It took me 3 days to get up enough courage to talk to him. I watched him as he kept to himself, deep in thought. I watched as he graciously spoke with all who approached him. He listened, he engaged each person as if they were the most important man or woman in the world.
When I finally met the man I idolized, he showed great enthusiasm as I told him of my recent receipt of a “green belt.” he asked me to sit and talk. To share a lunch. Grand Master Bong Soo Han was kind, considerate, soft spoken and generous. I was 14. He gave me strength just by being the example of what someone could become.
Our paths crossed from time to time. As no Hapkido Schools were present, I turned to Taekwondo. When we next shared our meals together, he welcomed me home as a long lost son.
Grand Master Han taught me along the way. As he put it “for my own reasons.” I was invited to serve in Bong Soo Han’s International Hapkido Federation. We traveled to Korea and here in the U.S. to meet his closest friends.
I had hoped he would be able to return to film. His presence was commanding. No doubt the world lost a great treasure.
I hear the man who called my own son his grandson when attending USTU Nationals in Las Vegas. The man who made every person he met a part of his family.
I walked with him on pathways he had trodden as a youth in the military. I learned he had a grand tenor voice in Karaoke. And, in very private moments, he told me we were “Generals”, those who lead being sometimes the loneliest of men.
I can picture the snow gently falling. A snow tiger stepping softly as no sound emerges. And in that same scene, I see the man of that same name sitting peacefully, meditating.
When it was time for me to “lead” as he put it, I left my position and took another path. I asked this man “who are we?” His answer; “we are the Generals but you are my friend.”
So, in tribute to this man many call Snow Tiger: you will always be my friend, mentor, and grandfather to my children.
I love you. Sleep well.