iACT President’s Welcome Letter

Dear Fellow Scholar-Researchers, Taekwondoists, and Educators:

I am very pleased to welcome you all here to the Stanford University in the world famous city of Palo Alto, California. In partnership with Stanford Athletics and Stanford University’s Center for East Asian Studies, the International Academic Conference for Taekwondo (iACT)has organized this, its third, conference on Taekwondo. The title, “iACT 2019: Overcoming ‘the Self’ and then Benefiting ‘the World’ (’나’를 이기고 ‘세상’을 이롭게 한다),” expresses the conference theme: to highlight differing views on key issues in Taekwondo history and to discuss and offer directions for the future of Taekwondo.

As President of iACT, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the generous support and wonderful venue provided by our official co-sponsors of iACT 2019, Dr. John Groschwitz, Associate Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, and Program Director of Stanford Taekwondo, Mr. Tim Ghormley, along with Stanford Athletics. Last but certainly not at all least, I am so appreciative that my long-time and very dear friend, Dr. Dafna Zur, Associate Professor of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures here at Stanford University.

I would like to thank our major corporate sponsor for the generous support as well;Grandmaster Woojin Jung of the Jung Family Foundation and the TaeKwonDo Times magazine supported iACT 2016 and again here for iACT 2019.

We are so thankful for our many organization donors. Master Jim Rennie, Jr. of Whitecourt Taekwondo in Canada, who I’ve known for close to 40 years, has supported iACT from its inception; Mr. Ali Galfour, CEO of 20/20 Armor is a generous first-time donor; Mr.James Kim of Mooto again offers his support; and my colleague during my 9 years in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Master Justin Castillo of Maximum Martial Arts and our iACT Secretary, continues to support iACT. Thanks also to those important but silent donors who want to remain anonymous, but who personally wanted to support our conference, its purpose, and Taekwondo. Finally, we would not be here in this amazing auditorium in the world-class institution of Stanford University without the support, hard work, generosity and kindness of Coach Ghormley, and Stanford Athletics.

I would like to welcome our special guests, and thank them for their guidance and direction over the years: University of California at Berkeley Emeritus Professor Ken Min, founder of the University of California at Berkeley Martial Arts Program (UCMAP); Dr. Russell Ahn, current Director of UCMAP; Grandmaster Alexander Choi of Choi’s Martial Arts, my very dear long-time friend, colleague, and mentor, who is an amazing scholar, philosopher and martial artist; Master Patrick Thimangu, Owner and Master Instructor of Arch Taekwondo in St. Louis.

We have assembled perhaps the most accomplished and respected scholar-researchers in the field of martial arts philosophy ever to present on Taekwondo, including those from both WT and ITF, to discuss the current key issues in Taekwondo philosophy and pedagogy. As they are leaders of their respective academic fields, iACT 2019 can assure wider exposure of Taekwondo as an academic discipline outside of our Taekwondo community. This is part of the mission statement of iACT, and therefore imperative to grow academic Taekwondo.

I am humbled and honored to welcome and introduce our thirteen esteemed scholar-researchers and educators from the USA, Croatia, Germany, South Africa, Canada, and the Republic of Korea, who have accepted our invitation to share their knowledge of and expertise in Taekwondo philosophy and pedagogy with us. Our presenters are, in order of appearance, Dr. John Johnson, Grandmaster Suzan Crochet, Dr. Tobias Winright, Dr. George Vitale, Dr. Franjo Prot, Dr. Hyeong Seok Song, Dr. Young Sun Kim, Dr. Joseph Lynch, Dr. Allan Bäck, Dr. Udo

Moenig, Dr. Steven Capener, Dr. Greg Kailian, Dr. Sanko Lewis, and Grandmaster Herb Perez. Each will present for 15 minutes, which includes time for a Q&A session. iACT 2019 will end with an open round table discussion for one hour on Taekwondo philosophy and pedagogy. By bringing together scholar-researchers in the fields of Taekwondo as a martial art and combat sport at the world-renowned Stanford University, we can begin to set a course going forward for the continuing development of Taekwondo into the 21st century and further valorize it as a force for international peace and diplomacy.

Taekwondo is an Olympic sport, a martial art, a system of moral and character development, and a system though which to overcome the self and benefit the world. It also offers a unique education, history, business opportunities, self-defense, and a life well-lived. The iACT is a 501(c)3 (non-profit) public charitable organization. Our mission statement includes promoting and conducting various activities related to Taekwondo research, academics, and learning, by reaching out to the local Taekwondo communities at the grassroots level around the world to support our endeavors. iACT dedicates its activities to Taekwondo’s transformational education leaders. It aims to contribute to excellence in Taekwondo through our vision of holistic community outreach and involvement in Taekwondo education.

In the context of the recently emergent rapprochement between the ROK and DPRK that was surely due in no small part to Taekwondo diplomacy, just what is the (direction of the) philosophy of Taekwondo in its historical present? By bringing together scholar-researchers in the fields of Taekwondo as a martial art and combat sport at the world-renowned Stanford University, we can begin to set a course going forward for the continuing development of Taekwondo into the 21st century and further valorize it as a force for international peace and diplomacy.

Just what is the philosophy of Taekwondo in its historical present? We have to understand this in the context of the vision of our early founding fathers of Taekwondo, including General Choi, Hong Hi, as well as the recently emergent rapprochement not only between the ITF and WT but in consideration of the fruits of the efforts the past few years by the IOC President Thomas Bach, WT President Dr. Choue, and honorary life ITF President Dr.Chang Ung. Certainly, our hosting of iACT 2019 at Stanford University, just over one year before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (with its entry sport of Karate), is precisely the right time for us to discuss the philosophy of Taekwondo in the modern context!

This conference would not have been possible without the energy, input, hard work, and support from my colleagues in the iACT 2019 Organizing Committee: Mr. Tim Ghormley, Drs. Dafna Zur and John Johnson, and Master Justin Castillo. I truly appreciate all of our fellow Taekwondo practitioners, educators, scholar-researchers, and colleagues who have unselfishly contributed their ideas, time, and effort, both those in attendance and those who could not make it here with us today. We in the Taekwondo and education communities know how important and valuable the shared support of our colleagues is for us to achieve our projects and goals, and so we thank everyone who has contributed and will continue to do so going forward.

Welcome to “iACT 2019: Overcoming ‘the Self’ and then Benefiting ‘the World.’” Let’s enjoy this experience together with the spirit of learning and engaged discussion. And, please continue our discussion right here, tomorrow at 9:00 AM, in our “Saving Kyrorugi Workshop.”


Dr. Ron Dziwenka

International Meeting of Minds to Improve Taekwondo for the Future