At Dragon Kim’s Tae Kwon Do studio, students enter a martial arts “Neverland,” of sorts. At this Edmond school, even the oldest participants are encouraged to say they’re just 18 years old. And our 8th-degree Grand Master instructor is only 19.
We aren’t serious about being frozen in time—we line up for class by belt rank and age, so we all know the chronological ages of our fellow students. Grand Master Jin Young Kim puts an emphasis on thinking young to impress upon us the importance of staying healthy.
Students from age four to 60 find Master Kim’s big heart as inspiring as his mastery of Tae Kwon Do. How does this 54-year-old stay in such incredible shape? He eats well, trains daily (at the gym and teaching up to three classes a day), and works to keep his mind strong. I asked him to tell us, as only he can, how he stays so fit.
“Number one thing is strong mind and spirit,” says Master Kim. “Determine in your mind to be strong—don’t think always about taking the easy way. I try my best; I don’t give up. I don’t want to use four-letter word ‘can’t.’ Can do! You have to determine in your mind to be strong. If you have negative thinking, try to understand why; try to think, ‘How can I do better?’ When I have pain in my body or don’t feel well, I say to myself, ‘I’m okay. I’m not sick.’ If I only think about the pain or think I’m sick, I’m going to be sick. Nobody’s perfect—I know I’m going to fail sometimes. But I want to make myself a better person. If I miss; little fix, little fix, and pretty soon, I’m better. Everybody fails and make mistakes. That’s okay. Just keep trying.”
“When I was young, up to about 40 or 45, I ate anything I wanted. After that, little more control. I still eat whatever I want, but not much unhealthy food. I don’t eat much fat now. If you put too much junk in your body, your body is junk. For lunch, I usually have soup and a sandwich or a hard-boiled egg, fruit, and a handful of nuts. Dinner is almost always rice with lots of vegetables, and chicken, beef, or pork. Every day, I eat an apple and other fruits. I eat lots of different foods—not the same thing all the time.”
“Everybody must exercise at any age. No exercise; big problem! I know many people think they don’t have time to exercise. You have to make time—no one has extra time to work out; you have to make a decision to train your body so you’ll be strong. Everyone can find a way to spare at least one hour three or four times a week to work out. Twice a week is better than nothing; but not enough. Life is short and if you want to live it well, you have to keep moving.
“I’m very proud of my job teaching Tae Kwon Do because I see how much my students change after a year here—they’re totally different. They kick higher, have better balance and self-control, more confidence. Nobody knows how long they’ll live, but the day before I die, I’ll still be teaching class.”
About Master Kim
- Emigrated from Korea to the U.S. in 1982, becoming a citizen in 1987.
- Married to Myong, a U.S. citizen since 1988.
- Son Yale is a junior at the University of Oklahoma.
- Two brothers, Joon and Kap, are also 8th-degree black belts and Tae Kwon Do school owners (Joon’s schools are in Wichita, Kansas; Kap’s in Korea).
- Certified as 8th-degree black belt by both the World Tae Kwon Do Federation and its predecessor, Moo Duk Kwan; International Referee.
- In 1998, awarded certificate of recognition by the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission as a “mentor, humanitarian leader, and father.”
- Hobby: golf
See Master Kim in Action!
At his school: Dragon Kim’s Tae Kwon Do, 1816 E Second Street, Edmond, 341-1016, DragonKims.com.
Denise Springer, MFM Editor, has studied Tae Kwon Do under Grand Master Kim since September, 2001 and is now a 2nd-degree black belt. Her husband, Andy, began classes over a year ago and is working on his blue belt.