Tae Kwon Doe Times Spring 1981

Hee Il Cho: A Unique Philosophy
by Douglas Moos


TAE KWON DO TIMES is proud to spotlight on the cover of this, its first issue, a personality, who for the past decade has been a major contributor, a cornerstone in the development of the Martial Arts in the United States.

Yet Hee II Cho, despite being a well-known personality, is, strangely enough, an enigma. Beneath his quiet, serene manner lies a vast store of energy just waiting to be tapped. A store of energy that can explosively charge any demonstration or tournament with excitement.

Master Hee II Cho is this man. Through his tireless work the phrase "Tae Kwon-Do" has become a way of life to his many students, and a new dimension in the lives of the many tournament audiences he has delighted.

A sure crowd pleaser with beautiful, controlled technique that gives way to spectacular demonstrations of the innate power of his Art of Tae Kwon-Do, he can easily drive through thick chucks of wood while performing fantastic jumping, spinning kicks while blindfolded. This is the kind of skill that Martial Arts fans have come to expect, and receive from Hee II Cho. Yet there is still much more to him than either his quiet outer facade or the fury of his powerful technique would indicate. A closer look reveals a hidden depth, a glimpse at the unique inner man, the spirit that drives this man of Tae Kwon-Do. A Master of the Art of Tae Kwon-Do who now makes his home in California, Master Cho has taught his Art to tens of hundreds of students from coast to coast, and has brought to them a deep reservoir of experience, experience both personal and professional. Over the years he has shared his talent and technique with his students but it has been the philosophy of Tae Kwon-Do that he has developed through experience that is his larger influence, his greater contribution.

A chat with Master Cho reveals that his formative years were spent in the Post-War Korea that was his home. Here, both inside and outside the Dojang, he acquired the fortitude and selfdiscipline that would later serve him so well in his life's work, the sharing of his life experience and knowledge of the Art of Tae Kwon-Do.

Training in those early days, Master Cho explains, differed considerably from training as we find it today. The training was in the strict Korean style, under Spartan conditions and was without the luxuries of the modern well-equipped Dojang. It was here, however, that he was building the foundation and perspective of his philosophical outlook that he would later draw upon to help his young American students relate to the realities of their today.

Although the pressures and hardships faced by Master Cho in those early days in Korea were quite different from the pressures faced by his students today, some similarities remain.

As Master Cho says, Tae Kwon-Do training can help today's young person meet squarely the problems facing them in today's fast moving, everchanging society, much as it helped him meet the realities of his early life and find direction.

No generation can escape the continuous search for direction, the quest for union of mind and body, nor should it. Although the conditions of the search may vary, the quest remains the same, the goal ever elusive. It matters little whether this search for unity and direction is made in the Korea of yesterday, as it was for Master Cho, or in the United States of today, as in the case of his students. Tae Kwon-Do can serve as a valuable marker, a compass along the path to that goal.

However, in order to take the lessons and principles gained in the Korea of the '50's and adapt them in such a way as to make them relevant and meaningful to his American students of today, was a task that called for flexibility.

The same flexibility of mind and openness to new ideas that was so essential to his personal survival in those difficult early days were traits that would lend freshness to his later teaching style. They would become the mark of the Master Instructor.

The Traditional teaching style he grew up on, with its elements of aloofness and severity, he would later adapt and alter to become a more sensitive approach to more closely reflect his personality and better meet the needs of his students. In his classes, Master Cho constantly alters and augments his approach with the results of his day to day research into what works.

If a particular approach or technique is found to be effective, then it should be used in the Arsenal of the Martial Artist, even if its origin can't be traced to traditional Tae-Kwon-Do.

Perhaps this open, flexible attitude and approach is one thing that has contributed most to Hee II Cho's remarkable success (in addition to his considerable talent). Perhaps it is this trait that has set him above the pack and propelled him into the forefront of leadership in the Martial Arts today. It has been with this philosophy, this open, flexible approach and style that Master Cho has taken the varied talents of his students and developed his many successful fighters and progressive Martial Artists.

In addition to flexibility, another element which is reflective of Master Cho is his desire to continually contribute to the forward growth of the Art as a whole.

Evidence of this is provided by the fact that in addition to his active, day to day contact with students in the Dojang, he is also a leading Martial Arts author.

His upcoming book, soon to be released, will be 600 pages, and published in two volumes. Beautiful and graphic photographs enhance the volumes which include step by step explanations of all 24 Chon ji forms, information on kicking and punching technique, weight training, exercises for improved flexibility; in fact, it comprehensively treats all aspects of Martial Arts training.

Thus it is that the openness to change, flexibility coupled with continued respect for the important elements of tradition, and personal drive, meld and become his vital contribution to the Arts today.

It is Master Cho's Way.

© copyright Tae Kwon Do Times Spring 1981