The foundations of what was to eventually become Jidokwan were laid down by Chun Sang Sup, who was one of the earliest Koreans to bring Japanese karate back to his homeland. When he was seventeen years old, Chun relocated to Japan to attend College at Takushoku University in Japan, where he took up Shotokan under Funakoshi Gichin, the founder of that system and one of the first to bring karate (originally an Okinawan martial art) to Japan.
Upon Chun's return to his native Korea, he began teaching this fighting art, which he referred to as Kong Soo Do, at the Chosun Yun Moo Kwan school of Judo, one of the few martial arts schools the Japanese occupying forces allowed to remain open during the period of their military occupation of that country.
At this time, Chun became very close with another Korean practitioner of the Karate-Do, Yoon Byung In, who was said to have also studied Ch'uan-fa (Kempo) in Manchuria. Yoon eventually became a Shudokan Karate "shihan" (Sabum or teacher) under Toyama Kanken while studying in Japan.
Chun and Yoon traveled extensively together to train with other martial artists in Manchuria. They trained with each other so much that they came to be thought of as brothers. Yoon taught at Chun's Choson Yun Moo Kwan for about six months before opening his own club, which he called the YMCA Kwon Bop Bu. Yoon's YMCA club later became the Chang Moo Kwan, which was founded by his most senior students, including Lee Nam Suk. For a brief time, Yoon was also affiliated with the Moo Duk Kwan under Hwang Kee.
During the Korean War, all schools of martial arts were closed in Korea, including the Chosun Yun Moo Kwan. Chun Sang Sup and Yoon Byung In both vanished during the Korean War and Chun was never heard from again. Yoon died of lung cancer on April 3, 1983 in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province.
After the Korean War, the Chosun Yun Moo Kwan was restarted with new teachers and a new name, Jidokwan meaning "the Way of Wisdom School." The older name, "Yun Moo Kwan," roughly translates as "the Hall of Martial Study."
During the forced Kwan unification, the Jidokwan was subsequently absorbed into the newly codified Korean system of Taekwondo. However, the Jidokwan has maintained its identity. While it endorses the Kukkiwon and supports competition under the World Taekwondo Federation, the Jidokwan is still very much in charge of its own training and curriculum, often going above and beyond Kukkiwon's base requirements. The current President of Jidokwan is Sung Wan Lee.
This was in fact the original intent of the Kukkiwon. When the Kukkiwon was established, it was intended to be the international governing body providing a standard for Dan (Black Belt) certification but the Kwans were still very much in control of the training. However, over the last several decades the Kukkiwon has tried (successfully for the most part) to suppress the influence of the Kwans to become the sole source of Taekwondo, leading many to believe in their extinction or that they only exist as fraternal organizations.
Choon Mo Yang
Our primary connection to Korea Jidokwan is through Choon Mo Yang. Yang was born February 10, 1942 in a small village in Korea. He began studying sword at a young age, but switched to Jidokwan. He earned his Black Belt under Chong Gil Hong in 1952. He later served on the Presidential Bodyguard Staff of Korean President Park. In 1970, Yang moved to Columbus, Ohio and began teaching at the Downtown Columbus YMCA. As of this writing, Yang continues to teach in Columbus as well as oversee Jidokwan schools all throughout the State of Ohio. In 2007, he was awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the Jidokwan Society in honor of his contributions to the Kwan.
First anniversary of Chosun Yun Moo Kwan (3/3/1947). Chun Sang Sup is circled.