Grandmaster Cho Woon Sup was born 5 February 1952 and grew up in a small town called Chonju, southwest in Korea. This is an area in Korea with strong historical roots of martial arts, ranging further back than the history of TKD.
A strict father brought the 11 years old Cho to a Dojang belonging to a friend. The father did this because he believed the boy needed to train TKD. Cho had been sick a lot and was at this time a pale, quiet, thin and modest boy without any particular interest in learning martial arts. Korea had been liberated from Japan’s 40 years old occupation of the country just after World War II, but in the late 50’s and early 60’s it had not yet become a general widespread habit to train TKD in the country.
During the occupation, all forms of Korean traditions was banned – also martial arts. Re-establishing the interest after the occupation amongst young people took time. But thanks to a few indomitable martial arts masters defying restrictions by doing their utmost to keep the Korean martial arts tradition alive, there were dojangs available here and there after the occupation – and already increasingly popular. An old-fashioned Dojang with kerosene lamps, wood floors and low altitude in an old Korean wooden building, was the first Taekwondo experience for Cho.
Cho as a white belt.
In the first period as white belt, the tasks in the dojang was to be of service to the high-graded students and instructors. Cleaning floors, keeping track of the changing rooms and help black belt with clothing and other things were the only tasks a white belt was allowed to do besides occasionally watching assistant to the masters and the other white belts performing some simple techniques. Observe, observe, learn still, but do not train themselves. That was the tradition of the old dojang .
The learned master was an old friend of Cho’s father, and even though the boy never heard a single word of commendation from his master direct the first few years. The boy got to hear of his father one evening they were alone that he was very pleased with Cho’s development and effort. This delighted the father so much that he would share it with his son. Cho was both surprised and happy. He thought his master was not happy with him because he constantly pointed out the things that he was not satisfied with at the training. Had he won a competition, he received no extra attention from his teacher.
Cho eventually began to enjoy TKD-training, cohesion and the friendship in the dojang. He felt a strong belonging to the environment and wanted to be even better – yes the best! So he began to get up extra early in the morning and ran down to the dojang where masters lived in a room behind the training hall, and was fascinated watching him practicing alone in the garden. The old champion sometimes chased him away, but Cho came back every morning, and eventually the master let him watch in silence when the morning training session was conducted.
At this time, same as today in many places, it was not unusual that the kids had a work performed outside the daily school, training and domestic duties. The country was in many ways hard to live in, and the days were long for large and small. The young Cho was always in training facilities and eventually developed into a dedicated, strong, patient, persistent black belt and thanks to his diplomatic, open and empathic abilities he also became widely respected beyond his own city’s borders.
Grand Master Cho moves to Denmark on January 1 1977 and on to Norway in 1987.
Grand Master Cho was the first Korean instructor who settled in the chilly North. He started instructing clubs around Copenhagen (Gladsaxe, Ballerup, Rødovre and Herlev) At the same time as he worked on the Korean embassy and for Korean Air.
He founded Lyngby as the first TTU cub in Denmark. Grandmaster Cho then moved to Norway in 1987 and settled in that time down in Hønefoss. He then became head coach in Ringerike TKD, but he also trained many other clubs. In 2000 he settled in Bergen, where he now teaches weekly hours for Centrum TKD and other clubs. He often travels visiting the many clubs around Scandinavia and teaching on weekends. He has now lived 25 years in Scandinavia, and this part of the world have found a great place in Grand Master’s heart.
The creation of the TTU.
As the years have passed Master Cho has seen the need to be proven traditions. His greatest desire is to build a solid cohesion through TTU. (Traditional Taekwondo Union). An organization open to all who feel that TTU’s values are appropriate for them. He would like us all to spread our knowledge of TKD, not just keep it to ourselves and our members. In this world of modern martial arts and “kung-fu movies”, there are fortunately, still some who are willing to retain traditions, history and still need the “old” master who knows the history of our martial art. In the martial arts as in the community, things are going fast. Techniques improve, become faster and more powerful, rules change and many courses focus on competitions.
Grand Master Cho Woon Sup is a highly respected man throughout the world. And with a good reason – with more than 38 years martial arts experience, which is longer than TKD has existed in many countries today, he really is one of the worlds most experienced masters. Many Taekwondo practitioners will benefit from joining TTU if they are interested in more than TKD fighting. TTU is not against TKD fighting at all, but is working for the width and traditions of Taekwondo and is managed with an “elder council” consisting of master from throughout Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Switerland.
One of the ambitions of TTU is to establish a live and growing organisation as a network of committed clubs and individuals.Each member participates individually in building this organization – and all members have the opportunity to influence the way forward. We believe that only together, will we be able to build a great organization across the countries.
Cho Woon Sup – The Grand master.
Grand Master Cho is a very normal man, and no matter where you travel, you can find him in his training suit. Something that few other grandmasters still do. They are happy to walk around in suits and enjoy the admiring glances around them without ever setting a foot in the Dojang or use a dobok.
He is a 9th. Dan who will be happy to train your white belts and grade your yellow belts. His busy schedule consists of constant travel from place to place to help you and your club training TKD. He often requires high discipline, but is also very kind and fair. He will also frequently use stories of equations to get a point.
Something that is often seen as a welcome break in a tough training session. (and these are often quite amusing too). His classes can be difficult, and he will certainly not hesitate giving feedback if he is not satisfied. Especially during a grading. However, if you think about that for a second, this is really a good thing – it clearly demonstrates that he cares about quality TKD and want you to do your best.
Did you know that?
- Cho Woon Sup was one of the first black belt in Taekyon outside of Korea.
- Cho Woon Sup was invited to South Korea by the Korean Minister of Culture and Foreign department as one of only 10 Korean masters around the world. They were summoned home to be honored for their efforts to promote TKD for the past 10-20 years outside of Korea. There are nearly 2000 masters with 7-9 Dan who live outside of Korea. All Korean and most of them live in their new countries to promote TKD. Only 10 of these were invited to this occasion.
- Grand Master Cho was invited by the South Korean ambassador to represent his country as a security guard for the president, during the ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize to South Korea’s president in 2000.