History of the WFU Karate Club

The WFU Karate program was founded by Dr. Rick Heatley in 1970. It originally was offered as a class but quickly grew into a club in 1971. Since its inception, hundreds of WFU students, faculty, staff, and their families have participated as members of the WFU Karate Club. In its years of existence, over 50 Karate Club members have been promoted through the Club to the rank of Black Belt. Kayla Garcia, class of 2010, is the most recent Black Belt recipient. The Karate Club's instructional staff is exceptional and has included 7th degree World Champion John Chung. In 1983, 1985, and 1987 a biannual Tae Kwon Do tournament among Universities was held. These have been the only sanctioned intercollegiate martial arts tournaments. In 1983 and 1987 WFU Karate Club finished in the final four and in 1985 WFU Karate Club was the collegiate champion.

At its inception and through the late 1980s, the Karate Club was affiliated with Jhoon Rhee Tae Kwon Do Institutes. Grand Master Jhoon Rhee is recognized as the founding father of Tae Kwon Do in America and has over 60 studios in the United States and 65 throughout the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, the increasing fees of maintaining the affiliation with Jhoon Rhee forced the Karate Club to break its affiliation. The Karate Club is currently not affiliated with other martial arts schools despite several invitations to re-affiliate. The Karate Club continues to teach the Jhoon Rhee system. If a Karate Club student went to a Jhoon Rhee school anywhere in the country, he or she would be able to enter that school at the belt level that he or she attained with our Karate Club. The Karate Club practices International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) Tae Kwon Do rather than World Federation Tae Kwon Do (WTF) Tae Kwon Do. The difference primarily is the ITF is a more traditional martial arts system concentrating on the forms and fighting combinations developed by General Choi. WTF places more emphasis on sparring and is considered by many more of a sport than a martial art.

History of Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do was founded in Korea around 50 B.C. At the time, Korea was split into three parts or kingdoms: Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje. Silla's nobility warriors, the Hawarang, are probably the most responsible for the spread and growth of Tae Kwon Do in ancient Korea. Tae Kwon Do literally translates into "the way (or art) of kicking and punching." Tae Kwon Do is recognized by its strong high kicks and jump kicks.

According to a survey conducted by Boise State University, Tae Kwon Do is practiced officially in 120 countries around the world by over 30 million people. The South Korean government estimates Tae Kwon Do is practiced by over 70 million people in 190 countries. Either measure makes it the most popular martial art in the world.