In 1985 a group of 7 Chang Moo Kwan black belts got together in a small coffee shop in Walnut, California and formed a group called the ?untouchables.? They had one simple guiding principal for which to seek the truth: ?No person is above the ?art? in which they practice: No ONE and no group. The teacher is a conduit of the art for any given place and time. Their goal was to find and preserve all which was real and truthful about this art called Chang Moo Kwan. In seeking the truth they did not form a hypothesis and then try to prove it to be true. Open-minded they sought the truth. In their wildest imagination they never thought they would meet and train with Grandmaster Nam Suk Lee. To say the very least they stumbled on a lot more than ever expected. Of the original untouchables three remain: Grandmaster Jon Wiedenman; Master George Fullerton, and Master Anthony Barnes.
Rekindle the Spark
It has been almost 10 years since the untimely passing of Grandmaster Nam Suk Lee. The time has come for his story to be told. Grandmaster Lee created a martial art which would one day become Chang Moo Kwan. When Master Jon Wiedenman and Master George Fullerton approached Grandmaster Nam Suk Lee to teach them, they asked him to share with them what message "he" wanted generations in the future to know. This would be a generation the Grandmaster himself would never see. They urged him to help make the message clear. Grandmaster Lee asked if the two martial artists if they were truly willing to "empty their cups". They agreed without pause. When Jon Wiedenman and George Fullerton emptied their Styrofoam coffee cups onto the shiny Mac Donald's linoleum floor and symbolically placed them empty on the table, Grandmaster smiled, nodded his head, and never turned back. This is a abbreviation of a wonderfully, complex story which will be detailed later. Grandmaster Lee and the then Master Wiedenman began training privately together and co-instructing the San Pedro, CA YMCA adult class.
There are several truths which are certain. First, had Grandmaster Jon Wiedenman and Master George Fullerton and not urged Grandmaster Nam Suk Lee to once again put on a uniform and re kindle the spark of Chang Moo Kwan which he ignited some 60 years before, much of what is original Chang Moo Kwan technique and philosophy would be lost... forever. Certainly, the essence of Grandmaster's art and teaching--from His heart as He knew it, would be gone. Not many instructors would be willing to let go of their past so readily to embrace the future. The three masters had to walk into their respective studios and say..."guess what, everything is subject to change with very little notice...so hang on!"
Second, Grandmaster Lee may have never again put a uniform on. We know this because Master Jon Wiedenman and George Fullerton bought Grandmaster a uniform, had it carefully tailored, and even had the appropriate patches sewn on to it. They presented a black belt with Grandmaster Lee's and Byong In Yoon's name and the systems name Chang Moo Kwan embossed in a beautifully gold embroidery. Grandmaster was in his early 70's at the time, and he looked awesome in it. Grandmaster had told Grandmaster Wiedenman and Master Fullerton that it had been a long, long time since he had physically trained. He was tentative--until the second he step on to the polished wood studio floor. He had returned to his element. He was not there to judge, promote, govern, or observe. Grandmaster was there to become "one" with everything that made him who and what he was.
Third, Grandmaster Jon Wiedenman, Master George Fullerton, and Master Anthony Barnes are three of only few martial artists know who have actually been trained by directly by Grandmaster Nam Suk Lee in many, many decades; moreover, they may be the only two who have actually trained with him in recent history. Grandmaster practiced form, techniques, one and three steps along with the three masters. He spent many hours alone with Grandmaster Jon Wiedenman doing Chang Moo Kwan forms side by side; blocking and kicking as partners; connecting and transferring physically, mentally, and spiritually together. Master Wiedenman and Master Fullerton both noticed a change in Grandmaster Lee, they agreed he was getting younger! It was clear Grandmaster was, well...having fun too. He was serious, but they would always catch him smiling, especially when mistakes were made. It was clear, Grandmaster had found himself again, he had come home.
Fourth, outside of a Tae Kwon Do Times Magazine from the early 1990's and a few group shots from the early days of Chang Moo Kwan-- circa 1946-52--there are scarcely any of photos of Grandmaster in a uniform, and none of him training. Grandmaster Jon Wiedenman has hundreds of photos, tens of thousands of video caps, and dozens of video tapes of Grandmaster teaching, judging, and training. A few are included here, in the Photo Album, and many will be added in the months to come. It is the goal of this web site to archive factually and historically as much as possible on the cultivation, history, and people who have been a part of this art. All legitimate photos and input are welcomed.
During the later 1960's and the early 1970's Grandmaster Lee traveled the world; visited many counties; and viewed countless schools, promotion tests, tournaments, and demonstrations. In every sense of the word he was an ambassador of Chan Moo Kwan, Martial Arts Spirit, and good will. When Grandmaster Wiedenman, Master Fullerton, and Master Anthony Barnes were asked why they were doing this, the answer was simple. "What Grandmaster has willingly, lovingly, and selflessly shared with us in the form of technique, philosophy, knowledge, and kindness...we want to share with the martial arts world."