Grandmaster Ki Whang Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea in
1920. He was the son of wealthy parents, who were actively
involved in the shipping industry. As a child, Grandmaster
was often subjected to harassment from his peers because
of his family's wealth, and this caused him to become obsessed
with learning how to defend himself, at a very young age.
During his teen years, Grandmaster moved to Japan, where he studied Judo
and eventually attained the rank of black belt. While studying at the Nihon University in Japan, Grandmaster
began studying Shudokan Karate, under the instruction of Kanken Toyama.
After graduation, Grandmaster continued his studies of the martial arts
by traveling to China where he studied Kenpo, and Shaolin Kung Fu.
In 1964, Grandmaster emigrated to the United States, where he opened his
first Karate schools in Silver Spring, Maryland, and at the YMCA in downtown
Washington, D.C. At that time, Grandmaster was affiliated with the Tang
Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Association, serving as its ambassador in the United
States. In later years, Grandmaster devoted much of his efforts toward
unifying several Korean fighting arts under the name Tae Kwon Do.
While Grandmaster was a very accomplished tournament
organizer, he believed that tournament competition was
only a small part of being a martial artist. Indeed,
in his promotion of tournament competition, he was not
one to seek the limelight for his own purposes, but only
to the extent that it promoted the best interest of martial
arts. His way was to emphasize the spiritual aspects
of karate-do, the development of good moral character,
and thus well rounded human beings. Grandmaster placed
great emphasis on racial and cultural harmony, and his
student body reflected those values at all times.
In addition to a black belt in Judo and Tae Kwon Do, Grandmaster held 8th
Dan in Tang Soo Do, and a black belt in Aikido. He taught for over thirty
years, and was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1979. That
same year, he was selected as Co-Instructor of the Year. In 1971, Grandmaster
was promoted to 9th Dan by the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association. In 1993,
while hospitalized with terminal liver cancer, Grandmaster was received
his 10th Dan from the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association, as a symbol of his
lifelong dedication to martial arts and to Tae Kwon Do in particular. He
passed away on September 16, 1993.
Grandmaster Kim | Grandmaster & Master Roberts | Instructors | Traditions