Il-Do Chang: Tang Soo Do

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Il-Do Chang at the Martial Arts Museum in Chung-Ju City
Il-Do Chang at the World Martial Arts Park and Museum in Chung-Ju City. Click for larger image.

Il-Do Chang (Chang Il-Do) is 9th Dan in Tang Soo Do and was a Co-founder of World Tang Soo Do General Federation – Moo Duk Kwa and HQ Head Instructor.

Il-Do Chang trained in Tang Soo Do in Cheonan, Chungnam. When he was 17 years old he worked as a martial arts instructor at the United States Osan Airbase in Songtan, Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. In 1973 Il-Do Chang was discharged from the military and he set up the first martial arts school at the 8th U.S. Army’s Headquarters where he trained between 70 to 80 students a month.

Il-Do Chang, often known in films as Bruce Lai, was considered by Western’s to be “So Ryong Lee of Korea” or the “Bruce Lee of Korea”.

Even as a new actor, Il-Do Chang was paid as much as 200,000 Korean Won for his roles. In 1976 Il-Do Chang had the leading role in the film Iljimae, and the film was a box office hit, attracting as many as 100,000 film goers in Seoul alone. Thanks to Iljimae, Mr. Chang was cast in another Korea-Hong Kong joint film called Three Bandits. After this film, he had to choose between making movies and teaching and chose to continue in the entertainment industry for the time being.

Photo of Il-Do Chang at the Martial Arts Museum in Chung-Ju City
Photo of Il-Do Chang at the Martial Arts Museum in Chung-Ju City. Click for larger image.

With the release of the film A Better Tomorrow (1986), the “heroic bloodshed genre” began, but Il-Do Chang was not interested in any other genre but martial arts, no matter how popular the genre became. In 1991 Il-Do Chang imported the film Hwang Bi Hong (Wong Fei Hung) or Once Upon a Time in China (1991) and the film was a big success and with this film martial art movies began making a comeback.

After the success of the film Once Upon a Time in China (1991), Il-Do Chang felt it was time to begin working on the restoration of Tang Soo Do in Korea, which was his greatest desire. In 2003, he helped set the cornerstone of the restoration of Tang Soo Do by Co-founding the World Tang Soo Do General Federation – Moo Duk Kwan in Goyang City along with students of the late Grandmaster Kee Hwang including Hee-Seok Choi, who became President of the Federation and Yong-Duk Kim the Director. Koe-Woong Chong became the Secretary General of the Federation and Grandmaster Il-Do Chang was the Headquarter Head Instructor for the Federation as well as did research into the art of Tang Soo Do for the Federation.

Il-Do Chang and Dana Stamos Seoul Korea 2012
Il-Do Chang and USAdojo’s Dana Stamos at the 1st World Tang Soo Do Seoul Forum in November 2012.

Grandmaster Il-Do Chang was one of the hosts for the 1st World Tang Soo Do Seoul Forum – Seoul Korea 2012 held by the World Tang Soo Do General Federation: Moo Duk Kwon.

Before his death, on December 31, 2014 Grandmaster Il-Do Chang traveled around the world supervising Tang Soo Do seminars, Tang Soo Do belt testings, and Tang Soo Do demonstrations and competitions. It was Il Do Chang’s goal to show that the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do was an authentic art in Korea and to return the spirit of Tang Soo Do as the spiritual base of the Korean people.

Highlights in the life of Grandmaster Il-Do Chang:

1972: National Tang Soo Do (Tae Kwon Do) Champion
1973: Martial Arts Master Instructor at the 8th U.S. Army’s Headquarters in Korea
1976: Made Film debut with a leading role in the movie “PungwunIljimae”
1977: Entered Hong Kong Film Circles
1988 – 2003: Managed Film Import and worked as a Film Producer
2003: Co-founder of World Tang Soo Do General Federation – Moo Duk Kwan and was HQ Head Instructor
2004 – 2012: Pres. of Jayuro Drive-in theater Co., Ltd. and Royal Cinema Garden Co., Ltd.
2011: Senior Master of the World Tang Soo Do Union
2012: Host for the 1st World Tang Soo Do Seoul Forum – Seoul Korea 2012

Grandmaster Il-Do Chang contributed to the world of sports as an Executive Director of the Asian Tae Kwon Do Union while promoting movie art and culture as the Paju branch President of the Korea Image Culture Artist Council and the President of Visual Entertainment Complex Promotion Committee.

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