The United States Military Academy (USMA), also know as West Point, is a four-year coeducational federal service academy (i.e. university) located in West Point, New York.
The mission is to train highly motivated and talented cadets in sport martial arts in order to win at collegiate tournaments. The club is cadet run from the individual practices to club activities and organization. The majority of the cadets are black belts, but we also instruct an evening basics class for the Corps Monday thru Wednesday. We competes against colleges and universities all over the East Coast, including Air Force, Navy, and the Royal Military College of Canada. Every year we send team members to Collegiate National and Senior National tournaments.
West Point & Grand Master Choi
The history of Taekwondo at West Point dates back to 2001. According to Grand Master Choi, it started during an Ivy League Taekwondo competition:
“That spring, some West Point cadets were competing in the Ivy League taekwondo competition and they got their butts kicked,” said Grand Master Choi, who was at that time coaching the Princeton University team.
“I said to them, ‘If you need a little help, I can give you a special class,’ and a week later, this sergeant phoned me and invited me to visit, so I said, ‘Alright.’”
At that time, West Point’s martial arts club was an informal structure, with different stylists practicing together without formal coaching or curriculum. Grand Master Choi absorbed the students of other martial arts, like karate, and got the club underway.
His coaching paid off.
In 2003, at the U.S. National Collegiate Championships in Puerto Rico, West Point won fifth place overall. The then-superintendent of West Point, General William Lennox, was enthused, Grand Master Choi recalled.
“General Lennox asked if we could teach taekwondo to all cadets, and have a mass taekwondo demonstration on the West Point parade ground!”
Since the beginning, the West Point Taekwondo Club went from strength to strength.
Grand Master Choi reckons that West Point cadets make near-perfect taekwondo athletes.
“West Point cadets already have discipline and their physical condition is superior – far superior! – to most other students in the United States, so instructing them is so much easier,” he said. “They absorb much faster, which is why taekwondo at West Point has moved so fast to become prominent among university groups.”
Grand Master Choi, who still teaches at West Point free of charge (you can usually find him on campus on Mondays when he is not travelling), confesses to special feelings for the cadet students, who, he knows, could be walking into the flames almost immediately after their graduations.
“The former taekwondo team captain, Sal Corma was a little guy, but a prominent leader,” Grand Master Choi recalled. 1st LT. Corma was killed by booby trap while leading a search party in Afghanistan. Grand Master Choi joined former West Point taekwondo students to mourn at Corma’s funeral.
“When they graduate, I have that happy-sad moment, I hear, ‘My life no longer belongs to me, but to the U.S. government,’” Grand Master Choi said. “That is what makes me value and appreciate these kids.”