The Korean highest-ranked Taekwondo woman in the world - A Kukkiwon 9th Dan holder

10:40:00 AM Tkd kwan 8 Comments

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).

Taekwondo Retirement!
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


  1. 43 years! It takes a special kind of person to be so dedicated to mastering something for so long.

    Fred | London Fight Factory

  2. What an inspiration Grand Master Mayes is for women in Taekwondo! One of your student's, Jason Jonas, is now my student in Arizona. He came to me with an incredible foundation for Taekwondo. Thank you!

  3. I moved to NC and she teaches my kid. You can see the love she has for Taekwondo.

  4. We were graced with her teaching and kindness for 4 years while Kekan, Mason,& I trained. They were 4 & 3 then and are now 12 & 10. They still hold on to the values and discipline learned in TKD. We still stay in touch along with many members of the team. Thanks Grandmaster Mayes.

  5. Grand Master Mayes has truly demonstrated the highest level of excellence, always very kind and professional

  6. Congratulations to GM Mayes! So many years of dedication and hard work, she is truly an inspiration.