Grandmaster Kwon Jae Hwa
There have only been three truly great Martial Art Masters during the twentieth century. They are: Master Kenzo Awa (Archery), Master Gishin Funakoshi, (Karate) and Master Kwon, Jae-Hwa (Taekwon-Do).
Master Awa (1880-1939) was first and foremost a Zen Master who was also a Master of Archery. Probably the best Martial Art book ever written is “Zen In The Art Of Archery”, by Eugene Herrigel. In this book Herrigel describes his own experiences in training with Master Awa. Two of Master Awa’s teachings were, ‘One life, one shot. Spend your whole lifetime shooting one arrow’, and ‘The natural expression of oneself must be accomplished by the unity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty’.
Master Funakoshi (1868-1957) was a Master teacher who taught in his Dojo until the end of his life. He introduced Shotokan Karate into Japan from Okinawa. (It was in Shotokan Karate that Master Choi, Hong Hi received his karate training while living in Japan). Master Funakoshi taught: ‘Train with both heart and soul’, and ‘True practice is done not with words but with the entire body’.
Master Kwon, Hwa-Jae (born 1937) is a Master teacher who has devoted his whole life to the Art and Practice of Taekwon-Do. Unlike many other martial art masters in modern times who have long since retired, Master Kwon continues, at age 65, to teach his multitude of students, every day. He is also the link between the Masters of old and modern times. He is the last of the great martial art masters.
Master Kwon was born in Pusan Korea in 1937. His mother was widowed early in life. He was a frail child so, at age twelve, his mother encouraged him to become stronger in both mind and body by studying under the tutelage of Ha Dae-Yong. He completed his Taekwon-Do training under General Choi, Hong Hi. During his early years, Master Kwon was employed as a reporter for the Pusan Daily News. He put himself through college, receiving a B.A. in Economics. His philosophy of Taekwon-Do is explained in his book, Zen and the Art of Self-Defense, originally published in 1971 by Otto Wilhelm Barth Verlag.
Because of Master Kwon’ superior abilities and intangible qualities, he was chosen by General Choi, in 1965, to be one of the members of the demonstration team of master instructors to introduce Taekwon-Do to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. After the mission was complete, Master Kwon remained in Germany where he single-handedly built an International Federation of Traditional Taekwon-Do Schools.
Today, Master Kwon has many independent schools in Germany alone, as well as many other schools in Cyprus, Greece, America and Korea. In addition, he has thousands of Black Belts worldwide, all of whom he has personally tested for promotion to black belt. In this manner, he insures that all federation schools meet his high standard of quality and that all students practice his philosophy. A significant part of his philosophy includes the practice of humility. Master Kwon teaches that, “hard work is the foundation of Taekwon-Do and of life. But hard work alone will not accomplish everything; and alone, it will not earn the respect of your students. It must be accompanied by humility. Humility is the willingness to help those who need it, and the modesty to not flaunt our own abilities. Humility breeds respect. We must always remember this”.
Master Kwon’s world headquarters is located in New your City. He is featured in the publication of New York’s 50 Best (to keep your Spirit Alive) where they say: “… His remarkable strength and youthfulness make the fact of his age seem impossible. With bare hands he can break a rock in two! Humility keeps him from revealing too much about himself, yet people make the pilgrimage from around the world to study with this Master.
Master Kwon says, ‘When you come into class from the busyness of your life, you forget everything. There no time for distraction, no choice but to concentrate so you can catch the constantly changing movements.’ But if the practice stays on a purely physical or mental level, it will not transform you. Taekwon-Do is a lifestyle. Honesty, respect, and self-control mark a truly disciplined martial artist.
Master Kwon is a living model of these truths. His humility inspires.
“Instead of growing old in your striving, you can follow the way of the Master… and get younger and younger.”