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THE PASSING OF A LEGEND!
15th Sep 2015
He reportedly taught at an Archery School in Kaesong, an ancient capital of Korea, which now lies north of the artificial divide along the 38th Parallel. He called his Kwan the Song Moo Kwan, which can be translated along the lines of Shotokan, as their founder Funakoshi Sensei, pen name was Shoto, which means wavering pines, Shotokan in turn can be seen as House of Wavering Pines. (Among some other popular interpretations: Song meaning pine tree, symbolizing youth or everlasting health. Song was one of the Koryo capital city names, Song Do. Song Moo Kwan translates as Ever Youthful House of Martial Arts Training. Some accounts report Song Do Kwan as an earlier name). A few historical accounts have him doing this starting on March 11, 1944, which would make it the first Kwan to open. This date even precedes the end of WWII, which also resulted in the Japanese being removed from Korea. Manipulations of the history of Taekwon-Do seem to downplay this important original Kwan.
This legendary figure was the last serving member of that FIRST GENERATION! The Republic of (south) Korea honored him at the opening ceremony of the new Taekwondowon they built in MuJu Korea. He served as General Choi Hong-Hi`s Vice President of the Korea Taekwon-Do Association (KTA) when he formed first formed it in Seoul back in 1959. Grandmaster Ro later succeeded General Choi as the 4th president of the KTA, after General Choi`s Presidency was successful in getting the civilian leadership to drop the Tae Soo Do name and adopt his Taekwon-Do name.
When the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) was formed in Seoul Korea on March 22, 1966 Grandmaster Ro served as a Vice President. President Ro served one term with the KTA and was acclaimed for instituting the Presidential Cup, which still takes place yearly as a premier World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) style event in Korea. After his term ended he returned his focus to his own Kwan, proudly keeping alive those traditions. He eventually relocated to America, where he remained active with his independent type of traditional Tae Kwon Do.
Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man, a Master-Sergeant under General Choi and an important early Military Taekwon-Do Instructor and Pioneer in his own right, spoke highly of him in his own tribute to Grandmaster Ro. Grandmaster Kim noted how valuable Grandmaster Ro and was and how much influence he held with General Choi. He was indeed a senior figure in the development of early Taekwon-Do. General Choi considered Grandmaster Ro as a possible future successor to the ITF Presidency. The two iconic figures maintained their high level of mutual respect towards each other over the years when both resided outside of Korea. Grandmaster Ro would travel to the Toronto area frequently for his Song Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do where he would meet with General Choi. They also spoke over the phone as well. So they continued their friendship until General Choi predeceased him in 2002.
Grandmaster Jung Woo-Jin, CEO and Publisher of TKD Times Magazine said the late Grandmaster Ro Byung-Jik enjoyed a high reputation as an individual of integrity and honor that was beyond reproach. Many of the Korean Pioneers gave him a nickname of Bamboo, as he was straight and rigid, never falling to any charges of corruption. He was to many indeed incorruptible and a man of high character, who just like the bamboo, would not bend. The kind of life he led will be truly missed. We hope students worldwide will continue to benefit from his teachings. Our heart felt condolences go out to his family, friends, students and other loved ones.
May you find comfort in the example of his great life and wonderful contributions!
Rest In Peace!
July 3, 1919 Kaesong, Korea - September 9, 2015 Minnesota, America