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Grand Master Chi Kwi-joon: A Lifetime of Dedication to Judo


From High School to the World of Judo

Grand Master Chi Kwi-joon's journey in the world of martial arts began in an unexpected way during his high school years. It all started with judo, which he initially encountered as part of his mandatory physical education class. Under the guidance of an excellent teacher, Grand Master Chi imbibed a club motto that would shape his life: "Giving is better than Receiving." This profound mantra became a guiding principle that he would carry with him throughout his journey in judo and beyond.




The Referee Pursuit

Inspired by his early experiences in judo, Grand Master Chi decided to explore coaching and began his pursuit of becoming a referee in the United States in 1977. His diligence and dedication bore fruit as he achieved his IJF "A" referee license in 1987, a significant milestone that reflected his expertise and commitment to the sport.


A Journey from Korea to the USA

Grand Master Chi Kwi-joon's journey from his native Korea to the United States in the early 1970s marked the beginning of his influential presence in the world of judo. He had been a high-level youth competitor in Korea since 1959, and that competitive spirit continued to drive him in his new home. Throughout his career, he has played a pivotal role in judo at all levels, both domestically and internationally.





A Legacy of Officiating Excellence

One of Grand Master Chi's most notable achievements is his role as an official at the Olympic Games and three senior world championships. His journey to Olympic status began in 1987, following his international refereeing license acquisition five years earlier. He also made history by becoming the first US referee to officiate at the Paralympic Games in 1996 in Atlanta. Beyond the mat, Grand Master Chi served on the Pan-American Judo Union (PJU) and later the Pan-American Judo Confederation (PJC) Referee Commission from 1998 to 2016. This role involved overseeing competitions across North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean, encompassing forty-two different countries.


Dedication to Domestic and Local Judo

While excelling on the international stage, Grand Master Chi maintained his passion for domestic and local judo development. From 2003 to 2016, he served as the USJF Chairman of Referee Development and the Certification Committee. Additionally, he was a member of the USA Judo Referee Commission until 2017 and held the position of president of Minnesota Judo for many years. His contributions extended to local tournaments, where he served as Chief Referee, teacher, and coach. Grand Master Chi's direct involvement led to 16 American referees attaining IJF-A international referee licensing.




A Multifaceted Service to Judo

Grand Master Chi's contributions to judo go beyond refereeing and administrative roles. His dedication and commitment have left an indelible mark on the sport. Notably, he was a VIP guest at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was inducted into the Pan American Judo Union Hall of Fame in 2008. As a USJF Life Member, he has actively supported junior player development in the United States. Since 2007, Grand Master Chi has spearheaded the annual Korea High School Training Program, providing opportunities for countless USJF students to participate. One alumnus of this program even represented the United States at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics. Recognizing the importance of nurturing talent locally, he has consistently brought accomplished international players to the United States, further enriching the American judo landscape.

Grand Master Chi Kwi-joon's journey through judo is a testament to his unwavering dedication, sportsmanship, and commitment to the development of the sport. His legacy continues to inspire and impact judo practitioners around the world.


Join the Celebration

Experience the legacy of Grand Master Chi Kwi-joon and celebrate his contributions to the world of judo at the upcoming 60th Anniversary Celebration honoring Dojunim Dr. He-Young Kimm's arrival in the United States. This historic event, hosted by the World Han Mu Do Association and the Hando Won, will feature a Black Belt Test, Seminar, and Banquet from November 3-5, 2023, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


Don't miss this incredible opportunity. Secure your reservations today, including hotel and dinner reservations, by October 14, 2023.



For comprehensive event details and reservations, visit our dedicated event page. Join us in celebrating Grand Master Chi Kwi-joon and the vibrant martial arts community. It's an event of monumental significance!

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