Written By Aaron Rayburn, Director USWC TKD

Contrary to common opinion, Master Yun wasn't born a master, although likely kicking and yelling. Before attaining the illustrious title of a Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters) certified master instructor, and trained at the Harvard of martial arts universities, he was known as Yun, Sang Bum to his friends and parents in the country village of Kim Chun, Korea.

A mason-working father, and a hard working mother raised Yun, Sang Bum with his brother and two sisters. At the age of nine, he began practicing Taekwondo at a local dojang. He can recall feeling very proud when he earned his red belt, and would tie his uniform up with it and sling it over his shoulder on the way to class.

As his martial talent began to take shape, his master encouraged him to enter local competitions in sparring, and soon, he was beginning to make a name for himself.

Korea is comprised of regions equivalent to counties or states, and each has an intense rivalry regarding Taekwondo sparring. Before college, Master Yun, who was a second degree black belt by that time, was at the state champion level. This is the same as being on the "Dream Team" or at the top of the US National levels. These were not 'open' championships, but highly regulated, exclusive matches fought by the top from each region.

I asked Master Yun, why, at that point, did he not continue and go on to the Pan American, Asian, or World Games and enter the life of a competitor. He paused and said, "I had to make a decision" with the reflection of an old sage, "where my life was going...so I became Master." Despite cultural, generational, and language differences I understood that to mean Master Yun forsake the glory of standing with competitors in a 'sport' atmosphere, to study an ancient art and spread his knowledge in the United States.

After serving in the Korean Army, graduating from Yong-In University and receiving his 5th degree from Kukkiwon, Master Yun was invited by Bally's Total Fitness to run the Taekwondo program in Chicago, Illinois. Later, he managed Jung's Taekwondo for Grandmaster Jung in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before relocating to the Pacific Northwest where he took a small school in a strip mall in Vancouver, Washington. We all know where to find Master Yun now between 4pm and 9pm, teaching, sweating, and kicking with 170 or so students on a busy boulevard.

But we haven't the foggiest clue where the fire in his core came from that pushes him to provide his students with the best he can give day in and day out. We can't see the training he endured in Korea from his masters for years and years that taught him discipline or confidence.

We just have him here, to bow to, and to say "yes, sir", and to hope we can generate half as much energy.