The founding director Dr. Min was searching for his successor for over 10 years and he finally found one in 2003. Dr. Russell Ahn joined the UC Martial Arts Program as Associate Director along with his full-time faculty position in the physical education program. There were a handful of people attempted to succeed Dr. Min’s directorship but failed and left the program because the position’s demanding nature. Eventually, Dr. Ahn became the Director of the University of California Martial Arts Program (UCMAP) in 2006, and also the Head Coach of UC Berkeley’s Taekwondo Team. Under his leadership, the team has successfully won 1st place in Champion’s division in the National Collegiate Taekwondo Championship for 16 years, from 2003-2012 and 2014-2018. Ever since joining UCMAP in 2003, Dr. Ahn has worked tirelessly to establish and promote the qualities of the teachings, disciplines, and traditions of each of the different martial arts represented in the UCMAP program: Taekwondo, Yongmudo, Judo, Karate, Wushu, and Taiji. He was recognized for his efforts and achievements as the Endowed Director of Martial Arts at UC Berkeley in 2008, in honor of Dr. Ken Min. From 2011 to 2018, he served as a Board Director of USA Taekwondo, the National Governing Body of Taekwondo. In addition to his duties as the Director of UCMAP, Dr. Ahn is also the President of the US National Collegiate Taekwondo Association, the Vice-Chairman of the Youth and Collegiate Committee of the World Taekwondo Federation (WT), and the Technical Committee Chair of Taekwondo for the International University Sports Federation (FISU). He is also the current US Yongmudo Association President and Deputy Secretary General of the International Yongmudo Federation and was recently nominated as a committee member of the World Martial Arts Committee.
Dr. Ahn began his training in Martial Arts from a very young age; from the very beginning, his dream was to further and formalize the development, advancement, and education of martial arts. He holds an 8th degree black belt in Taekwondo, in addition to black belts in Yongmudo, Judo, and Kumdo. He completed a BA in Physical Education and Taekwondo in 1992 at the Yong-In University. This was followed by his BA in Linguistics, Second Language Learning and Teaching in 1999, MA in Linguistics in 2000, and PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures in 2005, all completed at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. In 2014, he also completed a MA in Leadership at Saint Mary’s College, with the aim of being able to more effectively organize and lead not only the UCMAP, but also numerous national and international martial arts organizations. As an actively involved member of the martial arts community, he also holds several important positions in leadership and administrative roles even outside of his role as the Director of UCMAP.
Dr. Ahn is of the belief that, “‘Director’ is not just a word; but also a responsibility, containing a dynamic scope of work.” Under Dr. Ahn’s guidance, UCMAP has come a long way over the past two decades. From a program that once struggled to receive proper recognition from the university to a nationally renowned program, UCMAP has made great leaps and strides over the years. To this day, Dr. Ahn continues working to integrate Martial Arts into the community and promote the development of the program to greater heights. His overarching goal is to help martial arts flourish and thrive both as an educational program within the university, and as an emerging field on the national and global stages.
In addition to directing UCMAP, he is also an active instructor in the program who teaches twenty-two university PE classes hours per week, spanning Taekwondo, Judo, and Yongmudo. As an instructor, he enjoys facilitating the learning and comprehension of the different values that arise from martial arts training for his students: Humility, perseverance, respect, and discipline are all important character-building attributes essential to the learning and practice of martial arts. He enjoys working with students who are passionate to learn and practice martial arts. Dr. Ahn agrees with and continues to follow founding director Dr. Min’s perspective of teaching martial arts as not only a great educational tool, but also an effective way of promoting wellness through extensive physical training and a peaceful mindset. Dr. Ahn firmly believes in and supports the UCMAP mission statement, “To preserve the philosophy, techniques, and traditions of Martial Arts and to develop a scientific understanding of the physical and spiritual implications of human performance.” From Dr. Ahn’s perspective, Martial Arts is not merely a physical practice, but also a philosophy and a way of life.