Master Kim Mug Shot

Just Say No to Oom Yung Doe

One would think that the convicted “Grandmaster” of a martial arts franchise exposed as a cult would sink his martial arts franchise. Strangely enough, it didn’t.At least not completely. Chung Moo Doe schools — also known as Chung Moo Quan and now going under the name of Oom Yung Doe still operate in the Seattle area.

And while they may have distanced themselves from their cult-like ways, they still appear to be more than happy to separate you from as much of your money as possible.

John C. Kim prison photoJohn C. “Iron” Kim

In 2005, local Seattle news station KING 5 reported on UW student Mike Rothwell, who spent roughly $20000 over the course of a single year on Oom Yung Doe classes, camps, and seminars. Here are some excerpts from that report (you can read the full report here): 

Twenty-six-year-old Mike Rothwell is studying the time-honed movements of Tai Chi, the ancient Chinese art form.

 But last year, the Seattle resident belonged to another martial arts school called Oom Yung Doe, a bone crushing form of self-defense.Rothwell says all it broke was the bank.

“Let me add it up real fast. Roughly $9,000, plus $8,000, that’s $17,000. I took seven seminars that averaged $500 dollars,” Rothwell said.

All that money gone in about a year of training. “I’ve lost at least $20,000,” he said.

Another former student – who didn’t want to give his name – says he lost $30,000 in months. His payments included $9,300 up front for a black belt program, $9,000 more for a master intern program and a $1,000 testing fee.

Picture (right): Grandmaster John C. “Iron” Kim is supposedly
doing this maneuver off “the equivalent” of an 11-story
building. (Yeah, you’d have to be in a cult to believe

Rothwell says he was told he was an exceptional student, capable of reaching Grandmaster Kim’s level of spiritual enlightenment and physical prowess if he paid for higher levels of training.

“I literally was signing contracts after some of the hardest physical training of my life. Literally dripping sweat as I’m signing across the dotted line,” Rothwell said.

Sound familiar? That particular tactic — telling students they’re ‘special’ and ‘destined for greatness’ — especially after a taxing workout — and then getting them to sign up for more, ‘better’ training (for thousands of dollars) is clearly described in Herding the Moo.

Consider this Oom Yung doe pricing page, which states:

  • Oom Yung Doe offers a 2-Year 1st degree black belt program that teaches you invaluable skills and abilities, and extremely improves your condition. For the time you give now, you gain much more toward your life.
  • The 2-Year program prices are between $4,500 and $6,500.

$4500 per year equals $375/month — plus any seminars, test fees, camps, and merchandise all for the low, low price of… how much did you say you have, anyway?

By way of contrast, the typical monthly rate for martial arts instruction at a commercial school in the Seattle area generally tops out at around $150/month, with a median price of around $100/month. Go to a YMCA or city recreation center, and the costs are even lower.

Whether you read Herding the Moo or not, my advice is to definitely stay away from Chung Moo Doe / Oom Yung Doe schools. The money you save could be your own!


  1. Assets Recovery company is forcing the Kim to liquidate property and the Cult can’t go after ‘more clear mined ones’ because of the upcoming civil trial in SD. Stay tuned.


    Long time Vail Valley local Russell Johnson has signed a co-author agreement with English novelist, Matilda Wren, to write his memoirs. The autobiography, Deceived, will detail his coerced involvement in the notorious martial arts cult known as Chung Moo Quan. Known in the 1970s, 80’s and 90’ as a cult of greed and violence. This is a true crime story with many twist and turns.

    Bullied throughout childhood, a vulnerable and confused teenager thought he had finally found the security and protection he had been searching for in the martial arts fraternity, however, the following eight years were to be a journey into a darkness Russell never knew existed. Brainwashing, deception, and fraud were only the beginning. Mysterious deaths, cover-ups and physical abuse left him fearing for his life.

    In 1988 Russell left Chung Moo Quan and despite numerous threats and attempts to silence him, he has spent the last 20 years advocating just how destructive the cult is, but even with the incarceration of cult leader John C Kim, it didn’t put a stop to Russell constantly looking over his shoulder; even more so now Kim has been released and is still running cults today.

    Co-author Matilda Wren lives in the UK and is the author of crime thriller When Ravens Fall and her new book, Lowlands which will be released later this year. Matilda is a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology and writes about the abnormal and anti-social behaviors of society. She wanted to write this book with Russell because his story is harrowing yet exceptional at the same time. It’s not about being a victim. It’s not about being a survivor. It’s about strength, character and power.

    The book is to be published in 2014 and is expected to be adapted to film based on the life of Russell Johnson.

  3. I took Chung Moo Quan in 1981 I sighn up for a black belt coarse that cost 10,000 Dollars . After signing the contract I came to my senses . I asked for a copy of my contract & a receipt which I had only paid 250.00 Dollars for. I was told what don’t you trust us. It was disrespectful to ask for a receipt.I felt it was a scam .I moved to FL. They never came after me. I had talked to instruct or Tom he said they were doing so well with students that thy didn’t need a unbeliever.

  4. I hope all is well. I have trained in Oom Yung Doe for going on eleven years. I had to close a school due to financial reasons. But do I regret or question the forms or what I gained from the experience? Absolutely not. I will continue to grow through Oom Yung Doe while teaching people with mental disorders. I also am a graduating college student who took the first and second degree programs, MIP, accelerated program, every weekend and one seminar peer visit, not including the iron hand. If you can tell me one school that offers this training then you let me know. I like how everyone is playing a victim. Like they forced you to say yes. Did they? Do they have a crazy way of manipulating your mind? No. Did you sign the paper? Did they force you to sign it? Know. There is not one instructor in Oom Yung Doe that forced me to do anything. I want to let you know it’s not different anywhere else. I study Brazilian jiu jitsu as well. I set the price. They want 135$ a month for ten years for a black belt. This is not including seminars. This is only one style of martial arts.So I’ll let you figure that out the math. The same goes for Wing Chun schools. 485$ a month for teacher training. Then you have your fake grandmasters from Korea who learned martial arts because they were in the military. So they were required to receive a 3rd degree black belt. Then they come over and take advantage of American ignorance and say there grandmasters and yet they are not. There not a cult. You could say any religion is a cult. I suggest that you utilize your energy and time more productively rather than crying over ,”self inflicted wounds.” Personal trainer charge up to $40 a hour. If you attend class once a week every day it comes out to $5 a class. I think the people that our complaining are the ones who stopped training. The fact of the matter is no one put a gun to your head and told you to do it. No one falsely imprisioned you until you signed the paper work. You found value so you did it. Now you are living in the past. Living in the present is a much better way of life. I hope you are filled with compassion and let go of your anger and resentment. “Anger is like picking up a hot cole and wanting trying to throw it at someone you only hurt yourself.” Buddha

    1. Modern schools may use less predatory practices. But it’s well established (when the article was written) that, fundamentally , a) Kim was a fraud with a lineage based on lies; b) OYD schools used highly predatory financial practices, somewhat akin to those used by shady car sellers; c) Generally they used to highly over priced compared to other schools.

      This may have all changed by now. Regardless, I’d never personally recommend an OYD school.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.