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Pak, Yong Chin

Published onOct 11, 2021
Pak, Yong Chin

(1948 - )

Quick Facts

Grandmaster Pak was a professor of judo and hapkido along with other various forms of martial arts. He was also a founder of the ISU Hapkido Club and ISU Taekwando Club.


Most often associated with taekwondo, but also highly involved with hapkido and judo, Grandmaster Yong Chin Pak was born in Korea in 1948.1 Grandmaster Pak received his undergraduate degree in physical education at the Yong In Un college in Korea.2 Through continual focus on martial arts, Grandmaster Pak was offered a position as the self-defense instructor for a branch of the Korean government. Afterward, Pak eventually began training for the Olympics and advanced to the final levels of trials.

Instead of finishing his Olympic trials, Grandmaster Pak chose to travel to the United States in order to teach martial arts. After holding a variety of positions around the country, he eventually accepted a position at Iowa State University in 1973 as a judo program instructor.3

Using the already-formed Iowa State Judo Club as a springboard, Pak then helped found the Iowa State Hapkido Club. The Iowa State Judo Club was originally founded in 1963. Though many students in the Judo Club won awards at various competitions, no new additions were added to Iowa State’s martial arts curricula until Grandmaster Pak’s arrival.4

Thereafter, he worked as an instructor in judo and hapkido through the Iowa State Kinesiology department.5 He then formed the Taekwondo Club at Iowa State in 1975. After revamping Iowa State University’s martial arts clubs’ involvement in national organizations and receiving numerous awards for advising and teaching, the spring of 2013 marked his 40th anniversary at the university.6 Under Grandmaster Pak’s guidance, Iowa State’s martial arts programs began interacting more directly with the greater Ames community through self-defense instruction and also began competing in international competitions and conferences.

Dr. Barbara Ellen Forker, most notable for her contributions to physical fitness and education at Iowa State, and the namesake for the Forker Building, lauded him multiple times in his extensive career at Iowa State for his dedication to his students and to teaching.7 During his time at the university, he taught at least 24,000 students in various martial arts programs.8 Additionally, in 1996, Grandmaster Pak authored the text Taekwondo.9

Grandmaster Pak was not unfamiliar with rewards himself; in 2009 he was honored by the South Korean government as one of the 150 most influential leaders in taekwondo in the world.10 In 2015, Grandmaster Pak was inducted into the U.S. Taekwondo Grandmaster’s Society’s Hall of Fame.11 He was specifically awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award for his work at Iowa State and with martial arts programs and his attention to community service.12

After his retirement from the university in 2013, Grandmaster Pak also served as the president of the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association for 21 years13 as well as the president of the State of Iowa Taekwondo Association.14

Many of Grandmaster Pak’s students say that his emphasis not only on the traditional values of taekwondo and martial arts, but also on a sense of community and academic achievement were primary factors in their success at Iowa State.15 Grandmaster Pak still regularly interacts with Iowa State and its alumni through the annually-held Martial Arts Banquet. His impact was such that students participating in the Iowa State Martial Arts Club are eligible for the university-organized Master Yong Chin Pak Scholarship.16 Grandmaster Pak himself said that teaching taekwondo, rather than practicing, was the most fulfilling part of his long tenure at Iowa State.17

Selected Sources

Barbara Ellen Forker Papers, RS 10/7/13. Box 9, Folder 13 and ‘Artifacts’.

College of Human Sciences Newsletter, ‘Forty-year Iowa State instructor receives national honor’ March 12th, 2015.

College of Human Sciences Newsletter (Archived), ‘Iowa State professor named one of the world’s most influential taekwondo leaders’

Iowa State Daily, ‘Grandmaster Pak says goodbye after 40 years’

Iowa State University Scholarships, ‘Master Yong Chin Pak Scholarship’

Cyclone Martial Arts Club.

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