Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to develop more calmness, clarity and concentration? Or maybe to improve your physical fitness, or to work on your boundaries with people? Help is at hand, and his name is Master Chand Hee Kim. He’s a ninth-degree black belt, and for more than 40 years, he’s lived in downtown Globe and taught martial arts.
Deborah Yerkovich, whose two sons study tae kwan-do at Master Kim’s studio, says he “teaches them respect, how to stand up for themselves, and how to stand up for others.”
“Tae kwon-do includes kicking, punching, concentration, safety, and defense,” explains Grand Master Chang Hee Kim. “Hap ki-do builds the spiritual component.”
Master Kim offers separate classes for kids, teenagers and adults. Students must be five years old or older to enroll, though in one case a three-year-old was allowed to put on a uniform and “kick things” while his older siblings took lessons.
“Younger is the better,” says Master Kim. “What we’re teaching, they absorb it faster.”
Tae kwon-do puts more emphasis on kicks than karate; hands are used as backup. One of the first benefits of tae kwon-do, Master Kim says, is concentration and a calm mind. Tae kwon-do, he says, is a useful tool in teaching active young boys to calm themselves.
“By the time the boys know girls,” he says, “they have greater problems with concentration.”
Bethany Herwaldt, who lives in Ft. Thomas, started her kids in tae kwon-do in 2019 because her neighbors moved away and her kids needed “something to do.”
“I’ve always liked the idea of martial arts,” Herwaldt says. “It was something to do along with my children. It was fun to start at the same level and work on up with them.”
She started making the one-hour drive from Ft. Thomas to downtown Globe one night a week. She worked through the lower belts with her then nine-year-old son, Adam, and seven-year-old daughter, Janie.
Together they learned the five tenets of tae kwon-do: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. As they advanced, Herwaldt began taking classes two nights a week. There was some time off for Covid, but not much.
“We practiced what we had learned,” says Bethany. “It wasn’t really in the cards to do things online.”
Last month, Bethany, Adam, and Janie received their first-degree black belts, along with four other students, in a special ceremony.
Care and Discipline
Master Kim has a reputation for high standards. Bethany Herwaldt points out that everyone at the studio is expected to “toe the mark.”
“He pushes himself and expects no less from his students,” Deborah Yerkovich says.
“They can tell if you’ve been practicing, so it’s a good motivation,” Herwaldt adds. “It’s good for practicing self-discipline.”
The combination of caring and high standards generates results. Master Kim recalls, with heartfelt pride, a troubled teenager who was into drinking and was being disrespectful at school. Through tae kwon-do, the young man learned to channel his feelings and empower himself rather than be destructive. Today, he’s married and provides leadership to others.
“Sometimes there is a fear of the unknown, in starting something new, a fear of failure,” says Scott Murphy, the father of three students. “The Kims worked with the kids where they are and worked toward their goals.”
The principles the kids learn – mental, physical, spiritual, and social – will stay with them throughout their lives, Murphy says. Those principles will also go with them wherever they go. Murphy’s daughter Jessica began tae kwon-do training at 16; now 32, she uses the training as a tool in her work with girls in eastern Europe – teaching them life skills and self-defense.
A Dream Come True
When Ronnie Attaway was eight years old, people dismissed his dream of teaching martial arts, but Master Kim helped make it a reality. Ronnie was born with Down Syndrome. Master Kim encouraged his mother, Chris Attaway, to bring him to study tae kwon-do.
“I know he can do it, “ Master Kim told her.
Ronnie became his longest-running student. In 20 years, he earned all his belts, kicked bricks, and ultimately became a black belt. He began to teach the lower belts what they needed to learn.
Ronnie was held up as an example and inspiration to the other students.
“Many kids looked at Ronnie and looked at his commitment and said to themselves, if he can do it, I can do it,” Scott Murphy says.
In addition to his black belt, Ronnie received many awards for his achievements in tae kwon-do. He passed away in 2018 at age 43, after a three-year fight with leukemia.
“He loved Master Kim,” Ronnie’s mother says. “Master Kim was family to him.”
Tae kwon-do is a hand-to-hand combat method that dates back to 50 B.C.E. in Korea. It was banned, along with other military arts, when the Japanese occupied Korea between 1910 and 1945. Though some adherents continued to practice in secret, others traveled to study martial arts in China and Japan, and the influences of judo, karate and kung fu led to the development of different styles of tae kwon-do.
Today the World Tae Kwon-Do Federation sets the standards for competition rules and new developments in the sport. With over 50 million practitioners, tae kwon do is the most widely practiced martial arts style in the world. It debuted as an Olympic sport in 2000, with competitors from 51 different countries.
Master Kim began his own practice of martial arts at age five. His father, a judo instructor, got all three of his sons involved in martial arts for the health benefits that a life of sport offers.
Master Kim moved to the United States from Seoul in 1976, following many other members of his family. He taught tae kwon-do in Phoenix and met his future wife in a church choir. In 1979, they married and moved to Globe, where they’ve lived ever since.
“Small town, nice people,” says Master Kim.
“Friendly, like a family,” Mrs. Kim adds.
In addition to opening a studio, Master Kim drove to Sierra Vista and surrounding towns to teach in church halls and other venues. In 2013, he opened a dojang – the word essentially refers to a school, but literally means “training hall” and denotes the main teaching space itself – in Safford. Some years, he took students to Korea to train.
Today, Master Kim holds all his classes at his school at 300 N. Broad St. in Globe. For the past seven years, he’s been supported by instructor Christian Ring, who was his student for 12 years.
Family and Community
Nearly 71 years old, Master Kim stands with a strong physique, a bright face and a calm manner. He maintains his physical and spiritual strength through his own tae kwon-do practice, which he performs before classes. He also lifts weights at the gym. He and his wife both maintain a healthy lifestyle by walking in the mountains and working out.
“We try to do a good diet,” Mrs. Kim says with a laugh. “We love food!”
Mrs. Kim is also a black belt, an honor she earned in the 1980s. Today she runs the business and the backroom. The couple owned Kim’s Fashions for many years and now run JC Fashions, the formal wear shop next to the studio. Mrs. Kim knows the names of all the students – and their parents.
“The Kims become like family,” Bethany Herwaldt says. “They want to make sure everyone is doing okay. They care about their students. That’s refreshing.”
“My kids came away loving Master Kim and Mrs. Kim, with her personal touch,” says Scott Murphy. “They make such a great team.”
As a longtime resident, small business owner, and mother to two young students, Deborah Yerkovich has a clear perspective on what the Kims have brought to the community over many years.
“They have offered decades of building confidence, experience, and pride within their students,” she says. “We are all better people for having them inspire us.”
While students and parents describe the Kims as generous, caring, helpful, and passionate, they’re modest about speaking about themselves.
“If you are interested, come see us,” says Mrs. Kim. “Anytime.”
A traveler, Patti Daley came to Globe in 2016 to face the heat, follow love, and find desert treasure. She writes in many formats and records travel scraps and other musings at daleywriting.com.