A fighter and an artist

It takes a big heart to be a musician or a martial arts champ, Grandmaster George Anderson

tells Sanjeev Satgainya:

This is such a beautiful country and the people here are great. Driving down the street must be hectic for many but I enjoyed every bit of it,” claims George Anderson as we get introduced. Grandmaster Anderson is here in the capital for a brief visit to observe the First All Karate Open International Championship that was held from January 5-10 in Kathmandu.

Anderson opted to learn and master martial arts for the love and passion of this ancient form of art and now 72, looks as energetic as a young apprentice in this art. “I used to play the violin before I started learning martial arts and you won’t believe the similarity in these two artforms,” explains Anderson, “Music is a universal and dynamic language with great emotional content and so is martial arts. The heart that you need to learn music is required to master martial arts.”

As a youth, Anderson won honours as a student of violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music and was later a scholarship student at the University of Wichita. He also studied accounting and Spanish at the University of Akron, where he has been teaching since the late 1960’s.

Anderson started martial arts training in 1950, beginning with elementary jujitsu, and progressing through karate, a rough shotokan karate, judo, kung fu, and taesoodo, as the Korean art was then called. After many years of study, he earned his black belt in the early 60s under Il Joo Kim, a student of Grandmaster Kim Pyung Soo, a student of Grandmaster Chull Hee Park.

Anderson is 10 Dan Karate, 9 Dan Jujitsu, 9 Dan Taekwando and a master of Chinese martial arts. “Karate is the form of art that should be inculcated in each and every individual,” believes Anderson and says, “The family values and the moral aspects of life are learnt from this form of art. All those who are the followers of this form of art are part of an extended family and we know to respect the others. Unlike the coach of other games, in this art the coach is revered as a father figure and with the rest we maintain great camaraderie.” Now as great grandmaster, Anderson’s passion is to protect this game and spread this form of art worldwide. He has substantially worked to get this game into the Olympics but he believes by 2012, this form of art is also accepted. Currently Anderson is a Colonel with the Ohio Sheriffs Office and is a Captain in the US Coast Guard.

“The craze for this art in this country is great and I was extremely surprised to see the youngsters following the art and displaying high quality technique and style. The art is even better here than in South America. There is no doubt that these boys will do a great job,” Anderson seems excited and adds, “I will do my best for the preservation and uplift of the art over here.”

Father of five children, Anderson has 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. During the 1960’s and early 70’s, Anderson was extremely active in karate, sparring hours every day, teaching, and gaining a reputation as a good hard-nosed practitioner. As he was nearly forty when competition really became popular, and as he was in demand as a referee, he turned his attention that direction. Most of his involvement at that time was with the East Coast Korean group, and he had a close association with the greats Ki Whang Kim, Richard Chun, Henry Cho, Kang Rhee, Kim Soo Jin, Jhoon Rhee, Mon Soo Park, and Chong Lee — to name just a few. Today in the world of martial arts George Anderson’s name is called the last word in karate to which Anderson who has been practising martial arts for over 54 years modestly smiles, “This is the form of art which should be transformed from one generation to another and I am glad that worldwide this art is being accepted, revered and practised.”