The week of February 2nd, 1995, I attended Kim’s Birthday Party. It was held at her Jung SuWon Martial Art Academy, at 107 Minnis Circle, in Milpitas, California. A large Yin Yang was view able from Milpitas Boulevard, despite the building being set back from the road by several hundred feet. The school was located behind the “new” Milpitas Police Department. I am sure the irony is not lost on many of the Police Officers.
My mom was dating a man at the time, whose brother trained with Tae Yun Kim, at the school. So we often heard ancillary banter about her. We apparently received our invite to go to the party through his brother, so we all went.
This was the first time I was to meet Tae Yun. It was her 50th Birthday party. However I believe that Koreans count you as being 1 when you are born. As in, this is your first year on Earth, so you are 1. So by American counting it was her 49th. I had trained in martial arts for probably two years at two different schools. This school was much different. It was large, and elegant. Even though it was in an industrial park, across the street from Target Masters gun range, it was nice. You were greeted by a nice lobby, and locker rooms. There was a conference room style all glass door into the dojang. The floor was raised up off of the hard cement by about a foot, in order to create resilience. This was a nice place!
Chairs were lined up in front for the “guests.” Kim’s students, which most of them were in suits instead of the usual martial arts uniform, were spattered throughout, none sitting, most standing and talking with the guests. My memory of this event isn’t great. I just recall some strange singing, songs about Kim. A lot of unnecessary clapping. A banging asian style drum to add drama to anything that was happening. One thing that made me a little upset, having been a long time martial artist, is that I was overlooked when she was looking for wood breaking volunteers at the end. I was 12, breaking a board sounded awesome. At my last school they used plastic, pre-broken boards.
I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. It all seemed too “good” I communicated to my mom that everything felt a little plasticized. She recounted to me that my grandfather, had spoke negatively of her before. He felt that she was a fraud. My grandpa mostly gleaned this information from his rather chauvinistic Korean master (who I had also trained with). So it was taken with a healthy dose of salt.
My mom asked me if I was interested in joining, I told her probably not. I had a little chub going, though I had grown out of some of my childhood chubbiness at this point. I think parents often say “he grew into himself”. I was in need of physical activity however. I spent most of my days working on my nerd adventures. I was a hacker. Maybe not a cool kind, more of what is now referred to as a script kiddie. I logged onto BBS’s and social engineered my way into getting more free time on them, as they mostly limited you to 30 minutes a day. My mothers famous quote about my adventures was “what could I ever possibly need an e-mail address for?” But alas I enjoyed myself using what was then a very rudimentary internet.
At some point my mom convinced me to go to Jung SuWon, and just watch. I don’t think she had the same reservations as I with Kim. She reminded me they had a computer company. Perhaps they would let me work there in the summer?
One way or another she convinced me to go. I believe that the first time I just watched. She went in for the intro class. I sat and watched from the lobby. I was not entirely convinced of the situation. However their company, Lighthouse Associates, had some draw for me. I wanted what companies had. Fast computers, free internet (that I didn’t have to social engineer to get more of), the ability to use a computer and phone simultaneously. Obviously these are things we all take for granted these days.
When in the lobby, a boy came out from the locker room. He had just finished up in the previous class. I looked at him and his face looked about my age, however he was diminutive in comparative size. His name was Patrick. We talked and talked. Well I talked a lot, and he listened. He was awesome. He liked computers. He’s in, shoot, I’m in! Next thing you know I’m in my intro class, and by the end of sixth grade two months later, I’m a full time student.