The highest-ranked Taekwondo woman in the world - A Kukkiwon 9th Dan holder
Grand Master Myong Sok Namkung-Mayes
When Taekwondo was established in Korea during fifties ,
the women had less opportunity to practice this martial art because the access to it was limited for the military males.
GM Myong Sok Namkung-Mayes was one of the first Korean females who practiced Taekwondo, she was a student of Great Grand master Lee Chong Woo who was a student of the Jidokwan Taekwondo founder (Jidokwan was founded in March 3rd of 1946).
GM Mayes earned her first Dan black belt in February of 1964, and was one of the first Korean women to reach that level in the early days of Taekwondo.
When Grand master Mayes was still in Korea, she was the only woman who was accepted in both Korean National kyorugi team and Korean National demonstration team, which says a lot about this great woman and her achievement in taekwondo.
We know that is hard to find Taekwondo practitioners whom are good in both demonstration & kyorugi. Most of the time the athletes who do demonstrations are not good in Kyorugi, and those who do kyorugi are not good in demonstration. it mean that being good in both of them would be an exception as it was for Grand master mayes. Moreover, she was also one of the first females to coach Taekwondo teams.
After retiring from taekwondo competition activities, Grand master Mayes moved to the United States and founded the US Taekwondo center in 1987 in North Carolina.
Her country South Korea classified her as a living legend, which is not within the reach of everyone.
In December of 2007 grand master Myong Sok Namkung-Mayes became the first female to earn a Taekwondo 9th Dan by the World Taekwondo Academy (Kukkiwon).
No, GM Mayes did not retire and according to some of her students (Masters now), she is still teaching Taekwondo and she is a source of inspiration influence for her surrounding in the United States.
Taekwondo is a long Journee and it took grand master Mayes about 43 year to be promoted from her first Dan black belt to the 9th Dan. What a long journey!! Nowadays, martial artists and taekwondo practitioners are in a rush to get promoted to higher ranks, and they focus on collecting certificates without even having the knowledge and without mastering the techniques of this martial art.
We hope this small article would give some credits to this taekwondo pioneer and we hope it would inspire people who read it.
Taekwondo journey is not one year or two but a whole life.
Keep kicking and working hard, and try to be an example for other taekwondo practitioners.
By Master S.E.H