Sabu Nim Yong Taek ChungChungPortrait

Grandmaster Yong Taek Chung was born in Seoul, Korea on March 3, 1921. While his family had been highly respected and part of the educated class they lost everything during the Japanese occupation and, like most during that time, struggled for survival. Grandmaster Chung became interested in martial art as a child. However, it was illegal at that time to openly teach or learn martial art in Korea. Not until he was a young man, at the age of 19, did Grandmaster Chung begin to train in the art of Tang Soo Do under the instruction of Grandmaster Won Kuk Lee. Some time later, after martial art training became legal, Grandmaster Chung became the seventh student to graduate and earn his black belt in the Chung Do Kwan.

Many stories and legends about Grandmaster Chung circulated among the later Chung Do Kwan students and he was to become almost a mythic figure because of his exploits. Especially his involvement in helping rid Korea of organized crime and also aiding in the anti-communist effort. Grandmaster Chung was to remain one of Lee’s top students and keep a close relationship with his instructor for the rest of his life. After Grandmaster Lee retired and moved to Japan Grandmaster Chung soon followed his teacher, settling in Tokyo and opening the first Chung Do Kwan Branch Club outside of Korea. In 1955 the Chung Do Kwan (like all Korean martial arts schools) officially adopted the name “Tae Kwon Do” for their martial art curriculum and so Grandmaster Chung found himself in Japan teaching a Korean martial art.

ChungMikeGrandmaster Chung quickly established himself as a major figure in the Tokyo martial arts community serving as President of the All Japan Tae Kwon Do Association. In 1959, while still in Tokyo, Grandmaster Chung won the prestigious Tournament of Masters. This was an extraordinary feat since Masters of other martial arts styles from all over the world were invited.

In 1974 Grandmaster Chung decided to bring his expertise to the United States. After looking at several potential cities he decided that the Midwestern area appealed to his taste and so Grandmaster Chung settled in Kansas City, Missouri and opened Chung’s Karate School at 514 West 75th Street. Later, Grandmaster Chung opened a second location in Overland Park, Kansas. In addition to teaching at his two main schools he oversaw branch clubs all over the Kansas City metropolitan area.

During Grandmaster Chung’s time in Tokyo as well as in Kansas City he would regularly receive visits from his old instructor, Grandmaster Lee. It was during one of these visits in 1984 that Grandmaster Chung received the rank of ninth degree black belt as well as the official title of World Wide Director of the Chung Do Kwan from Grandmaster Lee. In 1988 Grandmaster Chung retired from teaching, turning his schools over to his students, and moved to Garden Grove, California.ChungTux

Not one to remain inactive, Grandmaster Chung often traveled and would visit his students’ schools in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri for belt exams, workshops, camps, seminars, and tournaments. He eventually began to prefer the title “Sabu Nim” which simply means “Teacher.” But this unassuming title understated his depth of skill and experience. Even in retirement Grandmaster Chung spent the next 19 years helping students, instructors, and Masters continue developing their skill and understanding of Tae Kwon Do. As one of the few ninth degree black belts world wide Grandmaster Chung devoted his entire life to the mastery and teaching of Tae Kwon Do. With over 50 years of teaching experience and literally thousands of students to his credit, Grandmaster Chung has directly affected the lives of many who will always be in his debt. It is because of his lifelong efforts that we are here today. We thank you, our Teacher!

Grandmaster Yong Taek Chung passed away in Fountain Valley, California on November 11, 2006.