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Bruce W. Sims

Bruce W. Sims  was born in Massachusetts in 1950 and moved to Naperville, Illinois soon afterwards. Life in the Chicago suburb was unremarkable, and Sims graduated High School to enlist in the U. S Army a week later. Sims returned to the United States from two and a half years service in Vietnam and ending his four year enlistment, and moving downstate to attend Eastern Illinois University in 1972. In a relatively short time, it became apparent that his military service had left Sims in a very different place than most of the other students who had come to the University directly from High School and their communities. In response, Sims enrolled in a local Karate school which specialized in Shudokan, or orthodox Okinawan Karate and which was part of a chain of Schools directed by David Brownridge of Champaign-Urbana. Sims continued to train until 1976 when he took a hiatus from Karate and traveled to Boston to experience Uechi-Ryu. During that visit he had an opportunity to train in Cambridge with the noted Aikido teacher, Kanai Sensei. While the art of Aikido was challenging, the overall tenor of the art did not seem to have the practical combat-worthiness Sims was seeking. However, the view of augmenting his Karate with grappling material planted a desire that forever changed his approach to training.

Returning to Illinois in 1977, Sims continued his Education by completing his Master's in Psychology, and seeking out an art that would provide the balance of striking and grappling, tradition and innovation that he was seeking. In 1979 he relocated to the Chicago area, where he trained briefly in Kyokushin Karate. Though combat worthy, the art lacked the well-rounded balance between striking and grappling and the next few years saw Sims visiting a variety of locations in the Chicago area seeking this balance.

In 1985, acting on a suggestion from a martial art acquaintance, Sims attended classes at a Hapkido school located on Western in Chicago which was owned and operated by Hyun Kwang Sik. The school was represented as being affiliated with the KIDOHAE and taught a rudimentary curriculum. However, Sims immediately recognized that the balance among striking, kicking and grappling was exactly what he had been seeking. He continued training in this tradition until 1990 when it had become apparent that the tradition that he was following represented only a small portion of what the Hapkido arts had to offer. The pivotal point was a passing comment by a fellow student about a book on Hapkido written by MYUNG Kwang Sik. Sims first located the book, then purchased it, then made contact with Myung Kwanjangmin, himself. For the next two years Sims committed himself to adjusting his material to the manner in which Myung taught, keeping many notebooks of meticulous notes and availing himself of every visit Myung made to the Midwest.

On January 5, 1992 Sims achieved his Cho-Dan and committed himself to the World Hapkido Federation.  It was also at this time that Sims was invited to become a member of the YON MU KWAN, the original kwan established by Myung in 1969, and which is dedicated to researching and preserving Korean martial traditions.

In 1996 Sims achieved his 2nd Degree and had begun to organize his years of notes and experiences as a way of meeting his research obligations as a kwan member. Drawing on his training as a professional Educator, Sims converted World Hapkido Federation Hapkido from its Neo-Confucian pedagogy to that of the Academic approach used in Western Education. The resulting Hapkido manuals were dubbed the "Dochang Journal Project" owing to the notebook format of the books, and the manuals were published through the Internet. In hand with this was the development of a website---"Midwest Hapkido"--- to serve as a Hapkido resource. Further use of the Internet included frequent use of the many martial art forums where Sims' passionate advocacy for traditional practice and research often brought him to heated exchanges.

Following his 3rd Dan in 1998, Sims came to view his private teaching practice to be inadequate for his goals of promoting Hapkido as a traditional Korean martial art. Though he had accrued a modest following by this time, regular inquiries into the art and his teaching by people from the community had become intrusive. Responding to an invitation from a group of college students Sims began to lead a club at the local community college and was quickly accepted to a position at the college to teach a survey course in the Hapkido arts in 1999. Though a rewarding project, antagonisms rapidly developed between students at the college and those Sims' students of standing. The result was that the private school was closed in favor of the greater service to the community through the college. The college classes continued, and were highly regarded. In May, 2011, the Hapkido program ended.

It was also in 1999 that Sims began his study of Korean sword through the highly respected sword master KOO Hyi Kwanjangnim at the HwaRang Kumdo school in Chicago. As Sims first discovered in his martial arts career, the idea of commerce and sport were of no interest to him. However, it became increasingly evident that he was drawn to the long and respected history of swordsmanship in Korean traditions. Sims left the sport aspect of the school to focus completely on the formwork and cutting practice and achieved his Cho-dan in April, 2000, his 2nd degree in November 2000, and his 3rd degree in December 2001. In January, 2006 Sims was granted license to mentor a kwan, which he named "Yon Mu Kwan" in honor of MYUNG Kwang Sik's original school.

In 2004, Sims achieved his 4th dan and continued to reflect on the nature of his Hapkido material. Though the Dochang Journal Project had been modestly successful, the focus of the material seemed to be missing its mark. Technically the material reflected Sims' Hapkido heritage, but it was rapidly becoming apparent that the soul of the art was being lost in many areas of the Hapkido community. Commercial concerns, fads and in-fighting had resulted in much focus on image and marketing, and the arts themselves were suffering. In some cases even non-Korean material was adopted by teachers and represented as obscure "Korean" traditions. The Dochang Journal Project which had started as a service to the Hapkido community was in danger of becoming a likely contribution to the degrading of the art. Sims stopped his writing and began a revision process to reintroduce aspects of Korean language and tradition to his books, a revision that continues today. 

Currently, at 60 years of age, Sims continues to teach, train, and conduct research into Korean martial traditions. The focus of the continuing research involves the material of the Mu Ye Tobo Tong Ji. This "comprehensive manual", as the title suggests, published in 1795, reflects the deep historical and cultural nature of Korean martial practices over a 400 year period.

Published works

Sims, Bruce W. Dochang Journal; Vol. 1-4. Midwest Hapkido, Inc. 1996