In January 1982, the North America Taekwondo Federation was formed in Toronto, Canada. In December 1982, General Choi attended the First Intercontinental Taekwondo Championships held in Naples, Italy.
In October 1984, General Choi visited Budapest, Hungary, to declare the opening of the Third All Europe Taekwondo Championships. This was of particular importance as it was the first large-scale international Taekwondo event to be held in a socialist country.
In April 1985, General Choi visited Puerto Rico to attend the First Latin American General Choi’s Cup. In December 1985, various festivals celebrating the 30th anniversary of Taekwondo were held in Quebec, Canada sponsored by the Taekwondo Federation of Canada.
In June 1986, General Choi took a Korean Taekwondo demonstration team to the People’s Republic of China. This visit eventually motivated China to adopt Taekwondo.
In May 1988, the Sixth World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, was, for the first time, televised via satellite throughout Europe. In August 1988, Choi led an ITF demonstration team to Moscow, USSR.
To further the spread of Taekwondo throughout the world, General Choi decided to form an international Taekwondo association of his own. In 1966, he formed the International Taekwondo Federation. This was the first of many international Taekwondo organizations.
There are many international Taekwondo organizations. The two largest and most influential are the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The two organizations have internal problems, including fraud, embezzlement, and power struggles, as well as conflicts with each other. As usual, the ones who suffer most are the students, who only want to learn and practice Taekwondo.