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Grand Master Rho


Grand Master Rho was featured on the September 1986 Taekwondo Times.

Grand Master Rho's TKD Times article is below.  Click on the TKD Times graphic to view a larger picture of the Taekwondo cover.

Young Chul Rho

by Keith Polette


September 1986 TKD Times Cover

He was one of 40 black belts chosen by the WTF to be its first team of international referees. His status as "Head Referee" at both the 1st and 2nd WTF World Championships made him a stand-out choice for spreading Tae Kwon Do throughout the world. And for two years he traveled to 20 countries and did just that!

The first time you meet him you notice a brightness dancing in his eyes. You observe the serene face, the upturned corners of his mouth that seem to be on the verge of opening to laughter. You sense a deep awareness in him that you have rarely seen in other men.

The words from a fourteenth century poem come back to you: "I have no castle; I make immovable-mind my castle." And these words seem to exactly fit exactly -- the way a curved sword slides effortlessly into its scabbard -- Tae Kwon Do Master Young Chul Rho.

Master Rho, President of The World Tae Kwon Do Academy, which has branch schools in Illinois and Missouri, has dedicated his entire life to the perfection of the art of Tae Kwon Do and truly embodies the essence of this ancient Korean martial art.

Master Rho was born in Kwangju, a city in the southern most part of Korea, but spent only a few years there because his family moved to Seoul when he was very young. It was here that he began his training in the martial arts. Working hard, he earned his black belt after only a few years of intensive study; at that time in Korea there were no separate standards for Junior Black Belts, so he was evaluated with the same standards reserved for adults.

Master Rho continued on the hard road towards perfection and excellence. After his formal high school and college education were completed, he decided to teach Tae Kwon Do in Seoul. In a short period of time his school was known throughout the entire country as one of the finest in operation.

It was during this time in his life that his reputation as an instructor and international Referee began to spread. Not only was he specifically requested to referee in international tournaments, but various countries began to ask him to teach their peoples.

Consequently, Master Rho has worked endlessly to try and bring the benefits of the study of Tae Kwon Do to people not just in Korea and the United States, but throughout the entire world -- Master Rho has taught in over twenty-two countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Besides teaching Tae Kwon Do extensively, Master Rho has also refereed at the World Tae Kwon Do Championships (sponsored by The World Tae Kwon Do Federation) every two years since its inception in 1973. Master Rho has also served as referee at the World Games I (Tae Kwon Do) and at the Asian Tae Kwon Do Championships.

Master Rho believes that Tae Kwon Do is growing in popularity throughout the world right now for many reasons. He thinks, "Tae Kwon Do has become much more unified as a Martial Art in recent years, which has helped it maintain its internal integrity as well as provide a more systematic external structure."

Another reason for the flourishing of Tae Kwon Do is due to the fact that this Martial Art embodies the essence of all martial arts: Tae Kwon Do, through its own unique system, combines grace and fluidity with linear power. It should be noted that Tae Kwon Do naturally developed into this style of grace, speed and power.

Master Rho points out that Tae Kwon Do has a rich cultural heritage dating back thousands of years in Korea. He adds that the study of Tae Kwon Do has changed throughout the years: "In the Korea of the past if one studied Tae Kwon Do, one often did so without the aid of many modern conveniences: in the dojang there was no carpeting, but instead a rough, cold dirt or concrete floor. Often there was no formal dojang at all, but only a cleaned space in the Korean mountains or countryside."

Master Rho also notes that in America there is freedom of choice, an aspect of life that many people seem to take for granted. Consequently, in America a person always has a choice whether or not to study Tae Kwon Do, or if the study has begun, whether to continue that study or not. But in the Korea of the past no such choice existed; if one entered the dojang to study Tae Kwon Do, (especially if one had been sent there by one's parents or family) there was no turning back -- one studied Tae Kwon Do and that was all there was to it.

Master Rho has a clear and definite vision of the future of Tae Kwon Do. He thinks that there is often too much emphasis put on what he calls "Tournament Style Tae Kwon Do." He believes that tournaments have positive points: they engender friendship, confidence and pride in the art; but he also adds emphatically that "students must not lose sight of the traditional aspects of the essence of Tae Kwon Do: Perseverance, Loyalty and Respect (especially from junior to senior and vice-versa)."

Master Rho has seen too many tournaments and martial art schools that stress only "point sparring"; in Tae Kwon Do one cannot ignore the necessity of learning and mastering not only sparring, but forms, kicking and striking techniques, self-defense, breaking techniques, and philosophy. In Master Rho's opinion, "The purpose of studying Tae Kwon Do is to learn to develop the whole person, not just to learn to 'win' in a physical confrontation."

In Tae Kwon Do the physical aspects of the training are both a gauge and manifestation of the more subtle, internal side of this martial art. Master Rho states, "A true Tae Kwon Do Master-lnstructor will begin by teaching his students how to move, and in so doing, is slowly, gently, leading them to the realization that the controlled, disciplined movements of Tae Kwon Do are but a reflection of an emerging and maturing mental/spiritual growth." Discipline the mind and the body will follow; discipline the body and the mind will follow -- this is a truism in Tae Kwon Do training.

Perhaps the most important thing about studying this martial art is that through intense study each person will be able to become the best human being that he/she is capable of becoming -- and this is where the power and beauty of Tae Kwon Do can be seen most clearly.

Once one learns that the entire person is involved in the study of this martial art then that same person will begin to derive countless benefits -- and these benefits will touch anyone, regardless of age, sex, size or strength. The average adult will discover renewed vigor of mind and body, a reduction of the effects of stress, improved health and a loss of fear. Children will develop a sense of confidence, discipline and focus because they have studied intensely in a positive environment. People of advanced years will enjoy a new sense of physical freedom that comes with new strength, flexibility, better blood flow, and better health and gracefullness. Women in general can always benefit from Tae Kwon Do because of the physical confidence that accompanies the study of this art.

Master Rho stresses that when one studies Tae Kwon Do, that person will always learn better and faster if he or she has the involved support of family. With a positive mind and the support of one's family, anything is possible.

One of the major benefits of studying Tae Kwon Do is the ability to confront and eliminate the sense of rear that seems to be so pervasive in modern life. Master Rho believes that each country has the ability and opportunity to participate in and practice the Tae Kwon Do philosophy, and that if more people throughout the world would study Tae Kwon Do then the opportunities for world peace and peaceful co-existence would be much greater than they are currently. He believes this because Tae Kwon Do emphasizes the positive, the creative and the beautiful; it does not dwell on the negative or destructive. Tae Kwon Do teaches that the problems of life are merely challenges to be overcome, not "enemies" to be subjugated by personal force.

As to the future of Tae Kwon Do, Master Rho is naturally very optimistic. Master Rho hopes to see the current United States black belt population continue to rise and hopes that more people continue the study of Tae Kwon Do by making it a daily part of their lives; "If people would do that, they could not help but benefit from their practice."

Tae Kwon Do is the perfect vehicle to move mankind into the future -- a future of peace, happiness and cooperation. Tae Kwon Do may indeed be the Way to find a brave, new world -- a Way led by Master Young Chul Rho: an expert beyond experience.

Personal Philosophy of Young Chul Rho

I believe that practitioners of the martial arts must respect and care for their parents. Many people say, "Once I become successful, I will care for my parents." But I say that you must try to help your parents now, while you by the time and energy; don't wait until it is too late because then all you will have is a life of regrets. Parents, like all other people, have good and bad points, but their good qualities outnumber their bad; you must show them your loyalty and respect, and help them as much as possible. You have ,onlv one set of parents; they spent their time, energy and money to give you life and raise you. Later in life, they may become lonely and in need; it win be up to you to make, their lives easier -- it is the Oriental Way of Life to care for your parents.

There Is a similarity here to the art of Tae Kwon Do: you must maintain a love and loyalty towards your instructor, as he has to you. Just as you have one set of parents, you should have one instructor and not switch instructors from day to day or you will never develop fully In the art of Tae Kwon Do.

If you persevere, nothing is impossible. You must think in a positive manner and always try to do your best; then you will be successful, Just as the tree that is soft and green is very strong and difficult to break, so are the people who love and try to help their parents and other superiors in their lives. It is the tree that is hard and rigid that is easiest to break; so it is with people who have no feelings for anyone other than themselves. People who boast, who talk roughly, trying to intimidate and bully others are actually the weak ones. A true Tae Kwon Do artist does not need to talk roughly or intimidate people; he can be sure of himself because he has a deep well of confidence from which he can draw strength at any time. Because of this the true Tae Kwon Do artist becomes just that -- an artist in the fullest and richest sense, a person who is able to fulfill any of his needs because he is rooted deeply in the strength, the way, the power and the rich cultural heritage known as Tae Kwon Do.


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