The Kenya Taekwondo Association was registered in September 1979. It's registration was not easy. Taekwondo was a relatively
new martial art in Kenya. Other martial arts were dorminant. These martial artists were not comfortable with the introduction
of Taekwondo, and took every opportunity to frustrate efforts to promote taekwondo in Kenya.
The frustrations did not end there. Some Taekwondo exponents were opposed to the formation and registration of the Kenya
Taekwondo Association. It took the efforts of Samson Lipuka, and the [ersonal intervention of the then Administrative Secretary
of the Kenya National Sports Council, Mr. James Tirop, for the Association to be formerly registered by the Government.
Taekwondo was first introduced into Kenya in 1975, by Master Lee Ki-Jin then a 5th Dan blackbelt holder of the Jee Duk
Kwan style. It was not easy. Karate and judo were well entrenched. Judo was the first martial art introduced in Kenya in 1965,
followed by karate in 1969. Both were patronised by highly-placed and well-connected personalities.
Samson Lipuka, Broadcaster with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, was then practising karate under Masters Sohan Singh
and Yoshio Tamura at Karate Axiom.
It was during one of the local karate championships that Master Lee met Lipuka. And this was to change Lipuka's and Taekwondo's
course in Kenya.
Lipuka had seen Master Jhoon Rhee's movie "When Taekwondo Strikes". He had seen Chuck Norris starring against the Martial
Arts legend Bruce Lee. He had been practising the kicking techniques, but was not allowed to use then in karate championships
because they were not traditional karate! It was time for him to move.
In 1976, Master Lee, with 4 other Korean taekwondo experts, staged what was the first-ever taekwondo demonstration in
Kenya. This exposed to Kenyans, the dynamic kicks in taekwondo, but many were still hesitant in joining.
Using his connections with other media friends, Lipuka begun popularising taekwondo, through TV and newspaper interviews.
Soon, taekwondo was the talk of the country. And being a Radio personality, Lipuka was a natural attraction, something that
had initially been exploited when he was practising Karate.
Taekwondo was to gain momentum, when Grand Master Mogg Yoon arruved in Kenya in 1978. He aggressively promoted taekwondo
in Kenya and opened a club at Jacaranda Hotel. Lipuka quickly joined him and became his club trainer and senior-most
In November of the same year, Lipuka opened the first indigenous taekwondo club, Undugu Taekwondo Club. He also begun
looking for his former karate colleagues and converted them to taekwondo. Lipuka also started visiting schools and colleges
to talk to teachers about taekwondo.
As a result of these talks and contacts, Kenya High School, an elite girls high school in Nairobi started offering taekwondo
lessons, under Master Lee and Samson lIpuka. Kenya High School thus became the first institution in East and Central Africa
to offer martial arts training to it's students.
Soon, other schools followed, with taekwondo being offered at the Kenya Science Taechers College, Nairobi School, City
High School, Westlands Primary School, Pumweni Secondary School, Upperhill High School, Langata High School, Kabarak High
School, Utalii College etc. Other formerly karate schools quickly converted to taekwondo. By June 1979, the first ever taekwondo
championships were held in Kenya. For the first time, Kenyans were able to see women and children taking part in martial arts,
This was to mark the turning point for taekwondo in Kenya. The next championships, held in December 1979 to mark the
Independence Day celebrations, were even bigger and better attended.
Taekwondo then attracted the attention of the Armed Forces and Police. Both the Armed Forces and the Police then requested
for, and recruited many young taekwondo students.
In 1981, Kenya participated in it's first international champioships by sending two members of the Armed Forces to the
Military Games held in Korea and came back with two Silver medals through Edward Okoth Opiya at Featherweight and Stephen
Okalo at Middleweight.
In 1983, Kenya participated in the World Taekwondo Championships, for the first time in Denmark.
In 1987, Kenya was to make a bigger impact. This was when Kenya hosted the 4th All African Games in Nairobi, Kenya. The
Kenya Taekwondo Association lobbyied for and succeeded in hosting the first taekwondo championships in the continental games,
and holding a Mass Demonstration which was broadcast live on Radio and Television. And Kenya got it's first-ever Gold medal
through Flyweight John Kariuki.Since then, taekwondo has been a regolar feature in these continental Games and Kenya always
bags some medals.
Kenya participated in the Olympics for the first time in 2008.