Jack Hwang

From Wikitia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Jack Hwang
BornSaejin Hwang
(1931-07-03)July 3, 1931
Jinju, Korea, Japanese Empire
DiedJune 29, 2017(2017-06-29) (aged 85)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
ResidenceUnited States
StyleTaekwondo, Taekwondo (ITF-Style), Kendo, Judo, Karate, Hapkido.

Jack Hwang (July 3, 1931 – June 29, 2017), born as Saejin Hwang and known as Grandmaster Hwang, was a South Korean grandmaster of Taekwondo who is widely recognized as a 'pioneer of American Taekwondo' for introducing this martial art to the United States of America since arriving in 1957.[1]He was ranked 9th dan.[2]

Early life and education

Saejin "Jack" Hwang was born in the early 1930's in the city of Jinju, during the Japanese occupation of South Korea. His father, Nam pal Hwang, and mother, Un Hae Park, were both raised in the southern town, but Hwang did not have that luxury. His father was a county governor, appointed by the Japanese, and the family was required to move every two years to another district to prevent Governor Hwang from developing local support or power which might threaten the ruling forces.

Repeatedly being the new kid at school brought many challenges upon young Hwang. He was tested by the boys at school and forced to fight to protect himself. He became tough, ready for it, good at it. At the age of nine, his parents enrolled him in a boarding school. This is where his spirit and natural ability came to the attention of one of the Japanese teachers. He was known to the boy only as Sensei, but this teacher was no ordinary school teacher. He was a ronin, or in English terms, a "masterless samurai". The teacher had been raised and trained to be a samurai warrior, but Japan had outlawed samurai and their way of life. He has not, however, put aside his art. The teacher received special permission from his Japanese superiors to train the boy Hwang. The indigenous Korean people weren't allowed to learn any kind of martial arts, but an exception was made. Each day, after classes were finished, Hwang would push the chairs and desks aside, the training equipment would be brought out, and his lesson in kendo, the art of sword fighting, would begin.

Hwang trained diligently day after day, leaving Kendo and his Sensei only when his family was forced to move again. Fortunately, World War II ended shortly after that, the Japanese left Korea, and two of his uncles returned from Japan to their homeland. One of these uncles, Sung Kyu Hwang, became the physical education teacher at Hwang's new school. Sung Kyu and his brother, Young Kyu, had become experts in karate and judo during their time in Japan and taught these martial arts to Korean students. Hwang trained ceaselessly through the end of high school, mostly in private sessions with his uncles. His mother's brother had also studied karate and was yet another teacher. But Hwang was determined to learn even more. When one uncle returned to Okinawa, Hwang considered moving there to train, but it was illegal for Koreans to travel to Japan, and he would have had to smuggle himself in. So, during his youthful summers, he would travel to visit different instructors around South Korea. He would arrive, ask permission to learn for the master, and then promptly be tested by the master's best students. Just as in the schoolyard, the test was a fight. if Hwang fought well enough, which usually was the case, the master would allow him to join his school for training—these opportunities to learn even more skills added to the deadly repertoire Hwang was acquiring. Along with the arts of kendo, judo, and karate, Hwang also became proficient in using many weapons including nunchaku, the staff, kama, tonfa, sai and throwing stars. Nothing seemed to elude Hwang's search for excellence and mastery in the martial arts.


Hwang's father came for a long stay at this time. Before his return to Seoul, Hwang's father asked him if was going to return to Korea with his wife and young daughter to become an attorney and statesman and follow in his father's footsteps. Hwang, however, was determined to stay in the States. His father then asked him to make a promise. He promised that, if he stayed in America, he would teach martial arts. Hwang's father foresaw a great opportunity for his son to teach the culture, history, and philosophy of Korea to Americans. In this way, Hwang could also use his strengths: his remarkable physical abilities, his personal experience, and his unwavering determination and courage, to be a success in this different and challenging country.

Hwang had never considered teaching martial arts for a living in the U.S. He had learned serious fighting arts for survival in Korea. The Americans didn't need to learn these things; it wasn't necessary in their modern, peaceful country. Yet, he had made that promise to his father, and it was not to be broken. He opened his first school in Oklahoma in the 1960s.[3] Hwang selected Oklahoma City as the focus of his martial arts institute because of its central location in the North American Continent. He first taught mostly young male students. The training was extremely tough and not a place for most children or women, though that changed over time.

He traveled the tournament circuit building a reputation for his ferocity in fighting, his heart-stopping forms, and his inhuman breaking ability. He won most of his competitions, losing only to disqualification when his powerful strikes hurt his opponent more than was allowed in tournament rules. He was the captain of the U.S. National Tae Kwon Do Team, leading the way to second place at the World TKD Championships in 1973. His reputation grew as did the size and number of his schools.

Hwang grew too, on an inner level. He learned how to teach the 'do' of 'taekwondo', the "way of life", not to soldiers, but to ordinary people. He saw his students developing more confidence, self-discipline, and self-respect. He learned along with them, and together they gained a deeper knowledge of their strengths, weaknesses, compassion, and humanity.[4] In Korea, he was taught techniques by masters, but American children taught him about people.

Hwang became famous in the martial art world. Even Bruce Lee, upon his arrival to California, called to introduce himself, asking if they could train together when Hwang visited California, as he regularly did. They met, sparred, and became friends, corresponding for many years. When Bruce asked Hwang to play a role in one of his movies, Hwang declined. He never sought fame and discouraged that kind of attention being brought to himself. Instead, along with running his own schools, raising four daughters and much later a son and stepchildren, he traveled endlessly teaching and supporting students, instructors, fledgling as well as established schools, and competitions around the country as well as Mexico and Europe. Thousands of martial arts students have trained and tested under this man, and been inspired by this man.


Hwang died on June 29, 2017, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at the age of 85 of natural causes with his loving family, friends, and students by his side.[2]


  1. [1] USADojo: Jack Hwang, June 2017. Retrieved on 31 August 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 [2] Hwang Martial Arts: In Memory of Jack Hwang, June 2017. Retrieved on 31 August 2023.
  3. [3] Kidokwan: How Taekwondo Won the West Part, 1992. Retrieved on 31 August 2023.
  4. [4] Taekwondo Times: Instructor to Instructor by Jack Hwang, April 1982. Retrieved on 31 August 2023.

External links

Add External links

This article "Jack Hwang" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles taken from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be accessed on Wikipedia's Draft Namespace.