When In Kwon Jang—Master Jang to his students at JP Taekwondo at 670 Centre St.—first lived in Boston nine years ago, to train the Harvard taekwondo team, he knew he’d come back to Jamaica Plain, where he lived at the time, from his home in Korea.
“For nine years, JP was in my mind…I made good memories of nature and the people,” he told the Gazette. “JP is very unique and charming, very warm…It’ll be a good mesh with artistic and creative and natural parts of taekwondo,” he said.
Jang has an impressive resume: two-time world champion, member of Korea’s national demonstration taekwondo team and multiple national and international honors.
Aside from his seventh-degree black belt in taekwondo, Jang also has two other black belts in other martial arts. He has been teaching taekwondo for nearly two decades, and studying it since he was 6.
He has coached universities, a police department and a national Olympic team.
But for the Korea native, the big goal for the last decade was moving to JP and starting a taekwondo studio. Jang acquired the space on Centre Street in December 2009 and spent half a year renovating it. JP Taekwondo opened last summer.
“This was my dream,” Jang said during a recent Gazette visit to the studio. “Korea is still my main country, that has not changed…But a piece of me was left behind” when he left Boston in 2002, he explained.
Since then, Jang has worked in Costa Rica, Iceland and Korea.
“I appreciate the variety of my life. I’m very grateful,” Jang said.
Lately, life is a bit calmer, even if still very busy. Jang teaches every single class offered at JP Taekwondo himself, a rarity in martial arts studios. Usually, long-term students teach the beginning classes and the studio’s grand master teaches the advanced classes.
“It’s very different to teach different age groups,” said Jodie Solomon, a student of Jang’s who started at the JP studio “as soon as it opened,” she said.
“He reaches all students. He’s very patient,” she said.
“I’m not a perfect person, but I want to be a nice teacher,” Jang said.
“Watching us improve and grow really fuels his passion for taekwondo,” Solomon said. “He welcomes every body for all their strengths and weaknesses. He has an amazing way of bringing out the best in everybody.”
Through his occasionally broken and soft-spoken English, Jang explains his passion for the art: “It is my joy…It’s still challenging, still beautiful,” Jang said. “My life has changed through taekwondo.”
His decision to teach was simple, Jang explained.
“How can I live with taekwondo forever? Teaching!” he said. “I was a very shy boy. I decided, I can change for taekwondo.”
“I am still hungry for taekwondo,” he said.
For more information, see jptaekwondo.com or call 617-477-3478.