Master Martial Arts Academy

Around 1990, Grandmaster M. G. Lee started the Master Martial Arts Alliance, three Austin taekwondo schools under his direction. He personally ran the north school, known as the Master Martial Arts Academy and located at U. S. 183 and Balcones Woods. He had taught martial arts to both South Korean and U. S. troops during the Korean War. He was old but still strong and skillful, a hard taskmaster and much revered leader.

In 1993, Grandmaster Lee's uncle died, leaving him property in downtown Seoul. He closed the north school and returned to Korea to manage his estate. I believe the southwest school also closed about that time.

Master Martial Arts

Master Sam Um, who holds the rank of seventh degree black belt, had been running one of the schools of the Master Martial Arts Alliance, Master Martial Arts on Bee Caves Road in south Austin. I had known Master Um as a stern judge who came to our school to judge belt tests. When the north school closed, Master Um welcomed the students to move to his school. I found Master Um much younger and his style somewhat different from Grandmaster Lee's, but equally inspiring and a pleasure to learn from.

Master Um has trained over 5,000 students. The most famous of these is Willie Nelson, who received his first degree black belt around 2000 and is working on second degree. Willie's daughter Paula Nelson, a noted singer in her own right, has also received her first degree black belt under Master Um.