As taekwondo has been around for some time now, there are obviously a number of members who are particularly skilled. All participants in this sport are given a rank (or dan, as it’s known), with the top dan’s often being referred to as grandmasters.
However, there isn’t always a direct correlation between your dan and whether or not you qualify as a grandmaster, with some certifications often given out as marks of respect rather than skill level. A good example of a person who has been bestowed as a grandmaster of taekwondo without actually having any skill is Russian President Vladimir Putin!
As you can imagine with a sport that has such a unique history and is practised in more than 150 countries, there are plenty of taekwondo competitors who have reached into the upper-end of the single digits in dan, but only a handful who are considered grandmasters. There are too many to reveal in this one single article, but we’re going to give you a few examples so you can get to know them. As taekwondo fans ourselves, we highly recommend that you do more research on the topic of taekwondo grandmasters, as they are some of the most inspirational people in the world today!
Having been around taekwondo from such a young age and through its many variations, Kim Soo is famed in the martial art’s scene by being one of only two students to be promoted to 5th dan at the first Korean Tae Soo Do Association in 1962.
He is now at 10th dan, having been promoted in 1994 by another senior grandmaster to one of the highest ranked members of the sport in the world. He has tutored many students over the years and continues to be an inspiration to all he meets in the world of taekwondo and beyond.
He often posts his thoughts in Black Belt Magazine – a literature that we highly recommend to any budding martial arts fan.
Also ranked at 10th dan is Jhoon Rhee, a name that is popular in the United States and the Western world after he brought the concept to those shores.
Often nicknamed the “Father of American Taekwondo”, Jhoon Rhee has been instrumental in spreading and making popular this sport to American children across the country. He arrived in America during the 1950s and was named as a pioneer of taekwondo during the 50s, 60s and 70s.
He was good friends with popular martial artist Bruce Lee and was inducted into the art’s hall of fame in 2007.
We’ve already had one “father” of taekwondo for America, now we’ve got Australia’s – Rhee Chong Chul! He arrived in the decade after Jhoon Rhee, with Australia’s taekwondo craze being spread in the 1960s.
Being one of the prestigious twelve original masters of taekwondo as told by the Korea Taekwon-Do Association (KTA), Rhee Chong Chul was sent to the country Down Under after helping to promote the martial art in many other Southeast Asian countries.
Ranked at 8th dan, Rhee Chong Chul also favours the reunification of Korea and has done work towards this in the past.
Another member of the original twelve of the KTA, Han Cha Kyo held 9th dan ranking before his death in 1996.
Classed as one of taekwondo’s pioneers but almost certainly the one of this list who was active the least, Han Cha Kyo unfortunately passed away at just 62 years old.
However, he managed to teach the sport he loved in Chicago for many years, and is fondly remembered by competitors around the world. He developed the Han method, obtaining patents for this version, and is influential in modern taekwondo practices.