RO, Byung-jick (1919-2015) was a taekwondo pioneer and founder of Song Moo Kwan, one of the original Nine Kwans of taekwondo. Born in 1919, Ro was considered the highest-ranking taekwondo black belt in the world, based on seniority, until his recent death.
RO, Byung-jick was born July 3, 1919 in Kaesung City, Korea. Growing up the youngest of four and in frail health, Ro entered elementary school a year later than the other children his age. Due to his poor health, Ro was intrigued by neighborhood talk of the ancient arts of Tae Kyon and Subak. The defensive techniques that were taught at the local temples during Ro´s youth attracted his attention at a very young age.
Ro traveled to Japan in March of 1936 to attend college at Tokyo University. Ro's attraction to martial arts lead Ro to search out Funakoshi Gichin, Shotokan founder, during Ro's college years in Tokyo. In May 1936 Ro began training in karate under Funakoshi, earning his Black Belt in Shotokan.
Returning home to Kaesung City, Korea during his summer vacations from college, Ro would teach his friends and neighbors the techniques he had learned. In February of 1944, Ro finished his university work and returned home to Korea to live. Upon his return to Korea from Japan, many of the friends and neighbors he had been teaching during those summer vacations asked Ro to continue to teach them what he had learned during his training. Based upon these requests, Ro found space at the local archery school (Kwan Duk Jung archery school) to teach, and began teaching there in 1946. In 1950, Ro relocated his school to the city of Busan. In 1953, he relocated the school again, this time to Seoul. Ro also served as Taekwondo instructor for Seoul University, Dan Gook University, Seoul Oriental Acupuncture College and several other universities.
While continuing to train and teach others what he had learned from his instructors, Ro continued to develop additional hand and foot techniques of his own. On May 25, 1953, Ro along with 7 other masters and 1 delegate from each kwan met at a conference which concluded with the establishment of the Korean Kong Soo Do Association. Ro served as the Executive Director of the Association. The Association also placed Ro in the chairmanship of the rank promotion committee and as the Master Instructor for the Association.
From 1966 to 1967, Ro served as the President of the Korean Taekwondo Association, which was organized in November of 1962 and received official sanction from the Korean government in 1963. Ro served as the chairman of the rank promotion committee from 1962 to 1969. Later in life, Ro continued to be active in taekwondo leadership, serving as advisor of the World Taekwondo Federation. Ro passed away on September 9, 2015.