Kim Ki Whang

Kim Ki Whang (1920-September 16, 1993) was also known in the USA as Ki Whang Kim. He was a Grandmaster in Korean martial arts. He was for a long time the Chairman in the US of the Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Association. He is well known in the history of the unification of several Korean martial arts into the overall style known as Taekwondo.
Kim Ki Whang was born in Seoul, now the capital of South Korea. At the time of his birth, Korea was under Japanese occupation. In his teen years, Kim Ki Whang moved to Japan and studied Judo. He took courses and studied at Japan's Nihon University, and while there, he also studied Shudokan, a form of Karate, under the tutelage of Toyama Kanken. This was as opposed to the hard and powerful style taught by Funakoshi. He also studied Kenpo, a Japanese tradition originating in the Chinese martial arts.
At Nihon University he became friends with, Grandmaster Yoon Byung-In, a teacher of Master Kim Soo, Master Sang Kee Paik, and many others. Kim Ki Whang, in this time period, was promoted to shodan by the Yoshinkan. He also became the 1st non-Japanese captain of the Nihon University Karate Team.
Grandmaster Yoon was a devoted student of the Chinese martial art of Chuan Fa, which he taught at the Seoul YMCA before relocating to the Sung Kyun Kwan university. Later, after graduation in the 1940s, Kim Ki Whang studied Shaolin kung fu in China for two years and then returned to Korea and for some time became the primary instructor at the "Yun Mu Kwan Kwon Bup Bu" at Sung Kwan Kwan university.
Soon he was employed at the Transportation Administration in Seoul, where he became friends with Hwang Kee, founder of the Moo Duk Kwan Association.
Master Kim moved to the United States in 1959, opening a martial arts school in 1961 downtown at the YMCA in Washington, DC, and later in Silver Spring, Maryland then opening a studio in Rockville, Maryland.
Martial Arts Style
Grandmaster Kim Ki Whang (Ki Whang Kim)'s public martial arts schools in the Washington DC area stressed a variety of factors:
* Excellent fundamentals such as solid grounding and deeply earth-connected stances
* "The power of the Twist", a final snapping technique arising from the earth-connected stance delivered to final focus by utilization of all possible muscles and sinews impinging upon the line of strike
* Traditional Tang Soo Do high kicks, especially the back-kick and the high side-kick, both of which are mainstays of the Korean traditional styles
* Total independence of any and all weapons. "It is better to not need a weapon when you don't have one."
* "One Step Sparring" exercises, also a traditional Korean martial arts mainstay.
* Kata ("forms"), or repeated complex training exercises
* Sparring. Grandmaster Kim believed that only through constant competition could a person develop excellence. Additionally, as the emphasis on very solid stances and slow staged kata could lead to a sort of robotic jerkiness, only constant competition and sparring could break a person out of this hidebound nature and promote the liquid flow which is one of the cores of effective application of martial-arts skills.
Grandmaster Kim, as Chairman in the US of the Moo Duk Kwan Association, did not rigorously adhere to the curriculum of the Moo Duk Kwan as practiced in Korea. He and his subsidiary Master teachers did in fact teach Moo Duk Kwan and Tang Soo Do, but they did not teach it in the same order and progression as did Korean classic teachers. For example, some of his mid-level below-black-belt forms were derived from kata usually taught only to mid-level black belts as weapons forms; Grandmaster Kim taught them as unarmed forms which demonstrated that the power of the weapons came from the martial arts practitioner, rather than from the weapons carried by the practitioner. A kindly (if powerful) man with a subtle sense of humor, Grandmaster Kim generally didn't inform the lower-level students of this, but let the controversy simmer among the black-belts who found themselves re-learning the same form as a weapon form to achieve the Fifth Dan black belt.
Also, purists have criticized Grandmaster Kim for his alleged importation of Okinawan technique and repertoire into his American style of Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, and a de-emphasis of certain elements of the adult military style. For example, although he taught the "spear hand" as part of the traditional kata, he generally did not instruct below-black-belts in its use in sparring or combat. Comparably, he taught the use of the direct forward fist in preference to the backfist. Also, at least in below-black-belt instruction, he taught the use of the "edge hand" as a block rather than as a strike, and didn't at all teach the use in sparring or combat of the "ridge hand" (reverse edge hand).
The influence of Grandmaster Kim Ki Whang on the practice of martial arts in the US cannot be either overstated, or understated.
It cannot be overstated because of the very high ratio of his students who went on to great success in both national and international competition. For an instructor who did not rigorously adhere to the official curriculum of the Moo Duk Kwan Association or the American Tang Soo Do Federation, he certainly produced a great many students who could carry forward pure and continuing examples of the style.
It cannot be understated, because Grandmaster Kim's students in the Washington DC area passed on his eclectic and syncretic teachings via surprising routes to surprising places. His command of multiple martial arts, and his insistence on non-weaponed techniques, influenced martial arts as taught to various elements of US military and paramilitary services, as well as martial arts learned (or taught to the unwary) in back-alley scraps throughout the Greater Washington DC Metropolitan Area.
Grandmaster Kim's many students continue to teach both his arts—as best they can or may—as well as his philosophy.
While Grandmaster Kim did not ever master colloquial unaccented English, he had an exceptional talent for something not far from mime, or the art of the Thespian. His instructional style would teach the willing and adept student to understand the flow of Chi or power through the structure of the body, and his occasional digressions into Shiatsu and Aikido were seldom very verbal, but were rather physically demonstrative. A powerful and grounded earth-connected stance in a student could allow Grandmaster Kim to break a board over a student's head with no damage other than to the board, yet a finger displacing a tendon could utterly disable a limb or cause a strong man's own muscles to yank him to the ground.
Although teaching his students an exceptionally powerful "hard" external style to the body, and promoting tournament sparring for victory as a compliment of—and refiner to—kata, Grandmaster Kim Ki Whang's philosophy of the mental aspect of martial arts was not far from those of the "soft" and "internal" martial arts of the Shaolin and other Chinese and Chinese-influenced masters under whom he studied. Nor, for that matter, were they far from the statement of Sun Tzu, "supreme excellence is demonstrated by one who may find victory without battle". Although his origins were in a society replete with Confucianism and subjected to occupation by a military power promoting Shinto, Grandmaster Kim Ki Whang is understood by many to have had a personal philosophy for dealing with the world which would be well-understood by any student of the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. Certainly he is known to have had long association with the .
Grandmaster Kim frequently would mime and discourse on the proper technique for dealing with confrontation. It is better, if possible, to act according to the principle of "the meek shall inherit the earth" with the interpretation of "a kind word turns away wrath" or perhaps of "and if the soldier shall strike you on your cheek and threaten you, turn the other cheek". In the Grandmaster's eloquent mime of a non-obvious guard posture and a feigned expression of dismay and perhaps fear, perhaps an oppressor would see no challenge and nothing worth robbery. On the other hand, if you are not permitted to retreat and cannot avoid the confrontation, there are certain procedures which you may learn—for a fee, if you are worthy and a person of good conscience, and after many years of study and a variety of tests—from any of Grandmaster Kim Ki Whang's Master students and sensei, which will end any fight before your oppressor knows that one has begun. And that is how it should be, according to a kindly man with a subtle sense of humor who survived and prospered through a lifetime spent mostly under brutal occupations by very powerful, yet overconfident, military occupation forces.
It cannot be left unsaid that Grandmaster Kim Ki Whang, along with his contemporary Masters, Students, and Fellow Practitioners, were exceptionally devoted and diligent to preserve and expand the Korean martial arts during the period of the occupation, which many characterize as being a genocidal foreign dictatorship determined to stamp out all indigenous Korean culture and practices.
Honors and awards
While at Nihon University, Kim Ki Whang became the captain of the school's competition karate team, with the nickname of "Hurricane" or "Typhoon" Kim.
Black Belt, Kodokan Judo.
Black Belt, Shudokan Karate, Third Degree
* Mitchell Bobrow, trained with Master Ki Whang Kim in the early 60's and quickly developed as Great Grand Master Kim's first Grand Champion Black Belt on the world stage which showcased Bobrow as a great fighter, but also Grand Master Kim as a great trainer of champions. This was the beginning of a Kim's great stable of champions Mitchell's time on the tournament circuit was limited to five years, he was the best of best during the 60s and retired at the top of the game. Mitchell Bobrow was known for his ruthless unedited continuous attacks using a unique combinations of kicks, punches and sweeps including his Trademark Jump Back Kick that scored on his opponents with either leg. Bobrow was nick named by Blackbelt Magazine the "Boy Wonder" in 1967. Bobrow fought with competitors Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, Wally Sloki, Ron Marchini, Toyotara Miyazaki, Thomas La Puppet, Skipper Mullins, David Moon, Louis Delgado, Bill Wallace, Joe Corley just to name a few during the golden era of Martial Arts in the United States and Canada. Bobrow was a personal friend of Bruce Lee who was often seen on the sidelines when Bobrow competed. Blackbelt Magazine Yearbook annually rated Bobrow as a top ten fighter in the world throughout the 60s and Karate Illustrated magazine gave Bobrow the honor of #1 in 1969 above Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace. Martial Arts Masters trading cards featured Mitchell as a Legend Fighter in 1993 and Honored as the Official Chairman of the historic event, Bobrow in 2009 was selected as a Technical Advisor for the Taekwondo Hall of Fame. He represented the United States in Tokyo, Japan in the First World Karate-do Championships at the Budokan where he knocked out several opponents with body shots and was invited to a private meeting with the legendary Grand Master Gogen "The Cat" Yamaguchi. Grand Champion at the 1969 All American Open Championship at Madison Square Garden , American Invitational Tournament of Champions, Marine Corp Champion, InterAmerican Grand Ghampion forms and fighting. International Heavyweight Champion. Universal Open Champion. Bobrow was the founder of the first chartered Karate Club in the United States at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School in 1965. Bobrow is currently the founder/owner of Otomix Martial Arts Gear. Otomix is the Official Sponsor of the American Taekwondo Association of which Bobrow is an Ambassador and was the Official Sponsor of the 1st UFC mixed martial arts fighting championships. Mitchell Bobrow has appeared in films and television Visit
* George Thanos started training with Grand Master Kim in the early 60s. Thanos was the toughest of all Kim's fighters. He is a natural born fighter. He was a "Master of the Foot Sweep"; in competition he swept almost every opponent at least once during the match. He won every event he entered as a Junior. Grand Champion at the All American Open Championships, he started training under his father and was awarded his Blackbelt by Master Kim. He purchased Kim's Studio in Rockville, MD just prior to GM Kim's death.
* Albert Cheeks, Kwanjangnim, 8th Dan, Ki Whang Kim's right-hand man, senior assistant instructor of Kim's Studio, was personally trained by Ki Whang Kim, founder of the Ki Whang Kim Association, won numerous tournaments, in fighting, breaking and katas, including bronze in the 1973 1st World Taekwondo Championships
* Mike Warren, "Master of Fighting", was known as the best fighter of the 1970s, won Grand Champion at the All American Open Championship four times, Mike Warren beat some of the top fighters of the 70s including Bill Wallace, Ray Nickel, Jeff Smith and Pat Worley.
* Bernard Floyd, exceptional competitor known for his lightning-fast kicks, dominated the middle and light weight division in the 1970s The article exposed the widely known, but rarely talked about judging flaws that existed on the traditional circuit. It also led to changes to be effectuated to curb the abuses. He came out of retirement in 1989 and won the All American Open for the fifth time as Heavyweight Champion. He came out of retirement again in 1994 to win the U.S open for the 5th time as Heavyweight/Grand Champion at the age of 39. During his career, he also won the All American Invitational 5 times as Heavyweight Champion/Grand Champion; The All American Open 5 times as Heavyweight Champion; The U.S. Open 5 times as Heavyweight Champion/Grand Champion, The Eastern Regionals twice as Heavyweight Champion/Grand Champion; The North American Championships as Heavyweight Champion/Grand Champion; The Keystone State Championships, Ki Yun Yi's National Championships, and numerous other traditional style contests. He did not compete on the American Circuit, but rather confined his career to the Traditional Circuit which he believed had a higher level of competition. He was known for his flashy leg techniques, truculence, and speed in spite of the fact that he was a heavyweight. His technical ability was matched by few, if any. He has been inducted into Henry Cho's All American Open Hall of Fame, The United States Naval Academy Karate-do Hall of Fame, The Keystone State Championships Hall of Fame, the Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame (Outstanding Player & Outstanding Leadership),, and the Hellenic Hall of Fame, which is the largest Ethnic Hall of Fame in the World. Presently, he is the head instructor of the United States Naval Academy Karate-do Team, which he founded in 1992.. He is the only student of the Grand Master that has chosen to progress in belt rank one degree at a time as opposed to jumping degrees in an effort to speed the enhancement of his standing and is a 7th degree black belt. His first 5 Black Belt Degrees were awarded by GM Kim, He was awarded a 6th degree by GM S. Henry Cho and a 7th degree by GM Sok Ho Kang. The 7th degree was awarded in April 2009 at an examination that was held at the United States Naval Academy and is the highest rank to ever have been awarded at one of the Military Academies in the United States. He has also followed in his instructor's footsteps in that he has produced numerous champions, still adheres to the traditional style of training and advances the philosophical perspective of the warrior not often seen any longer.
* Michael Wolff, exceptional competitor, 2-time forms Grand Champion at the All American Open Championship<ref name=""/>.
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