T o get a better idea of how long Kim Soo has been active in the U.S. martial arts community, consider the following:
He started writing for Black Belt back in 1964 when it was printed in black and white on the magazine equivalent of newsprint. He moved from South Korea to Texas and started teaching in 1968, the same year he received his seventhdegree black belt from the Kang Duk Won organization. In those days,
taekwondo was so new in America that instructors typically billed themselves as teachers of “Korean karate” — which explains why, when he set up shop in Houston, he called his facility the Kim Soo College of Taekwon-Karate.
That’s not to say Kim is a relic from a bygone era. Far from it! The lessons he conveys to martial artists now are as life-changing as ever. If they weren’t, he wouldn’t have just celebrated his 50th year of teaching in Texas. That, in itself, is a milestone.
Let’s travel back in time a bit further to get a glimpse of where Kim Soo came from and how he got to where he is now. Born in 1939, he started training in 1951. In America, that was the year I Love Lucy debuted on CBS and the Disney cartoon classic Alice in Wonderland hit theaters. On Kim’s side of the world, it was the second year of the Korean War.
In 1952, Kim — still too young to be drafted — joined the Chang Moo Kwan, the martial arts foundational organization created by Yoon Byung In and Lee Nam Suk. Within two years, Kim owned a black belt in
kong soo do, the Korean pronunciation of karate-do. In 1962 he received his fifth degree from the Korea Tae Soo Do Association. In 1967 he was awarded his sixth dan by the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association. All that made him the perfect person to act as Black Belt’s correspondent in Korea. He vacated that position only because he relocated to Houston in 1968.
To better know the man who wore those ranks, consider what Kim Soo said when asked why he selected Texas as his new home: “When I was planning to establish a school in the United States, I made sure to choose an area where there were no other instructors. There were several well-known instructors already in the United States: Jhoon Rhee was estab-