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The History of Yoon's in Tulsa

The Yoons' story is a tale of fate, faith and friendship.

Cecelia's husband, Pius Yoon, started the Yoon's Judo and Taekwondo School of  Tulsa in 1975.

Mr. Yoon studied judo at the largest judo school in Korea. Back then, it was simply called 'Judo College' (now it has been renamed 'Yongin University' and they now do more than judo). Through the school he got a job at the Sports Center, Nippon, in Germany in the early 1960's. They stayed in Germany for 10 years and their first child was born there.

When Munich held the Olympics in 1972, their friends came and they had a great reunion. Mr. Yoon's friends encouraged him to move to the USA saying it had more opportunity for him and his family. The Yoon's decided it was an excellent idea.

They obtained visas quickly and found a sponsor from Missouri. By the first of the year, they were in the States. Their sponsor provided a place to work in Little Rock, Arkansas. They felt obligated to their sponsor, but the job in Little Rock was too small. They were offered another job in Rogers, Arkansas. They went to Rogers and worked 3 months. They decided the town was too small and they needed a place that was more metropolitan. It was the summer of 1975, and they were looking for ideas.

That summer they met 'Susan' from Oklahoma City. She said there wasn't a judo school in Oklahoma City and she was sure her children had never heard of judo. Susan said Oklahoma City would be a great place to open a judo school. They thought about it and decided to go to Oklahoma City. It was the capitol of the state, it must have the most opportunity.

On their way to Oklahoma City, they had to pass through part of Tulsa and were very impressed with its cleanliness. They got off the expressway and toured Tulsa. After having lunch, they pulled out the phone book. "I wonder how many Koreans live here?" They found a Dr. Kim and a Mr. Kim (Kim is a very common last name in Korea). "Let's call Mr. Kim, because Dr. Kim would probably be busy." They called Mr. Kim (it was Dr. Kim's home phone). They asked many questions about Tulsa and got on like lifelong friends. The Kims convinced the Yoons to stay in Tulsa. The Yoons went back to Arkansas that night. Three days later they were back in Tulsa, and never even went to Oklahoma City. Two weeks later their second child was born.

Through Mr. Kim, they met other judo students. The students helped put together the first school and then helped with teaching. After the first few years, they needed to move the school. Judo black-belt Dr. Luis Gorospe helped find their current location near 25th and Harvard, which just happened to be close enough to where he worked that he could walk to judo.

Mrs. Yoon's husband started business in Tulsa in 1975. Unfortunately there are no guarantees for long life. Master Yoon died in 1992. Leaving his wife with a child in high school and one in college. Subsequently, after 10 years, one is a JAG officer with the Navy and the other is studying to become a doctor. What more could parents ask for.

The Yoon's school is operated more as a service to the arts. There are no gold-plated doors to go through. It is a simple school; humble, honorable and respected. But the number of trophies are becoming a little unmanageable. More trophy space is needed.

If  you would like more information on the school please feel free to contact us:

Call (918) 742-2311   


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Revised Last 1/09/08