Grandmaster Kang, a 2009 Taekwondo Hall of Fame Inductee, was a historic figure in the founding of modern Taekwondo and its introduction to the United States.
Suh Chong Kang was born in September of 1929. The eldest son of his family, Kang’s father died when he was just a boy. With the responsibility of his family weighing upon him, he found a penchant for martial arts at a very young age. He began his training with Judo (under the Japanese Occupation) and Su Bahk Do. Eventually, Kang’s training led him to study Chung Do Kwan under the revered tutelage of Great Grandmaster Won Guk Lee – a man who Kang undoubtedly adopted as a father-figure and a mentor. He remained in close contact with his master until Won Guk Lee’s passing in 2003. Lee never had any children of his own.
In 1949, Grandmaster Kang founded his own kwan, which he named Kuk Mu Kwan.
After the Korean War, Kang joined the KCIA and was commissioned to teach combat self-defense to the military intelligence agency. He held this role for sixteen years before finally immigrating to the United States in 1969. While working as a janitor in a boxing gym, Kang was discovered striking the heavy bags early one morning. Believing the reverberating sounds to be gunshots, the boxers at the gym were astounded to discover that the “gunshots” they heard were, in fact, the sound of Kang hitting the bag. These boxers became his first crop of students in the United States. He opened his first school the following year in Brooklyn, NY in 1970.
Moving forward, he served as the first President of the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) from 1969-1978. He then became the Vice President of the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) from 1977-1983. Later, he founded the American Taekwondo Federation (ATF) in 1978 and took office as Chairman. However, the ATF was later renamed to the All-American Taekwondo Federation (AATF), which continues to be run by his sons to this day. In 2009, he was inducted into the Taekwondo Hall of Fame for his life-long contribution to the martial arts.
Grandmaster Kang is survived by three sons that have continued in their father’s historic footsteps. They are Grandmaster Chungsun Kang (Irvine California), Grandmaster Hosun Kang (Edison New Jersey), and Grandmaster Taesun Kang Jersey City, New Jersey. He also maintains the admiration of his six grandchildren: Christopher, Tommy, Jada, Samantha, Sophia, and Simone. But, beyond his immediate family, Grandmaster Kang’s legacy lives on in the dedicated practice of the countless students he has taught throughout his lifetime.
April 2019’s Taekwondo Life Magazine’s Cover Story featured the legacy of Grandmaster Kang. His legacy has extended to teaching movie stars, celebrities, serious martial artists, children, and martial arts enthusiasts.
You can find out more about Grandmaster Kang at: www.kukmukwan.org
Services for Grandmaster Kang will be held later this week at Kim’s Funeral Home in Fort Lee, NJ.
Great Grandmaster Suh Chong Kang
- Started martial arts training in 1938
- Founder of Kuk Mu Kwan Taekwondo in 1963
- Head Instructor of the Korean Military Intelligence Agency – known presently as KCIA (1957 – 1969)
- Commanding Instructor for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army (1960 – 1968)
- President of American Taekwondo Association (1969 – 1978)
- Vice-President of International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) (1977 – 1983)
- President of American Taekwondo Federation (1978-1995)
- Chairman of World Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan Federation (2001 – Present)
- His students include world-renowned Masters and Grandmasters