Grandmaster Au IX
Grandmaster, Sasung (Miss) Tham Ying Au IX (KOO Dan) - the very first woman to achieve this rank (1st January 2014) in the United Kingdom.
Miss Au's father, a member of the Shaolin Martial Arts Association in Kuala Lumpur, enrolled her at the age of 11 to practise Shaolin Martial Arts three times a week under Sifu Yip, a strict disciplinarian from Shanghai, China. She trained for two years to complete the foundation forms in Shaolin.
In 1973, a Taekwon-do class started in the school with over 100 students. This was where Miss Au started training under Mr Leong Wai Meng, 2nd Dan, now Senior Grandmaster 9th Dan with the North Korean ITF. Due to a large part of her Shaolin foundation, she was the first person in Malaysia to achieve 3 double promotions consecutively from 10th kup to 4th kup, and was graded all the way to 1st kup by Mr Low Koon Lin 5th Dan, at the time the Chief Instructor and Examiner for the whole of Peninsula Malaysia, and now Senior Grandmaster 9th Dan with the North Korean ITF.
In 1975, Miss Au's instructor left Malaysia for Sweden to promote TKD and later expand his promotion of TKD to the artic, Greenland. In 1977, Miss Au was offered the opportunity to help with his TKD class in Malmo, Sweden which she did for six months before continuing her studies in London, UK. It was at the first ever Scandinavian Masters Demonstration in Stockholm, Sweden (1978) where she met Mr Rhee, 6th Dan at the time, who was representing the UK, and who gave her the contact details for TKD in London.
However, it was under the instruction of Grandmaster Choy that she gained the coveted Black Belt in the UKTA. Her progress up the ranks, still under Grandmaster Choy 's guidance, especially in the filed of competition, made her a living legend in the UKTA and the personification of TKD expertise among women, and in many cases the men Black Belts who never managed to copy leave alone emulate her. Indeed, she was the first person in this country, male or female, who recorded in open competition the demolishing of 3 break up boards with a jumping 360 degrees spinning back kick.
The obtaining of Gold in the 1984 World and then the European Championships in Patterns, sparring and the team event took her to the pinnacle of her competitive career with her domination of the women division in this country being unchallenged at the time of parting company from the UKTA to help form the BUTF in 1988.
As an Instructor with the same dogmatic ideologies as in her days as a student and competitor, she has successfully coupled the instruction of schools for the BUTF with the taxing job of being its Secretary General since its inception. Numerous Black Belts, current and past owe their expertise in the art to her dedication.