Earlier this month Clermont County was host to another former Olympian, Grand Master Hwa Chong. Chong attended the Eastgate Martial Arts Club’s 19th Promotional Testing. He took part by conducting and overseeing the testing.
Chong, a native of Seoul, South Korea, was the United States’ first Olympic coach of Tae Kwon Do when the sport was first recognized as an Olympic sport for the 1992 games that took place in Barcelona, Spain.
His coaching talents earned the United States two Olympic medalists in Tae Kwon Do – Lynette Love who earned a gold and Han Lee who earned a bronze.
Chong attended Michigan State University where he majored in economics. He has been a United States citizen for many years.
He began his interest in martial arts in 1950 when he was taught by a soldier in the United States Army during the Korean War when he was approximately 12 years old.
"I thought Tae Kwon Do was very interesting and it helped develop me into a straight person. I enjoy the mental side of it, too," he said. "It has transformed me like from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Like a butterfly, my flying space is unlimited. We all have unlimited potential."
His arrival in Clermont County at the Eastgate Martial Arts Club was by invitation of the founder of the club, Don MacFarland, and his staff. Chong commented several times how much he likes the area and how friendly the people here have been. He pointed out he has traveled to 33 countries on every continent with the exception of Africa and Australia.
He noted that probably the highest honor he has ever received was serving as the chairman of the 1993 Tae Kwan Do World Championships that took place that year at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He has also served as the president of the United States Tae Kwon Do Union and is a member of the Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame.
He has taught Tae Kwon Do at his alma mater, Michigan State, for 40 years.
"Having Grand Master Chong at our promotion testing added authenticity to it and continues the traditions of martial arts," said MacFarland.
"Tae Kwon Do involves thinking and developing wisdom and I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I enjoy educating people," Chong said.