Hapkido Grandmaster Rim, Jong Bae was born in Taegu, Korea in 1937. He lived in Korea until 1973 when he and his family immigrated to the United States. Currently, the Rim's own and operate a general store in Baltimore, Maryland.
Mr. Rim was overweight as a young man. His father, who was also overweight, had died early. It was generally felt that being overweight would shorten one's life, so he tried to find a remedy for his condition. He tried diets and steam baths with no effect so he sought an exercise in which to participate. Mr. Rim was religious at a young age. He did not want to participate in the martial arts he knew of because he thought their purpose was to hurt people. A cousin of Mr. Rim's, an instructor at Mr. Choi's dojang, suggested Hapkido. When Mr. Rim went to see Hapkido he saw it as something whose real purpose was not to hurt anyone else. It joined with his own strong religious feelings.
Mr. Rim started training in Hapkido in 1964. Mr. Choi had three classes at that time, a morning class, an evening class, and special classes during the day. Mr. Rim attended the morning class, which met at 5:30 every morning. From his house he would walk 20 minutes to Mr. Choi's dojang. Class size varied from 20 to 30 students. Mr. Rim received his black belt in approximately three years. By 1973, Mr. Rim was a sixth degree black belt and the chief instructor at Mr. Choi's dojang. In addition to being a top student, Mr. Rim was also a close friend of Mr. Choi's. They frequently visited with each other outside of the Dojang, playing Go, and discussing many things.
Mr. Rim immigrated to the United States in 1973. Initially, he thought he would employ himself by teaching Hapkido. He did a few demonstrations to see if there was interest in Hapkido in this country. Because of his limited knowledge of English he elected not to start a Hapkido school at that time. Mr. Rim took a job to support his family.
A spectator at one of the demonstrations mentioned Mr. Rim's Hapkido to Joe Sheya. Joe came to Mr. Rim's home and said, "Hapkido," perhaps the only word they shared. A student Mr. Rim couldn't communicate with was a distraction from his more immediate need of supporting his family. Mr. Rim demonstrated Hapkido on Joe, fully expecting that Joe would never return.
To Mr. Rim's surprise Joe returned the next day, and the day after that. After about a week, Mr. Rim told Joe he was coming too often and handed him a calender. They worked out a schedule and began regular lessons. Initially the lessons were fairly rough. If Joe had been less robust he wouldn't have been able to continue. Eventually Mr. Rim started teaching Joe differently, showing him the details behind the basic motions. After about four years, Mr. Rim gave Joe a black belt.
Mr. Choi's visit
Grandmaster Choi, Yong Sul visited the United States in June of 1982 with the purpose of unifying Hapkido. Mr. Choi knew his life was near its end. His greatest wish was that all
Hapkido would be united. He came to New York to name his successor and thereby insure the
continuity of the art he had brought to Korea so many years before. Mr. Rim, and Joe Sheya attended the meeting which was held at a Korean resturant, Yong Bin Kwon. Unfortunately, Mr. Choi named a succsessor who did not share his vision. Hapkido was never united.
After the meeting in New York, Mr. Choi visited Mr. Rim in Maryland and worked out in the dojang with Joe and his students. Mr. Choi was pleased to see his traditional method of instruction preserved and he posed with the school for a photograph. Mr. Choi presented Mr. Rim with a handwritten personnal certificate of endorsement attesting to Mr. Rim's mastery of Hapkido, and his personal chop, the chop of the original Hapkido organization.
Mr. Rim returned to Korea in 1984 and was promoted to seventh degree black belt. After Mr. Choi's death in 1986, Rim's Hapkido operated as an independent school. Eventually, there were enough qualified instructors that Mr. Rim could think about teaching Hapkido to a wider audience. On September 18,1998, Rim, Jong Bae announced to his students that he was forming an organization in order to preserve the purity of the art that was personally taught to him by Choi, Yong Sul. This organization will be called "Rim's Hapkido Association." Grandmaster Rim and the members of Rim's Hapkido Association will dedicate themselves to perpetuating Choi, Yong Sul's Hapkido motion and his spirit.