Last week, my long-time colleague and fellow member of the original Oriental Moo-Do School (OMS), Richard Veyna SBN, informed me of Jimmy KJN’s serious life-threatening situation. Then, on Friday, June 23, the worst expected circumstance, his passing, happened. It was truly heartbreaking.
I first met Jimmy Young-Shin KJN, in 1972, at Grandmaster Chan-Yong Kim’s original Gardena dojang. He was about six years old. Back then, the school was called the Dae-Myung Judo-Taekwondo Academy. Our families became very close, and my daughters were his playmates. I trained with him both at the OMS and at the Fullerton YMCA class until about 1987. I had a chance to watch him grow from a youngster until adulthood. I watched him mature and become a spectacular TKD performer.
After the 1988 Olympics, we both went along our separate paths; however, we always remained connected. This was especially true with the Jimmy Kim Invitational (JKI) tournaments, created by his father. Grandmaster Kim still oversaw the OMS while Jimmy KJN opened and ran his own Jimmy Kim Taekwondo Center (JKTC) in Laguna Niguel.
More than just a competitor and coach, Jimmy KJN always represented the highest level of ethics and collegiality to everyone that he encountered. Just as I was there for him as a teacher in his younger days, he returned that favor to me time and time again by being a leader and role model to me, my students, and our instructors. As we always discussed in our training, he was not just a tournament champion. He was a true warrior, in every sense of the word.
Even in this time of grief and a sense of loss in the passing of Jimmy KJN, I have discovered a bit of a silver lining to that dark cloud. Jimmy KJN’s passing seems to have inspired a large outreach from several of our colleagues from the early days of the OMS. All Saturday, so many senior instructors reached out to me to share their feelings of loss and their appreciation of his influence on their lives. In the final analysis, that is the true testament to his golden touch on our lives. We all wish to share our deepest condolences to his family, his students, and our entire TKD community.