Adapted from an article originally by Robert W. Young
Photo by Robert Reiff – Yesterday
C.S. Kim wasn’t particularly tough when he was young. Like millions of other kids around the world and plenty in Songtan, South Korea, he had problems with coordination and self-esteem. What made Kim different from his peers is he found a simple solution to his problems: the martial arts. He started judo and boxing when he was 10. Then he visited a tang soo do school run by Song Ki Kim and joined the next day.
“I loved it,” Kim said. “We trained two or three hours a day for five days a week.”
When C.S. Kim received his green belt, he thought he knew everything and stopped attending class. Three months later, he started up again because he missed it. He worried that his master would be angry about his absence, but the old man welcomed the lost sheep back into the fold. “I never quit again,” Kim said.
TANG SOO DO SELF-DEFENSE MOVES VIDEO
C.S. Kim and Y.D. Kim Demonstrate an Elbow Break!
In 1963, C.S. Kim joined the Korean army and became head instructor at Osan Airforce base — where he instructed both Korean and U.S. military personnel, including a young Chuck Norris. Learn more about Chuck Norris and his legendary films in our new FREE download: How Chuck Norris Films Seem to Bend the Course of History.
Training was tough. “Before my master got a school, we practiced outside in the dirt,” said C.S. Kim, who earned his black belt when he was 12. “If it rained, we couldn’t practice. We didn’t have any equipment, but sometimes we used a rice bag filled with sand as a punching bag.”
Kim and his classmates spent most of their time doing kicks, punches, forms, one-step sparring and free sparring. Especially free sparring. “My master would have 20 people stand up, and each student would spar for five minutes with each person,” he recalled.
Tang Soo Do Self-Defense Moves: Then and Now
The skills C.S. Kim worked to perfect then are identical to the ones he and his instructors teach now. “I don’t believe in changing techniques,” he said. “Modern instructors may create new styles, but what’s going to be around in the future? The traditional martial arts. The world changes every day, but anything traditional should not. People need some stability in life, and traditional martial arts can provide that. As we grow old and die, traditional martial arts like tang soo do can last forever.”
Bringing a Traditional Martial Art and Its Self-Defense Moves to the World
To help promote traditional tang soo do to a wider audience, C.S. Kim left Korea in 1972. He had an opportunity to relocate to Europe but elected to settle in the United States instead. In 1973 he appeared on his first magazine cover. In 1974 he organized his first tournament, which attracted 700 people. Now based in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, he admitted that his federation’s teaching methods — but not its techniques or self-defense moves — have been modified a little to better deal with students’ busy schedules. Because of school activities and sports, children just can’t invest as much time in their training, he said.
The Positive Effects of Martial Arts Training
“But parents need to remember that martial arts can help academic studies,” C.S. Kim added. “I tell students what my master told me: On one side you have education, and on the other side you have martial arts. It’s the perfect balance.”