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BackGrand Master John Tompkins - a sad loss to ITF Taekwon-Do

6th July 2016

Grand Master John Tompkins had an enormous passion for martial arts and Taekwon-Do in particular.  He started as a young boy and stayed active in Taekwon-do throughout his life.  He was respected and loved by many all over the world.  One of his proudest moments was when President Choi Jung Hwa promoted him to the rank of 9th degree black belt at the 2014 World Championships in Rome, Italy.  His passion could be fiery at times but it was his love and commitment to keeping Taekwon-do pure that drove him.  He was a man who lived and died by his principles.



Grand Master John Tompkins became interested in the martial arts in 1957. It was difficult to find a martial arts instructor at that time but with the help of a Japanese foreign exchange student and by reading Bruce Tegner’s books, he began his training.

Grand Master Tompkins’ first formal training was in Judo and Jujutsu. From 1963 to December 1965, he learned grappling basics from Rod Sarcharnosky. He was a combat door gunner in Vietnam from December 1965 to July 1967 and was a decorated veteran, earning over 25 Air Medals, the Medal of Valor, and a Purple Heart.  He was introduced to TaeKwon-Do by Republic of Korea soldiers under the direction of 4th Degree Black Belt and eventually Grand Master Park Jung Tae. He trained in Jujutsu and Karate and underwent 2 years of rehabilitation from his first spinal fusion from July 1967 until 1973.

His training with the Korea TaeKwon-Do Association began again under one of Grand Master Park’s students in Vietnam and continued in the USA under B. C. Yu. Grand Master Tompkins resumed training privately under Grand Master Park’s direction in 1976. Grand Master Tompkins was a regional director for Master C. E. Sereff’s USTF from 1979 until 1989 because it was the only sanctioned ITF body in the US during those years. Between 1973 and 1989 he trained consistently in seminars with General Choi Hong Hi and Grand Master Park.

General Choi’s background in Soo-Bak-Gi and Karate influenced the development of the Chang-Hun style (General Choi’s method) in such a way that it allowed Grand Master Tompkins’ training in both Judo and Jujutsu to mesh perfectly with the Chang Hun style that General Choi invented.

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