In the world of martial arts, there are individuals whose journeys inspire generations. Grand Master J.R. West is undeniably one of these remarkable figures, with a martial arts career spanning over 50 years. His contributions to the art of Hapkido, along with his dedication and unwavering commitment, have left an indelible mark on the martial arts community.
A Humble Beginning in the 1960s
Master J.R. West's martial arts odyssey began in the 1960s during his tours in Vietnam. It was there that he was introduced to the dynamic art of Hapkido, igniting a lifelong passion. His training took place under the tutelage of Baek Nam Guk and Kim Jung Soo, both esteemed instructors in the Korean Tiger Division for the ROK Army.
In 1967, he proudly earned his Black Belt, marking the start of a journey that would shape the rest of his life.
A Journey Across Professions and Borders
Upon returning to the United States, Master West's martial arts journey continued alongside a diverse range of careers. From communications and electronics to retail sales and music, he ventured into various fields, all while pursuing his passion for martial arts.
Settling in Meridian, Mississippi, he teamed up with close friend "Rowdy" Yates to open a dojang. Later, he moved closer to Jackson, Mississippi, where he even offered martial arts classes at Millsaps College. This period marked the inception of his own dojang in Ridgeland, where he began teaching a unique blend of military applications from Taekwondo and Hapkido.
Guidance from Dr. He-Young Kimm
Master West's quest for a deeper understanding of traditional Korean martial arts led him to an invaluable mentor, Dr. He-Young Kimm. Under Dr. Kimm's guidance, Master West steadily built a devoted following of Hapkido students. Together with his wife Renee West, they nurtured West's Hapkido Academy, which soon gained international acclaim.
Their dedication was not in vain, as their efforts earned them the acceptance of Kim Jung Soo, the 8th student of the legendary founder of Hapkido, Choi Young Sul.
A Legacy Beyond Borders
The martial arts community experienced a profound loss in 2003 with the passing of Renee West. However, Master West's resilience and commitment to martial arts remained unshaken. He continued to teach and hold seminars, drawing students and friends from around the world.
His achievements culminated in the formation of the United States Korean Martial Arts Federation, a testament to his enduring impact.
Sharing Knowledge Across the Nation
Grand Master West's dedication extends to sharing his knowledge far and wide. He conducts two seminars each year at his headquarters dojang in Ridgeland, Mississippi, and he is highly sought after across the United States to lead seminars, enriching the martial arts community with his wisdom and understanding of Korean culture.
"Giving is Better than Receiving"
With over half a century of teaching experience, Grand Master J.R. West continues to inspire. While many of his Black Belts contribute to the daily operations of West's Hapkido Academy, he remains at the helm. His school thrives on the principle that "giving is better than receiving," emphasizing personal growth and self-improvement over combat skills.
Instructors at West's Hapkido Academy possess over 200 years of combined teaching experience in the ancient martial art of Hapkido. Their holistic approach aims to improve the overall well-being of their students, teaching them not only how to fight but, more importantly, how not to fight.
Join the Celebration Experience the legacy of Grand Master JR West and celebrate his contributions to the world of Hapkido at the upcoming 60th Anniversary Celebration honoring Dojunim Dr. He-Young Kimm's arrival in the United States. This historic event, hosted by the World Han Mu Do Association and the Hando Won, will feature a Black Belt Test, Seminar, and Banquet from November 3-5, 2023, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Don't miss this incredible opportunity. Secure your reservations today, including hotel and dinner reservations, by October 14, 2023. For comprehensive event details and reservations, visit our dedicated event page. It's an event of monumental significance!