R.I.P. Dr. Dennis R. Burke

Kangdukwon Taekwondo loses a stalwart friend

R.I.P. Dr. Dennis Burke, 3 June 1930 – 15 May 2022

Kangdukwon Taekwondo has lost a stalwart friend in the late Dr. Dennis Burke.

Dr. Dennis  and Mrs. Louis Burke flanked by Grand Master and Mrs. Hwa Chong at the U-Michigan Taekwondo Club's 50th anniversary dinner on 4 October, 2014
Dr. Dennis  and Mrs. Louis Burke stand beside Grand Master and Mrs. Hwa Chong at the U-Michigan Taekwondo Club’s 50th anniversary dinner on 4 October, 2014

“We have lost a wonderful cosmopolitan and friend,” says Master Chong. “Dr. Burke served all U-M Taekwondo tournaments and advised free of charge in the early years of University of Michigan Taekwondo activities. As Chairman of the United States Taekwondo Union, he always provided free service and advice in support of Kang Duk Won Taekwondo activities.”

“We have lost a wonderful cosmopolitan and friend.”

— Hwa Chong

Dennis R. Burke “Stoney”, MD was born on June 3, 1930, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was a Veteran of the Korean War, graduated from U-Michigan with his medical doctorate in 1961; was in private family practice in Ann Arbor for over sixty years.

Past Chairman of the United States Taekwondo Union (USTU) Medical Department (1993-1995) Dr. Dennis Burke passed away on Sunday, May 15th, 2022.

He was a veteran of the Korean War, graduated from U of Michigan with his medical doctorate and was in private family practice in Ann Arbor for more than fifty years.

Dennis Burke, who had been a kick boxer, first encountered taekwondo in the person of Hwa Chong in the 1960’s. Dr. Burke was also was one of the coaches of the U-Michigan Boxing Team and was a big backer of Master Hwa Chong and the U-Michigan Taekwondo Club. 

Dr. Dennis Burke
10165 North Platt Road,
Milan, Michigan 48160
Mrs. Louis Burke (734)-764-8325

“I have given you a compass. Now use it!”

“We must break out of our shells and evolve.”

Tradition versus Innovation

Hwa Chong, World Kangdukwon Kwan Jang Nimand President addresses senior WKF officers

[Ann Arbor, Michigan, 14 August 2021] After nearly seventy years of training and teaching Taekwondo, Hwa Chong, the Kwan Jang Nim of Kangdukwon Taekwondo, continues to urge Taekwondo students of all ages and levels to grow and evolve both as martial artists and as human beings. Taekwondo training and principles, he says, should be understood and applied at all levels and all periods of our lives, otherwise we fail to live up to our full potential as human beings.“We must evolve as individuals and as a federation also. Who can show the way for going forwards?”, he asked a small gathering of senior students from Kangdukwon’s first decades in America.

“We must break out of our shells and evolve” —Hwa Chong

"We must break out of our shells and evolve," says Kangdukwon Grand Master Hwa Chong
“We must break out of our shells and evolve,” Kangdukwon Grand Master Hwa Chong tells us.

Grand Master Hwa Chong was attending a gathering of his senior students in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Among the chief topics of discussion was the future of the World Kangdukwon Federation with the full retirement of Grand Master Chong.

“I am now 82. So I am not sure how much longer I can carry on. You need to make these decisions for yourselves. I am now like the figurehead on a ship, there only for show,” he said to a gathering of senior Taekwondo students and officers from the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. 

Addressing the issue of WKF leadership succession indirectly, he praised Chung Ju Yung, who rose from poverty to build Hyundai, one of Korea’s and the world’s most successful business empires. He urged Kangdukwon students and teachers to study the book Made in Korea: Chung Ju Jung and the Rise of Hyundai.

Made in Korea: Chung Ju Jung and the Rise of Hyundai

“In the future, Kangdukwon leaders should be like Chung Ju Yung,” who, he said, embodied all the qualities valued in Kangdukwon: discipline, determination, courage and a willingness to accept risks in the service of his corporate family and the Korean nation.

Taekwondo, he said, was born in the crucible of the Korean War (1950-53), when Communist forces pushed free South Koreans until they had their backs to the sea. They could have accepted the inevitable and fled, but they fought back tenaciously under extremely tough circumstances and saved the nation. That is what is called the Spiritus Invictus, the unconquerable spirit of Korea and Taekwondo, he said.

Korea’s per capita income was only US$67 in 1953. Today it is over $34,000. Because of the spirit and hard work of Chung Ju Yung and other hard-working Koreans like him, today Korea is among the world’s most developed economies. 

“In the future, we should develop and master not martial skills, but business skills. We should work together to conquer markets instead of territories.”

“Don’t forget the North Star!Now I have given you a compass. So use it! Otherwise, without a compass you will get lost and come to a bad end.”

“If you follow honeybees, they will lead you straight to nectar. Follow flies and they will lead you into a pile of dung,” he reminded his students.

It is like that with martial arts also. Authentic Kangdukwon Taekwondo can lead one to the greatest heights of whatever you wish it to be. But follow the wrong dojang or teacher, and in the end one meets with bitter disappointment.

“We must not become tied to traditions. We must keep changing and evolving. That is the spirit of Taekwondo.” –Hwa Chong

“As I have always taught you, avoid attacking an opponent’s strengths. Attack his weaknesses instead.”


Hwa Chong recalled General George Patton, the American general whose ‘three keys to military victory’ were “Audacity, audacity, audacity!” He had learned his lesson from Napoleon Bonaparte, whose motto was “Audace! Toujours l’audace!”

That audacity, that willingness to undertake bold risks or surprising innovations, is what in Taekwondo we simply call spirit.

Grand Master Chong’s concluded by saying, “We must not become locked into traditions. We must keep changing and evolving. Otherwise one gets left behind.” That is true for the individual, true for one’s nation and true for Kangdukwon Taekwondo as well.”

The Jim Young Photo Collection

Tang Su Do and Taekwondo in 1960s Michigan

U-M TKD Club founder Jim Young’s archival collection of martial arts photos

Jim Young sparring at a tournament in 1963
Tang Soo Do Club of Wyandotte, MI 1963
Detroit Tang Soo Do in1964
Jim Young demonstrates poomsae in 1961
Jim Young demonstrating side-kick at a demo in 1961
The Ann Arbor Observer ran a photo story about the University of Michigan Taekwondo Club in 1968. Here Jim Young parries a kick from Mark Olson of Milwaukee as French black belt Ed Beall looks on at center. The photo caption ran as “Karate, an oriental sport which requires long hours of practice and rigourous self-discipline, is rapidly gaining in popularity in Ann Arbor and across the nation. Shown here are members of the University of Michigan’s Tae Kwon Do(Karate) Club at a recent practice session.”
Left to right: Carl Stolberg spars with Dr. Ergun Ar as Jim Young, Patrick Harrigan, Jack Hoyt and and other U-M TKD Club members observe.
Jim Young demonstrates the form Nianchi.
Spring 1970 workshop in Muskegeon, MI featuring visiting Grandmaster Park Chull-hee (far left), Hwa Chong (far right) and a host of seniors and juniors.

World Records topple to former WKF Chairman

Jim Wigginton Topples World Records in Quest to Defeat Thyroid Cancer

Jim and Nancy Wigginton in 2010. Nancy passed away from cancer in 2013. Wigginton, 71, has an adventurous spirit which includes skydiving in places like Antartica to Dubai, the Pyramids in Egypt to Nepal near Mt. Everest. Every adventure he always carried a bird pendent containing the ashes of his wife.

[Detroit, July 21 2020] Jim Wigginton, 71, has been adventurous since he was young, and his passion grew as an adult. He started skydiving in the 1990s, and his wife Nancy Wigginton would watch him from below.

Now, Jim is breaking multiple world records by climbing the highest mountains, leaping out of airplanes and diving to the lowest part of the ocean in an effort to raise awareness of thyroid cancer, which took his wife from him almost seven years ago.

Adventures and world records for thyroid cancer

Jim decided that he would begin raising awareness for thyroid cancer in his own unique way. He has now achieved six world records and several awards for competitions that he has participated in. And they’re not just average competitions — Jim is skydiving, climbing a million stairs and diving underwater to the lowest point of Earth in a submarine.

“It’s not about me,” Jim said. “It’s not about really the records. They have to be big things to be able to get the attention that allows me to help the university raise the money for her cancer foundation and help people — people I’ll never meet.”

So, Jim kept achieving big things. He got the nickname ‘Seven-Mile Man’ after reaching two records. In October 2019, he received a Guinness World Records certificate for the highest tandem parachute jump at 37,417 feet alongside of Arkadiusz Majewski in Poland. He also achieved the Challenger Deep dive, which is a 12-hour trip to the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench.

Jim also achieved the Challenger Deep dive, which is a 12-hour trip seven miles deep to the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench

After completing these two records, Jim became the first person to achieve seven miles above ground level, and seven miles below. He is also the oldest person to achieve this award.

Jim also holds the fastest tandem skydive jumps in all seven continents, after his seventh attempt. He is in the middle of two projects as well — climbing the 53 highest peaks in Colorado and climbing the highest buildings in every state.

Jim recently set his sixth world record by climbing one million stairs for cancer.

“This is hard work,” Jim said. “It’s not good for you to do 12,000 stairs every day. But comparatively, that’s the easy part. The hard part is taking that thing that you do and then somehow converting that to getting help for cancer.”

See this stunning 2-min video about Jim’s sky-diving exploits to defeat thyroid cancer.

Read the full article in the The Detroit Free Press of July 21st, 2020