Hello Grandmaster Stanley, Thank you for taking part in our
feature. So, Sir, what country did you grow up in as a kid? Do you still live there?
I live in Canada and I still live here.
How big was your family that you grew up with?
My parents and one sister who is 4 years younger than myself.
What age did you start TaeKwonDo?
I started TKD at the age of 18. The small town I grew up in did not have any martial arts until I turned 18. Then a black stripe started working out with others interested in martial arts and I managed to get involved with them.Once I started training I was hooked. My best friend and I began training outside of class times and ended up working out together every day of the week for tenmyears. Maybe we missed a day or two in a year but it was rare.
What inspired you to start? i.e. a film star, lack of fitness, self defence, confidence etc
I had a number of things start me towards Martial arts. The TV series KUNG FU with David Carradine was one, I enjoyed watching fights on TV (mostly boxing), and I was smaller in stature so I had been bullied in school which also led me to join Taekwon-do so I could better defend myself.
When you took up TKD, did your family support you?
Since I was an adult my family really didn’t enter into the process. I was working and was able to do what I wanted, when I wanted. Taekwon-do very quickly took over my spare time and it became my main passion. I really liked the precision of the techniques. Once I got into sparring, that really increased the fun level for me. My best friend was 6 foot 4 inches tall and we sparred every day. I stand at 5 foot 9 inches. It took a while but he really helped me get over my fear of fighting. He was also a golden gloves boxer so my hand techniques (in sparring) really excelled.
Regarding family, did any of them take up TKD ?
My 3 daughters and my wife all are/were in Taekwon-do. My youngest is just turning 8 years old and is currently a green belt.Everyone else is a black belt. My wife Theresa, is a 6th degree. We run our Taekwon-do clubs together
Do they still train?
Only my youngest daughter and my wife train at the moment.
How many times did you meet the Founder?
I met the founder many many times. All told I participated in 29 seminars with him. Both IIC’s and a few private meetings that I was lucky enough to attend. One time General Choi just showed up at the club I was training at.My instructor never mentioned he wasncoming and then all of a sudden he walked into the facility. The class ended up training for 5 or 6 hours with him. There were about 24 students or so and
we managed to cover all the patterns that I knew at that point, up to Gae baek. I attended one of the first IIC’s when they were really long. That one was Friday,Saturday and Sunday, then Monday through to the next Sunday. 10 days. Many years later, when I was organizing
the COM-DO project, I enjoyed another very long “seminar” when we filmed the LEGACY series. That took a week as well in the rocky Mountains in a town called Banff.
Did you ever travel or assist him? Please give details.
I never travelled with the General but I was called upon at a number of IIC by him to demonstrate some patterns and other aspects of
Taekwon-do. I have to say it was a very proud feeling when the General would call out and say where is Stanley? I was just another
participant at the seminars but he knew I was there and “requested” that I demonstrate this or that on occasion.
What was your fondest memory of General Choi?
Too many to list but I can give a few really interesting things that took place with him. One day at a dinner the General asked me
what my name meant. After explaining it to him he wrote some calligraphy on a paper and announced to the table that my Korean
name is San-Jung. He called me Stanley San-Jung. Another time when I was hosting an IIC in my City, he made a speech about me
to the entire crowd. It had to do with me being humble. It was very awkward for me to stand there and get this incredible accolade from
the founder (the video is on Youtube!). Earlier in my career I was at another IIC and after it ended we were leaving the city and happened to be on the same flight as the General. I ended up boarding right behind him and as luck would have it, someone bumped me forward. I desperately tried to avoid brushing into the General but to no avail. He turned back and smiled at me, saying, “patience young man”. I almost melted from embarrassment.
Did you compete during your career at all?
I did. But I did not start competing until red belt. In some ways that is a regret, but in others it turned out ok. I would have liked to have done it sooner since it turns out it was a lot of fun. But in the end I had more time to train and be ready for the competitive arena.
Do you have a memory about competing you would like to share?
i.e. injuries sustained, the teaching methods taught by your instructor, highs or lows, people met etc.
I remember one event where I was competing for the gold medal in sparring. I ended up spraining my ankle since we were competing on softer wrestling mats (I have no idea why). The person I was competing against was not very good. He managed to get to the final round with a bye, an opponent hurting himself and a disqualification. Then I hurt myself. There was 30 seconds left in the round and the referee was going to call me out and give the win to my opponent. I begged him to let me continue for the last 30 seconds. Eventually he let me. So I basically hopped around the ring on one foot trying to avoid the other guys attacks. I felt confident that I had gotten enough points before the sprain that I would win if the time ran down. As it ended up, I managed to avoid his attacks and I did win. Two tenets got me through that one.
What was your best title won to when competing? Before the ITF split, when it was still one organization, I managed to win the gold
medal in patterns and sparring at the Provincial level 5 years in a row. At the same time I did the same thing at the Western Canadian level. At one of those events all the gold medal matches were done in front of General Choi and he hung the medals around our necks. It was very satisfying to win gold in patterns and sparring in front of the founder.
Did you ever serve on your national TKD squad? Give details. I did not join the National team in Canada. The one time I decided to try,
I made it, but I had to drop out as the date of the event coincided with the birth of my first child. Later, politics got in the way and one of the Presidents of one of the ITF groups in Canada managed to always get his guys on the teams but not many people from other clubs. Strange how that works…
What age did you become an instructor? I assisted when I was a red belt and really enjoyed it. I opened my first club when I was a first degree black belt. I would have been about 22 years old.
What encouraged that transition? A number of people where I worked wanted to learn from me so I found a space and started a club. I had 7 students the first day and we had a great time. It slowly grew and eventually I quit my job to teach full time.
What is your best memory as an instructor? Students achievement, first Black Belt, title status etc.
Each year the memories get better and better. They all add up to a great run and I look to the future and see nothing but better and better times. Great memories are nice but I look forward to the new memories that I know are coming. That is what keeps me excited
So, what has been your best achievement in TKD apart from becoming a Grand Master?
Again, I have many milestone achievements like the LEGACY Series with General Choi. The many Gold medals won in competition, the dozens of training sessions with the founder, getting to the level of 9th degree and many more. But I have to say that the crowning achievement (so far) is the organization that has been created by myself, my wife and all of my students. Currently we have the most
fantastic flagship dojang that is 8500 sq ft with 3 gyms, and 6 other club locations around our city. We host the largest ITF tournament in
Canada every year. Normally I have about 50 to 60 active blackbelts in our group. We constantly have activities going on from belt gradings
to specialty parties, and so many more. Our club name is Phoenix Taekwon-do and like the mythical Phoenix, we are rising from the
ashes of the pandemic to return to the splendour of what we were, and to be even bigger and better!
Do you have one memory you can share about TKD. A fun story, who you met etc.
When I was a first degree my instructor and I travelled to the City where General Choi lived (in Canada) to compete in a few martial arts tournaments. Open Karate type events. During this trip we stopped in at General Choi’s house for tea. That in itself was interesting enough
but then we moved into doing techniques in pattern and ended up being there for 3 hours. I was so nervous the entire time I think I must
have sweated out 10 pounds easy.
What are your hopes or plans for TaeKwonDo in general for the future? Just to keep training until I can no longer kick. Then I will teach
from a chair if need be.
If you could change anything from your career what would it be?
I would have dropped the politics much sooner and focused on my clubs.
Lastly what is your current position you hold in TaeKwonDo apart from GM?
I am currently a member of the promotions committee with ITF Union.
Sir, thank you sincerely for taking the time to be part of our magazine. What we find from many that read our feature, they love reading the history of our Grandmasters so, again Sir, thank you for your time.