In Korean, Taekwondo means “the way of the foot and fist.”
For Grandmaster Jun Cheol Yoon, Taekwondo instructor at Las Positas, it was natural for him to begin practicing the martial art that originated in his native country. Born in Seoul, Yoon said he began the discipline at the age of nine.
“My brother told me that I needed to have a strong body to be successful in life,” Yoon said.
Over time, Yoon began to win recognition for his devotion and his skill.
He has competed in countless tournaments, winning award after award. He won the Korean President’s Cup, one of the most highly regarded tournaments in Korea, three years in a row — an accomplishment for which he is very proud.
“It was a great honor to not only compete as a teenager, but to take home gold three separate times,” Yoon said.
He also achieved success at the 1976 Asian Games. He received a gold medal for his performance in Taekwondo while he was in high school. He was rewarded with multiple scholarships and continued his career at the Korean National Sport University, where Yoon began to lean toward teaching. He landed a job teaching physical education and Taekwondo at Cheon High School, and in 1987 he graduated with a M.S. Degree in Physical Education. From there, Yoon went on to get a PhD in Sports Management.
Though Yoon had traveled to the area during his numerous times around the world and to the United States as a Korean National Demonstration Team Member and World Class Coach, it wasn’t until 1991 that he decided to make the East Bay his home.
Yoon continued to add to his resume once settled in the Unites States, becoming a part of Team USA Taekwondo. He began teaching at Las Positas in 1996. In 2002, he headed the Taekwondo Olympic team for the United States, and coached the Olympic team again in 2006.
Yoon’s career has been a highlight reel since then. Some awards include: 2011 U.S. National Taekwondo Championship Gold Medalist, best official at the 2012 World Taekwondo Championship, World Games Gold Medalist and World Poomsae Taekwondo Championship Referee in Indonesia. Yoon was recently awarded one of the most prestigious honors in the Taekwondo world earning the “9th Dan” from the World Taekwondo Federation from Kukiwon, South Korea, headquarters to Taekwondo.
“Taekwondo is my life,” Yoon said. It is a part of me, a piece of my soul.”
Yoon has been teaching at Las Positas for more than 11 years. He sticks to a consistent routine of getting up early, eating a small breakfast and going to his studio in Dublin to train for physical fitness. He’ll work out, stretch and practice technical aspects of Taekwondo, including kicking and punching. Depending on the day, he may head to Las Positas and teach class.
“It has been a great experience to learn about a martial art that’s really old,” Las Positas College student Humberto Salinas said. “I love studying under Grandmaster Yoon.”
Yoon said to become a successful martial artist the key things you must have are strong mind and spirit. He said martial arts do not only include the physical aspect but the mental fortitude as the core as well as the soul.
Yoon likes to live by a motto: “Jung shin il do, Ha sah bulsung,” which translates to, “If I have one goal and one focus I can achieve anything.”
Those goals and achievements have earned Yoon yet another trip to the Olympics this summer in Rio where his skill and decades of experience may be called on once again.