“Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways”
Grandmaster Kim was born in Nowari (P’yŏngt’aek-si), South Korea on January 11, 1949. His training in martial arts began at the age of 12 under Grandmaster Ahn at the Yangju Taekwondo Mu Dŏk Kwan School. Grandmaster Kim moved to Tongduch’ŏn-si as an assistant instructor at the US Army 2nd Infantry Base stationed there. Grandmaster Kim left Korea in May of 1975 to join Master Han in Wichita as a 5th Dan Kukkiwon Instructor. Grandmaster Kim spent 7 years with Han’s Taekwondo School until Grandmaster Han left for California; the school was then renamed Kim’s Academy of Taekwondo in 1982.
In 1994, after travelling to the World Taekwondo Headquarters in the Gangnam-gu district of Seoul, Grandmaster Kim received his 8th Dan Kukkiwon certificate.
Grandmaster Kim’s Story
Grandmaster Joon Yong Kim has been teaching Taekwondo in Kansas since 1975. Under his guidance, Kim’s Academy has flourished, growing larger and expanding outward with affiliated schools in every direction.
Master Kim has awarded more than 230 black belts over the years, and there are currently hundreds of men, women, and children training with him, or at the 26 branch schools throughout Kansas and its neighboring states.
From his native Korea, Master Kim came to this country in 1975 at the invitation of Grandmaster Choon Hwa Han who, two years earlier, had opened Han’s Taekwondo School in Wichita. Master Kim had been assistant instructor to Master Han in Korea, and now he was to assume the same position on the other side of the globe.
When Master Han moved and Master J.B. Kim relocated to Oklahoma, Master Kim remained in Wichita and the Park Lane School became his own. In 1982, at Master Han’s insistence, Master Kim changed the name to Kim’s Academy of Taekwondo.
In the spring of 1989 Kim’s Academy moved to its present location on South Longfellow, and in 1993 it underwent a major expansion.
At twelve years old, Master Kim was drawn to Taekwondo to learn self-defense. He and his friends had one, common goal at the time: to be “Top Boy”. With superior fighting skills, Master Kim reasoned, his troop of friends could triumph over the other packs of boys who roamed his home village looking for a fight. Together, they enrolled in the local Taekwondo school and trained hard.
His first master was very tough and demanded complete concentration, Master Kim explained. If a boy’s mind wandered, a WHACK with a bamboo bat inspired focus. The master expected his students to train every day, with punishment for misbehavior or missing class.
Just as at Kim’s Academy today, those young students of Taekwondo learned more than just fighting techniques. They acquired a sense of loyalty to their school and absorbed good morals and the virtues of sincerity. Their master taught them that “there is no excuse to fight.”
“Lots of troublemakers came to class, but as time passed, they changed,” Master Kim said.
Master Kim vividly remembers his first Black Belt test which took place in the city of Seoul. “I was scared to death,” he said. It was a large event with many people coming from across Korea to watch their families and friends. If a practitioner didn’t perform well during the test, they were “released” immediately and had to return home. Those who completed the test sometimes waited months to discover if they’d passed or not.
When Master Kim first began teaching in Kansas, most of his new students wanted to learn Taekwondo for the same reason he had, Master Kim said, to be the best fighter. But in twenty years, that emphasis changed. “Now people want confidence,” he said, “‘Top boy’ is second.”
Another change is that there are more women taking classes than ever before, and Master Kim welcomes the increase. “It’s good for guts and builds confidence and mental strength,” he said, noting that when he was a boy, few girls trained because their parents discouraged it. Not that it stopped them all. Those who did make it to class simply had to “sneak,” he said.
However, after Taekwondo became the official national sport in 1971, it was taught to both boys and girls in public schools. When asked what his future goals are, Master Kim answers modestly, “To find a better way of teaching,” adding “and to have a healthy school.”