Great-Grand Master Sihak Henry Cho

Sihak Henry Cho (1934-2012) was a 9th degree Great Grandmaster in Tae Kwon Do and widely recognized as one of a “handful” of originators who introduced martial arts into the United States. For these accomplishments, Great Grandmaster Cho was awarded the 2011 Lifetime Achievement award by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in recognition for his contribution to the advancement and promotion of physical activity, fitness, sports and nutrition-related programs nationwide through Tae Kwon Do.

Great Grandmaster Cho began his martial arts training in 1949 in South Korea. After coming to the United States and completing his graduate studies in 1961, he decided to run his own martial arts school in New York City, which he ran for forty years. Great Grandmaster Cho has taught tens of thousands of students at his schools, and satellite schools throughout the world, where thousands of students have been promoted to the Black Belt ranks.

In 1964, Grandmaster Cho took a break from his daily teaching responsibilities and toured ten major cities in the United States and Canada in ten weeks with the Wonderful World of Sports to demonstrate Tae Kwon Do techniques. He was nicknamed the “Super Imp by the late Quentin Reynolds, the narrator of the Sports show. Grandmaster Cho has frequently appeared in the media, including appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson - his first appearance on the Tonight Show was in November, 1962, when the show had been on the air for only about a month.

One of Great Grandmaster Chos proudest moments was in 1974 when he led a group of Tae Kwon Do masters in the United States and successfully lobbied to include Tae Kwon Do in the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) as a main competition sport. The AAU Tae Kwon Do committee later renamed itself the USTU to become a full member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. As chairman of the tournament committee of the AAU, Great Grandmaster Cho wrote the new competition rules and regulations which were the first draft of the rules currently being used by the World Taekwondo Federation.

In 1965, Great Grandmaster Cho organized the first All American Open Tae Kwon Do/Karate/Kung Fu Championship Tournament, and presents this event every year thereafter for forty-seven years. It has become the longest-running national martial arts tournament in the United States and twenty three of the tournaments (from 1967 to 1989) were held in the world-famous Madison Square Garden Center. In 1989, he received the GOLD TICKET AWARD from Madison Square Garden to commemorate twenty-three consecutive years of promoting the tournament. The long winners list of this Tournament includes many distinguished martial artists including Chuck Norris.

Grandmaster Cho was inducted into Black Belt Magazines Hall of Fame as Man of the Year in 1971 and is the recipient of many other prestigious awards.


  • 9th Degree Tae Kwon Do Grandmaster.
  • Member of Ji Do Kwan since 1953.
  • Captain of the Korea University Tae Kwon Do (Kong Soo Do) team, 1956-1957.
  • Came to the United States in 1958.
  • Bachelor of Science in Commerce & Marketing , Korea University, Seoul , Korea , 1957.
  • Master of Science in Business Management, University of Illinois , Urbana , Ill. , 1961.
  • Graduate Studies in Statistics, Baruch College , CUNY, NY, 1962-1964.


  • Operated the first commercially viable martial arts studio in Manhattan for 40 years, from 1961 to 2001.
  • Organized and presented the annual All American Open Tae Kwon Do/ Karate/Kung‑Fu Championship Tournament for 47 years, from 1965 to 2012, which was held in Madison Square Garden Center for 23 years.
  • Tae Kwon Do Coach at St. John's University, Jamaica , NY, from 1967-2012.
  • Assistant Professor and full‑time faculty member of the Physical Education Department at Queensborough Community College, 1974-1977.
  • Martial Arts instructor at Baruch College , the City University of New York , New York, NY, 1968-1974.
  • Martial Arts instructor at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 1966-1968.
  • Tae Kwon Do demonstrator for the Wonderful World of Sports, comprised of over 120 champions of various sports selected to tour the major cities in North America , 1964.


         President, the World Council of Martial Arts, Inc., 1991-2012. An alliance of different martial arts organizations throughout the world designed to help promote sportsmanship, cooperation, and understanding amongst all styles. 

         President, United Karate Federation, 1966-1991. An organization formed to foster cooperation and comradery among the different Martial Arts of Korea, China, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and other Asian nations.

         President, U.S. Ji Do Kwan Association, 1967-1986.

         Chairman, Tournament Committee, United States AAU Tae Kwon Do, 1974-1977.

         Member, Technical Committee, World Taekwondo Federation, 1974-1982.

         President, the Korean Association of Greater New York, Inc., 1972-74. An umbrella civic organization representing the entire Korean community in the metropolitan New York area.

         Chairman, Organizing Committee of the 1994 and 1995 Korean Day Parade, held on October 1, 1994 and September 30, 1995. The parade takes place on Broadway between 41st and 26th Streets in Manhattan, New York.


  • 2011 Lifetime Achievement award by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.
  • Honoree by the Centennial Committee of Korean Immigration to the United States. Named one ofThe 102 Most Distinguished Koreans residing and/or having resided in the United States during the last 100 years, July, 2003.
  • Honoree by the City of San Francisco . Mayor Willie Brown, Jr. honored Sihak Henry Cho by proclaiming October 30, 1999 asGRANDMASTER SIHAK HENRY CHO DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO ! See "Proclamation".
  • People's Honor Decoration (Suk Ryu Chang Award) - a MEDAL OF HONOR, presented by Park Chung Hee, President of the Republic of Korea, Seoul, Korea, 1970.
  • HALL OF FAME (Man of the Year), presented by Black Belt Magazine, Los Angeles, California, 1971.
  • HALL OF FAME (Pioneer Award), presented by the U.S. Taekwondo Grandmasters Society - at its 1st Annual Award Ceremony, Fort Lee, New Jersey, 2006.
  • HALL OF FAME (Instructor of the Year), presented by United States Naval Academy Karate-do, Annapolis, Maryland, 1996.
  • Letter of Commendation from President Bill Clinton, April 25, 1996. See "Award".
  • HALL OF FAME (American Golden Eagles Pioneer Grand Master Award), presented by American Okinawan Karate Association, 1997.
  • HONOR AWARD, presented by Venezuela All Martial Arts Organization, Caracas, Venezuela, 1998.
  • HALL OF FAME (Lifetime Achievement Pioneer Award), presented by American Invitational Eagle Classic, Washington, D.C., 1994.
  • MARTIAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR, presented by All Martial Arts Championship, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1990. 
  • GOLD TICKET AWARD, presented by Madison Square Garden, March, 1989.
  • HALL OF FAME (East Coast Pioneer Award) presented by Karate Internationale Magazine, Closter , N.J. , 1989.
  • HALL OF FAME presented by Martial Arts History Museum, Los Angeles, California, 2005.
  • Letter of Commendation. Presented by the Minister of Information, Seoul, Korea, 1998.
  • Letter of Appreciation. Presented by President of the World Taekwondo Federation, Seoul, Korea, 1975.
  • Letter of Commendation. Presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Seoul, Korea, 1970.

PUBLICATIONS (See Three text books on Tae Kwon Do)

  • Tae Kwon Do: Secrets of Korean Karate, by S. Henry Cho, Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1968.
  • Better Karate for Boys, by S. Henry Cho, Dodd, Mead and Co., 1969.
  • Self-Defense Karate, by S. Henry Cho, Stravon Publication, 1970.
  • The World Book Encyclopedia, published by World Book Publishing. The definition of "karate" was written for World Book Encyclopedia by S. Henry Cho and he has been on the article contributors' list since 1976.


Link to Black Belt Magazine Article "Man of the Year"


Link to Black Belt Magazine Article "No Nonsense in Korean Karate"

Copyright 2012 S. Henry Cho
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