A 50-year family taekwondo legacy

  • Written by Kirsten Abel
“This wasn’t the career that I was going to do,” said Don Shin, the owner of Shin’s Taekwondo Academy in Kenmore. The academy has been in operation for over 20 years.
Shin, a taekwondo master, is the son of Steven Shin, a taekwondo grand master who trained for over five decades and taught the sport for over 35 years.
Shin said it took time for him to appreciate what his father did and how his father pushed him to succeed. “Being a child of a certain type of teacher, they always expect more,” he said. 
Don Shin SonDon Shin is carrying on his father’s long taekwondo legacy by running a school in Kenmore. (Courtesy photo)  Steven Shin FatherSteven Shin is a taekwondo grand master and taught for over 35 years. (Courtesy photo)
“At some point, I was in a spot that I was making decisions in my life,” he said. “I saw my father over the years, how he worked with young and old and how he changed their lives for the better. That really inspired me to move in that direction.”
Eventually, Shin decided to train to become a taekwondo master. It’s a process that can take years.
“It takes a lot of dedication,” he said. “You have to love it or you can’t do this.”
According to Shin, the sport of taekwondo is about a lot more than just self-defense. The most important lessons actually involve life skills. 
“How to accomplish a goal that feels like it’s impossible. If you want something, you can work for it,” Shin said. He’s seen many of his students, who range in age from five to 72 years
old, gain confidence and develop self-esteem. He’s also seen them improve at coping with difficult situations.
“That’s when I feel the most joy in my teaching,” he said.
Originally from Korea, Shin spent much of his youth in Alaska and moved to the Seattle area in 1996. He now lives with his wife and two daughters in Kenmore. 
The whole Shin family has earned black belts from Shin’s Taekwondo Academy. His daughters don’t currently practice taekwondo but they might change their minds in the future, Shin said. 
The taekwondo school has about 120 students and is always accepting more. The recommended starting age is five years old. “So they can follow directions,” Shin said. 
There is no maximum age. The academy’s website states that it “focuses on teaching three main groups of students: children, adults, and families.”
Although Shin said he has never asked his father what he thinks of him following his career path, he said he thinks he probably feels proud.
“I am grateful that he has given me the opportunity to run his school that he pioneered,” Shin said. “At the end of the day, I know I made the right choice and I’m doing the right thing for these kids.”
To find out more information about Shin’s Taekwondo Academy, visit

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