Profiles

Kangdukwon Moo Do grows worldwide

Explosive growth of Kangdukwon Moo Do

World Master Kangdukwon Moo Do banner

In the five decades since GGM Ahn Gun Soon introduced taekwondo Kangdukwon to Vietnam, his successors have built Kangdukwon Moo Do into a world powerhouse — with a decidedly Vietnamese flavor.

Grand Master Ahn Gun Soon (seated at center) surrounded by his former students including GM Nguyen Kim Chau during the opening of the World Master Kangdukwon Moo Do Academy in HCM City, Vietnam in October 2010.
Grand Master Ahn Gun Soon (seated at center) surrounded by his former students including GM Nguyen Kim Chau during the opening of the World Master Kangdukwon Moo Do Academy in HCM City, Vietnam in October 2010.
Left to right: GM Dinh Cong Tien 8th Dan | GM Nguyen Son 9th Dan | GM Nguyen Van Binh 7th Dan | GM Nguyen Kim Chau 9th Dan | GM Hoang Xuan Son 8th Dan | GM Nguyen Van Thanh 8th Dan | GM Chuong 8th Dan (Photos taken in 2017 HCM City, Vietnam
Left to right: GM Dinh Cong Tien 8th Dan | GM Nguyen Son 9th Dan | GM Nguyen Van Binh 7th Dan | GM Nguyen Kim Chau 9th Dan | GM Hoang Xuan Son 8th Dan | GM Nguyen Van Thanh 8th Dan | GM Chuong 8th Dan (photo taken in 2017 HCM City, Vietnam)
Mid-Autumn Festival 2016 From left to right: Master Phan Anh Dung / 1st Dan Master Pham Huu Giai / 2nd Dan GM Hoang Xuan Son GM Nguyen Son GM Nguyen Kim Chau
Mid-Autumn Festival 2016 From left to right: Master Phan Anh Dung / 1st Dan Master Pham Huu Giai / 2nd Dan GM Hoang Xuan Son GM Nguyen Son GM Nguyen Kim Chau
Jan 18, 2022 VinhLinh Nguyen Kim Chau
Jan 18, 2022 VinhLinh Nguyen Kim Chau
Kangdukwon will be taught in Russia.
January 2022: Kangdukwon will be taught in Russia.

Kangdukwon in South America and Portugal

Kangdukwon spreads across the Hispanic speaking world

Marcelo Ruhland on the history of Kangdukwon in South America and Portugal

Grand Master Kim Chang-Hak is seen at center flanked by Masters Fernando Branco and Marcelo Ruhland. Promotion exam at Fernando Branco's dojang in Portugal, 27 June 2016.
Grand Master Kim Chang-Hak at center flanked by Masters Fernando Branco and Marcelo Ruhland. Promotion exam at Tigre Branco Academy in Portugal, 27 June 2016.
Grand Master Chang Hak Kim introduced Latin America to Kangdukwon taekwondo.
Grand Master Chang Hak Kim introduced Latin America to Kangdukwon taekwondo.

Grand Master Lim Moon Kyu was the Kangdukwon master who taught taekwondo to Master Kim Chang-Hak. At the age of fourteen he reached 1st dan in taekwondo. In 1966, already at 2nd dan, he began teaching taekwondo at a dojang located in Ulchiro-5-GA, in the center of Seoul, Korea.

In 1976 Master Kim Chang-Hak emigrated from Korea, settling first for two years in Paraguay, where he became vice president of the Paraguayan Taekwondo Association. In 1978, he emigrated to Chile, where he became president of the Chilean Taekwondo Association.

Kim Chang Hak's 6th dan Kang Duk Won Mudo Association ID card
6th dan Kang Duk Won Mudo Association ID card of Kim Chang Hak

Finally, in 1981 Master Kim Chang-Hak arrived in Brazil where he created the Brazil Eagle Club, where Taekwondo Kang Duk Won and Hapkido Kuk Sool Kwan alike were practiced and integrated to an extent.

Portugal in 2012: Marcelo Ruhland with GM Kim Chang Hak
Portugal in 2012: Marcelo Ruhland with GM Kim Chang Hak

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Portugal, Master Fernando Branco had long been feeling “fed up” with the politics of taekwondo in his country. He resolved to deepen his understanding of taekwondo by associating with a genuine Korean taekwondo master, but there were none then and there are still none today.

In 2012, at Master Kim Chang-Hak helped bring Taekwondo Kang Duk Won to Tigre Branco Academy and directly supervised master Fernando Branco. He is currently residing in Peru where he teaches Hapkido and Taekwondo, as well as continuing to provide technical support to his students.

Master Kim Chang-Hak sparring
Master Kim Chang-Hak
Kim Chang Hak and Marcelo Ruhland (2008)
2008: Kim Chang Hak with Marcelo Ruhland

“I have many Taekwondo students who train Hapkido with me and I have my soul brother, Master Fernando Branco who has been doing a magnificent job teaching taekwondo in Portugal for nearly 35 years. We seek your support to develop and honor Kangdukwon and its grandmasters across the Hispanic speaking world.”

-Marcelo Ruhland
Promotion exam conducted in Portugal at Master Fernando Branco's dojang in Portugal in 2016 under the supervision of Grand Master Kim Chang Hak and Master Marcelo Ruhland.
Promotion exam conducted in Portugal at Master Fernando Branco’s Tigre Branco Academy in Portugal in 2016 under the supervision of Grand Master Kim Chang Hak and Master Marcelo Ruhland.

Kangdukwon in Portugal

A Short History of Kangdukwon in Portugal

World Kangdukwon recognizes Portugal’s Fernando Branco and Academia Tigre Branco

The story of taekwondo in Portugal resembles that of the art in many other countries around the world. Taekwondo’s wild popularity has worked both to the art’s advantage and to its disadvantage. It has even propelled the careers of people of all kinds whose practice whatever techniques it take to pay the rent — and more.

The story of Fernando Branco illustrates many of the challenges facing serious students of taekwondo.

Fernando Branco began his taekwondo training in 1987 under Master Paulo Jorge, a direct student of the Portuguese pioneer Grandmaster Chung Sung Yong. In 1999 he graduated to first Dan under Master Ilidio Bernardo, and in 2001 he started giving classes in school gymnasiums in Oporto District, Portugal.

Portugal's Tigre Branco Academy seniors stand beside Taekwondo Kangdukwon Master Fernando Branco
Taekwondo Kangdukwon Master Fernando Branco and students at Tigre Branco Academy

Branco had already been training for two decades when he opened his own dojang, Academia Tigre Branco, in 2007. As a man of principle, however, he found that his own advancement and that of his students in Portugal’s taekwondo world was being hindered by his stubborn refusal to tolerate official corruption or practices that put commercial interests before taekwondo’s underlying principle of promoting and defending justice.

“Today Taekwondo is losing its traditional martial essence. It is developing solely into an Olympic sport, which leads to more greed, and a more political and commercial attitude.”

-Fernando Branco
Fernanco Branco

“Due to the many political games and poor decisions of the institutions that manage Taekwondo in Portugal, which only gave importance to its commercial aspect, I as a teacher felt the need to search for something more. I needed a teacher who could give me the necessary support in terms of history, culture and tradition of this wonderful martial art.”

—Fernando Branco

Roots in Korean Culture

“In 2008 I discovered that my master had been concealing and manipulating money meant to register me and my students with the Portuguese Taekwondo Federation,” he says. “That was when I decided to look abroad for a traditional kwan and a master to help me and teach.”

Fernando Branco, Grand Master Chang-Hak-Kim and Marcelo Ruhland at Acadamia Tigre Branco
Fernando Branco, Grand Master Chang-Hak-Kim and Marcelo Ruhland at Academia Tigre Branco in 2016

“That was when fate brought me to Master Marcelo Ruhland of São Paulo, Brazil, who introduced me to Chang Hak Kim, a grand master of both taekwondo and hapkido. After several contacts, Grand Master Chang dispatched Master Marcelo to Portugal to gather information regarding my school and myself. He asked for all my exams program and technical videos about my Taekwondo and Hapkido. The following year GM Chang made his first visit to my dojang and that was when I realized what a wonderful person he is.”

“After showing my work and after a period of probation, Grandmaster Chang accepted me as his student. In recognition of my work and qualities, he promoted me to 1st Dan black belt in taekwondo Kangdukwon. It was a great honour for me!”

Since 2008 Master Branco has backed away from martial politics, concentrating only on teaching and learning from Grandmaster Chang. Sometimes he visits Brazil to train with Grandmaster Chang and sometimes Grandmaster Chang visits Portugal to conduct training seminars at Master Branco’s dojang.

Traditional Hanguk Moo Sool Association
Seal of the Traditional Hanguk Moo Sool Association

In 2012, Fernando Branco founded the Traditional Hanguk Moo Sool Association with the aim of uniting the practitioners of Taekwondo and Hapkido under one roof. The Association has steadily grown; its members have a strong sense of loyalty and feel united as one martial art family.

Since the Traditional Hanguk Moo Sool Association was formed, it has already produced national poomsae champions and many regional champions. Recently for three consecutive years the Portuguese Taekwondo Federation has recognized Traditional Hanguk Moo Sool Association with 224 active members as Portugal’s biggest and most successful dojang. At same time the Portuguese Taekwondo Federation also has recognized Master Fernando Branco with its career award for 25 years in Taekwondo.

In 2015, with the creation of the World Kangdukwon Federation under its newly-appointed kwan jang nim Hwa Chong, Fernando Branco along with Marcelo Ruhland of Brazil reached out to the WKF inquire about the possibility of affiliation. Progress was slow, however, since the WKF had not yet established standards for recognizing new members. Linguistic and geographical differences did nothing to make the process faster or easier.

Kangdukwon in Vietnam also followed a similarly long course to full recognition. Only in 2021 did its teachers and dojangs achieve full recognition as students of the late Kangdukwon Grand Master Ahn Gun Soon. The Hispanic branch of world Kangdukwon, under Grand Master Kim Chang-Hak, had to be certified separately.

Kangdukwon kwan jan kim Hwa Chong
Kangdukwon kwan jan kim Hwa Chong

That recognition and certification finally occurred in September 2022 with its approval by Hwa Chong, the illustrious 10th Dan great grand master of taekwondo Kangdukwon who trained with the founders starting in 1953 and who was appointed as head of world Kangdukwon in 2015 by Chul Hee Park (1932 – 4 April 2016).

In a statement issued at the suggestion of Great Grand Master Hwa Chong on 12 September 2022, his long time administrative deputy, publisher, remote sparring partner and friend Patrick Harrigan wrote:

Kwan Jang Nim of taekwondo Kangdukwon, Hwa Chong expressly acknowledges Portugal’s Tigre Branco Academy and its founder Master Fernando Branco as a genuine and respected representative of the World Kangdukwon Federation Hispanic branch under Kangdukwon Grand Master Kim Chang-Hak…In further recognition of  Master Fernando Branco’s  35 years of earnest and steadfast devotion to promoting the ethical values of taekwondo Kangdukwon throughout Portugal and beyond, and considering that Master Fernando Branco has been ranked as 5th Dan since 2012, he is therefore approved for promotion to sixth Dan Master of taekwondo Kangdukwon.”

Patrick Harrigan, WKF Vice-President for International Affairs, 12 September 2022

“I believe in traditional martial arts and I am proud of our work. These results only prove that I am on the right track,” says Master Branco.

Grand Master Kim Chang-Hak at center flanked by Masters Fernando Branco and Marcelo Ruhland. Promotion exam at Fernando Branco's dojang in Portugal, 27 June 2016.
Grand Master Kim Chang-Hak at center flanked by Masters Fernando Branco and Marcelo Ruhland. Promotion exam at Fernando Branco’s dojang in Portugal, 27 June 2016.

“In the wonderful breakout sessions between training sessions where we talked about Taekwondo, its philosophy, culture, etc… I realized that Grand Master Chang is a very reserved person of few words, enjoying much more being inside the dojang teaching than talking. The times we talked he always avoided discussing the problems of Taekwondo and that he also felt discouraged with the course that Taekwondo had taken. And that he liked that Taekwondo was always practiced in an absolute way, not thinking only of the sportive part. I also sensed that GM Chang felt a little sad in his words, as if he had been forgotten by his country and for all that he had already done for Taekwondo and Hapkido.”

“He always taught me that Taekwondo should be used as the Korean Hongik Ingan philosophy. Taekwondo through its principles and training would serve mainly to ennoble the Human Being and a tool to help other people. Perhaps this is why GM Chang dedicated himself much more to Hapkido because he lost many students who only wanted the sportive part of Taekwondo. Unfortunately in 2011 GM Chang had a stroke and was somewhat limited, but he continues to give classes with the same smile and joy as always.”

Acadamia Tigre Branco

“What determines the greatness of my grand master? It can be said that great men are those who accomplish great things, but also those who manage to make the world a little better thanks to their existence. By educating a simple child or by dedicating his most precious hours to his disciples. A great man is the one who makes the difference in someone’s life. He is the one who knows how to sow in the garden of affections, delicate flowers of attention and humility, and the most remarkable and decisive moments of his existence. So all my words of gratitude are meager to Grand Master Chang Hak Kim for teaching us and continuing to believe in us.”

Academia Tigre Branco dojang
Academia Tigre Branco dojang

“I still believe in true Taekwondo, pure in its essence and virtue, a global and martial Taekwondo encompassing a sporting aspect and not the opposite. And it is for this Taekwondo that I live and breathe.”

Academia Tigre Branco on YouTube

Academia Tigre Branco website

Kangdukwon Moo Do in West Africa

Kangdukwon Moo Do excels in Burkina Faso

Master Nguyen Minh Kiệt (center) with senior student O.A.G. Apollinaire (at right) in Burkina Faso, Africa
Master Louis Kiet started practicing TKD at Corps II 1970.
Taekwondo instructor Nguyen Minh Kiệt in 1971

When Louis Nguyễn Minh Kiệt first began learning taekwondo in 1970 as a young ARVN recruit at Corps II, he had no idea where it would take him. By the following year, he had became a taekwondo drill instructor.

From 1973-1975 he trained with Grand Master Chau Nguyen Kim at the Van Kiep National Training Center of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). It was there in 1974 that Master Chau promoted Kiệt to 1st Dan.

When the Vietnam war ended, Kiệt was sent to a concentration camp where he remained until 1978. It was not until 1983 that Kiệt was allowed to resume judo and taekwondo training.

Master Louis Nguyễn Minh Kiệt
Master Nguyễn Minh Kiệt today

In 1995, Master Nguyen Minh Kiệt took a big step when he came to Africa to teach taekwondo and judo at the National Police Training Center in Burkina Faso. Later as coach of Burkina Faso’s national taekwondo team, he participated in the Africa Taekwondo Championships where his students distinguished themselves by winning numerous medals.

Master Nguyễn Minh Kiệt’s dojang, in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso displays the national flags of both Vietnam and Burkina Faso. There he and his senior student O.A.G. Apollinaire train that nation’s next generation both in sparring techniques and in the cosmopolitan values that characterize Kangdukwon Moodo taekwondo worldwide.

Master Nguyễn Minh Kiệt’s dojang, in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso displays the national flags of both Vietnam and Burkina Faso.
Master Nguyễn Minh Kiệt’s dojang, in the capital of Burkina Faso displays the national flags of both Vietnam and Burkina Faso.
Master Nguyen Minh Kiệt with students at Burkina Faso, Africa
Master Nguyen Minh Kiệt with students at Burkina Faso, Africa

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

Kangdukwon Moo Do in Vietnam

The Next Generation

by Master Nguyen Quang Cuong
Songlong Martial Arts Training Ltd. Co.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Kangdukwon Taekwondo, introduced to Vietnam by Korean Grandmaster (then ROK Army captain) Ahn Gun Soon in 1966-1969 during that nation’s decades-long armed struggle, has survived repeated hardships and challenges over the intervening decades. 

Thanks to Grandmaster Soon’s student and successor Grandmaster Nguyen Kim Châu, Kangdukwon Taekwondo took root in Vietnam and today boasts several schools with hundreds of students, mostly in Ho Chi Minh City but also with many branches abroad. Here one of Grandmaster Châu’s senior students describes the challenges that Kang Duk Won Moo Do today faces–and the characteristic resolve of Kangdukwon in Vietnam to overcome those challenges.


Master Nguyen Quang Cuong (far left) congratulates leading senior students.

“I am Nguyen Quang Cuong, born in Vietnam in 1983. In 1991, at age fourteen I began to learn Taekwondo as a student of Grandmaster Nguyen Kim Chau. In 1994 I advanced to 1st dan; in 1996 2nd dan; in 1999 3rd dan; in 2004 4th dan; in 2010 to 5th dan; and in 2017 to 6th dan–all certified by Korean Grand Master Ahn Gun Soon, our Grandmaster Chau’s teacher.

Our beloved master Nguyen Kim Chau once held a strong position in Vietnamese Taekwondo. However, since his retirement, our Grandmaster Chau is almost retired, and in 2018 his teacher Grandmaster Ahn Gun Soon also passed away.

ang Duk Won Moo Do training in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Classes are large and facilities are basic, but dedication and eagerness to learn and improve are common throughout all ranks.
Kang Duk Won Moo Do training in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Classes are large and facilities are basic, but dedication and eagerness to learn and improve are common throughout all ranks.

In 2017, I established Songlong Martial Arts Training Ltd. Co., a private martial arts training company in Vietnam. We operate six schools, including four schools in Binh Chanh District and two schools in Binh Tan District of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Our schools teach two hundred children and a hundred adults, with 20 lecturers, 20 assistants, and several peer coaches from 1st dan up to 5th dan.

Due to circumstances in Vietnam, Kangdukwon has not been officially recognized here. So generations like ours are not connected with other masters to help with advancement. Today, thanks to the connection with WKF, we can express our aspirations to go forward in the right direction to join the WKF and the Kangdukwon Taekwondo family of the world.

Master Nguyen Quang Cuong
The author, Master Nguyen Quang Cuong

We need the opportunity to meet the senior masters of Kang Duk Won in Korea and the USA, so our generation and future generations may enjoy officially recognized Kangdukwon Taekwondo in Vietnam. We respectfully welcome Kangdukwon Taekwondo masters to facilitate and realize the our wish to transform, to promote the World Kukkiwon diploma, to participate, to connect as official members of the World Kangdukwon Federation. And so our national Kangdukwon Taekwondo federation may be legally recognized in Vietnam. Thank you very much, masters!”

Kang Duk Won Moo Do’s Global Success

Ahn Gun Soon and Nguyễn Kim Châu, 1996

[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] Taekwondo Grand Master Nguyễn Kim Châu and the global brand of Kang Duk Won Moo Do are at last receiving a warm welcome into the World Kangdukwon Federation community. It has not been easy. After decades of struggle and out of sheer dedication to the sport and its masters, students of Kang Duk Won Moo Do today are spreading the art across four continents of the world.

“Our mission is to train exemplary patriots and world citizens.”

—  Grand Master Nguyễn Kim Châu

Kangdukwon Taekwondo was introduced to Vietnam in 1966 by Great Grand Master Ahn Gun Soon who as early as 1953 had trained with Great Grandmaster Hwa Chong when both were students at Kwangju Jaeil High School. From 1966 to 1969, Korean Army Captain Ahn Gun Soon and Captain Kim Tae Sup were assigned to teach Taekwondo to Vietnamese troops, including the future head of Kangdukwon in Vietnam, Nguyễn Kim Châu.

Patrick Harrigan, the WKF spokesman responsible for communicating with Vietnam since 2016, says, “We salute Grand Master Chau and all his colleagues who have persevered in carrying the torch of authentic Kang Duk Won training and philosophy, even under the most challenging circumstances. There is no parallel among Kang Duk Won masters anywhere.”

“There is much more to Kangdukwon Moo Do than mere fighting. We learn life-changing values that deepen and grow over time, like discipline and respect for others, including our opponents in a match. Yes, we learn to respect even strangers and foreigners,” says Grand Master Nguyễn Kim Châu. 

At center: Grand Master Dinh Cong Tien, Grand Master Nguyễn Kim Châu and Grand Master Do Quang Trung

“There is much more to Kangdukwon Moo Do than mere fighting. We learn life-changing values that deepen and grow over time, like discipline and respect for others, including our opponents in a match.”

—Nguyễn Kim Châu, Grand Master

“Our Kang Duk Won Moo Do students learn to compete against each other and against outsiders. Finally, we are competing against ourselves,” says Grand Master Châu.”Our Kang Duk Won Moo Do students learn to compete against each other and against outsiders. Finally, we are competing against ourselves,” says Grand Master Châu. “Our mission as a school is to train exemplary patriots and world citizens.”

Kang Duk Won Moo Do workshop conducted at Hong Bang University, Vietnam by Master Hà Văn Toán in 2016
Center: Grand Master and Technical Director of Hoshinsul Department Do Quang Trung (at center), 8th Dan Kangdukwon, 5th Dan Hapkido and 5th dan in traditional martial arts of Vietnam

Above center: Grand Master and Technical Director of Hoshinsul Department Do Quang Trung (at center), 8th Dan Kangdukwon, 5th Dan Hapkido and 5th dan in traditional martial arts of Vietnam

Third standing from left GM Nguyen Son, 9th Dan; 4th is GM Nguyễn Kim Châu, 9th Dan; 6th from left is GM Do Quang Trung, 8th Dan

“Our mission is to train exemplary patriots and world citizens.”

— Grand Master Nguyễn Kim Châu

Huy-Tung Chieu, born in Vietnam in 1970, began his Taekwondo training in Vietnam at the age of 11 at Ho Xuan Huong Club. Introductory Kang Duk Won Moo Do to learn Hoshinsul training for Security Bodyguards. Then promoted to the 5th Dan level in 1997. Master Huy-Tung went to the USA to continue teaching Taekwondo. And from 2017 training more Hoshinsul.

Today Huy-Tung Chieu is an 8th Dan Taekwondo master based at Youth Taekwondo Center in Santa Ana, California with more than forty years of experience in practicing, training and teaching Taekwondo in Vietnam and the USA.

In 1981, at age eleven, Huy-Tung began studying Taekwondo at Ho Xuan Huong Club in Vietnam. During this time, Tung won multiple awards at championship tournaments. In 1995, after his instructor Truong Van Hai emigrated to USA, Huy-Tung Chieu studied Kangdukwon Taekwondo under Grand Master Chau who is holding 9th Dan in Kangdukwon Taekwondo.

Above: Grand Master Do Quang Trung, 8th Dan Kang Duk Won Hoshinsul and students, 2019

Master Nguyen Quang Cuong, 6th Dan

Master Hà Văn Toán, Lecturer Physical Education, University International Hồng Bàng, 2018
Grand Master Hung Chau, 8th Dan Kang Duk Won with Security Forces at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, 2015
Master Nguyen Quang Cuong, 6th Dan Master Hà Văn Toán, Lecturer Physical Education, University International Hồng Bàng, 2018 Grand Master Hung Chau, 8th Dan Kang Duk Won with Security Forces at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, 2015 Meeting of GGM Ahn Gun Soon’s classes of 1965-69 JMA (Vietnam and USA) at CA USA 2016
Master Nguyen Quang Cuong, 6th Dan Master Hà Văn Toán, Lecturer Physical Education, University International Hồng Bàng, 2018 Grand Master Hung Chau, 8th Dan Kang Duk Won with Security Forces at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, 2015 Meeting of GGM Ahn Gun Soon’s classes of 1965-69 JMA (Vietnam and USA) at Southern California, USA 2016
Strong–And Growing Stronger: Social gathering of martial artists at University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, 2019.

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.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Taekwondo, Black Holes and Finnegans Wake

A Martial Artist’s Spirit Journey

Fifty-some years ago, I encountered Taekwondo. Little did I know that it would propel me on a life long journey that grows more amazing with each passing day.

As a freshman majoring in astronomy at the University of Michigan, I was fascinated by black holes, massive stars that undergo complete gravitational collapse so unimaginable that nothing, not even light, could escape from their intense gravity. I was struggling to wrap my head around differential equations, and it was not going well. It would not be my first failure in life, nor my last.

The author (at left) trained with U-Michigan TKD Club luminaries including chief instructor Joe Lloyd, Club founder Jim Young and Saleem Jehangir, who introduced Taekwondo to Pakistan and the Asian subcontinent.

Failure in astronomy stared me in the face. My mind was full of questions about the nature of the universe, and yet neither astronomy nor I could offer solutions. So I looked elsewhere, studying philosophy, anthropology, economics, and so on, still finding no satisfaction.

Unity of Theory and Action

That was when fate stepped in. To graduate, undergraduates needed two semesters of physical education. I chose Taekwondo. Back then, no one knew what it was, so we explained to friends that we were learning ‘Korean Karate’. To get the most of it, I joined the U-Michigan Taekwondo Club, a fateful decision that would transform my life.

Our head instructor, the 29-year old economist Mr. Chong (as we called him in those days), taught us to see both micro-views and macro-views of the world around us. While other Taekwondo instructors taught fighting tactics only, he taught both tactics and strategy, training his students first to be like foot soldiers, then like officers, and ultimately to think and act like generals.

The Power of Failure: The author learned qualities like humility and adaptability from repeated failures in life. His Taekwondo friends, teachers and even juniors often used him as a punching bag, as seen here in 1974. Photo courtesy Grand Master Joseph Lloyd

I was already pondering Unified Field Theory, a term coined by Albert Einstein, who attempted to unify the general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics. Master Chong carried it further and spoke rather of the Unity of Theory and Action. That is, blind action without theoretical understanding is bound to fail, and theoretical understanding alone is mere talk. Success arises when theory and action complement each other.

The Power of Failure

Master Chong taught us to convert our weaknesses into strengths, either through hard training or else by re-imagining and seeing the issue in a whole new light. Every ‘failure’ is also an opportunity for one to reflect, learn, and evolve to the next level of understanding.

Grandmaster Chong’s personal example had a far-reaching formative influence upon me. Fascinated and inspired by what he called the spirit of Taekwondo, I soon set out on a spirit quest to Asia that continues to this day.

In 1970, I chose not to do my junior year of study abroad in Germany, but instead designed a plan to circle the globe in pursuit of the spirit of Taekwondo in its many manifestations. With a one-way ticket to Korea, and after a short stay in Seoul, I entered Beomeo-sa, a Zen monastery on a mountain outside Pusan, and lived as a monk for the rest of my two month stay in Korea.

Wormholes and Finnegans Wake

Nobody has succeeded in decrypting Finnegans Wake, James Joyce’s dense multilingual comedy written over a period of seventeen years.

Ultimately, I decided to become a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka in 1971. That was where I met the German Swami Gauribala, a remarkable man who had left Germany in 1936 and never returned, to become first a Buddhist monk, then a Hindu monk, and finally a simple hermit, a ‘nobody’. A citizen of Shambhala and a true cosmopolitan, he described his life as a quest for the Holy Grail.

German Swami became, after Master Chong, my teacher and role model. For fourteen years, until his passing in 1984, I lived and breathed to learn from him what I could. His final challenge to me was to study and understand the virtually unreadable 1939 novel by James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, written as a dream monologue retelling the history of the world. I still study it daily.

Transitions from Taekwondo to Aikido to Waltz

After returning to Michigan to complete my undergraduate degree in religious studies, Master Chong promoted me to first dan in 1976, not because of any exceptional ability on my part, but out of my sheer dedication to the art and to the masters of the art, Master Chong and his students, starting with Master Joseph Lloyd. Influenced by yoga and the teachings of German Swami Gauribala however, I had already begun to migrate to a nonviolent and non-competitive martial art, Aikido.

In 1976 shortly after being awarded my first Dan, I returned to South Asia. Based in Karachi, I served for five months as guest instructor of the Pakistan Kang Duk Won Tae Kwon Do Federation. After organizing one of Pakistan’s early national tournaments in December 1976, I retired from Taekwondo to resume my studies across much of South Asia.

While I was working in Frankfurt, Germany, I was able to resume Aikido training. When I returned to Ann Arbor in the mid-1980’s, I studied Yoshinkan Aikido for four years under Takashi Kushida Sensei, a worthy counterpart to Grandmaster Hwa Chong. Then, for twenty years from 1989 until 2009, I resided in Sri Lanka and India, trying to live the way the German Swami had lived, until I returned to America to settle in Florida where I live to this day.

“Master Patrick, how old are you?”

“Seventy, sir!”

“No, you are wrong! Think how old your DNA is. Your DNA has survived for millions of years. That means that you are millions of years old!”

-Hwa Chong

Master Chong taught us that Taekwondo is to be used in service of justice only. It follows, he says, that the true martial artist must also be a cosmopolitan, a person of broad vision who always cultivates a warm heart and a cool head. She or he is one who can see and serve justice: in the home, in the business world, in the dojang, and wherever needed.

At seventy, I now live in Gainesville, Florida, a campus town like Ann Arbor where I can dance and/or train seven days a week. My training with the Gainesville Old-time Dance Society (GODS) consists of contra dancing, waltz, and country dance traditions of England, Ireland, Scotland, Israel, and—not least of all—Dances of Universal Peace—while still training twice weekly at Aikido of Gainesville. Since 2014 I also serve the cause of justice for the Yezidis of Iraq and other persecuted minorities globally.

All this ever since 1969, I owe to Kang Duk Won Grandmaster Hwa Chong, Taekwondo teacher extraordinaire, economist, and cosmopolitan philosopher from a time when he and I were still young men.

What I have learned from Taekwondo: Nothing is impossible andThe best is yet to come!’


Patrick Harrigan, long time student and friend of Hwa Chong, the Kwan Chang Nim of KangDukWon Taekwondo, is Vice President for Public Affairs of the World Kang Duk Won Federation and the Secretary of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of North Africa and the Middle East. A student of comparative religion, photographer, and author, since 1972 he has studied the role of sacred geography in South Asian mythology, especially traditions concerning Kataragama, the multi-religious shrine of the pan-Indian war god Skanda a.k.a. Murugan in Sri Lanka.

Note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Taekwondo Life magazine and is reproduced with the publisher’s kind permission.

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