Song Moo Kwan is "The Ever
Youthful House of Martial Arts all Training." Rich in history and tradition, Song Moo Kwan is the oldest and most famous school of Taekwondo in Korea. Its founder, Taekwondo pioneer Supreme Grand Master Byung Jick Ro, is the highest ranking Black Belt in the world. Byung Jick Ro was born July 3, 1919 in Kaesung City, Korea.
Frail health forced him to enter school a year later than
the other children. At the age of twelve, his strong interest in the ancient martial arts was intensified as he witnessed the techniques practiced in the local temples. His youthful spirit drove him to train with intense dedication subsequently strengthening and improving his health.
As a young man, Supreme Grand Master Ro traveled to Japan to attend college. It was during this time that his passion for the martial arts led him to seek out Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi. In May of 1936 he began training under Funakoshi, subsequently earning his black belt in Shotokan.
During college vacations he returned home and taught friends and neighbors the techniques he had learned. In February of 1944 he returned to Korea, where he continued to create additional hand and foot
techniques of his own. It is the combination of these
techniques along with the ones he learned during his early years of training that we know as Song Moo Kwan Taekwondo today.
Honoring numerous training requests, he opened the
kaesung dojang on March 11, 1944 in the Kwan Duck
Jung archery school, establishing the first of the "original
founding kwans." Unfortunately, due to the situation in Korea during this time the dojang was
forced to close within three to four months after opening. It was the end of World War II and Korea was under Japanese occupation.
Survival was the first priority
for the people of Korea and training in the martial arts was far from their minds. On May 2, 1946, Supreme Grand Master Ro re-established his art at Dong Hung Dong.
For the next few years martial arts swept
through the Korean general population and began to thrive as additional Kwans sprung up. However, war would again cause Supreme Grand Master Ro and the rest of the founders to abandon their dreams as the Korean War forced them to close their doors. Not allowing
themselves to be hindered, on May 25, 1953, Supreme
Grand Master Ro, along with one delegate from each of the original founding Kwans and seven representative held a conference and established the Korean Kong Soo Do Association.
Supreme Grand Master Ro was chosen to serve as its Executive Director. He was also made the Chairman of the Rank Promotion Committee and the Master Instructor. Sadly, due in part to the Korean War,
Supreme Grand Master Ro is the only founder of the
original founding Kwans still active in Taekwondo today.