More than any other person outside of my parents and my wife, Mr. Steve Bruhn has influenced my life. As I look back, I am convinced that God’s providence, that Mr. Bruhn opened his martial arts school (K.C. Chung Tae Kwon Do) around the corner from my house. He would become my teacher, mentor, and friend. Mr. Bruhn is by far the most unforgettable and most faithful Christian I have ever known.
Teacher and Friend
In the fuzzy memory of my childhood, he really had two callings: First, as a martial arts teacher. In his Dojang (Korean for “training hall”) four to five nights a week he would teach me how to punch and kick. His second calling was as my friend and mentor as a Christian. In this second calling, he would have a profound impact on my life of being my most faithful counselor and advisor.
When I first saw Mr. Bruhn, I never thought he would become a mentor and good friend to me, really more of a big brother. But by chance, I regularly visited with him before each class started. Little did I know the impact this incredible man would have on my passage into manhood.
Mr. Bruhn shared with me his experience as a Tae Kwon Do teacher and his struggle as a Christian. This was an intense time for me. I was at the awkward age of fourteen-years-old and about to start high school. Mr. Bruhn and I became fast friends. I quickly became involved with helping out around the Dojang. Mr. Bruhn would also tell me about his journey as a Christian.
With each story, Mr. Bruhn would always impart a life lesson from the Bible. He’d used the story about opening his own martial arts school and about doing whatever it takes to accomplish a goal in life. His experience in being a teacher conveyed to me the importance of the Christian example of tolerance, respect, and compassion for people who are different from you. Mr. Bruhn’s most important lesson was that a real man stands up for the oppressed and downtrodden.
Mr. Bruhn would always ask me about what was going on in my life. He’d listen intently and provide some counsel and words of encouragement or sometimes a verbal kick in the butt if I needed it. After each visit with him, I felt uplifted and edified. This is priceless for a restless young man.
Mr. Bruhn’s faith in God was the kind of heartfelt worship in which even an uneducated person like me could understand. Mr. Bruhn prayed daily. When praying, he would bow his head as a sign of respect toward God. Sometimes he would quote Bible verses in our conversations. These verses would remind me of God’s unity, God’s providence, and the promise of God’s love.
My memories of that time were about transformation and tradition, growing up and growing wise, and finding myself– even 25 years later. One day, years later, I met an old friend from high school who knew Mr. Bruhn too. He said, “I really admire Mr. Bruhn, but he wasted his life just teaching at that Tae Kwon Do school. He neglected his physical and social life. He could have been so much more.”
I stopped in my tracks, looked at him in amazement, and said, “No way, Mr. Bruhn spent twenty-five of his best years teaching and helping people with his example. He’s lead a life most people can only preach about from an air-conditioned pulpit. His love and care of his students and the community where he lives and works can testify to his Christlike example.”
Steve Bruhn is one of only two men I ever met whom the term “great” could be applied. He rises each morning to spend an hour reading the Scriptures. Until he goes to bed at night, he leads a disciplined, dedicated life. He spreads happiness and joy to everyone he talks to.
His warmth and humor, his dedication to his students, his tremendous self-discipline, and uncompromising loyalty to God show that he lives by the ageless message of the redeeming qualities of the Gospel. His heart and example have been a blessing and benediction to my life. In Steve Bruhn, I found a teacher and a friend who changed my life. Thank God for you, sir.