POULSBO — Several years ago, when John Townsend and Victor Solier were learning taekwondo under a Korean grand master named Hak Tok Yun, they learned that Yun was a two-time national champion in Korea, so they knew he possessed skill; they learned Yun had been Gerald Ford’s personal bodyguard when the then-president had visited the country, so they knew he possessed toughness; and they learned how Yun could slam his forearm into a barbell 1,500 times when one strike would injure a normal man, so they knew he possessed strength.
But recently, Townsend and Solier ran into their old master at a tournament at Shoreline Community College, and they learned that he had one more trick up his sleeve: surprise.
Yun named Townsend and Solier, who both teach taekwondo in Poulsbo, as his successors, among six other former pupils.
Townsend for one didn’t know he had been picked; he was just told to line up for a ceremony.
When Yun named Solier as one successor, Townsend was pleased; when Yun uttered his name, and soon gave him a sword symbolizing the name, he was surprised.
“I never knew he thought of me in that way,” said Townsend. “I was shocked and surprised.”
The succession means that Solier and Townsend are authorized by Yun — who is one of the handful of 10th-degree black belts in the world — to pass on the tradition of Budo, which is the philosophy behind the martial arts.
Townsend said it is that philosophy that attracted him to Yun’s teaching in the first place.
“Master Yun’s thing is that respect is what it’s all about,” Townsend said. “If you respect your family you have peace in your house; if you respect your neighbor, you have peace in your neighborhood … martial arts is about peace, not war.”
Townsend is the Headmaster of Tao-Zen Academy of Martial Arts on Pioneer Way. Solier is the Senior Instructor at Solier’s Taekwondo, which is on Viking Way.
Both schools teach martial arts to both younger and adults students.