Black Belt - - BLACK BELT TIMES - — Doug Cook

Amer­ica Loses a Taek­wondo Pioneer

On Novem­ber 15, 2017, Richard Chun, one of the prin­ci­pal pi­o­neers of taek­wondo in Amer­ica, passed away. Born on Jan­uary 30, 1935, he was 82.

Chun be­gan his for­mal mar­tial arts ed­u­ca­tion un­der the di­rec­tion of Ki Whang Kim and Chong Soo Hong at the famed Moo Duk Kwan (“In­sti­tute of Mar­tial Virtue”) in Seoul, South .RUHD %\ DJH KH·G UHFHLYHG KLV ÀUVW GHJUHH EODFN EHOW He grad­u­ated from Yon­sei Univer­sity in 1957.

En­ter­ing the United States in 1962 as a stu­dent, Chun OLYHG LQ :DVKLQJWRQ ' & DQG EHJDQ VWXG\LQJ IRU D PDVWHU ·V de­gree in busi­ness and mar­ket­ing at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. He even­tu­ally earned his MBA at Long Is­land Univer­sity and went on to ob­tain a Ph.D. That en­abled him to be­come a pro­fes­sor of health and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion at Hunter Col­lege in New York City.

Chun was per­haps the most ed­u­cated of all the Amer­i­can taek­wondo pi­o­neers who em­i­grated from South Korea. He wrote nine books, in­clud­ing some of the ear­li­est works in English, on his art. He was re­port­edly one of the few au­thors to ad­mit that taek­wondo grew from Ja­panese and Ok­i­nawan roots.

In 1964, with as­sis­tance from for­mer World Taek­wondo )HGHUDWLRQ 3UHVLGHQW 'U 8Q <RQJ .LP &KXQ RIÀFLDOO\ es­tab­lished the Richard Chun Taek­wondo Cen­ter in New York. His school be­came a mecca for mar­tial artists, with many prac­ti­tion­ers com­ing from across the United States and abroad. The fa­cil­ity cul­ti­vated na­tional cham­pi­ons like Joe Hayes DQG FDWHUHG WR PRYLH VWDUV DQG VSRUWV ÀJXUHV LQFOXGLQJ 5DOSK Mac­chio (The Karate Kid) and dancer/ac­tor Gre­gory Hines.

In 1973 Chun was ap­pointed head coach of the USA 7DHNZRQGR WHDP OHDGLQJ WKH JURXS WR D VHFRQG SODFH YLFWRU\ LQ WKH ÀUVW :RUOG 7DHNZRQGR &KDPSLRQVKLSV LQ 6HRXO +H WUDYHOHG and lec­tured ex­ten­sively at mar­tial arts schools around the United States and ap­peared on pop­u­lar TV talk shows. He went on to es­tab­lish the U.S. Taek­wondo As­so­ci­a­tion in 1980.

Be­fore his pass­ing, Chun and his wife Kwang Hae ap­pointed Doug Cook of the Cho­sun Taek­wondo Academy in War­wick, New York, as pres­i­dent and owner of the USTA. “I will never be able WR ÀOO KLV VKRHV HQWLUHO\ μ VDLG &RRN VHYHQWK dan, “but I promised him I would do my best in main­tain­ing his teach­ings with pu­rity and in­tegrity.”

The Pass­ing of a Leg­end

For Rhin Moon Richard Chun, what be­gan as a means of fend­ing RII UXIÀDQV LQ SRVWZDU .RUHD HYROYHG LQWR D FDUHHU WKDW VSDQQHG half a cen­tury. Clearly, he ded­i­cated his life to pro­mot­ing the art of taek­wondo, DQG DV VXFK KH H[HPSOLÀHG WKH WUXH VSLULW RI WKH mar­tial arts. In part, that spirit grew from the many tri­als and tribu­la­tions he was forced to face in life.

By the time he was 14, Chun had earned his black belt, the re­sult of hav­ing ex­celled in his classes. Then on June 25, 1950, North Korea in­vaded the South, and civil war erupted. To pro­tect KLV IDPLO\ &KXQ·V IDWKHU FORVHG KLV PHGLFDO SUDFWLFH DQG PRYHG

from Seoul to the port city of In­cheon. 'ur­ing the bit­ter-cold win­ter of 1951, the Chuns and two other fam­i­lies fled south in search of a warmer cli­mate. Three weeks later and still packed into a small wooden boat, they fi­nally reached their des­ti­na­tion: -eju Is­land.

As life slowly re­turned to nor­malI fears of not be­ing able to con­tinue his taek­wondo train­ing with­out his master started to crop up in Chun’s mind. While at­tend­ing high school at a refugee fa­cil­i­tyI he opted to prac­tice alone in the moun­tains. ln nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions when the lo­cals sought to abuse those tak­ing refuge from the war, his sense of jus­tice and in­domitable spirit were tested.

fn 1VR4 Chun re­turned to peoul and en­rolled in von­sei rniver­sity. thile thereI he con­tin­ued his mar­tial arts train­ing and served as cap­tain of the taek­wondo club. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing in 1VRTI he worked for Air France for five years. He then re­lo­cated first to tash­ing­tonI a.C.I and then to kew vork City — a move that would change the com­plex­ion of taek­wondo in the rnited ptates.

The 28-year-old Chun be­gan teach­ing taek­wondo at a health club in jid­town jan­hat­tan. fn 1VS4I with the es­tab­lish­ment of his oichard Chun Taek­wondo Cen­terI he started mak­ing a name for him­self. At var­i­ous timesI for­mer kew vork jayor oudolph di­u­liani and r.p. mres­i­dent aon­ald Trump had their chil­dren train at the cen­ter. au­r­ing the same pe­ri­odI ChunI with sup­port from Gen. -ames Van Fleet, or­ga­nized the first Uni­ver­sal Taek­wondo lpen Cham­pi­onships.

Fast-for­ward to 1988: Chun played a ma­jor role in or­ga­niz­ing taek­wondo as an event in the peoul llympics. ee served as se­nior in­ter­na­tional ref­eree at sub­se­quent com­pe­ti­tions and llympic dames. cor th­ese and his many other ef­forts to pro­mote the art in the rnited ptatesI Chun re­ceived an award from the pres­i­dent of pouth horea. fn the late ’80s, he re­ceived his ninth dan from hukki­won. fn 1VVVI fol­low­ing a train­ing and cul­tural tour of horea with a num­ber of his se­nior stu­dents in towI he was named spe­cial as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent of the torld Taek­wondo ced­er­a­tion.

And he didn’t stop there. Chun tire­lessly shared his knowl­edge with the world. Two of his books — Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Mar­tial Art and Ad­vanc­ing in Tae Kwon Do — still serve as ref­er­ence guides for thou­sands of prac­ti­tion­ers of the in­ter­na­tional art. Through the decadesI his devo­tion to it earned him plenty of ac­co­lades out­side his own sphere of in­flu­ence. One not in­signif­i­cant ex­am­ple: He was in­ducted into the Black Belt eall of came in 1VTV.

jy master was a repos­i­tory of an­cient wis­domI a ves­sel filled to the brim by great mar­tial artists of the past. My col­leagues and f are for­tu­nate to be re­cip­i­ents of that knowl­edge. We re­gard grand­mas­ter Richard Chun’s tech­niques as a price­less in­her­i­tance.

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