Born March 2, 1942 in Tae Gu City, Korea, Kwang Jo Choi began his formal study of martial arts at age 12 under the famous Master Instructor, Dong Ju Li. Driven by the need to survive in the war torn streets of South Korea and an innate desire for perfection, Kwang Jo Choi soon became one of Master Li's star pupils.
After his tenure in the Korean Army, Kwang Jo Choi began his study of Tae Kwon-Do (Korean hand and foot fighting art) under its founder, General Choi Hong Hi. Through Kwang Jo Choi's talent and dedicated training, he was awarded the prestigious title of Chief Instructor under General Choi's International Tae Kwon Do Federation before he was 25 years old.
In addition to teaching self defence to the Korean Army and National Police, Kwang Jo Choi was personally selected by General Choi to serve as an elite member of a group of experts chosen to spread Tae Kwon Do throughout the world. Through his mission, Kwang Jo Choi became one of Tae Kwon Do's most prominent ambassadors and was directly responsible for its spread throughout Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and eventually, the United States.
Motivated by his continuing dedication to the advancement of the martial arts and his desire for self improvement, Master Choi searched for ways to improve on techniques and teaching methods of his predecessors. It was during his first years in Hong Kong, where he settled twenty years ago, that Master Kwang Choi began consolidating his revolutionary martial arts theories and concepts.
For some time, Master Choi had felt that many of the traditional techniques were too stylised and rigid for practical self defence. He discovered that many of these same techniques could actually harm the body and, over the long term, be detrimental to one's health and longevity. Also, Master Choi saw too much importance being placed on sports competition with the winning of trophies taking precedence over the ideals of personal and human development.
Based on these observations, coupled with years of research and practical experience, Master Choi pioneered one of the most revolutionary changes in recent martial arts history; the introduction of an entirely new martial arts form - Choi Kwang Do.
Named after its founder, Choi Kwang Do was officially introduced on March 2, 1987. Grandmaster Choi has since founded his own world organisation, Choi Kwang Do Martial Art International, and spends his time teaching, training instructors and giving seminars at his many branches throughout the world. In addition, Grandmaster Kwang Choi is currently involved in producing videos and written literature from his headquarters in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Choi Kwang Do is of Korean origin and derives many of its traditions, customs, as well as terminology, form Korea's own heritage. Many of these traditions and customs are based on the wisdom of oriental philosophers such as Lao Tzu, Buddha, and Confucius. Aspects such as bowing, demonstration of respect for seniors and elders, loyalty to one's family, group or country; emphasis on patience, self discipline, courtesy and humility; are all examples of traditional oriental philosophy.
These customs, many dating back thousands of years, were originally designed to promote harmony, justice and social order. Interestingly enough, it is these same ancient customs that form the modern basis for promoting a safer and more productive learning environment for Choi Kwang Do training.
Another important historical influence on Choi Kwang Do's philosophy is the Idea of Musado, or "way of the warrior spirit". This philosophy, emphasising bravery in battle and never give up attitude, was based on the heroic deeds of an ancient Korean military group called the Hwarang Do (literally, flower of youth or manhood.)
This elite group, comparable to today's special forces, were known for their harsh, self imposed training, which included not only early forms of martial arts training but also mountain climbing and swimming rivers during the cold of winter. Through such arduous mental and physical training, the Hwarang Do warriors were able to unite the three warring kingdoms of Korea for the first time in its history.
Similar to the chivalry practised by England's knights of the round table, the Hwarang Do had a strict code of honour which has evolved to this day to become the tenets of Choi Kwang Do. These tenets, or aims to achieve, are honesty, humility, gentleness, perseverance, self control, and unbreakable spirit. These tenets are fundamental to the development of metal strength which is just as important for today's "warriors" or martial artists, as it was for their ancient predecessors.
A more recent example of Choi Kwang Do's military heritage is Choi Kwang Do's motto or slogan; Pil Seung (literally meaning "Certain Victory") is a term widely used as a salute by Korea's famous ROK Army. Pil Seung emphasised that no defeat is permanent or all encompassing and that with a positive mental attitude and perseverance, any goal can be achieved.