The End of an Era
RIP Grandmaster Raymond MK Choy IX, 19 Sep 1942 to 25 Feb 2017.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Grandmaster Raymond MK Choy IX.
Grandmaster Choy was a gifted man with many talents outside of Tae Kwon Do. Everyone is gifted, however not many of them open their packages.
We should learn from his Legacy and watch our thoughts. We may become what we say, and in turn what we do. What we do may become our habits. These habits will mould your character. Your character will become your legacy.
Grandmaster Choy reached great heights in many aspects of his life, but only because he had great depth.
If you have met him you will never forget him.
With deepest respect.
Master Manning VIII
A message from the heart
Grandmaster Choy the father figure and founder of the BUTF, a person I have known since 1978. He is one of the most honourable people you will ever meet, in word and in deed. Grandmaster Choy’s middle names in Chinese character means “famous steel”. Underneath the exterior of this strong and strict disciplinarian lies a kind hearted, generous and forgiving soul. He has a great sense of humour, strong leadership (Military Style, Royal Air Force) and a brilliant mind.
Those unforgettable black belt training sessions filled with laughter and pain combined which are more akin to running a marathon because you only finish when you cross the line and not when the time is up! Those who had been there will understand exactly what I meant.
Many would not have achieved so much success in Tae Kwon Do and in their private lives but for his support, guidance and efforts in drawing the best out of themselves which they didn’t even know existed. This was down to his unwavering demand from everyone including himself, leading by example, to go that extra mile, not occasionally but as a norm. Indeed, Grandmaster Choy has walked many an extra mile with so many in his life. His legacy will continue to live on in all the lives of the people he has touched and long may it continue to guide us in his absence.
On a personal note, I am the luckiest woman to have been able to share in all aspects of his life. There is no greater partnership I could ever wish for.
With love and respect
Sasung Au IX
I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of my dear friend Grandmaster Choy. No words can describe how sorry I am at his passing. We both started training about the same time and even took some of our B/belt gradings together.
He was a true loyal friend and a man of honour and humility nothing was ever too much trouble for him. He was a gifted Martial artist and very knowledgeable in the arts and TKD will be poorer without him.
I am sure he will be looking down on us to make sure we keep up to his standards
God bless R.I.P. my friend.
Grandmaster Ted Hopwood
On behalf of Grand Master Orello Ellis and England Taekwon-Do Association, I would like to send our condolences for the passing away of a man who was responsible for many of the senior grades who are still teaching TKD. I myself was fortunate to have been graded by him on a few occasions whilst a colour belt. The TKD world has truly lost an inspirational person.
Respect and condolences
England Taekwon-Do Association
Master Thomas Denis VIII
Sasung Choy IX was a man of great generosity, a leader, a gentleman and a scholar. He embodied and displayed the true way of Martial Arts, very rare in this day and age. His legacy & spirit will live on through the many people he touched in his life. I have been honoured and blessed to have been under his watchful guidance and inspiration for majority of my Taekwon-do life and will continue his legacy to the best of my abilities.
Mr Kambo VI
Dear Miss Au,
I thought that I might offer to You my memories of meeting a lovely man; Mr Raymond Choy. Also, in achieving a teenage dream.
At aged 14 I saw a Mercedes SEC coupe and coveted it there and then. Clearly very powerful and capable, yet composed, sleek and without flamboyance. My Father - an intelligent, polite man - who insisted upon integrity, shared the very same love of this model. His friend owned the one I had seen, but it was beyind my Father's reach.
In 2014 I came to realise, having lost my Parents, 'life is too short' and where possible we should do the things that we wished. I looked at 47 SEC's, but they were poor examples of a once great thing. Then I came across the one I now own, Yourself and Mr Choy.
From the outset, Mr Choy showed a rare level of integrity and displayed a genuinely transparent personailty which, I contend, is rare in people. I realised this when He returned my deposit payment as I had not physically seen the car. Others woud clearly have taken the money, rightly or wrongly - without a care. Not Mr Choy. I was not allowed to purchase the car until Mr Choy had checked first that I had a garage. So He was satisfied it would be kept inside and I would not, "waste my 25 years of care for Her".
When attending Your home I was intreagued to observe the many accolades regarding Mr Choy's achievements in his sport. Then it became apparent why He was such a good match for the SEC and why He would choose this. As He was obviously powerful, capable, composed and without flamboyance.
I have regularly visited the BUTF website since meeting You and Mr Choy, though until this evening I did not know why. Your clever suggestion of "an affinity", aptly summarised my actions. I have messaged You both numerous times to provide updates and pictures regarding the SEC and the work that I have done, being pleased that You have replied and even sending me spare parts that You had found in the garage.
In visiting the BUTF website today I learned of Mr Choy having passed away. I felt a genuine sadness. Then, reflecting upon the history of Mr Choy within the BUTF, which I have previously read, I considered just what an amazing life that He had led - made only by Himself, dedication and hard work. Inspiring.
Rest in peace Mr Choy and thank You for Your kindness during our meeting.
Uncle Raymond was my godfather. I will never forget his laugh, his good humour, kindness and exceptional generosity. As a child I was always in awe of his fast cars and endless stream of gadgets. Perhaps most fondly I remember time spent at his aquarium in Eastcote. It was no ordinary pet shop, stocking pythons, talking parrots, giant lizards, fighting fish and large carp. Handling a python in the morning and then heading for a slap-up meal at the Nepalese restaurant next door are among my most cherished childhood memories. I was proud to call him my godfather. I will always be grateful for the precious memories he leaves me.
Grandmaster Choy was my mentor, instructor, confidant and my Uncle.
My Tae Kwon-Do journey started when my brothers and I used to make camps out of the white fabric my grandmother used to make doboks with. One day Uncle Raymond came over to the house to pick up some doboks and he popped his head into one of our camps (under the dining table) and said “Hey I have something to show you” It was a martial arts magazine and inside it was photos of him receiving his 2nd Dan black belt and some action shots of him sparring, this made a huge impression on me and I cut out the pictures of the magazine and stuck them on my bedroom wall, dreaming maybe I could be like my Uncle and become a black belt and like him excel in it.
My chance came when I enrolled with my brothers at the Hillingdon school, my first lesson was an eye opener as I mistook the man in front of me as my friendly Uncle, he quickly rebuffed my greeting of ‘UNCLE!’ to ‘I’m not your Uncle here, you must call me Sir!’ and that was the way it stayed from that day forwards.
He was very strict with me and I used to think he was always picking on me but it he must he must saw something in me because if it wasn’t for his attention I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Grandmaster Choy never took a penny from me for my TKD training and eventually gave me my first school to teach from which was the catalyst for me to develop my skills in TKD and in life .
There were a lot people who could not get on with his strong character but the ones that stayed with him grew stronger and wiser. We respected him, admired him and we loved him.
We will never forget you sir, I will never forget you Uncle.
Master Liu VII
Grandmaster Choy had devoted his life to the martial art he loved. His legacy is not only the BUTF he formed in 1988, but the long list of masters who owe their status to his dedicated teachings. Many of whom have gone on to head their own organisations.
GM Choy’s eye for detail and insistence on correct technique created a standard that is greatly admired and will hopefully continue through his many instructors.
For those of us lucky enough to have ‘endured’ one of his training lessons, which only ended when he saw fit, you left exhausted but exhilarated, happy in the knowledge you’d learnt from one of the best.
In the nearly 40 years that I had known him he started off as being my examiner at various gradings, an occasional instructor to me when I visited his clubs ( he was not my regular instructor), to becoming a mentor and good friend. He was a determined character, and we might not always have seen eye to eye, but there was a mutual respect between us which I will always cherish.
A father figure to many of us he will be sadly missed, but I’m glad to say I have so many memories. I have experienced many amazing times through his organising and generosity; he has been a great influence on my life.
RIP Sasung Choy
Master Whitley VII
It was late 1977 when as a 14-year-old I went to watch a TKD class at Hillingdon. My brother Lakhbir took me along and wanted me to learn this fantastic form of self-defense. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to start immediately. What stood out was the gravitas of the instructor, (a 3rd Dan at the time). He ran the class very efficiently, ensuring there was no idle chatter, even from people who were watching. I remember one incident clearly. Four youths had come into the training hall eating chips. They had been sat down doing this and had been chatting for no more than a minute when the then Mr Choy saw them, walked up to them, and told them very clearly, they would be not be eating chips in the hall, and leaving if they carried on their banter. They got up immediately, looking very sheepish, and left the hall quietly. In those days sparring was either done with no protection or very little protection compared to the padding we have today. During that time, I was lucky enough to have the privilege, as a green belt and blue belt, to spar against Grandmaster Choy. He made it look so easy, deflecting kicks and punches with a flick of the arm – I just couldn’t penetrate his defence no matter what I tried. His wrists were rock hard – something which I discovered when he demonstrated how to do an inner-forearm block with me as the opponent. The pain!
After a break and as part of the UKTA, I continued training under Mr Choy. It was through him that I learnt what I needed to gain my 1st Dan in Derby in 1987. It was under his tutelage that I also successfully attended the UKTA instructors course.
In 1988, for various reasons, the BUTF was formed. Together with my brother and others, I became a founding instructor of the BUTF under the guidance of Grandmaster Choy. I was a 2nd Dan at the time. There could not have been a more suitable person to be BUTF chairman. Grandmaster Choy had excellent leadership skills, was a strict disciplinarian, his attention to detail was first class, and he made sure that the organization grew from strength to strength. In order to grow the BUTF quickly, new schools were established, and I was tasked with opening one in Cranford. I quickly realized that I could not offer the dedication required to run it successfully and after a short while, passed it into the hands of my brother. During those days, the BUTF covered the British mainland, with championships in England, Scotland and Wales.
I achieved my 3rd Dan under Grandmaster Choy in 1992. I married in 1993 and both he and Grandmaster Au were both special guests at the wedding – he even brought me to the church in his ‘jet’ – a Mercedes 560 SEC which he treasured for many years and only sold recently. (Some may not know that he was very keen on his cars – only ever buying the top of the range model).
Although I was an assistant to my brother Lakhbir in the ensuing 10-year period, helping him run schools at Tooting, Cranford and Twickenham/Richmond, I was also asked to help at gradings where Grandmaster Choy was at the helm. If you came to grade, here is where you discovered it was not easy.
Grandmaster Choy insisting that the standard should be extremely high before allowing a pass. Failures happened often.
I moved to the northwest of England in 2004 and missed teaching TKD so much that I decided to open a school here. Although the BUTF was focused on London and the South East, there was no representation in the northwest, and it would have been easier to join another organization which had a more local presence. However, serving my time as an instructor under both my brother and Grandmaster Choy, I decided to remain affiliated to the BUTF. Having known this great man for well over 35 years, it was an easy decision to make, even though the 250-mile distance has made it extremely difficult.
Sadly, no-one is immortal, and the two people who brought me into this martial art have now passed – my brother in 2013, and now my original instructor from 1978.
When you know someone well you get a good understanding of their character. Grandmaster Choy ran the BUTF with military precision, making difficult decisions where necessary. But having known him for as long as I did, I discovered that this great man also had a softer, amiable side too. He would always ask how my family was, and showed great empathy when I discussed some of the more challenging times I had been through. And many laughs were shared over some very hot food in Eastcote, courtesy of Grandmaster Au.
The BUTF will be a poorer place without Grandmaster Choy, but I believe that under the guidance and leadership of Grandmaster Au it will remain a great place to be. Her experience and technical ability is second to none. At some point, and having been a BUTF 3rd degree for some 25 years, I hope to be able to grade for my 4th degree with her at the helm.
Grandmaster Choy – thank you for being a great leader and friend. You will be missed by me, and my family. There can be very few ITF Masters and Grandmasters in the UK over the last 35 years who can say that one way or another, you have not been a massive influence on them. Master of Masters - may you rest in peace.
Shaminder Sangha (III)
Instructor – Thornton Cleveleys Taekwon-Do School
Grandmaster Choy a truly unique man. As a person & Tae Kwon do instructor who inspired & guided a multitude of people. He will be truly missed.
Master Bryan VII
The strong influence on my life that Grandmaster Choy has continues to dawn on me. I recall my first grading nearly 15 years ago where I came to appreciate his uncompromising standards and his dedication to the art of Taekwon-Do. At that grading, his keen eye quickly recognised my previous study of another martial art and I remember being informed in no uncertain terms that this was Taekwon-Do and I would need to correct these habits if I was to progress in this art! It was a stark warning to me and this set the scene for what was always a consistent and clear message - that you would always know what was expected of you and that, if you were willing to put the hard work in, he had a genuine desire for you to reach your potential. It always felt personal. He was absolutely dedicated to the art that he loved and he would never abandon his principles.
Whilst Grandmaster Choy was a figure of authority to all, he also managed to combine this with fairness, integrity and wisdom, as well as his well-known dry sharp sense of humour, of course.
As I moved through the ranks and became an instructor, I had the opportunity and honour to get to know Grandmaster Choy in a different role – as a mentor as well as an instructor and examiner. He always had time to give his advice and support and sometimes this would extend beyond Taekwon-Do matters. It was obvious that for those that were willing to put time into the BUTF, he would always find time for them, whatever was occurring in his own life. I was also struck by his kindness, generosity and open nature.
Grandmaster Choy will be sadly missed but his legacy is immeasurable. The sheer number of Taekwon-Do Masters and Senior Instructors who studied with Grandmaster Choy is huge and many of those now run sizeable Taekwon-Do organisations themselves. My instructor, and indeed his instructor, meticulous and knowledgeable teachers, fair and dedicated. As student and instructor alike, this is the benefit I have always felt through the last 15 years and is the legacy of Grandmaster Choy.
This is how I will remember Grandmaster Choy. An amazing and genuine man of high principals. He is the reason why the BUTF has set the high standards it has. The reason why we are able to tell our students that they should know they have truly earned whatever they achieve in the art and as such, why BUTF Taekwon-Do is so fulfilling to be part of and to practice.
Mr Robert Greaves III
Grandmaster Choy welcomed me into the BUTF in 1992. He was generous and nurturing with a tough demand to be the best I could be. I have many memories spanning the years, but in his final week as I visited him a nurse said “oh, a new visitor. Friend or family?” Before I could say anything GM Choy called “ Family; we’re a strange family, but he’s family”
It is an honour to be considered in that bracket by a man who gave his all to his art and his “family”
Thank you Sir, may my spirit be as generous as yours to continue our family.
Michael Snelders VI
I was privileged to have Uncle Raymond as my Godfather. As a young boy I remember, one afternoon, repeatedly asking Uncle to show me some of his Tae Kwon-Do. After a while he gave in and demonstrated a kick towards me whilst I was sitting on the arm of our sofa. Even though he was a couple of feet away, the power knocked me off the arm and onto the floor; I remember it clearly to this day. He was patient, learned, a powerful force, an inspiration and ultimately, a lot of fun! I will miss Uncle dearly but will carry him in my memory with much love and enduring respect.
Raymond was one of our oldest friends – in fact he and Lincoln went back to school days in Calcutta and it was a great pleasure to meet up again in this country. We remember when we were young all going to Spain on motorbikes and we kept in touch over the years. We were devastated when Raymond first told us of his diagnosis. He had a wonderful sense of humour, was immensely fit and strong and with his determination was able to continue contributing to the sport he loved. We miss him and will always remember him with great affection and warmth.
Lincoln and Jennifer Lim
Meeting Grandmaster Choy for the first time, over 25 years ago, my impression was one of a man of authority who had a monumental presence and I was instantly drawn to this.
Grandmaster Choy is in the very foundation and woven into the fabric of my family, as if it wasn’t for him bringing TaeKwon Do to Hillingdon. I wouldn’t have the family I have now, as I met my wife at Hillingdon school of TaeKwon Do. My Children were lucky enough to know Grandmaster Choy and to be graded by him, they will always hold him in high esteem.
Throughout the years, as I have moved up the ranks in the BUTF, I have been extremely privileged to know the personal side of him, to be invited into his home, relish in his hospitality, laugh with him and even sing karaoke with him, these moments I will treasure and are a side to Grandmaster Choy that only a few know.
He has always taken the time to give me guidance in TaeKwon do and always gave his time freely. He also helped me personally, for which I will always be grateful.
Grandmaster Choy has achieved immortality in his teaching of TaeKwon do and the standards, which he has set, have been passed to thousands that practice past and present.
I am honoured to be the Instructor of Hillingdon, his first school; he will always be remembered as an accomplished, generous and honest man who has enriched my life and Sasung Choy I thank you immensely.
With love and respect, as always
Pete Rigg V, Nicky Rigg, Charlotte Rigg II and Joe Rigg II
It is with sadness that I address the passing of Grandmaster Choy, but with joy and a depth of richness as I recall the journey that I have taken because of him.
I first met Grandmaster Choy at the beginning of 1992 for my first grading. I remember how the atmosphere changed as he entered our training hall, when the students who already knew him suddenly became upstanding and serious. Then I heard for the first time, the rumblings of his commanding voice. I knew then that I must be very focused and serious, if I were to succeed in passing my grading held by this imposing Examiner. I soon learned that he heard and saw everything that went on. Even many years later when I have since become an examiner myself, I still cannot fathom how he could watch several students performing together while still making very detailed and comprehensive notes for each and every one of them.
As I continued my journey I worked as hard as I possibly could, with my aim, to endeavor to make Grandmaster Choy proud. You see, that when you had the privilege to get to know him, you found that he would do whatever he could to help you on your journey. He would insist that you practice correctly and maintained that there are no shortcuts. Even when you think your body cannot comply. As many will testify, the classes would only end when you attained the standard required, not just when the clock says so.
Grandmaster Choy was a very generous man. He freely gave time to me when I have no idea how he found time, during his incredibly busy years. Because he knew he could inspire the effort needed for me attain levels beyond my confidence at the time. It is because of him that I attained a merit pass for my 4th degree, when I may have not applied to grade in the first place.
In our time outside of the Dojang he would share riveting stories recalled in detail, with a memory that I have not encountered in another person. We have had many years both in the UK and in Spain where we would mix the physical training of our art with the warm gatherings of a family led by Grandmaster Choy. The memories and legacy he leaves will impact many more for generations to come. We, and the many others before us will take forward a little something that we were gifted from his teachings in and out of the Dojang.
Rest in peace Sir.
Chris Joannou VI
I first met Grandmaster Choy when he graded me as a yellow belt many years ago. At the time Mr Choy was a 4th Dan and taught my instructor, Mr Roger Koo. Mr Koo was an inspirational and motivational teacher, so I was in awe to meet and be graded by his instructor. Over the years Mr Choy was ever present at gradings and tournaments, and I trained with many of his students too. It is amazing to look back now and see all of the masters who were trained by him.
Due to other family and work commitments, I took several years break from Tae Kwon-Do. But when I returned (in the late 90’s) I had the great privilege to train directly under Master Choy, a 7th Dan at the time. I remember the amazing sessions in Putney, training alongside many senior black belts. But mostly I remember a brilliant teacher, who also became like a second father to me, as well as a true friend.
Sir, the world is a poorer place without you, but you have left a lasting legacy. Rest In Peace.
With love and respect
Chris Michael IV