CM THOR:  the facts

  • started TKD 1972 – joined ATA in 1974
  • opened first academy 1975
  • awards / championships: Hall of Fame 2021
  • Physician Assistant (PA) in surgery for 30 years and Director of Hospital Surgery department for the last 7 years.
  • Family:  two amazing sons and 5 grandchildren
  • Things I love doing: Teaching TKD (zoom classes, seminars, clinics…). Spending time with family and friends, especially the grandkids.  Quality time with my wife, Penny.

Picture this: it’s 1987. You have just travelled 6000 miles over the biggest ocean on the planet as part of ATA’s first Korea tour.

(NOTE: This picture is those leaders who attended both the 1987 Korea tour and the 2011 tour.  I have wonderful pics from 1987 but none have been digitized yet.)

With your head spinning from jet lag, you are in an open field training, punching and kicking. Suddenly, the world goes black and you are no longer standing. The next thing you realize is that your squad leader, Mr. Thor, is reassuring you as you lie motionless in the dirt.

I’m not sure how I got back to the dormitory, but I spent the next few hours expelling large amounts of liquid from every orifice in my body. It was rough. I remember sleeping on the floor of the temple basement and being awakened. I heard people talking. I soon realized it was EGM and some Korean who I think was a doctor. They were walking around checking on people, including me.

I never learned what sickness I had, but I did learn that there were about 60 of our group of 200 who became very ill. About 10 required intravenous fluids. CM Thor checked on me regularly and in 24 hours I was well enough to be propped up sitting in a doorway to watch our demo team be filmed by Korean television.   Korean press follow us everywhere.  We were quite the attraction!

I had been given this terrible rice dish and told to eat, but just could not manage. Along came a wonderful Canadian lady monk who spoke English and she secretly gave me some salt to put on the rice. I finished it all and in 24 more hours, I was back in CM Thor’s squad.

We became great friends at that time. Later, as my instructor’s illnesses and work took him further from ATA, CM Thor became my training instructor. Especially at the higher ranks of 6th, 7th, and 8th, he worked closely with me. And we spent countless hours in hotel rooms solving the problems of the world. Our bond truly defines “ATA spirit.”  I can’t wait to see you as a 9th degree black belt.  Thank you, Sir.


Bill Babin

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

ministry / martial arts academy / convention / event