About my childhood: Even though I was raised in a broken home during the most critical years of my life, from the age of 5 through 11, it was wonderful. During those years we lived with my Grandma who offered much love to my younger brother and I. My fatherly needs were directed to the God of the Holy Bible. Like most active boys, I had many unique experiences, bumps and bruises, aches, pains and heartaches, but I learned early to be a survivor. I learned that nothing of any worth is free; and at times we have to fight for what we want and that no one fights our battles better than we ourselves. I really don’t remember having many wants in my life. I did dream about going in the Air Force (did that); about going to the orient (did that); about becoming a Black Belt (did that); about owning my own Taekwondo school (did that); about become a professional Taekwondo Instructor (did that); about forming my own national Taekwondo association (did that); about moving my headquarters from cold Michigan to warm Florida (did that); about having over 1,000 Black Belts under me (did that); about writing my own textbook (did that); about creating my own training video library (did that); about becoming an International Referee (did that); about become a Grandmaster (did that); about confirming my world title as the highest non-oriental Black Belt in Taekwondo (did that); about having my whole family involved in my businesses (did that). There are many more dreams that have come true for me. Now as we complete my dream that will refine our national association to operate more productively, I want to make dreams come true for others.
About my pre-teen & teenage years: A wonderful step-dad came into my life that knew the importance of spiritual well-being and sent my brother and I to a private Christian school. I developed a strong hunger for God and set my sights on becoming a minister someday. Falconry, hunting and spear fishing in local creeks were my hobbies, as well as raising orphaned animals and birds. All during my early teens, my home was like a zoo. However, I seriously studied how to hunt hawks and become good at it until Ulysses (My adult Red-shouldered hawk) accidentally mistook a neighbors cat for a rabbit. That was not a cool scene. Shortly after that, on the day of my 18th birthday, I enlisted in the USAF, and gave Ulysses her freedom. Upon returning home from basic training, I found that she started raising a family in a large oak tree in our back yard.
My eight-year air force career was good to me. It was the USAF that sent me to Korea. There I become very devoted to my training in Tae Soo Do Chung Do Kwan (earlier name for Taekwondo). The truth is I was addicted and could not get enough. As I reminisce on those years in Korea, I believe it was a God-sent. Upon looking at where I have come to where I am now and all the possibilities of where I may have gone, I have no question that God placed stepping stones upon my path that has lead me to where I am now.
About my young Adulthood: A marriage that was not destined to work, plus many other trials and errors that most young men must experience to become a survivor, controlled my young adulthood! I can almost say, as the song from Frank Sinatra states, “I Did it My Way”! Unfortunately, a few of those ways were in the wrong direction. However, I have done quite well as one of America’s first pioneers in the unheard of profession of teaching Korean Karate in the 60’s, Taekwondo, as we know it today. Then a young lady student came into my life, and I have never been the same. It was one of those rules that I broke that was a turning point for me. That rule was, “Do not fraternize with students!” At the time of this writing, G/M Brenda and I are celebrating our 30th year as a team. Shortly following her entrance into my life God came in! At 33 years old, I truly accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I was born-again and will never go back. God has inspired me hundreds of times since then as He personally adds the building blocks to my life that make me stronger and stronger.
About middle age plus: The truth is, “I have had a full life; a very exciting, enjoyable and prosperous life up to this point and I do not plan to slow down. There is much work to be done as I share my lifetime experiences with others. I have accomplished many of my lifetime goals and now I have a couple more that I have my sights on. As the Founding President and CEO of the United States Chung Do Kwan Association, I feel privileged to guide and assist others in making their dreams come true. My heart was warmed recently as I accepted one of my many daily phone calls at the Kwan’Jang (USCDKA Head Dean’s office). It was a young man calling from Canada. He emailed me inquiring about our school charter membership. First of all he was amazed that I would answer my own phone. I told him that I take personal pride in handling all initial calls from potential Charter School members. He said, “Sir, it is an honor talking to you. You are on the mountain of martial arts success where no westerner has ever been. Now that you have reached that final plateau of your career, what do you think God has in store for you next? I told him, “I believe God wants me to turn around and reach for your hand and pull you up with me!” He openly cried! There is much, much more that I could tell about myself, and maybe someday I, or somebody else, may write a book. A few of the absolute miracles in my life are documented in our Forces of Taekwondo textbook. Now, at 60 years old, I plan to stay in good health, continue my physical training, continue to place myself under mentors that know more than I do and continue to seek God’s perfect will in my life. Having two wonderful sons and an awesome wife who all have plans to work with me in our businesses and ministries, what more could I ask for? Writing this I simply wanted you to have an idea of what I am made of. I am pleased that God has filled me with the compassion of twenty men. That compassion has created an undying burden for those in need of strength on mind, body and spirit. That burden has become my personal mission, to seek out those people and help them, and if God is moving me to make an impact in this world as I do that, I have told him that I am available.
About my elder years: Get out of the fast lane and assist the younger generation as they keep “The Saga of Edward B. Sell and the U.S. Chung Do Kwan Association” continuing.
About the United States Chung Do Kwan Association: A dream that first came to me shortly after graduating to a Black Belt, then a vision, now a mission. Established in 1967, this business has kept me self-employed for many years. Code-named the USCDKA, it is now the oldest Taekwondo institution in America. The USCDKA was the first of its kind in America. It was formerly called the Korean Taekwondo Association of America; I decided to change the name in 1975. Today, there are probably over a hundred martial arts associations, federations and organizations each claiming to be the best. That’s ok! That’s what motivates the owners to keep on keeping on. Personally, I might be a little prejudiced, but none could compare with the USCDKA. Why? Because of the structure and contents, plus there is an influence of higher power that goes beyond Korea, and that is God’s word. The USCDKA is not a proclaimed religious or Christian organization, but it is, was and will continue to be founded upon biblical principles, God fearing principles and it practices Christian principles. The USCDKA has a direct affiliation with the World Chung Do Kwan Association, is a member in good standing with the World Taekwondo Federation and is certified by the Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Academy). It simply can’t get any better than that. There are many purposes for the creation of this American martial arts institution. Basically, I want my students to have what I did not have, a resource of information, plus assistance in all areas of the profession of teaching Taekwondo. For the first twenty years of my career, I had to “wing it!” Upon entering the third decade of my profession as Kwan’Jang for America’s first national Taekwondo association, I was so uniquely established and organized, most schools across the country were duplicating what I had. Even Korea had not gone as far in the organizing and structuring of all the details of operation as I had. Not only do I give credit to all my Air Force school and leadership training, but I also believe that God supplied me with much wisdom as He does today. Therefore I give Him the glory, not me!
In 1967, there was nowhere for me to get training or any information regarding the building of a martial arts institution such as we have today. I simply used common sense, military ingenuity, plus military code of conduct. After all, the modern-day translation of the words “martial art” does mean “military way.” The USCDKA did not have an open-door membership until 1985. I didn’t make it easy for other school owners be become chartered members. About one out of every twenty-five qualified. Then it happened again. God! God grabbed a hold of me while I was on my face praying. A breach of trust with a person that I appointed to a high position nearly caused a financial disaster to my business. While on my face I cried out to God to help me rebuild, and bring me some more people, He asked, “What was I was doing with those he already gave me?” What He was saying is, “Go to those people who look up to you and make them leaders of their own businesses.” He meant for me to create an “Implosion”; to look inward and not outward. Focus on what I have and not on what I want to have! Since that change of philosophy, we have grown tremendously! I will continue to train the trainers as long as they wish to be trained. So, in short, the USCDKA is a haven for those who have dreams of becoming a successful Taekwondo teacher. This national association offers authentic credentials available to those who qualify as a member. It is my personal belief that “Without credentials, there is no martial art.”
My thoughts about God: I have never doubted there was a God! Even if there ever was a time for such doubt (there wasn’t), the many miracles in my life alone would cause me to believe that He exists. All martial artists are perfect candidates to be faithful believers. It is just that many have been given the wrong information, and I feel that being placed where I am, I am called as an evangelist into the dark side of the martial arts. Before the blinders fell from my eyes I used to refer to God as the man upstairs. Those blinders fell off my eyes when my faith became much deeper then that and I claimed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior according to Romans 10 verse 9. I now have a personal relationship with the God of the universe. Truthfully, speaking, I am not a religious person, I simply wish to be referred as person who believes that being a Christian is not about what you do, its about who you are. The word Christian means “Christ like”. I hope that is what I am projecting.
OTHER BRIEF THOUGHTS, PHILOSOPHIES OF THE GRANDMASTER:
About the Bible: I believe in it from cover to cover. There is no man that can say that they understand it completely. God does not ask us to understand it; He does ask us to stand for it!
About Christianity: This is my choice of faith because it works for me!
About a Black Belt: To me it is a universal symbol of integrity and expertise in a martial arts training system. Not all are equal, but all should be respected!
About the World Taekwondo Federation: A governing body for the purpose of maintaining Taekwondo as a world sport. I had the pleasure of voting it into existence. See www.WTF.org
About the Kukkiwon: This word means the epitome of authenticity in the certification of world-wide Taekwondo Black Belt registration. It is a huge coliseum that houses the records of all Black Belts who wish to register their Dan (skill level) there; it is also the research center for the improvement of the art and science of Taekwondo; the official World Taekwondo Training Headquarters, Seoul, Korea. My title as the highest ranked foreigner (Non-Korean) in the world is registered there as well as all my Black Belt ranks up to and including the coveted 9th Dan. See www.Kukkiwon.org
About the World Chung Do Kwan association: The first official Taekwondo school to be recognized by the Korean government was called Chung Do Kwan Taekwondo; the founder was Sr. Grandmaster Won Kuk Lee (Yi) in 1944!
About the future of the USCDKA: With the approval of the World Chung Do Kwan Association, Seoul Korea, I created the United States Chung Do Kwan Association in 1967, the first official national Taekwondo association. See www.USCDKA.com
About breaking bricks, wood and concrete: Exhibitions in breaking boards, bricks and concrete need to be left to those who have properly trained themselves in this area of Taekwondo. To break a board with brut strength is not the martial arts way, but to break a board with the science (kinetics of human motion) of Taekwondo is. Only fools would perform such feats to show off. An exhibition should have a purpose or should be followed by a word of wisdom. It takes several years to properly learn the secrets to breaking multiple boards, bricks and stacks of concrete. I find it humbling to say that I have gained a worldwide reputation for my stage presentations, as I break wooden boards, stacks of concrete and house bricks. I personally enjoy doing this after mastering the art and science of Taekwondo. I call it the “Chung-Do Power!” Officially, it is a skill of focusing a blow/kick/strike combined with synchronized body motion and body weight! I strongly suggest that it be left to the more advanced students; Black Belts and Masters or one may suffer serious injury. A person, who demonstrates such skill and talent in a prideful manner, is a person that becomes very dangerous to himself. In my book Board Breaking 101 I reveal the secrets that I have discovered in what I refer to as the SCIENCE of Taekwondo. A sequel to this book is currently in the editing stages on Brick & Concrete Breaking.
About The Sell Team Ministry: My wife and I established this unique ministry in 1980. We have toured throughout the country and many places throughout the world, performing our world-class martial arts stage presentation and preaching the word of God. It is such an effective evangelistic ministry, that it received much attention from the Pentagon. See www.SellTeam.org
About the Christian Taekwondo University: After a few years in the ministry, my wife and I began to develop a burden for follow up to those who made a decision to become a Christian. As we prayed for direction, we realized that we could partner with local churches to use our Taekwondo system to draw people into the church and disciple them in their walk with God. Thus, the Christian Taekwondo University was born. This program is designed to take a leader who has athletic and leadership ability and transform them into a Taekwondo leader and eventually Instructor. See http://christiantaekwondouniversity.com/
About Grandmaster Brenda J. Sell.: The wife and longest lasting student of Sr. Grandmaster Sell, Grandmaster Brenda J. Sell, has an extraordinary career similar to her husband. She is the highest female Black Belt in the world outside of Korea. The highest foreign (Non-Korean) Taekwondo Black Belt. This team works and plays together 24/7 as life-long partners in Taekwondo, the ministry and life. See www.GrandmasterBrendaSell.com