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Mr Kim Remembered
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        Mr. Kim Remembered       



Born in Korea on September 17, 1941, Ui Jung Kim had a degree in economics.  Before coming to the United States, he owned the Ewha Industrial Company in Seoul, manufacturing electrical chassis, dies, name plates, and other production items.  The firm also did industrial printing.

Mr. Kim's Tae Kwon Do training began in high school.  He went on to study at the Han Mu Gymnasium in Seoul.  He joined the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association in 1962, and was promoted to fifth-degree black belt in May of 1968.  Because of his leadership of the Lockheed Tae Kwon Do Club, he was promoted by the Han Mu Gymnasium to sixth-degree black belt in 1975.

Mr. Kim and his first wife, Kum Soon Kim, came to San Mateo, California, without their two children in 1969.  In 1972, Mr. Kim and his wife moved to Campbell, where he managed a Texaco station and where he met Bob Rainie.  The children arrived here in 1973.  Bob Rainie helped Mr. Kim get US citizenship for his family.  Kum Soon Kim died in 1976.  Mr. Kim later married Changja Kim, who had two children by a previous marriage.  Together they had a son and named him Brian - naming him after Bob's son.

Mr. Kim was the chief instructor from the time the first club began in 1973 until he became gravely ill in December 1997.  He passed into eternity in January of 1999.  His legacy lives on through the work of a board of directors and several highly skilled teachers.


Favorite Anecdotes From Students and Friends:

Part of testing included direct feedback from the instructor, in written form.  The scores, combined with the notations, were invaluable in understanding the art form and moving forward.  Some notations were direct – “Lower your side-medium block so you don’t get slammed in the ribs”.  Some were a bit more esoteric – “Lowering your center and projecting more energy will help you advance overall.”  Unfortunately, with Mr. Kim’s limited English, those lucky enough to test directly under him often received forms filled with the same phrase over and over again – “More work.”
- Brian Rainie, Jeff Burgess, Sam Nazzal, and numerous others

It's been mentioned by many others about how Mr. Kim would write on your testing sheet, "Needs more work." I got that from him at least once. He used to say that to me, too, when I asked if I was doing a move correctly. Originally, I attributed it to his limited English skills. After years of studying Han Moo Kwan TKD and now Goju Ryu karate, I see how egotistical (and wrong!) my thought was. I now think that he said that because there was not only one or two things that I needed fixed, but that there were too many of them for Mr. Kim to go into at that time. Who was it who said, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear before him?" I wasn't "ready" yet, so Mr. Kim advised that I just keep working . . . on everything.
- Wayland Louie

I remember speaking to Mr. Kim about our ages (he was 5 years older than me) and he wasn’t too happy about turning 55.  I mentioned that I was turning 50.  He just grumbled a bit, shook his head and said “Keep Moving.”
- Sam Nazzal

There were times after a test when I didn’t do so well and he would consol me by telling me not to look at the test score but to look at my improvement.  He would tell me to do my “personal best”.
- Sam Nazzal

I loved it when he would interrupt a class session if he felt the instructor wasn’t teaching it properly.  He’d just walk in and say ‘No, this way!’ and then show us how it should be done. As an intermediate I thought it was a real honor that he would do that for us, not sure how the instructor felt.
- Sam Nazzal

As the instructor in the story above, I can tell you exactly how it felt.  At first, I was confused and thought I was being scolded or ridiculed.  Mr. Kim’s style of training was to correct the instructor in front of the class, using as much time as necessary to ensure the technique was correct – while the rest of the class simply waited.  After numerous occasions of this uncomfortable process, I had several discussions with Mr. Kim about western teaching style and how alternative approaches might help support the instructor’s credibility.  He politely acknowledged my concerns, and then continued with the same methods.  What I learned over time was the depth of its value.  The students benefited from watching the quality and intensity of his corrections.  It reinforced the concept that we are all students.  Above all, it taught me huge lessons around keeping my ego in check.
- Brian Rainie

During class he demanded that our posture was always correct even when we were just standing around between classes.  This reflected his belief that you live martial arts – you don’t just practice it.
- Sam Nazzal

I can still remember the time during self defense when someone complained “what if you’re attacked when you weren’t ready” and his reply was so simple and profound, “You’re always ready.”
- Sam Nazzal

After years of keeping to a specific set of basics, Mr. Kim started teaching a spinning back kick to some of the black belts.  His fighting style was in direct conflict with turning your back on an opponent for any reason, but he found practicing the kick useful.  During one of my practice sessions I was able to execute it, albeit not gracefully.  Mr. Kim was animated.  He said “This kick very difficult. Practice!  Practice!  Practice!  1000 times!  10,000 times! Never use!!  This kick for when your opponent…” Obviously struggling to find the appropriate English word, he finally gave up and acted the word by sticking his tongue out, tilting his head back and shaking it slowly.  I got the message... this was a “finishing kick”, not to be used in facing an able opponent.
- Rick Olson

I had been working out with Mr. Kim for over 20 years.  Every night, it began the same way.  I would do some light warm-up (jumping and running in place) followed by 20 minutes of stretching, then start with basics and work my way up.   One evening I was doing my stretches and Mr. Kim approached.  He asked what I was doing.  I was puzzled.  Did he think I was practicing a technique, and somehow getting it wrong?  I explained that I had not started my workout yet, and that I was just warming up.  In his broken English, he said “No more – No time before a fight to warm up.”  I realized he was telling me to teach my body to tolerate jumping straight in, with power.  That was 15 years ago.  I’m still working on it periodically.  I hope to see the day that I don’t limp the following morning.
- Brian Rainie

For safety reasons, the first club added basic falling practice to the workouts.  These were not part of Mr. Kim’s style, and most were stolen from Judo.  He was reluctant to have them included, but we insisted that they added an additional level of safety – just in case someone fell.  Years later, he was asked why we did not include ground-fighting techniques and defenses.  He replied:  “Don’t fall down.”
- Numerous members

When asked about our goals in martial arts, or simply why we should practice, Mr. Kim simply said “To better ourselves.”
- Jeff Burgess

In the early days (1970’s) Mr. Kim thought the chest protectors in the stores were flimsy and inadequate.  He convinced us to make our own.  We found ourselves in my back yard, with an open fire, carving up strips of bamboo and heating them so they could be shaped appropriately.  Add some neoprene, very heavy canvas, huge needles with thread and you had yourself a Neanderthal sewing circle.  What we produced was very impressive.  I made the mistake of offering to test the first model.  When Mr. Kim hit me with a side kick, I went airborne for a good 3 feet before landing on my back.  He said that was half power.  We decided we still needed to pull our punches a bit.
- Bob Rainie

I’ve studied many martial arts, learning from a dozen or so instructors.  They all had their different styles and approaches.  Corrections always came in the form of an explanation, physical adjustments, and some encouragement when it started to get better – you know the drill.  With Mr. Kim it was different.  If I used something that was not effective he would turn to me with those very cold eyes and simply say “You’re dead.”  Nothing drove it home faster, or more effectively, than those two words.
- Brian Rainie

Brian was lucky he told him "you're dead" when something didn't work. He told me, "You dead chicken." I wasn't thrilled about that, but I got the message clearly.
- Wayland Louie

During an open session, with everyone working on whatever interested them that evening, I was practicing some self defense with another black belt.  From a same-side grab to the wrist, I would raise my arm outward and then inward, pick up the aggressor’s hand with my free hand, lock their wrist releasing the pressure on my arm, then force my elbow into their forearm to initiate an arm bar.  It seemed to be working moderately well.  Mr. Kim walked over and took a position in front of me.  He put out his wrist, so I grabbed it to experience his correction.  With his free hand he punched my grabbing hand, pretty much shattering it and definitely eliminating the threat.  He turned to me and said “Basics.  Always work.”
- Brian Rainie

If you’ve studied any of the karate forms you will know that the road to learning and later perfecting a hyung (kata, form) is a long one.  You usually have to run through it 200-300 times just to get it down, then double that to fully understand it.  Practicing as a new brown belt one Monday evening, Mr. Kim approached and said he was going to show me my next hyung – Pyung Ahn 5.  I said Great!  He said “You’ll perform it at the demo on Saturday.”  He wasn’t asking if I was free on Saturday, or if my busy college schedule would allow me to practice between now and then.  It was simply understood that this was going to be done, and I would make it happen.
- Brian Rainie

As a young black belt, in my prime, I loved developing new combinations to use in sparring.  I’d get together with my favorite sparring partner off hours and perfect my technique (in secret).  From time to time I was fortunate enough to spar Mr. Kim.  It was always humiliating, but you never know – right?  I had this great 5-point combo all set to go which started with a lunging backhand, followed by 3 other strikes, ending with a heel-kick to the head.  When I started the backhand, committing myself to the routine, Mr. Kim simply stepped aside and raised his hand to catch the final kick.  It was terrifying to see myself (in slow motion) executing all this as a body memory – knowing it was not going to end well.
- Brian Rainie

A particularly flashy young black-belt (can’t remember his name) and Mr. Kim were sparring lightly.  The young black-belt was delivering kicks and punches and Mr. Kim was blocking or taking as he wished, all the while with a little smile on his face.  At some point, Mr. Kim being ready to end it (I guess) just simply grabbed the black-belt’s dobok (uniform), pulled him in flailing, pushed him to the ground and punched.  It was so simple and uncomplicated.
- John Kemp

Someone was relating a story of using a simple sweeping motion of his hand to “accidently” stop the progress of someone who was cutting in line at an amusement park.  Mr. Kim was most displeased with this type of use of force and expressed his displeasure simply with something like.  “No, No, No, that’s not a good use….”
- John Kemp

The class was having a bit of a bull session in with students throwing questions left and right; “What do you do if….?”  Mr. Kim was answering them in turn and then someone asked, “What do you do if someone points a gun at you?”.   He quickly responded, “Turn and run as fast as you can!”.  It was a nice lesson that sometimes you have to use common sense over force, which is also a nice life lesson.
- John Kemp

When practicing self-defense or a new move, Mr. Kim would be asked a question. He would explain, then turn to you and say, "You do." It didn't take me long to realize the incorrect response was to say, "I'll try." Mr. Kim's response was always, "You do, do not try." Jedi Master Yoda obviously got his famous quote, "Do or do not. There is no try," from a writer who studied martial arts.
- Wayland Louie

I could never really get a handle on Mr. Kim's sense of humor.  He was not one to tell jokes, tease, use irony, etc.  But there was laughter, definitely laughter.  In a constant clash of cultures, he reminded us just how absurd we can be.  We laughed at ourselves.  One of my fondest memories was from the very early days, when Mr. Kim was still new to the United States.  He came in puzzled one evening.  It appears that the prior evening his typically quiet neighborhood was overrun by children, running around knocking on doors.  When he answered, they said something unintelligible and he would shoo them away, puzzling them to no end.  After workout, he turned to us and asked "What is 'Halloween'?"
- Brian Rainie

It was important to include a social component within the club atmosphere, especially due to the brutal nature of the art form.  The first club picnic was interesting to say the least.  All the students dressed very casually, while Mr. Kim showed up in less comfortable clothing.  We had set up lots of food, drink, and games.  Mr. Kim walked around talking with people and connecting with the family members.  When volleyball started up, we wanted to make him feel welcome so we asked if he knew how to play.  He gave us a puzzled look, then answered in the affirmative.  We gave him the ball to serve.  He threw it lightly into the air, hit it with knife hand, and placed it anywhere he wanted in the court.  At that point we knew we were in trouble.
-Brian Rainie

In the decades Mr. Kim devoted his time, skill, and patience guiding us through the rigorous training of martial arts, he never accepted any form of payment.  It was difficult for him to even understand those who profit from teaching something that was to be shared with community.  At one point we offered to just reimburse him for his transportation expenses; he was very insulted.
-Brian Rainie 

One of Mr. Kim's greatest gifts was his ability to build community.  He reminded us how important it was to slow down and spend time with family and friends.  As our friendship grew, we went to dinner often.  Although I enjoyed the time with him immensely, it did raise a point of contention.  Did you ever try to get a check away from a 6th degree black belt?
-Bob Rainie


Mr. Kim was someone you could go to when life wasn’t working out the way you wanted.  Not just with issues around learning martial arts, but with most everyday challenges.  Some examples:

Why am I not progressing as fast as these other students?
Why was my last test score not what I had hoped?
When am I ever going to make brown belt?
My college classes are driving me nuts.
I’m in a power struggle with my boss.
I just can’t seem to get focused.
Is there an end to any of this?
I heard someone wants to split up our club!
Should we replace our club admin?  They aren’t getting the work done.

Mr. Kim’s response was always the same:  “Show up.  Work out.”




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