Grandmaster Duk Sung Son

The Father of Traditional Tae Kwon Do

The history of modern Tae Kwon Do is synonymous with the career of Grandmaster Duk Sung Son, 9th degree black belt and president of the World Tae Kwon Do Association.  Grandmaster Son began studying Tae Kwon Do in the 1940’s under the leadership of Won Kuk Lee in Korea.  Won Kuk Lee was the founder of the Chung Do Kwan (school of the Blue Wave).  Grandmaster Son quickly rose to the black belt level and onward to the master level and assumed the leadership of the Chung Do Kwan in 1950.  In 1953, he was elected President of the Chung Do Kwon (Blue Wave) style of Tae Kwon Do headquartered in Seoul, Korea.  Grandmaster Son became head instructor of the Korean Military Academy in 1955; the Police Academy in Seoul, and the United States 8th Army in 1956.  In 1959, he was recognized by the President of Korea for his outstanding service to the government.  In 1962, he was the Korean representative at the Korea-Japan Karate Conference in Taipei.  Grandmaster Son was also Chief Instructor for the Civil Service Academy of the Korean government.

In 1963, Grandmaster Son came to the United States.  He established the Tae Han Karate Association and his own schools in New York City.  He became Headmaster at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Some of the schools where Grandmaster Son has taught are Princeton, Harvard, Brown, New York University, Forham, SUNY-Stoney Brook, Cornell, Rutgers, M.I.T., Providence College, Rhode Island, and IBM-Poughkeepsie.  In 1964, Grandmaster Son appeared on the cover of Esquire magazine along with the famous heavyweight boxer Carmine Basilio.

In 1965, President Park conferred the Medal of Honor to Grandmaster Son.  He became Headmaster of Tae Kwon Do at Princeton and Brown Universities.

During the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, Grandmaster Son did regular Tae Kwon Do demonstrations, as well as several television exhibitions.  In 1967, he became President of the World Tae Kwon Do Association and co-authored his first book, Korean Karate- the Art of Tae Kwon Do.  In 1982, he co-authored his second book, Black Belt Karate, a text on advanced techniques.  He has received keys to numerous cities across the country and has been declared honorary citizen of many others. 

Grandmaster Son retired in 2008 and passed away March 30, 2011, leading to the formation of the USA Tae Kwon Do Masters Association.  The USATMA was founded by Masters Ralph Rubino, Jack Emmel, Ron Geoffrion, and Jim Cahill, four of the original USA Masters appointed by Grandmaster Son.  The USATMA was formed to carry on the legacy of Grandmaster Son.

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