Biography of Grand Master Rhin Moon Richard Chun, Ph.D.
Grandmaster Richard Chun was born on February 22nd, 1935 in Seoul, South Korea and began training at the famous Moo Duk Kwan in Seoul, South Korea when he was 11 years old under the supervision of Chong Soo Hong and Ki Whang Kim, two pioneers in Taekwondo and highly respected teachers. Grandmaster Richard Chun earned his first dan black belt by the age of 14.
Then on June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded the South, and civil war erupted. To protect his family GM Chun moved from Seoul to the port city of Incheon. During the bitter-cold winter of 1951, the Chun’s and two other families fled south in search of a warmer climate. Three weeks later and still packed into a small wooden boat, they finally reached their destination: Cheju Island.
As life slowly returned to normal fears of not being able to continue his taekwondo training without his master started to crop up in GM Chun’s mind. While attending high school at a refugee facility he opted to practice alone in the mountains. ln numerous occasions when the locals sought to abuse those taking refuge from the war, his sense of justice and indomitable spirit were tested.
In 1954 Grand Master Chun returned to Seoul and enrolled in Yonsei University and graduated in 1957. While there he continued his martial arts training and served as captain of the taekwondo club and participated in several competitions. After graduating in 1957, he worked for Air France for five years.
GM Chun immigrated to the United States in 1962, where he then relocated first to Washington D.C. and then to New York City — a move that would change the complexion of taekwondo in the United States. Entering the United States in 1962 as a student, he lived in Washington, DC, and began studying for his master’s degree in Business and Marketing at George Washington University. GM Chun eventually earned his MBA at Long Island University and went on to obtain a Ph.D. That enabled him to become a professor of health and physical education at Hunter College in New York City.
Grandmaster Chun was ranked 9th Dan by the Moo Duk Kwan in 1981 and the Kukkiwon in 1989, establishing him as one of the highest-ranked instructors in the United States.
In 1964, with the assistance of past-WTF president Dr. Un Yong Kim, he officially established the Richard Chun Taekwondo Center in New York, cultivating champions, such as Joe Hayes, and catering to movie stars and sports figures including Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid) and dancer/actor Gregory Hines, to name only two. The Richard Chun Taekwondo Center has since been a mecca for many practitioners both locally and worldwide. With the help and support of General James Van Fleet, he created and organized the first Annual Universal Taekwondo Open Championships. Grandmaster Chun also earned an M.B.A. in marketing from the School of Business Administration at Long Island University, and a Ph.D. in Education. Dr. Chun has served as a Professor of Health and Physical Education at the Hunter College City University of New York.
In 1973, Dr. Chun was appointed head coach of the U.S.A. Taekwondo team for the first World Taekwondo Championships, hosted in Seoul, during which the World Taekwondo Federation was founded. He established the United States Taekwondo Association in 1980, whose mission is to promote the ancient and evolving art of Taekwondo, serving as its President. Dr. Chun assisted in the organization of Taekwondo as a demonstration event in the historic 1988 Olympics and served as Senior International Referee for championships and the Olympics. In the fall of 1999, Dr. Chun was appointed as a Special Assistant to the President of the World Taekwondo Federation, Dr. Un Yong Kim. Grandmaster Chun was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame by Black Belt Magazine in 1979. Grandmaster Chun’s legacy lives on in the U.S.T.A. and his senior instructors — such as Master Fred Kouefati, Master Pablo Alejandro, Master Doug Cook, Master Gary Stevens, and Master Richard Conceicao to name only a few.
Chun was perhaps the most educated of all the American taekwondo pioneers who emigrated from South Korea. He wrote nine books in all, including some of the earliest works in English, on his art. He was reportedly one of the few authors to admit that taekwondo grew from Japanese and Okinawan roots.
Dr. Chun played a major role in organizing taekwondo as an event in the Olympics and has served as Senior International Referee at international championships and Olympic competitions. For his many achievements in promoting taekwondo within the borders of the United States, he received the Presidential Award from the president of Korea. In 1999, following a training and cultural tour of Korea, he was named Special Assistant to the president of the World Taekwondo Federation. He has also received many citations over the years from the Moo Duk Kwan and World Taekwondo Federation.
Grandmaster Chun shares his knowledge of taekwondo through the written word with five best-selling books to his credit, all of which have been translated into several foreign languages. All are used as reference guides by thousands of practitioners and schools worldwide. Dr. Chun has also produced several instructional DVDs on self-defense, sparring, and forms, available through the United States Taekwondo Association website and YMAA Publication Center of Wolfeboro, NH.
Richard Chun has been a member of the Lions Clubs International for more than four decades where he has served as District Governor of New York. He was appointed Ambassador of Goodwill by the Lions Clubs International Association for his humanitarian services worldwide and has been repeatedly honored by the president of Korea for the same. With two children both pursuing successful careers of their own, Dr. Chun has been happily married for over thirty-five years.
Master Chun was a repository of ancient wisdom, a vessel filled to the brim by great martial artists of the past. Today my colleagues and I are fortunate to be recipients of that knowledge. We regard grandmaster Richard Chun’s techniques as a priceless inheritance.
Grand Master Chun passed away at home on 15 November 2017. He was 82 years old.
He was the author of five books about the martial art of Taekwondo — Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Art of Self-Defense (1974); Beginning Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do: Korean Art of Self-Defense Vol 1 (1975); Intermediate Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do: Korean Art of Self-Defense Vol 2 (1975); Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Martial Art (1976); Karate for Beginners (Audiobook LP & Cassette) (1977); Advancing in Tae Kwon Do (1982); Taekwondo Spirit & Practice: Beyond Self-Defense (Biography) (2002); and Black Belt Poomsae: Koryo & Original Koryo (2013).