Photo of Grandmaster Suk Jun Kim demonstrating a technique on Master Michael Dickinson of Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts

Grandmaster Suk Jun Kim Holds Taekwondo Special Seminar at Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts

Master Tony Morris and Master Michael Dickinson, on behalf of Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts, would like to thank Grandmaster Kim, again, for coming to Asheville for our Saturday May 12 Traditional Taekwondo Special Seminar.

Over 130 students participated across all belt ranks and ages (5 years old -79 years old!). The seminar covered a variety of topics, as well as technical development. There were 2 separate sessions, the first lasting 1-1/2 hours, was dedicated to lower and middle belt ranking kids. This session helped them light the fire of excitement about their practices and opened their eyes to the opportunity of having a lifelong Taekwondo practice. The second session lasted 3 hours, and was dedicated to kids ranked red belt and higher, as well as teens and adults of all ranks. This seminar section included a variety of topics, technical clarifications, and introduction to some new technical variations.

Each session ended with a question and answer session with Grandmaster Kim, helping students gain insight into his personal history, as well as the lineage and history of Traditional Taekwondo and the place we all hold within that framework.

Although it seemed to be over quickly, our time with Grandmaster Kim, as always, was impactful and enlightening. What a great contribution to our collective practice!

Thank You Grandmaster Kim!

Master Tony Morris

Asheville Sun Soo to Host All-Ranks Special Seminar Conducted by Grandmaster Suk Jun Kim!

Grandmaster Suk Jun Kim teaches students at Asheville Sun Soo Martial ArtsOn Saturday May 12, Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts will be holding an all-ranks seminar as an excellent boost to and extension of our students’ martial arts practice. This seminar will be conducted by Grandmaster Suk Jun Kim, 9th Dan, President and founder of Taekwon-do International, and teacher of Master Tony Morris.

Grandmaster Kim is a direct student of General Choi, the founder of Traditional Tae Kwon Do – the primary art taught at Asheville Sun Soo. He was involved with TKD at its inception, and was a chosen member of General Choi’s International Demonstration team, traveling the world for decades – helping to introduce this art to countless thousands. He is an excellent instructor, and we are highly anticipating his visit.

It is always a benefit to a practice to work with highly skilled practitioners and instructors, and Asheville Sun Soo is fortunate that he will be making the trip down to work with our students. We are excited to host him, and Grandmaster Kim is excited to be here with us all!

There will be one 1.5 hour session for children 10 and under, and one session for older children, higher ranking children, and all adults lasting 3 hours. Class credit is available for all participants!

Remember we will not be having regularly scheduled kids’ classes (with the exception of Mighty Tigers and Mighty Lions, who will be meeting for their regular Saturday class) on Saturday due to this event.


Times are as follows:

Kids Seminar (open to all kid practitioners 10 and under or blue-red belt and under).
This will run from 9am – 10:30am and will be worth 3 class credits.

Adult Seminar (open to all adult practitioners, as well as kids red belt or higher).
This will run from 11am-2pm and will be worth 6 class credits.

Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts Welcomes Master Mark Nathanson as Our Guest Master Instructor for Our 2018 April Testing

We are pleased to announce that Master Mark Nathanson will be joining us at Asheville Sun Soo for our 2018 April testing. Master Nathanson has been a long time member and contributor to Taekwon-do International and a student of Grandmaster Kim’s for nearly 40 years. Master Nathanson is accomplished in his life both as a martial artist and as a podiatric surgeon. He is also a devoted husband to Emma – a high school teacher of English and Psychology, and father of three awesome kids – Sam (12), Maya (9) and Hannah (7). Master Nathanson is a fantastic instructor with a great sense of humor and we are excited to have him as a guest this weekend!

Master Nathanson began his Taekwondo practice in 1976 at Grandmaster Kim’s first school in Bergenfield, New Jersey. He had some boxing experience but wanted to expand his skill set and had a friend who was practicing with Master Kim at the time. In summer of 1979, Master Nathanson earned his 1st degree black belt and was, soon after, teaching basic classes at the school. From 1979 to 1983 he competed on the Ohio State University TKD team and taught classes for the school’s Tae Kwon Do club.

Master Nathanson’s early martial arts career was defined by intense training and frequent competition. He says he has competed in 200-300 tournaments in his life…many that went well and many that didn’t. Some of his career highlights include competing for the USA in the Americas cup in 1980, being the captain of the Ohio State University team for 4 years straight, and competing in either the US collegiate nationals or the USA nationals for each year in college.

Master Nathanson cites Grandmaster Kim as his greatest influence and says that he continues to look up to him after several decades of being his student. Master Nathanson also fondly remembers Master Ruben Cassenova, who has passed away, as one of his favorite teachers. Although Master Nathanson initially found him to be intimidating, he ultimately is grateful to Master Cassenova for teaching him how to be tough and how to exceed what he thought he was capable of.

Another career highlight for Master Nathanson occurred when he was invited to train at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs in 1980 after placing second in the middle weight category in the state of Ohio. After four days of high altitude training, he says he couldn’t wait to get home. He also traveled to Korea with Grandmaster Kim in 1995 and trained at the Kukkiwan (the world Taekwon-do headquarters) for “ten glorious days.” His last tournaments were in 2003-2006, and he counts himself as “lucky enough” to compete in and sometimes win grand championships in breaking, patterns, and sparring. Master Nathanson does not compete anymore due to his high rank, but he still misses it!

Master Nathanson’s favorite element of Taekwon-do training is the constant search to find a better way to do things and then to try to find a way to impart that knowledge onto others – he says “it makes it feel brand new to me every day, despite the many years I have put into it. I love to see those that I teach actually ‘get it’… it is the greatest feeling one can have.” Master Nathanson also loves practicing and teaching basics. He enjoys the challenge of seeing how each individual person moves and then trying to figure out how to teach them how to use the Taekwon-do in such a way as to fit their body. As an instructor and as a practitioner, Master Nathanson believes that this process helps him to make improvements.

As part of his life-long commitment to fitness and athleticism, Master Nathanson’s other interests include weight lifting, running or biking. He is also dedicated to working hard in the office to help his patients. However his ultimate passion is his family. His oldest son is autistic and struggles daily with his challenges, but has a huge heart and is considered to truly be the family’s gift. His daughters are active in sports, and are excellent students. His wife is a graduate of Columbia University and the Teacher’s College at Barnard.

Master Nathanson has visited Asheville Sun Soo several times before, and loves Asheville. He is excited about seeing all of the instructors and students again.

We are thrilled to welcome Master Nathanson back to Asheville for our testing this weekend. He is an exceptional teaching resource in the larger Taekwon-do community and we are lucky to have him as a guest judge. We are also looking forward to the seminar that he will be teaching Saturday morning for our black belts. Thank you Master Nathanson for taking time out of your busy life to be with us this weekend!

Martial Arts Master Instructor

Asheville Sun Soo Welcomes Master John Penn as Our Guest Master Instructor for December Testing

Master John Penn began his martial arts journey in 1986, when he began studying Chung Do Kwan, one of the five primary styles of Traditional Tae Kwon Do. Master Penn started his martial arts practice through the University of Toledo.

After receiving his 1st Degree Black Belt in 1992 in Traditional Tae Kwon Do, he began a martial arts program at the YMCA, which he developed into a full-time program. In 2002, after additional training in complementary martial arts styles, Master Penn opened Satori Martial Arts in its current location in Maumee OH. He is still the primary instructor and is on the mat teaching 7 days a week, including classes in Garamot Arnis, Japanese Jujitsu, Karate, Yoga, and Danzan Ryu healing arts.

Master Penn loves teaching and inspiring people. He is an excellent instructor who has the mission to make each student feel engaged, important, and accomplished. Besides his full-time martial arts and healing arts instruction, he also serves as the State Director for Garamot Arnis.

Master Penn currently holds a 5th degree black belt in Okinawan Karate, a 5th degree black belt in Japanese Jujitsu, and is Shodan in Danzan Ryu healing arts. He is father to 5, all but one of whom have earned at least their 1st Degree Black Belts. His 15 year old daughter is an assistant instructor at Satori Martial Arts, and two of his sons still train.

Master Penn would like to acknowledge all of his instructors:

Guru Baet

Professor Tom Ryan

Hanshi Steven Roensch

Shihan Pete Pukish – founder of Satori in Roswell, GA

Please help us to welcome Master Penn by personally introducing yourself and thanking him for his presence.

Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts Welcomes Master Bob Kerr To Our October 2017 Testing

Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts Welcomes Master Bob Kerr To Our October 2017 Testing

Please join us in welcoming Master Bob Kerr, originally of Charlotte NC, to our October testing event! Master Kerr trains and teaches under Grandmaster Ju Hun Kim (of Kim School of Tae Kwon Do, in Charlotte, NC), who was Master Morris’ first teacher. He has also been the general secretary of the International Black Belt Association (founded by Grandmaster Ju Hun Kim) since 1984, and is a 5th degree Master Instructor.

Master Kerr’s main reason for beginning Tae Kwon Do was to counter the effects of a sedentary vocation – he is a Methodist minister – and to achieve and maintain excellent health. He began his journey in 1974 at 28 years old, when he decided to stop in and observe a Tae Kwon Do class at a school he regularly passed by, and at which he still practices. At the age of 72, he is still teaching and enjoying his practice. He loves embracing exciting challenges and tapping into his potential as a martial artist. In fact, he had hip replacement surgery four months ago, and is back on the mat already. He attributes his speedy recovery to his 43 years of practice.

Master Kerr and his wife have 3 sons, including John Flynn, who practices here at Asheville Sun Soo with his son, Gage. All three of Master Kerr’s sons practiced Tae Kwon Do during their childhood and teenage years, and one is currently a 3rd degree Black Belt in South Carolina.

In his spare time, Master Kerr enjoys woodworking. He is also a songwriter – he and his wife perform together, and he is a regular participant in an annual songwriting workshop held by Bill and Gloria Gaither.

Master Kerr is looking forward to being with Master Morris and the students and other instructors at Sun Soo this upcoming weekend!


Asheville Sun Soo Welcomes Additional Guest, Professor Thomas Ryan to Our August Testing

Asheville Sun Soo Welcomes Additional Guest, Professor Thomas Ryan to Our August Testing

Professor Thomas H. Ryan Jr.Please join us in welcoming Professor Thomas Ryan to our August testing event. This will be Professor Ryan’s first visit to our school, and we are excited to have him here!

Professor Ryan has received training in Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kodokan Judo, and Kodenkan Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. He has also studied Escrima, Wing Chun, Judo, Aikido, boxing, wrestline, Karate, Lua, Philippino knife, Kun Tao Silat de Thouars, and other styles of jujitsu.

He holds the title of Rokudan (6th Degree) with the title of Professor with Kodenkan Danzan Ryu Jujitsu Hombu,Costa Rica. He is Hachidan (8th Degree) with the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation and the American Traditional Jujutsu Association. In addition, he is a Sandan (3rd Degree) in Kodokan Judo, a Jujitsu Rokudan and a Master Jujitsu Rank Examiner with the United States Judo Association and also holds a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.

In addition to his martial arts studies, Professor Ryan is also a Certified Okazaki Restorative Massage Therapist, a distinction he earned in 1985 from the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation’s Okazaki Restorative Massage program. He has built upon this by earning his Okazaki Massage Instructor Certificate in 1988, his Massage Therapist Instructor certification from the Human Touch School of the Healing Arts in 1990, and has been a Certified Instructor with American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) since 1993.

He believes that his greatest reason for studying and teaching martial arts is to strengthen his spirit for all of life’s challenges, to be discriminatory so he can gain wisdom, to have a positive impact on the youth and adults in his community, and to be compassionate so he can serve others to the best of his ability.

Professor Ryan is an associate and fellow practitioner of Professor Thabiti Sabahive, the head Jiu Jitsu instructor of Asheville Sun Soo.

sheville Sun Soo Welcomes Master Ron Whitted to Our August Testing

Asheville Sun Soo Welcomes Master Ron Whitted to Our August Testing

Master Ron WhittedPlease join us in welcoming Master Ron Whitted to our August testing event! Master Whitted is president and founder of the North Carolina Taekwondo Organization and has launched an Olympic Taekwondo Development Program in his region.

Master Whitted is a Level 1 Olympic Taekwondo Coach, a B-1 USAT National Referee and a National and International Taekwondo champion – having won Gold medals in Forms and Sparring at the US National Taekwondo Championships and the US Open Taekwondo Championships. As a coach, Master Whitted has guided his team to win over 50 national medals at the US Junior Olympics and National Taekwondo Championships since 1992. Master Whitted is also the Taekwondo Competition Manager of the Powerade State Games of North Carolina Taekwondo Championships.

Master Whitted’s personal motto is “still kickin’,” believing that a committed and consistent practitioner will live a long, happy and healthy life!


Taekwondo Bootcamp at Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts

2017 TKDI Bootcamp A Huge Success

Asheville Sun Soo was honored to host the TKDI (Tae Kwon Do International) Bootcamp, held August 4th through August 6th, 2017. This event brought together over 100 practitioners of varying ranks, representing schools throughout the TKDI family. All classes & training sessions were run by Grandmaster Kim, who shared his vast knowledge, enthusiasm and many years of experience with students of all ranks.

Bootcamp began Friday night, with registration and a meet and greet. It was wonderful watching students from different schools interacting and getting acquainted with one another. Practitioners then shared a meal, and got prepared for the an exciting and rigorous training session, finishing with a talent show that evening.

Saturday morning, there were many opportunities to learn about the nuances and mechanics of proper kicking technique, as well as words of wisdom from Grandmaster Kim about recognizing that we each practice for ourselves. Practitioners from all participating schools then enjoyed a tubing field trip, and were able to take in some of the natural beauty of this area while resting and relaxing. Students reconvened at Asheville Sun Soo in the late afternoon, and after enjoying a shared dinner, resumed training with a short session, led once again by Grandmaster Kim, in the evening.

Sunday morning’s training session although optional, but was a fantastic turnout despite the tired legs! Each visiting Master Instructor led a session, with the purpose of reviewing material covered during the weekend. Practitioners were able to ask questions, get clarity on techniques, and otherwise absorb additional information.

All in all, TKDI Bootcamp was an excellent opportunity to enhance the practice of all who participated, to meet fellow practitioners from our sister schools, and to receive instruction from other Master Instructors, thereby further contributing to a more whole understanding of the curriculum. Students left inspired and invigorated in their practice.

Many thanks to all of the highly skilled instructors who supported the training. They include:

Grandmaster S.J. Kim, 9th Dan, Founder and President of Taekwon-do International
Master Mark Nathanson, 8th Dan, Glen Ridge Taekwon-do
Master Tony Morris, 7th Dan, Asheville Sun Soo, Asheville NC
Master John Meany, 7th Dan, Taekwon-do International Chief Instructor, Glen Ridge Taekwon-do, Montclair, NJ
Master James Marr, 7th Dan, Master Marr’s Taekwon-do, Shaker Heights, OH
Master Paul D’Ambrosio, 6th Dan, Aliso Hills Taekwon-do, Aliso Viejo, CA
Master Laura Giletti, 6th Dan, Glen Ridge Taekwon-do, Montclair, NJ
Master Keith Klok, 6th Dan, Klok’s School of Martial Arts, Wake Forest, NC, Full Instructor Krav Maga
Professor Thabiti Sabahive, 5th Dan Dansan Ryu Jujitsu, Asheville Sun Soo, Asheville, NC
Master Michael Dickinson, 4th Dan, Asheville Sun Soo, Asheville NC

Next year’s Boot Camp will be held in early August (2018). More details to come as definite plans are made.

Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts Hosts 2017 TKDI Bootcamp

Asheville Sun Soo Tae Kwon Do is excited to be hosting the 2017 Annual TKDI Bootcamp, which will be held from August 4th -6th. This is our second year hosting this event, and we at Asheville Sun Soo are honored to host the event once again. Last year marked the largest attendance ever for a TKDI Bootcamp event at over 130 practitioners. We expect this year’s attendance to set another record!

There are under 3 weeks left until this event, so see your school’s Master Instructor for registration and details. In order to help with the logistics of planning this event, we are offering a free t-shirt to all participants who register by Wednesday July 26. Anyone who registers after this date can purchase the t-shirt once they arrive at Bootcamp.

Host families are available for out-of-town students who would like to avoid the cost of lodging while attending Bootcamp. Please let your Master Instructor know if you would like to make this arrangement.

We are happy to announce that Grandmaster Kim will be lead instructing ALL of the major training sessions during this year’s Bootcamp – and he is excited to see and work with everyone’s Tae Kwon Do. Supporting Grandmaster Kim’s lead instruction will be more than a dozen additional TKDI master ranks.

In addition to all of the awesome training seesions, we will also hold a talent show, share 5 meals together in the dojang, and hit the river for tubing!

Don’t miss this awesome TKDI training experience!

We look forward to seeing you at Bootcamp!

Special Note: Remember that Asheville is a fantastic vacation destination, and we invite you to consider staying and enjoying additional vacation days in our city. For more information on things to do while in Asheville, please visit


Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts June Belt Testing – Guest Master Instructor Corey Lewis

Master Lewis is a 7th degree black belt with over 35 years experience in martial arts. He is a Master Instructor in the Sun Yi system, of which Master Tony Morris was a part for over 25 years, and he and Master Morris have enjoyed a friendship since the early 90s. In addition to his Tae Kwon Do practice, Master Lewis has complementary experience in Aikido and Jiu-jitsu. Master Lewis owns and operates Sun Yi Academy in Arcata, CA.

Martial arts are not the only field in which Master Lewis has expertise. He is also a father of 2 boys, a formally tenured professor of English at Humboldt State University in California, a professional coach, and the author of a recently released book, “Art of Becoming.”

Master Lewis is an accomplished teacher, and an excellent martial artist. We look forward to having him as our Guest Master Instructor at our June belt testing event.