The World Tang Soo Do Association

A True "World" Organization


Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin
(December 20, 1936 - July 9, 2012)

Robert E. Beaudoin

Untitled Document

August 2012 Master's Profile


KCN Shin

Name: Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin

Rank and date of rank: Ku Dan, July 2010

Title & Location: CEO and Grandmaster of the WTSDA, 2436 Hanford Road, Burlington, NC


"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies . . . Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die . . . It doesn't matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away."
- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin's vision of Tang Soo Do has changed our lives. He believed that the true value of martial arts training is in its application to everyday life. Martial arts were formally considered a male dominated activity. In the past, martial arts training were not welcoming to women, small children and older adults. Grandmaster Shin and the WTSDA have made Tang Soo Do accessible to everyone. Today at any given Dan test, we see a similar number of men and women testing. The ages of the candidates can range from less than 10 to greater than 60 years old. This diversity can also be seen at the Master rank. Today in WTSDA studios around the world students of all ages, abilities and backgrounds are welcomed.

Grandmaster Shin has taught us the importance of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of martial arts training. He expanded what was expected from martial artists while maintaining the traditional aspects of Tang Soo Do. Dan testings require mastery of physical techniques as well as a written test and essay on some aspect of Tang Soo Do. The importance of "giving back" was demonstrated in the creation of the World Tang Soo Foundation to support charitable causes and scholarships. Grandmaster Shin introduced WTSDA members to the many benefits of Ki Gong. He created a unique organization to bring out the best in everyone.

Although Grandmaster Shin was not able to see the dedication of the new WTSDA headquarters, he was able to see his dream of a permanent legacy for WTSDA come true with the completion of the building. His influence can be seen throughout the building. He was instrumental in the overall design and many of the details right down to the ribbon used for the dedication. However, Grandmaster Shin's true legacy can be seen in our everyday lives and the application of the Tang Soo Do codes and tenets.

Grandmaster Shin led by example. He encouraged us to make that "one more time" count. Not only did he want us to train hard to be better martial artists and better teachers but more importantly better individuals. He genuinely enjoyed connecting with people around the world and making them part of his family. As members of the World Tang Soo Do Association family, let us brightly reflect the light that Grandmaster Shin has passed onto us. Grandmaster Shin is and always will be an inspiration to all of us. He will be missed very much. But we must persevere and move forward to preserve his legacy and support the WTSDA.

Below is a reprint of an article written by Grandmaster Shin in 2000 for a Master's Profile.

At the Threshold of a New Millenium
Where We Stand in the Martial Arts
Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin

Many martial arts schools have changed the way they teach their students because they presume there is little use for old-fashioned traditions in today's fast paced world. Yet Tang Soo Do, a traditional martial art with a history spanning nearly 2000 years, has endured into the present day relatively unchanged, even though civilization, politics and the world economy have varied drastically during this period. Granted, there were times when it thrived as a distinguished and popular activity and other times when it barely held on like a flame flickering in the wind. Still, Tang Soo Do has survived and is flourishing today.

Now, this ancient art is about to enter its third millenium with the same basic principles as it had long ago. It is not part of any political or economical system, nor is it part of a trendy, popular exercise program. Tang Soo Do stands on its own, steeped in cherished traditional values that have borne the test of time.

While aerobic and stylish workout techniques advertised so often today may motivate people initially, they are not profound enough to last for centuries as traditional martial arts have. Although they look appealing and promise you the world, in reality most of them just come and go. One example is karate-aerobics. People seem to enjoy it very much. However, I don't think it will last forever because it is simply calisthenics and does not teach respect or values like traditional karate does.

Tradition is the essence of any true martial art. In 1982, when the World Tang Soo Do Association was established, we introduced three principle mottoes. The first and most important is traditionalism. We want to preserve and aspire toward our traditional values. The second motto is professionalism. We make every effort to improve the best ways to learn and teach our students. The third is brotherhood. We are a universal martial art family - or second family - which is a very important part of our training.

When I say we should preserve tradition, I do not mean we should be stubborn with our ideas. We cannot stumble along blindly worshiping the old ways. But we must acknowledge that over many generations, through trial and error, experts and masters have improved the traditional way of teaching and applying our lives. Some of the old fighting ways may not work in today's modern world but we can still gain much from old wisdom. For you see, traditionalism, in itself is wisdom.

Traditionalism is also heritage. Therefore, we should strive to preserve the way our ancestor martial artists practiced and applied their code of behavior. Every family has their own heritage, pride, and traditions. This is very valuable. We cannot exchange these elements of our culture for the sake of modern convenience. As true martial artists, we continue to do things in the traditional, and often more difficult way, because it is a part of our heritage. Our honor.

By training and practicing in the traditional way, we learn to cultivate a most important human development, the five virtues of Tang Soo Do. These are humanity, righteousness, etiquette, wisdom (knowledge), and trust. The five codes and seven tenets we teach in class all originated from these five virtues.

Briefly, the first, humanity means human kindness and love. The practitioner should strive to accept others in a manner of benevolence and sincerity through open-mindedness and generosity. When we practice humanity our minds become broader and we are able to develop confidence. Consequently, we do not have to use our brawn or physical skills to react violently. The Tang Soo Do practitioner instead relies on generosity and acceptance. They remain benevolent toward our fellow man whenever possible.

To react physically requires little more than brute strength or technical skill. Many can acquire these traits. But the true martial artist refrains from violent behavior and always attempts to resolve situations through self-control and peaceful means, thus avoiding a disastrous situation. This is a much higher achievement, and is a far more valuable and respectable power than physical power. When we practice traditional techniques, we practice this virtue.

In righteousness, the second virtue, students are taught the meaning of justice. Not only must we treat others fairly but we should also defend against injustice to others whenever possible. Respect for parents and adults as well as respect for yourself and to stay away from drugs or other substances that may be harmful to one's mind and body are instilled into every student.

The third virtue is etiquette, which suggests humility and composure. Proper attitude is an extremely important aspect of Tang Soo Do training. In the old days, modesty and self-discipline were taught before technique. These days, we teach technique first while gradually introducing the values of humility, respect and discipline in class.

One way we achieve this is by introducing the practice of bowing to others, which shows respect for your instructor, senior members, and even your opponents. The spirit of bowing should flow from your heart, and not happen just because the instructor demands it. This is difficult at first, but, gradually, the student becomes acclimated and understands its significance. Bowing is like universal order, no different than the sun coming up and the grass that turns green. For instance, members who were born before you or who are more knowledgeable than you helped create the world for you. Therefore, you should show your respect and appreciation by bowing. The recipient of mutual respect, regardless of rank, must always return your bow. Because of this traditional Tang Soo Do value, the student becomes recognized in his community as a safe and respectable person.

Wisdom and knowledge make up the fourth virtue and refer to the act of sound judgement. The Tang Soo Do practitioner must have the ability to evaluate circumstances and come to a proper decision. This is not knowledge like a genius has but simply common sense about how to deal with situations. When I was a child, my parents taught me how to eat, how to walk, how to ride a bike, etc. In Tang Soo Do, we teach students that fighting is not good and never done unless absolutely necessary. This is old wisdom.

The fifth virtue, trust means that the Tang Soo Do practitioner seeks to find good in others and carries their own respect and trust in their heart. Their word means something. It is their honor.

The Tang Soo Do practitioner is a warrior. This means they do not lie or deceive others. In ancient times, warriors would think before drawing their sword in anger, because once they did this they would carry through all the way. Today, if someone practices traditional martial arts and tells me something, I believe them automatically. I have faith in their word because they are a warrior.

So, we see that our first motto, traditionalism, represents many things and is the foundation of the World Tang Soo Do Association. Professionalism, our second motto means we are open to current trends and are willing to try new ideas so long as they don't damage our Tang Soo do values. For instance, pertaining to the degree of discipline in the class, we understand these are not the old days. One hour on discipline and cleaning the bathroom like I was taught is definitely not the way to go today. Times have changed. Still, we feel discipline is an important value so we introduce it to our students with gradual persistence.

Also, I encourage our organization's research committee to explore innovative and creative ways to improve our training methods. In the old days, everyone struggled to learn only one way. They had to kick as well as their instructor or they did not pass, no matter what their physical condition may have been. These days we try to respect the individual talent of each practitioner. We realize that age, gender, individual personalities and physical differences make each person unique, and we remain open minded in this manner.

Our third motto, brotherhood represents camaraderie and mutual support. We want our members to share a sense of belonging in the security that they have a common bond with Tang Soo Do members worldwide. We all wear the same patches, use the same terminology, pledge common goals, and share a purpose in training.

But most important, we are a family sharing total togetherness under our Tang Soo Do spirit. We step beyond race, age, gender, nationality, and culture. We train together and live life together heart to heart, interest to interest. This sense of brotherhood is very important to achieve. Open your door and your heart for your brother and sister members. They are your second family. To me, this principle is simple and clear. We are martial artists - we fight together, we live together and we survive together. This is our honor to each other.

The world is changing so rapidly some people claim that within a few years we will be traveling in flying cars and taking cruises to the moon. With today's advances in technology and computers, perhaps this is so.

But I still think so long as we have our dobohk and our bare feet on the floor, so long as we are able to breathe and exercise and ki hap and practice Tang Soo Do, that our traditional heritage, professional attitude and family unity shall survive. Then if we happen to be touring the universe and chance upon some visitors from a distant galaxy we will reach out to them and teach them about human kindness, respect, humility, honor and all Tang Soo Do wisdom.

Grandmaster Shin and Masters reciting the Black Belt Oath.

Grandmaster Shin announcing the plans for our new Headquarters at the 2008 Region 8 Dan Clinic.

Grandmaster Shin's 9th Dan promotion in 2010 with Mrs. Shin and son, Robert Shin.

Grandmaster Beaudoin's promotion to 8th Dan by Grandmaster Shin.

New WTSDA Headquarters in Burlington, NC.

Grandmaster Shin's office in the new Headquarters.

Grandmaster Shin addressing the group before a Dan Testing.

Grandmaster Shin with his wife, Moon Suk and their children Robert and Catherine.