Rich in history and tradition, Song Moo Kwan is the oldest and most famous school of Taekwondo in Korea, and it´s founder, Taekwondo pioneer, now known as Supreme Grand Master Byung Jick Ro, is the highest ranking Black Belt in the world.
Supreme Grand Master Ro was born July 3, 1919 in Kaesung City, Korea. Growing up the youngest of 4 and frail in health as a child, Grand Master Ro was forced to enter elementary school a year later than the other children his age. Due to his poor health at such an early age, the information young Ro heard from his neighbor regarding the 1,200 year old ancient arts of Tae Kyon and Subak stirred an interest in the Martial Arts within him as a young child. The defensive techniques that were taught at the local temples during Ro´s youth attracted his attention at a very young age.
His strong attraction to the Martial Arts lead him to search out Funakoshi Gichin, Shotokan founder, during his college years. Grand Master Ro traveled to Japan in March of 1936 to attend college and in May of 1936 Ro began traiing in the Karate style of Martial Arts under Funakoshi, earning his Black Belt in Shotokan. Returning home to Kaesung City, Korea during the summer vacations from college, Grand Master Ro would teach his friends and neighbors the techniques he had learned. In February of 1944, Supreme Grand Master Ro finished his university work and returned back home to Korea to live. Upon his return to Korea from Japan, many of the friends and neighbors he had been teaching during those summer vacations asked Grand Master Ro to continue to teach them what he had learned during his training. Based upon these requests, Supreme Grand Master Ro opened the Kaesung Dojang in the Kwan Duk Jung archery school on March 11, 1944. Grand Master Ro has also served as Taekwondo instructor for Seoul University, Dan Gook University and Seoul Oriental Acupuncture College and several other universities.
While continuing to train and teach others what he had learned from his instructors Supreme Grand Master Ro continued to develop additional hand and foot techniques of his own. It is the combination of these techniques developed by Grand Master Ro along with the techniques that he had learned during his early years in Martial ARts training that we call Taekwondo. The leg techniques are still considered more important because they are more effective, more powerful and can reach further than the hands. It is these beautiful and powerful foot techniuqes that set Taekwondo apart and make it more spectacular that any of the other Martial Arts.
Supreme Grand Master Ro´s dedication and contributions to the development of Taekwondo has continued throughout his life. On May 25, 1953, Supreme Grand Master Ro along with 7 other people and 1 delegate from each kwan, met together at a conference which concluded with the establishment of the Korean Kong Soo Do Association. Grand Master Ro served as the Executive Director of the Association. The association aslo placed Supreme Grand Master Ro in the chairmanship of the rank promotion committee and as the Master Instructor for the Association. unfortunately, due to the Korean War and other various reasons, Supreme Grand Master Ro is the only one of these origional visionaries still active in Taekwondo today.
From 1966 to 1967, Supreme Grand Master Ro served as the president of the Korean Taekwondo Association, which was organized in November of 1962 and received official sanction from the Korean government in 1963. Supreme Grand Master Ro served as the chairman of the rank promotion committee from 1962 to 1969. Supreme Grand Master Ro continues to be active in Taekwondo today and is currently the advisor to the World Taekwondo Federation, which was organized in May of 1973.
Supreme Grand Master Ro chose Song because of his birthplace "Song Do" City. Song Do was the capital of Koryu, where he first learned about Tae Kyon from his neighbors. Song Moo Kwan Taekwondo is...."The Ever Youthful House of Martial Arts Training."
His first attempt was thwarted, he tried again in May 1946 to open in Kae Sung. The second attempte was also unsuccessful due to the onset of the Korean War. Following the Korean War, a dojang was successfully opened in Seoul during 1953. This has generally been accepted as the emergence of Song Moo kwan as one of the eight original kwans. It should be noted that other than the first attempt in Kae Sung, which was in an archery school, Song Moo Kwan was taught in its own dojang. The only other kwan to do this was Chung Do Kwan. The rest that appeared were taught within the YMCA-type organizations where they would rent space in which to teach class.
In the information that follow, a brief outline as to the dates, places and persons responsible for the establishment of Tae Kwon do Kwans is presented. While there are many questions and controversies related to the establishment of the kwans, especially when many would like to have been the "first", it is good to indulge such proffering without comment and refer to official registrations of the Korean government and the official records of the various Tae Kwon Do organizations for validation.