Grandmaster Yoon


"...Grandmaster Toyama accepted Byung In Yoon into the club as a fourth degree Black Belt..."

"I just found out the nick name of Great Master, Yoon Byung-In from his 2nd cousin, Yoon Byung-Bu, who is 90 years old living in Korea. They grew up together in Musun, Manchuria, G.M. Yoon was called by his family and neighbors as "Samurai" because his eyes look like that of a Samurai."
-GM Kim Soo, July 2010

Byung In Yoon: Another Story

by Karen Hoffman (From a story told by Grandmaster Kim Soo)

Storytellers captivate us when their stories transport our imaginations to another time; we are no longer aware of our physical selves or of our surroundings. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the hot dojang, students of Chayon-Ryu forget the heat and their heavy breathing from training as Grandmaster Kim Soo begins to tell a story. We are not long in that dojang.

This time we are with Grandmaster Byung In Yoon in Japan, at Nihon University where he is a student. It is about 1937. We already know Grandmaster Byung In Yoon is a special man both to martial arts tradition and to our Chayon-Ryu family tree.

Grandmaster Kim digresses to bring him to life for us so we know who this young man is. He was born in Korea, but because of the Japanese occupation there, he and his family fled to Manchuria. He became fascinated with the art of Chu'an Fa (Kung Fu) at a nearby school and asked the instructor for permission to join. The instructor firmly refused, for in China, the teachings of martial arts were for Chinese natives only and kept secret from all outsiders.

Byung In Yoon could not stay away from the school. During the day, he would jump up and down in front of the school's windows glimpsing what he could of classes. The instructor would catch him and sent him away from the school.

Determined to somehow be a part of the school, Byung In Yoon returned. This time he cleaned the area around the dojang and in front of the dojang entrance where the shoes of the instructor and all of the students lay. He meticulously arranged the shoes in neat, orderly rows. He returned every day to this task.

The instructor came out of the dojang surprised to find this orderly and well kept area, day after day. He noticed that someone had also rearranged his shoes so that the toes pointed away from the entrance, ready for him to easily slip into and walk away. He was very intrigued and tried to find the student who was so dedicated.

He found that it was not his students, but the little Korean boy who was determined to show his sincerity. The instructor was so impressed with Byung In Yoon's tenacity and sincerity that he made an exception and allowed him to join the school. Never before had a Korean national been accepted to learn the Chinese martial art of Chu'an Fa.

Grandmaster Kim Soo brings us back to Nihon University where Byung In Yoon was studying colonial rule. He was often seen during lunch, outside the student cafeteria punching a huge tree. Everyday he would kick and punch this tree for so long that eventually it started leaning!

Some of his Korean student friends belonged to a Shudokan karate club on campus taught by Grandmaster Kanken Toyama. One Korean student quit the club to spend more time with his girlfriend. This angered the club members and was one of the reasons gangs formed on campus. The Japanese student gang members beat up the Korean student. This student implored Byung In Yoon to help fight the Japanese gang members. Finally, he agreed.

At the next challenge, Grandmaster Byung In Yoon quickly fought off many students simultaneously, using the graceful methods of Chu'an Fa. The Japanese gang members were very impressed with this graceful art that so skillfully deflected their attacks. They returned to their Karate club to tell Grandmaster Toyama about Byung In Yoon and his expertise.

Grandmaster Toyama approached Byung In Yoon and implored him to come to his Club to teach this wonderful new art. After much discussion, Byung In Yoon agreed to teach Chuan Fa if Grandmaster Toyama taught him Shudokan karate. Byung In Yoon's skill level was so advanced that Grandmaster Toyama accepted Grandmaster Byung In Yoon into the club as a fourth degree Black Belt, rare for a Japanese student, let alone a Korean national.

Grandmaster Kim Soo returns our imaginations to the dojang and finishes this tale by assuring us that this latter story is indeed true. He knows this because three different people who did not know each other told him primarily the same story at three different times in his life.

These individuals were Grandmaster Park Chul Hee, a student of Byung in Yoon, Grandmaster Jong Pyo Hong presently living in Korea, and Grandmaster Ki Whang Kim (recently passed away), a junior friend who trained with Grandmaster Byung In Yoon in Japan.

This validation is important because Grandmaster Kim knows that by telling us these stories he makes us the guardians of the history and traditions that form our Chayon-Ryu system.