Monday, April 15, 2013

Grand Master Richard Chun - A Biography by Chosun Student Benjamin Taesung Durgin - Bodan essay April 2013

Grand Master Richard Chun is a great martial artist.  I was inspired by his book, Spirit and Practice Beyond Self-Defense.  It was an exciting and emotional story.  After I read the book, I felt less
nervous about the black belt promotion test.  Instead, I feel more confident.  I have learned a lot about Grand Master Chun, but I also learned a lot about Taekwondo.  This is what I learned about Grand Master Chun.

            Master Chun is one of six boys and two girls.  His father was a hard worker and his mother stayed home to take care of the family.  During childhood, Master Chun became a daejang, or a leader of a gang of boys.  He became a daejang by doing something very dangerous and was injured.  He was punched by a kid and wanted revenge, so he signed up for Taekwondo lessons.  He had to work part time jobs to afford the lessons.  Every ten days, he had to mop the floor of the dojang, so he came early to do his job quickly.  He kept Taekwondo a secret from his friends because he wanted revenge.  A few months later, he became a green belt.  The next school day, he looked for the guy he wanted to revenge, but the guy did not accept his challenge.  He let Master Chun punch him.  But, Master Chun became friends with him, instead.  Master Chun learned from his master that Taekwondo is not for fighting and revenge, but it is for peace. 

            During the Korean War, his family escaped to Cheju Island.  While he was there, he trained Taekwondo by himself.  He compared himself to a beautiful mountain called, Mount Hallasan because his knowledge was still inside of him no matter where he was like the mountain was covered in fog.   I thought that was a useful comparison.                                                                                                                   

              When the Korean War was over, Master Chun was happy.  He was proud of his parents for their strength.  Master Chun moved to Seoul.  He went to Yonsei University and graduated in 1957.  He started to compete in tournaments and learned from his master how to be a better competitor.  He learned that to win one hundred percent of the time, he needs to understand himself and understand his opponent.  I thought that was great advice.  He won the tournament.  His trophy is displayed on a shelf at Yonsei University.

            Master Chun signed up as one of two hundred candidates for a sales job for Air France.  He was one of two people who got the job.  He became a district manager.  Patience, perseverance and hard work helped him get this job.  He learned these things from Taekwondo.  This taught me that Taekwondo does not only help me get a belt.  It helps me in other ways in life. 

            Master Chun moved to the United States in 1962 when he was twenty-eight years old.  He earned his Master Degree in Business and Marketing from George Washington University.  He also earned a Ph.D. in education.  He taught Taekwondo in the United States at Sigward’s Academy.  His first class was in a dusty room with only ten students.  He worked as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant to earn money.  Master Chun never gives up and shows a lot of perserverance.

            In 1964, he started a new school with twenty-five students.  He noticed that his students were not doing their side-kicks correctly.  He made changes to his program and added twenty minute warm-ups in the beginning of class.  He believed that his students needed better flexibility and exercise to master their techniques.  This tells me that Master Chun is a great teacher.

            One night, at a bar, there were a group of men who fought him.  Master Chun defended himself and hurt them, and the men ran away.  Then two weeks later, Master Chun apologized to the men that he hurt because he did not feel good that he had to hurt them.  This tells me that Master Chun is a good man who always makes the right choices. 

            In 1967, Master Chun was the organizer of The First Universal Open Championship.  It included all kinds of martial arts and had 450 participants.  Master Chun’s favorite student named Joe Hayes won first place.

            In 1973, Master Chun was the head coach of the USA Taekwondo team for the first World Taekwondo Championships in Seoul.  Korea’s team won first place, Master Chun’s USA team came in second place and Mexico and China came in third.  He used this time to teach his students about Korean food, to travel Korea to share his story to his students about how he found Taekwondo.  I learned from this that Master Chun cares about his students and teaches them well. 

In 1980, Master Chun served as President of the United States Taekwondo Association.  He assisted in organizing Taekwondo as an event in the 1988 Olympics.  In 1985, he became a special assistant to the president of the World Taekwondo Federation.  Master Chun was inducted in the Black Belt Hall of Fame by Black Belt Magazine in 1979 and 2004.   He was inducted Taekwondo Hall of Fame by Taekwondo Times Magazine.  Master Chun served as District Governor for the Lions Club.  He is married with two children.

This is what I learned about Grand Master Richard Chun.  As I said before, Master Chun is a good man. He is a true martial artist and displays everything that I am learning from Taekwondo such as courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit, plus more.  I enjoyed reading and learning about Master Chun.  Not only did I learn about his life, I learned a lot about the meaning of Taekwondo and how I can apply it in my life as I grow up.



  1. I found this article very interesting. My grandson who is a first degree black belt also read Grandmaster Chun's book and used it as a sixth grade book report on power point. He is now presenting the book review to his Black Belt class as a requirement for second degree black belt. I am currently a red belt and also read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. From a 12 year-old boy to a 66 year-old grandmother, this book is inspirational.

  2. I admit, I have not been on this web page in a long time... however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues.
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