Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man, a legendary influential pioneer of military Taekwon-Do, and Grandmaster Low Koon Lin, the first non-Korean student of Taekwon-Do, reunited in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a historic 2-day seminar held on August 29 and 30, 2015 at the beautiful Thean Hou Temple Grand Ballroom. The seminar was sponsored by the Malaysia Chun Kuhn Taekwon-Do Federation and Black Belt Taekwon-Do Dojang, both of Kuala Lumpur. The recent seminar is only the second time that Supreme Grandmaster Kim and Grandmaster Low have enjoyed each other’s company in more than 50 years.
Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man, President of the World Chun Kuhn Taekwondo Federation, and Grandmaster Stan C. Swope, Vice President, were greeted at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Wednesday, August 26 by delegates from the Malaysia Chun Kuhn Taekwon-Do Federation (MCTF), Black Belt Taekwon-Do Dojang (BTD) and Greenfield Taekwon-Do Club (GTC). Delegates included Grandmaster Dr. Sam Looi Yew Khuen (9th Dan), MCTF President; Master Don Looi Mun Khuen (7th Dan), MCTF Vice President; Senior Master Gary Tong Chee Yong (8th Dan), MCTF Secretary General; Senior Master Tay Chin Hiong (8th Dan), GTC Chief Instructor; and Master Ow Wee Leong (7th Dan), GTC Instructor. They were joined for dinner that evening by Grandmaster Rickie Low Ah Kuan (9th Dan), Super Taekwon-Do Academy; and Grandmaster Nelson Bernard Kirby (9th Dan), Visual Martial Arts, Inc.
Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man’s martial arts legacy in Malaysia and Southeast Asia runs deep. From 1963-1964 while General Choi Hong-Hi was ambassador to Malaysia, Supreme Grandmaster Kim and General Choi developed techniques, created patterns and wrote Taekwon-Do: The Art of Self-Defence, the historic first English textbook, which would be published in 1965. From 1964-1966, Supreme Grandmaster Kim further helped lay the foundation for General Choi’s International Taekwon-Do Federation by spreading Taekwon-Do throughout much of Southeast Asia. Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man is often recognized as the Father of Southeast Asia Taekwon-Do for his efforts.
Supreme Grandmaster Kim, 81, reunited with Grandmaster Low Koon Lin, 88, for only the second time in more than 50 years on Thursday, August 27 for lunch at the historic Sek Yuen Chinese Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Grandmaster Low, after witnessing Taekwon-Do at the Korean Embassy in 1963, approached General Choi and asked about the martial art. A black belt in Judo, Grandmaster Low asked to learn Taekwon-Do, thus became the “Father of Malaysian Taekwon-Do.” Although General Choi may have taught Grandmaster Low briefly, teaching responsibilities fell to Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man and Master Woo Jae-Lim. Supreme Grandmaster Kim taught in Malaysia until 1964 when he was dispatched to Singapore. Supreme Grandmaster Kim and Grandmaster Low would next meet in 2009, and again in 2015 for the recent seminar. The legendary pioneers were happy to meet again.
While in Kuala Lumpur, Supreme Grandmaster Kim gave interviews at Astro TV Station HQ, to be broadcast on satellite pay TV station Astro Super Sport; at radio stations LITE FM and HITZ FM; to Guang Ming Daily newspaper; and to the Star Daily newspaper. Supreme Grandmaster Kim answered questions about his martial arts history and the history of Taekwon-Do, describing the early days of Taekwon-Do in the ROK Army and working with General Choi. He also discussed why Malaysia was “the second home of Taekwon-Do,” as General Choi, the first Korean Ambassador to Malaysia, once said. General Choi served as Ambassador from 1962 to 1964. During the interviews, Supreme Grandmaster Kim also promoted the health benefits of Taekwon-Do for all ages. After interviews on 27 August, Supreme Grandmaster Kim, Grandmaster Swope, Grandmaster Low and the seminar organizing committee visited Everybody Martial Arts, Malaysia’s first and oldest Martial Arts supply store. Later, Supreme Grandmaster Kim and Grandmaster Swope visited Black Belt Taekwon-Do Dojang and taught all ages and ranks for several classes until 10 PM.
The following evening, Supreme Grandmaster Kim and Grandmaster Swope presided over a high-level black belt testing at Black Belt Taekwon-Do Dojang. Tested for 6th Dan were Prof. Lee Chew Ging of Kuala Lumpur and Liew Pin Huat of Malacca; tested for 7th Dan were Don Looi Mun Khuen, Dr. Steve Ng Hong Aik, Chief Instructor of Penang Taekwondo Association, and Ow Wee Leong of Malacca. Supreme Grandmaster Kim graded participants’ Ch’ang Hon tuls, basic and advanced self-defense against single and multiple opponents, kicking techniques, hand techniques, and breaking. “This high-dan testing was indeed historic,” said Master Don Looi Mun Khuen, MCTF Vice President. “Those tested today were graded by the legendary pioneer who helped develop many of the required Ch’ang Hon patterns on the very same soil where they were developed more than fifty years ago. Few masters or instructors can say the same.”
The historic 2-day seminar, held at the beautiful Thean Hou Temple Grand Ballroom, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, began on Saturday, 29 August 2015. Master Don Looi, Chairman of the Organizing Committee and Vice President of the Malaysia Chun Kuhn Taekwon-Do Federation, gave the opening speech, followed by Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man, President of the World Chun Kuhn Taekwondo Federation; Grandmaster Low Koon Lin, Father of Malaysian Taekwon-Do; and Grandmaster Stan C. Swope, Vice President of the World Chun Kuhn Taekwondo Federation. They were joined on stage by officers of the Malaysia Chun Kuhn Taekwondo Federation, President Grandmaster Dr Sam Looi and Secretary General Senior Master Gary Tong, and officers of the Singapore Chun Kuhn Taekwon-Do Federation, President Grandmaster Simon Lee Kim Hong and Secretary General Senior Master Dr. William Choo Keang Hai. All ranks, ages and martial arts were invited to attend the seminar. More than 350 martial artists from several dojangs and countries participated. Supreme Grandmaster Kim rang a ceremonial gong to officially begin the seminar.
Supreme Grandmaster Kim taught basic stances, basic techniques, self-defense and many of the Ch’ang Hon patterns during the seminar. For Supreme Grandmaster Kim, all techniques need to be done in a proper, natural way to avoid injury and improve health. Supreme Grandmaster Kim taught the side risking kick as part of the day’s kicking drills. This stretch is unique to Supreme Grandmaster Kim’s curriculum and he stresses proper technique and alignment of the body; height will come naturally once the body and mind have mastered the proper mechanics. Many are able to kick only about knee high when first learning this kick, for example. “Here, here or here,” Supreme Grandmaster Kim marked three different heights with his hand, “not matter. Must be done proper way.” Supreme Grandmaster Kim, with the aid of a microphone, gave clear instructions and demonstrated each technique step-by-step, slow at first, then at proper speed with the help of a volunteer. Participants were given opportunity to practice each technique while Supreme Grandmaster Kim, Grandmaster Swope and others helped correct errors. Supreme Grandmaster Kim also taught releases from grabs and the Ch’ang Hon color belt patterns, always stressing the proper, natural way. Supreme Grandmaster Kim helped create 15 of the 24 Ch’ang Hon patterns in Malaysia in 1963-1964, and provided input on as many as four more. Participants were honored to learn directly from the pioneer who helped develop the majority of the patterns and techniques they practice.
Children and adults were separated into groups during the 2-day seminar so that material could be better presented. Grandmaster Stan Swope and Grandmaster Simon Lee lead the children’s group through age-appropriate techniques, self-defense and Ch’ang Hon patterns. Grandmaster Swope reminded students to aim small and hit small. “The students overall – even the children — had very good patterns and technique,” said Grandmaster Swope. “Among some of the best I have seen for their ages. They had competent regular instruction, which helped them absorb Supreme Grandmaster Kim’s more advanced information at the seminar,” he added.
GM Low Koon Lin also taught a short course on basic movement, during the historic seminar.
During the seminar, Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man presented a 9th Degree Black Belt from the World Chun Kuhn Taekwondo Federation to his first Malaysian student, Senior Grandmaster Low Koon Lin, Pioneer and Father of Malaysia Taekwon-Do. Nine other black belts were also promoted during the seminar. Promoted to 9th Dan were Grandmaster Rickie Low Ah Kuan, Grandmaster Nelson Bernard Kirby, and Grandmaster Dr. Sam Looi Yew Khuen. Promoted to 8th Dan was Senior Master Tay Chin Hiong, and promoted to 7th Dan were Master Dr. Steve Ng Hong Aik, Master Don Looi Mun Khuen and Master Ow Wee Leong. Lee Chew Ging and Liew Pin Huat were promoted to 6th Dan.
“It is indeed the highest honor to be promoted by Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man, the Taekwon-Do pioneer invited to Malaysia by General Choi,” said Master Gary Tong, Secretary General of the Malaysia Chun Kuhn Taekwon-Do Federation. “Malaysia became the second home of Taekwon-Do due to the work that was done here during those pivotal years.” The highest degree granted by the late General Choi to any Malaysian Taekwon-Do practitioner is 8th Dan (Certificate No. M-8-1 and M-8-2).
All students received full color certificates signed by Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man and Grandmaster Low Koon Lin to commemorate the historic seminar.
“The Legendary Taekwon-Do Summit 2015 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was a huge success, judging from the various doboks worn by the participants,” said Grandmaster Dr. Sam Looi Yew Khuen, President of the Malaysia Chun Kuhn Taekwon-Do Federation, who organized the event. “We had people from various organizations and styles – Global Taekwon-Do Federation (GTF), International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), Hapkido, Tang Soo Do, and Chun Kuhn Taekwondo. There was no discrimination against federations, associations, or clubs. This summit was a prime example of unity through Taekwon-Do.”
“I cannot describe the feeling of seeing Supreme GM Kim Bok Man and Senior GM Low Koon Lin being reunited in doboks for both since the 1960s,” said Master Don Looi, Vice President of the Malaysia Chun Kuhn Taekwon-Do Federation. “It’s not easy to host a gathering of two legendary pioneers, five grandmasters and so many seniors at a single event,” he added. “It was a prestigious event for all who attended.”
Before returning to the U.S Supreme Grandmaster Kim and Grandmaster Swope visited South Korea. On 3 September, they met Master Oh Chang-Jin, Secretary General, and Dr. Zibby Kruk, International Liaison Chairman, of the International Taekwon-Do Federation Headquarters – Korea. They discussed the early history, current state and future of the art throughout the morning and over lunch. In the afternoon, Dr. Kruk formally interviewed Supreme Grandmaster Kim. They also discussed future collaborations between ITF-HQ Korea and Supreme Grandmaster Kim’s World Chun Kuhn Taekwondo Federation. Supreme Grandmaster Kim gifted copies of his latest book, Taekwon-Do: Origins of the Art: Bok Man Kim’s Historic Photospective (1955-2015), to Master Oh and Dr. Kruk. “Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok-Man had so many interesting stories, ideas and examples that he shared with us that we talked late into the evening,” said Dr. Kruk. “Unfortunately, Supreme Grandmaster Kim and Grandmaster Swope had to catch the KTX (high speed bullet train) in Daejeon, to make their flight to the U.S.”
Supreme Grandmaster Kim and Grandmaster Swope may be contacted by phone through the World Chun Kuhn Taekwondo Federation in the United States at (973) 403-0045 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested parties may also visit the World Chun Kuhn Taekwondo Federation web sites at www.chunkuhndo.com and www.worldchunkuhntkd.com.