The History of Taekwondo in Australia

Written by Sarah No. Updated 17th May 2015.

From landing in Australia Mr No’s only true mission was to make taekwondo a successful sport in his country, Australia. In the minds of many, and most importantly his grandmaster, he succeeded. This is supported by the success of taekwondo as a sport today, and the medals of honor he has been awarded with, which have much value to him.

The following are true recollections of Ke Hyung No’s direct involvement and leadership in taekwondo in Australia, and a very accurate description of his position in the ATA.

This history is related to No’s pioneering journey.

1965 – 1970

In July 1965 Ke-Hyung No was invited to Australia through the Victoria Judo Federation to run specialist courses in judo and taekwondo all over Australia.

Very early on this included the establishment of regular taekwondo classes at Monash University in 1965 by the judo federation which ran under Ke Hyung No for four years. Monash University still runs taekwondo classes to this day.

At the same time Ke Hyung No became highly recommended for running a short judo and taekwondo course to the Australian Navy at the Flinders Naval Depot.

After 2 years of being with the Judo Federation Ke Hyung began to pursue his own journey. In 1967 he began teaching judo and taekwondo for Gymnastics International in Springvale.

In 1969 Ke Hyung decided to return to Korea for further training in judo at the Korean Yudo College and taekwondo at the Jido Kwon School. During this time Ke Hyung arranged for his colleagues Yong Dai Cho and Kyusuk Chung to go to Australia to fill his position while he was absent. Ke Hyung returned in 1971.

1970 – 1980

Upon returning to Australia in 1971 Ke Hyung established Ke Hyung No’s Martial Arts Centre which the following year was renamed No’s Martial Arts and Fitness Centre. In 1982, land was purchased in Croydon and construction was undertaken for the first full-time purpose-built martial arts centre in the southern hemisphere, with an area exceeding 300 square metres.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, in order to promote taekwondo and raise its standard, Ke-Hyung No was instrumental in the invitation of several Korean instructors to Australia. At that time, in the Western world taekwondo was called ‘Korean karate’. With Ke-Hyung‘s vision of the potential for taekwondo in Australia and encouragement to governing bodies at the time, this very soon became known and accepted as ‘taekwondo’.

The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) based in Kukkiwon in Korea was established in 1973 with the purpose of holding world championships for taekwondo.

Though there was a tremendous boom in taekwondo within Australia, at the time there was no governing body in the country which would be a necessity for Australia to participate in world championships through the WTF. Ke Hyung’s grandmaster Chong Woo Lee, of the WTF, requested that Ke Hyung establish an Australian governing body which through the joining of various representatives by Ke Hyung’s arrangement became the Australian Taekwondo Association (ATA) in 1974. The ATA later was recognised by the Australian Government as the official body. The members elected Ke-Hyung No as President of the ATA.

The goal of the ATA was to see national success of taekwondo as a martial art. It was responsible for the regulation of technical standards, the grading system, fee structures and to organise national and international championships. Funds generated were used to support the training of contestants and to sponsor their participation in international competition.

This governance of taekwondo under the ATA was an integral and strategic move in order to push for taekwondo to be accepted as an international and eventually an Olympic sport which it was in 1994. Ke-Hyung No was greatly respected as an honest and conscientious man with a vision for taekwondo and spent his years as president scrupulously promoting the sport. He was continuously returned as President of the ATA for 21 years.

Throughout this time athletes of the Australian Taekwondo national team participated in various world championships and reached great heights.

1980 – 1990

During this decade the Australian team continued to strive in national and world wide champions through the WTF, and also participated in the 1988 Soul Olympics and as a demonstration sport. Ke Hyung congratulates all of the athletes who competed.

1990 – 2000

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics the Australian team participated again as a demonstration sport. After this point the ATA became a member of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).

In 1992 Ke Hyung made an important business connection with John Coates who at the time was the Senior Vice-President of the Organising Committee of the Sydney Olympic Games (SOCOG) (currently the president of the AOC). John Coates was the key for Australia winning the bid to host the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Ke Hyung met John Coates who he then invited to be a patron of the ATA in 1992.

In December 1993, an ad-hoc committee was formed in order to push for taekwondo to be included in the 2000 Sydney Olympics as as a medal sport. Ke Hyung was a member and the president was the former mayor of Soul city, Kim Jip.

In Soul April 1994 the taekwondo championships were held. 6 of the top teams from different continents were invited, of which Australia was included with a bunch of talented champion athletes and dedicated coaches, as a showcase for some of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members. Australia received two gold medals which showed Australia’s promise in the sport.

At the championships, a Japanese IOC member advised Kim Jip that in order for taekwondo to be accepted as a medal sport in the 2000 Sydney Olympics that the host city, Sydney, must demand for taekwondo to be included in it’s program. From here, because the ATA was already a member of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and John Coates was a patron of the ATA, Ke Hyung was instantly assigned as a lobbyist by Kim Jip for the purpose of gaining acceptance of taekwondo by the IOC.

In Paris, September 1994 the IOC accepted taekwondo into the olympic program and therefore in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Under Ke Hyung’s guidance, Australian taekwondo was included in the Australian Olympic Committee’s “Gold medal Program” in 1994 which made it possible to sponsor a Korean elite coach to train the Australian team and to develop a sophisticated training program for Australian taekwondo contestants.

Due to unrest and personal reasons Ke Hyung decided to resign from the ATA in 1995, however the hard work was amply rewarded when Australia won gold by Lauren Burns and a silver by Daniel Trenton in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

For his enormous contribution to taekwondo, Ke-Hyung No was awarded a medal of honor presented to him on behalf of the President of Republic of Korea at the time, Roh Moo Hyun, under Dr Un Yong Kim’s recommendation (president of the WTF and then Vice President of the IOC), as well as the Queen’s Medal for Australian Sporting Achievement signed by the governor general and John Howard the prime minister of Australia at the time.


Taekwondo is an extremely popular sport world wide, and in Australia in particular has become a very wide spread and successful martial art sport with numerous clubs on offer for up takers. No doubt this energetic sport would have become successful in Australia but it is without a doubt that Ke Hyung’s scrupulous efforts such a long time ago lead to a successful early adoption and good outcome for many athletes and clubs today.

Ke Hyung, now 77 years old, continues to keep fit and will always have a strong passion and love for the sport. Today he continues classes in Bayswater along side instructors Richard Noble and John Van Kerkhoven whom have been training with Ke Hyung for more than 2 decades, and Robert Maggi. Many of No’s students have become successful instructors running their own clubs and they too played a role in the development of Australian taekwondo.

Ke Hyung’s four children all trained in both judo and taekwondo. David No started as a keen four year-old and went on to be included in the national judo team and was selected for the elite taekwondo team which was part of the Olympic Gold Medal program in preparation for the Sydney Olympics. David No went on to become a valued club instructor, recently attaining the rank of 7th Dan. He is now based overseas but continues to train at No’s when he returns to Australia.

Michael No is 2nd Dan, and Sarah No is 1st Dan, obtaining black belt as a 9 year old. Barbra reached 1st gup before ceasing training to follow a career first in ballet and later in yoga.

No’s children are all very proud of their fathers work and craft, and wish that his legacy will carry on for decades to come.