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China Loves Boston's Martial Arts

Posted by Meg Reilly  February 15, 2012 04:54 PM

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Mr. Kim's Class

Boston has been a magnet for high achievers for decades, but that attraction extends beyond our traditional universities, hospitals, tech centers, and start-ups: even martial artists are drawn to Boston.

While the exact beginning of martial arts may be too remote to identify, martial artists can agree that China, not Boston, has fostered the development of martial arts since 5th century BCE. Due to the long history of martial arts in China, residents of China take great pride in their cultureís contributions to various forms of martial arts. This makes Bostonian Grandmaster Kimís recent accomplishment of opening a popular martial arts school in Shanghai a particularly striking feat.

How does Mr. Kim grow his influence in China while remaining in Boston? Talented martial artists from China, Korea, Singapore, and other parts of Asia travel to Boston to receive one-on-one training from Grandmaster Kim in Taekwon-do, a Korean form of hand-to-hand combat. Mr. Kim is one of just a handful of active teachers left in the world who had the honor of receiving personal training from the acknowledged founder of Taekwon-do, General Choi and from Grandmaster Jung Tae Park, president of the Global Tae Kwon Do Federation.

For Asians traveling to America to study martial arts, Boston continues to be a vibrant and attractive place to live, work, study, and begin careers. In fact, Boston has the highest proportion of 20-34 year olds among the top 25 major U.S. cities. In addition, census analysis from the Institute for Asian American Studies at UMASS-Boston shows that there are more than 122,000 Chinese Americans in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is an increase of approximately 46 percent from 2000. Moreover, there are over 20,000 people of Korean descent that live in Massachusetts. Census data further indicates that over 24,000 of Americans of Chinese descent live in Boston. Boston visitors and residents are drawn to the city due to events, such as the College Day organized by the Asian American Civic Association Youth Council last year in which colleges, students, and parents had the chance to discuss the college admissions process and financial aid options. The event hosted 15 Massachusetts colleges and was attended by more than 175 people seeking educational solutions.

The following is a brief interview with the always busy Grandmaster Kim:

When did you start Taekwon-do?

I started Taekwon-do initially in the late 1950ís when my uncle (who was a 2nd Dan at that time) taught me at home as I was too young to be admitted to a Taekwon-do school.

Why did you come to the Boston area?

I came to Boston to attend MIT.

Why did you stay in the Boston area?

I liked being here in Boston for the same reasons as others who choose to live in Boston, plus I started my Taekwondo school in 1974 at the urging of General Choi.

How did your schools in Singapore schools start? I wrote my memoir of General Choi in 2002, shortly after he passed away. In the memoir, I wrote that I plan to bring our style of Taekwondo back to Korea (because, by then, most Taekwondo schools in Korea were teaching only children, therefore they forgot how to teach Taekwondo as a martial art as it was originally intended). One of my students, Santos Rivas, read this and asked if he could do the same in Singapore by opening a branch school.

How did the schools in China start? My students from our Korea branch wanted to bring our style to China.

What has been the reception of the schools in China? We opened our first school in Shanghai just eight months ago, and we already have 185 active students. We expect to have 250 students by the end of our first year in Shanghai

Why do instructors from Korea, Singapore, and China come to Boston to learn Taekwon-do? Boston is where our system started, so they come here to learn the finer details of our techniques.

Do the students make the visiting instructors feel welcome in Boston? Visiting instructors love training in Boston. Many of them request to work here when the next opportunity arises.

Lennox Chase is an attorney that sits on the board of directors for Needham Bank. Attorney Chase is also the founder of MyBarPrep, a tutoring company for lawyers and law school students.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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