I got my gold medal when . . . . . Part 2

Written by on June 25, 2024

I got my gold medal when….

Part 2

I just want everyone to know:   I have pursued a gold medal in Songahm Taekwondo many times, and never actually earned it.  Best I did was a bronze in 2010 and a silver in 2022.  The gold medals I won in 2009 XMA competition don’t count.  There was no one else in the division!!

(CM Clark awards CM Babin a gold medal in XMA 2009)

After so many years, however, I have had to re-examine this situation to find a deeper meaning.  And so I have created this series….. “I got my gold medal when…..”  And here is Part 2

“I got my gold medal when….”

It’s 1998.   I had just earned 6th degree black belt and there were six of us in our “master class:”  Jay Kohl, Marilyn Niblock, Emory Morris, Daniel Longoria, me, and JD Olford.   We actually called ourselves “the first class” because, although there were a few masters before us, we were the first group to go through Masters training as a “class.”

By 1997, the six of us knew each other rather well.  We had been competing and testing for rank together for many years.  But this time was very special because we were now candidates for MASTERSHIP and THAT was exciting.


Do you have a gold medal that lives in YOUR heart?   Please use the comment section below and share your story with the Songahm Taekwondo world.


But let me go back a little way so you can learn more about the people in this story.

Master JD Olford, Jr. (1951–2015)

I met JD Olford around 1990 (or earlier) in competition.   He was much bigger than me and quite strong.  He was a tough competitor.   No matter where you hit him–back, shoulder, arm, head, leg–it hurt YOU, not HIM.

Seriously!  That is true.  Well that toughness just made me work harder and because we were both interested in the same goal—winning and advancing—we became good “TKD friends,”  seeing each other 4-5 times per year, competing, training, and relaxing together.  Here’s a great pic of JD.  He probably hit me with that kick more than once.

I was excited to learn that as I approached mastership, JD would be by my side.  I really did not know what “master” meant, but I thought JD (and also Jay Kohl) and I would figure it out together.

At one point during master training (March 1998), Grand Master Soon Ho Lee had us doing an infinite number of #3 side kicks along the bar.  We had been doing only the right leg for about 20 minutes, and you have to understand THIS….. in these high level trainings,  YOU DON’T ASK QUESTIONS.

There was only six of us in this class.  There was absolutely no place to hide!

But JD couldn’t stand it any longer.  He just stopped, put his foot down, and said, “Sir, can we do the left leg.”

To which GM Soon Ho replied:

“Yes, after you get the right leg correct.”

At that moment, I knew we were going to be side kicking right leg for some time, probably about three more days or three more months.  But that was a great lesson for me as a student…. and as an instructor.


Do you have a gold medal that lives in YOUR heart?   Please use the comment section below and share your story with the Songahm Taekwondo world.


It’s a funny story now, and I totally understand why JD asked, but at the time, we all conjured horrible images of what might follow because he opened his mouth.  But understand, GM Soon Ho has always been a generous, kind person.   He really would never have tortured us–as some masters surely would  have.  He just simply stated his truth: “practice till you get it right.”

It was just a special and funny moment in a great friendship.

We finished that training, got the white pajamas, and enjoyed our very special taekwondo brotherhood as “the first class” of Songahm masters. (see picture above. JD is the second person to the right of EGM, gold uniform in the middle).

We can now move ahead 17 years!  And I have to ask, how many of you have someone in your life (besides a spouse or parent) for 17 years???  for 24 years??

In 2015 I got the call from another good Songahm friend, CM Mark Sustaire who told me Master Olford had died.  He was only 64 and had succumbed to illness.  It is overwhelming just to write about it even 9 years later!

But life moves on, doesn’t it???


I want you to meet Jason Olford, Master JD’s son. I think he is about 14 in this picture.

And this pic is the best, father and son, kicking together.

In 2021, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS came to Phoenix, Arizona (my home town) and I had the honor of passing out medals during the Tournament of Champions.   I noticed someone in my ring with this name–J. OLFORD–on his uniform.  I think he was about 22 at this time.

I had never met Master JDs son and suddenly, he was right in front of me, and he had just taken the GOLD medal in form.

And I got to put that medal around his neck!

And that is when I got MY gold medal!


Bill Babin

is available to speak / teach / play music / consult at your

ministry / martial arts academy / convention / event

602.692.3723 bill@billbabin.com


Do you have a gold medal that lives in YOUR heart?   Please use the comment section below and share your story with the Songahm Taekwondo world.






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