Duk Sung Son
|Duk Sung Son|
17 June 1922|
|Died||29 March 2011
Newport, Rhode Island
|Style||Chung Do Kwan, Tae Kwon Do|
|Teacher(s)||Won Kuk Lee|
|Rank||9th dan Tae Kwon Do|
Duk Sung Son (Hangul: 손덕성, Hanja: 孫德成) (June 17, 1922 – March 29, 2011) was a martial artist, Grand Master, 9th degree black belt, Co-Founder of the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do, successor of Won Kuk Lee and leader of the Chung Do Kwan school (1950–1959). He was also the chief Instructor of the South Korean Army and the Eighth U.S. Army, founder and president of the World Tae Kwon Do Association and author of the books "Korean Karate, the Art of Tae Kwon Do” and “Black Belt Korean Karate ".
Duk Sung Son, was born in Seoul, in what is now known as South Korea, on June 17, 1922. At that time South Korea was under the Japanese regime.
He started practicing boxing at the age of 16, and after gruesome training, he rose quickly towards becoming a national champion in his category. Back then, it was very common for him to return home each night, with his face all bruised up and cuts all over it that kept him from eating; therefore his parents decided to forbid him from practicing boxing. It is then, in 1944, that he decided to start his Tang Soo Do Chung Do Kwan style training (School of the Blue Wave), under the supervision of Won Kuk Lee, who was just returning from Japan. As Duk Sung Son would later remember:
“It was a different world. In the boxing Gym, people would steal your shoes, or your towel, and the place was always dirty. But in the Chung Do Kwan School, everyone was kind; there was an atmosphere of camaraderie and friendship; we all worked out together. The style was of no contact, so no one was beaten or hurt.”
After arduous years of training, he obtained his first degree black belt; becoming part of the first generation class of the Chung Do Kwan School, among Woon Kyu Uhm, Yong Taek Chung, Suh Chong Kang, Hyun Jong Myun, and others.
At the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was involved in several military, political and social conflicts that forced Won Kuk Lee to immigrate to Japan in 1951. These conflicts made Won Kuk Lee officially retire from teaching, leaving Duk Sung Son as his successor. During the Korean War, Duk Sung Son took over the leadership role at the Chung Do Kwan School, gathered some school members and kept teaching and promoting the Chung Do Kwan style through tournaments, exhibitions and press articles.
Duk Sung Son sent the advanced school students to teach classes at the most prestigious institutions of South Korea: Woon Kyu Uhm was assigned to teach classes at the Korean Military Academy, the Sung Kyun Kwan University and the Seoul National University. Nam Tae Hi was sent to train the South Korean Army, and Duk Sung Son himself taught classes to the Seoul police and the Eighth U.S. Army.
Korean President, Syngman Rhee, named Duk Sung Son chief instructor of the Republic of South Korea’s Army; and it is then when he met General Choi Hong Hi, Major-General of the 29th Infantry Division, with whom he made strong friendship bonds. In 1955, due to his closeness with President Syngman Rhee, and thinking that he could use the military authority of Choi Hong Hi to spread the Chung Do Kwan style, Duk Sung Son gave an honorary 4th degree Dan in front of the major of the 3rd Army for his contribution to the martial arts.
Tae Kwon Do Is Born
On December 19, 1955, while searching for a name that would identify the Korean culture, a meeting was held by the Chung Do Kwan School advisors with views to unify the name of the Korean martial art, which was known by different and confusing names such as Tang Soo Do, Gong Soo Do, Taekyon and Kwon Bup; these terminologies were in occasionally associated with the Chinese or Japanese culture.
During this meeting, representatives of the South Korean Government, members of the press, politicians and the military met with Duk Sung Son, chief of the Chung Do Kwan School, who came to the meeting accompanied by General Choi Hong Hi and Nam Tae Hi, who represented the military branch of the School.
As result of this meeting and the ideas proposed as a group by the representatives of the Chung Do Kwan School, the name “Tae Kwon Do” was created officially to define the Korean martial art and unify all of the other existing names.
With the efforts of Duk Sung Son, the Chung Do Kwan School started to grow until it became the largest in South Korea, at both civil and military levels; but the original members of the school looked for a more protagonist participation that would take them to open independently new schools under their own names within the Korean martial arts atmosphere.
Choi Hong Hi, recruited a group of high rank students from Chung Do Kwan School (Hyun Jong Myun, Nam Tae Hi, Han Cha Kyo, Woo Jong Rim, Ko Jae Chun, Kim Suk Kyu, and Kwak Kuen Suk) and created a school with a strict military character, the Oh Do Kwan School and sent instructors to Vietnam to train the South Korean troops without permission from Duk Sung Song.Suh Chong Kang created Kuk Mu Kwan School, and other instructors started to hardly recognize Duk Sung Son as a school official. The influence and leadership of General Choi Honh Hi’s started to grow.
On June 16, 1959, Duk Sung Son, worried about keeping the philosophical principles of the Chung Do Kwan School, published a letter in the South Korean newspaper “Seoul Shimoon”, dismissing a group of advanced students which included Choi Hong Hi, Nam Tae Hi, Woon Kyu Uhm among others. This caused a total separation and the exclusion of Duk Sung Son from all sport organizations in Korea.
Acting rapidly upon such action, Choi Hon Hi, gathered all other members of the top schools and took over the leadership role of Chung Do Kwan:
“At the end of the fall of 1959, I invited all leaders of the 4 top Kwans to my home. No, Byung Jik represented Song Moo Kwan; Yoon, Kwe Byung represented Ji Do Kwan; Lee, Nam Suk represented Chang Moo Kwan; and Hwang, Ki represented Moo Duk Kwan; while I represented Oh Do Kwan and Chung Do Kwan.” 
As result from this meeting, on September 3, 1959, the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association was born. Its first president was Choi Hong Hi, who named Woon Kyu Uhm -in that same year- as new school chief (Kwan Jang) of the Chung Do Kwan School. General Choi was elected president due to his position as general in the Korean Army (under military regime) and for the promise he made to other school chiefs to promote TaeKwon-Do.
Trip to the United States of America
On April 1963, Duk Sung Son traveled to the United States of America, where he started to teach Tae Kwon Do or “Korean Karate” as it was called then. His first classes were outdoors at Central Park in Manhattan and at the basement of downtown synagogue in New York City. At the end of 1963 he established regular classes Monday through Friday from 6 to 8pm in his first gym, located at 162 7th corner of 21st street in New York City.
Soon enough he started teaching classes at West Point Military Academy, the Universities of Princeton, New York, Brown and Fordham, the New York State University on Stony Brook, and the YMCA of New Jersey among others. He also established the Tae Han Karate Association, which in 1966, became the World TaeKwon-Do Association.
The organization grew fast and in 1965 a group of Korean instructors, some of them ex-students of Duk Sung Son in Korea, established themselves in the country and their first black belts started to promote the martial art in the USA. In 1969, Luke Grande arrives to Venezuela and founded the first Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan School in that country. In 1987, Rod Preble started teaching the martial art in Australia.
The first 11 black belts promoted by Duk Sung Son in North America were:
- Martin Rosenberg
- Thomas(Tom) Carrillo
- Robert J. Clark
- Joe La Marca
- Ron Kelly
- James Yergan
- Neil Gingold
- Luke Grande
- Jeff Potter
- Donald Zammit
- Joe Lamar
As his first students would remember:
“At the first years of his arrival to the USA, the trainings were very intense. We ran in Central Park and then kick a tree at least 100 times with each leg; under snow or rain, with the intense heat of the summer, the trainings never stopped. Then we would train at the gym at 6pm. We would do this routine six times a week.”
World Tae Kwon Do Association
The current World Tae kwon Do Association entity is an independent organization not governed by the Kukiwon, and it doesn't follow the guidelines of the World Tae Kwon Do Federation or the International Tae Kwon Do Federation. It developed itself under the original philosophical and human principals, following its traditional roots. Its current president is Yehjong Son.
In 1966 Duk Sung Son endorsed a proposal made by Jae Bock Chung to establish the World Tae Kwon Do Association (WTA), substituting the Tae Han Karate Association created by Son in 1962. Son became president, and at the peak of its existence, the World Tae Kwon Do Association amassed more than 495 schools in the U.S.A., Venezuela and Australia, and it became the largest Tae Kwon Do organization in the United States.
Other masters who assumed important WTA roles were:
- Chung Yong Taek – Vice-President
- J.B. Chung – Director
- K.H. Kim – Technical Director
- Y.S. Choi – Midwest Director
- D.H. Kim – West Coast Director
- S.P. Chang – East Coast Director
- H.S. Ko – Southern Director
- N.Y. Chung – Tournament Organizer
- K.W. Yu – Examiner
- C.K. Han – Advisor
- Dr. Robert Sexton - Attending Physician
- T.D. Kim, T.Y. Kim, Y.K. Chang, and N.Y. Cho – Other members of the Board of Directors
In 1999, due to differences between the board of directors and the leadership of the WTA regarding who will be the next president, the board of directors decided to leave the association, so they organized a new association, the National Tae Kwon Do Association (NTA). Since the early 1990s, the WTA organization fragmented and the majority of its former members are spread out in more than 26 independent Tae Kwon Do organizations in the United States and Venezuela.
American Masters in the World Tae Kwon Do Association:
Duk Sung Son awarded to six of his American instructors with the degree of "master" in the martial art.The six American masters are:
- Rico Dos Anjos
- Jerry Orenstein
- Ralph Rubino
- Jack Emmel
- Ron Geoffrion
- Jim Cahill
- Michael T. Dealy, Ph.D. (Founder of the World Martial Arts Association, Brooklyn, NY)
- Jake Pontillo (Founder of Buffalo University Tae Kwon Do Club, 1970)
- Ricardo Dos Anjos (Westchester, NY- World Tae Kwon Do Association)
- Jerry Orenstein (Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan Schools)
- Ron Geoffrion (Co-Founder of the USA Tae Kwon Do Masters Association)
- Ralph Rubino (Co-Founder of the USA Tae Kwon Do Masters Association)
- Jack Emmel (Co-Founder of the USA Tae Kwon Do Masters Association)
- Jim Cahill (Co-Founder of the USA Tae Kwon Do Masters Association)
- Pete Michaelson (Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan Schools)
- Ray Mondschein (Founder of Rochester,NY -North American Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan
- Humberto Almeida (Co-founder of Organización Venezolana Chung Do Kwan)
- Víctor Alfonso (Founder of Chung Do Kwan Alfonso's)
- Bob Heckmann (Founder of Five Points Karate, World Tae Kwon Do Association)
- Keith A. Lipsey (American Taekwondo Society-Tiger Fist Division,World Tae Kwon Do Association)
Grand Master Duk Sung Son, died on 29 March 2011 at Newport Hospital, Newport, RI, United States Of America. He is survived by his daughter Yehjong Son and her husband, Steven G. Cundy and his granddaughter Lahna Son-Cundy.
- Duk Sung Son and Robert Jenkins Clark, Korean Karate: The Art of Tae Kwon Do,Prentice-Hall, ISBN 0135168155, 9780135168158 1968,
- Duk Sung Son, Robert Jenkins Clark,Black Belt Korean Karate,Prentice-Hall, 1983,ISBN 0130776696, 9780130776693
- Kim, S. J. (2007): History of Taekwondo Retrieved on 18 September 2007.
- Alex and Annelen Simpkins, Duk Sung Son the tradition continues, Inside Tae Kwon do, Page 45,December 1992,
- Son, D. S. (1959): Letter in Seoul Shinmoon newspaper (16 June 1959) Retrieved on 20 September 2007.
- Gillis, Alex, A killing art: the untold History of Tae Kwon Do, ECW press 2008,ISBN 978-1-55022-825-0
- Kimm, He Young,General Choi Interview
- Grande, Luke, Biography,Luke Grande Biography
- Duk Sung Son Obituary