Tae Zee Park
9th Degree Black Belt
- 9th dan - World Tae Kwon Do Federation
- National Tae Kwon Do Champion - Korea 1963 - 1968
- Captain of Korean Army Tae Kwon Do Team
- Instructor of National Teachers College - Korea
- Member of Korean National Tae Kwon Do Demonstration
- Captain of Sung Kyun Kwan University Tae Kwon Do
- Founded Tae Park Tae Kwon Do 1974
- Vice Chairman of the U.S. Tae Kwon Do Chung Do
- General Secretary of the Sung Kyun Kwan University
Tae Kwon Do Alumni Association
The Life of Grand Master Park
Many years ago, in South Korea, a shy boy named Tae
Zee Park watched helplessly as a bully hit the young boy’s mother.
Even though the community rallied together to run the bully out of town,
Grand Master Park decided, then and there that he would be ready the
next time someone tried to hurt his family. So, the young Grand Master
Park learned a little soccer and a little boxing, but he learned to
love Tae Kwon Do.
The Early Years
Grand Master Park started Tae Kwon Do lessons when he
was twelve years old. Five days each week for at least two hours a day,
young Grand Master Park would practice basic patterns, kicks, and forms.
He wanted to be strong and responsible and to hold his own among his
six brothers and sisters. Very few of the other students in his class
worked as hard as he did.
When Grand Master Park was sixteen, he became one of
the youngest first-degree black belts in Korea. At his first-degree
test, he was rewarded the highest points in forms and free fighting,
but his goal was to become even better. He left home and went to the
central studio to practice and study. After earning his second degree,
Grand Master Park entered his first tournament.
Korean martial art tournaments were very dangerous.
Participants risked serious accidents- even death- to win because winning
meant great honor for the fighter’s school and it’s reputation.
Everyone knew who the tournament winners were, and they were greened
many special privileges.
Each Tae Kwon Do school sent their top one or two fighters
to compete. Each fight consisted of three three-minute rounds. As long
as a competitor won, he could progress to the next round. If he lost,
he went back home. In addition to being very good, tournament fighters
had to be very strong and in excellent shape. Sometimes a competitor
would have fought for five days in a row to qualify for the final rounds.
Grand Master Park completed his formal education at
Sung Kyun University, where he majored in Government. In addition to
his scholastic pursuits, this very special school allowed him to study
Tae Kwon Do up to five hours a day. All 350 people in his freshman class
were black belts. Grand Master Park was one of the only two or three
students picked for special training as part of the university team.
He and the other team members worked very hard and received many high
honors. In 1964 and 1965, Grand Master Park was the top tournament fighter
in all of Korea.
The once shy boy had grown into a strong and brave young
Professional Tae Kwon Do
After graduating from the university, Grand Master Park
was recruited for the Korean Army’s Tae Kwon Do. For the next
three years, his full-time job was to represent Korea in international
tournaments. He had become the equivalent of a professional athlete.
Everyone knew his face and he was very well respected.
After army service, Grand Master Park taught for one
year at the Korean National Teachers College, where he earned his sixth
dan. He had loved practicing Tae Kwon Do and now he loved teaching it
On To America
When, Grand Master Park first came to America, he taught
martial arts at Kent State University in Ohio. He later moved to Michigan
and began teaching Tae Kwon Do at the YMCA in Jackson. It was there
that he learned about America from his students. Grand Master Park would
teach them martial art – and his students would teach him English
language and American customs. He learned what Americans believed and
how they made decisions. This co-dependence on his students helped form
Founding the Tae Park Institute
Grand Master Park had proven in Korea that he was an
excellent fighter and teacher. But now he was in America where the people’s
wants and customs were very different. He started his first Tae Kwon
Do class in 1974. But it closed after only two months. Grand Master
Park believes that the advanced techniques he taught were too difficult
for beginning students, who quickly became frustrated and stopped coming
Grand Master Park changed his style and concentrated
on the basics when he reopened his school. He continues to teach in
Jackson and expanded to Hillsdale College. As the Tae Park Institute
grew, Grand Master Park focused on building a strong supportive organization
that would produce black belts with solid leadership skills. As the
years passed, Grand Master Park opened schools in Springport, Grand
Rapids, Hillsdale, Jackson, and Ypsilanti.
Tae Park Institute Today
Twenty years have passed since Grand Master Park came
to America to teach Tae Kwon Do. Today, Tae Park Institute has schools
in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Wyoming, Ohio, Texas, New
Mexico, Alaska, and many Michigan school locations. There are over 1,500
black belts with 30 Master Instructors.
Grand Master Park’s students speak of him with
great pride and respect and view him as a father figure and mentor.
As one of Grand Master Park’s master instructors has said, “The
Tae Park Institute will survive a long time because of Grand Master
Park’s high caliber physical ability, intelligence, compassion,
and family-like loyalty toward his pupils.”
Grand Master Park and his wife, Mrs. Hwy Park, currently
live in the Ann Arbor area. His daughter Na Lee attends the University
of Michigan, and daughter Na Na, a Wellesley College graduate, works
at a law firm in New York City. Grand Master Park’s son, Won Hee,
a graduate of Harvard University, is employed at IBM.
Written by Valerie Lucas, 5th dan with contributions
from Lynn Bernard, 6th dan. Edited by Mary Peteryf, blue belt. (Retyped
for this web page from the 2002 Tae Park Tae Kwon Do World Class Championships
Brochure, by Jessica Bennett 1st Dan)
(image designed by EDI, Eckert Design
Copyright © 2008 by Northern Michigan Tae Park Tae Kwon Do,