ELKHART — At over 70 years old, John Salomon continues to soar to heights not many men can achieve. The Senior Master at Elkhart Martial Arts has achieved his sixth-degree black belt in Chun Moo Hapkido.
“You never learn it all. There’s always more to learn and there’s always more to teach,” Salomon said. Salomon began his journey into the martial arts following his combat service during the Vietnam War.
“I had always thought about pursuing martial arts after I got out of the service,” Salomon said. “What we had there really wasn’t comprehensive and I was interested in martial arts. They teach you what they call hand-to-hand combat. It really doesn’t go into very much depth.”
He recalled that when he began looking for classes locally, someone told him, ‘Don’t go to the Tae Kwon Do school in Elkhart because those guys are too rough.’
“And so I thought, ‘Well, I’ve got to see this.’ I came to the Elkhart school and saw that it was something I’d like to purse.”
That was in 1981. Just a few years later he began teaching Tae Kwon Do at the school and eventually achieved a 7th degree in Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan, and then in 2013, the school began seeking ways to become certified in Hapkido.
Hapkido differs from Tae Kwon Do in that it is geared more towards self-defense, Salomon explained. Chun Moo Hapkido is a Korean martial art that teaches the coordination of energy and non-resistance principles.
“You spend more of your time working on self-defense,” Salomon said. “Hapkido doesn’t have tournament requirements, and they don’t require you to do forms.”
After the Elkhart Martial Arts School became cross-certified in Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan and Chun Moo Hapkido, Salomon tested and received his fourth degree black belt in Hapkido and continued teaching both forms of martial arts.
This year he was awarded his sixth degree belt in Hapkido, and the school held an open house in celebration of his achievement, and the achievement of Senior Grand Master Steve Travis, who was promoted to eighth-degree on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
“I think the most rewarding part is when you see that people, whether they’re students or black belts, when you see them progress because you’ve helped them, that’s really the reward for doing it.”
Salomon has been awarded Black Belt of the Year, is in the NATKDA Hall of Fame and has three generations of family under him involved in martial arts.