We here at the AWMA blog love to keep an eye on the ways in which martial arts are influencing the outside world. As martial arts enthusiasts and martial artists ourselves, we thoroughly understand what an incredible impact our training can have on us both on and off the mats, and it’s fascinating to see similar inspiration happening in all walks of life. We love seeing the ways in which martial arts have helped to change the combat that we see in action and superhero films, how training has helped prepare today’s stars to keep up with their stunt doubles — and how martial arts is helping to keep some stars grounded in Hollywood. We enjoy seeing the influence of martial arts culture show up everywhere from pop music lyrics and videos, to comedy, to fine art, to literature. We’re also thrilled to see the various ways in which martial arts have been incorporated into cross-training for other sports.
Which is why we found the latest addition to the New England Patriot’s training team so exciting. According to a recent report by The Boston Globe, the NFL team has hired Joe Kim, a martial arts expert, as a pass-rushing consultant for the forthcoming season.
Here’s a taste of Kim’s martial arts-influenced football coaching methods in action:
GrandMaster Joseph E. Kim is a 7th Dan Black Belt recognized by the World Taekwondo Federation, Kukkiwon and USA Taekwondo.
“GrandMaster Kim is recognized as one of the most successful Taekwondo Instructors and Coaches in the United States. He has produced over 250 Black Belts as well as several National and International Champions,” the bio on the website for his Avon, Ohio gym, Kim’s Martial Arts School, reads. “GrandMaster Kim has dedicated his life to the development of Taekwondo in the Cleveland community.”
According to a 2016 profile in The Chronicle-Telegram, Kim started taking Taekwondo when he was 5. After a bullying incident at school, his mother turned to TKD to help her son protect himself and gain some self-esteem. By 11, he was a black belt. He went on to become a multiple time member of the U.S. National Taekwondo Team, a bronze medalist at the 1990 Pan Am Games and World Cup, a two time Olympic Festival Gold Medalist and National Champion.
Kim began working with NFL teams in 1992, when coach Bill Belichick sent three of the Browns’ defensive linesmen to work with him. “He wanted to call upon my expertise and help martial arts make its way into the football world,” Kim told the paper about his early work with Belichick. He added that the coach was still a mentor to him. “One thing Coach does is he develops people. Look at the history of some people that worked with him. “With me, he just truly educated me on the needs of a football player and where the combative system can transfer over to the football field.”
Since then, Kim has gone on to work with multiple NFL and NCAA teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, and Penn State. Now Kim is reuniting with Belichick to work with the Patriots. He’ll also be working with defensive tackle Danny Shelton again, whom he previously coached during one of his stints with the Browns. (To see his full football resume, click here.)
“[Kim] will work alongside Patriots defensive line coach Brendan Daly, helping the defenders improve their hand-to-hand combat skills,” The Boston Globe reports. “Kim also will coach pass-rushing linebackers such as Dont’a Hightower. He has previously worked with offensive linemen to improve their hand combat as well.”
As Kim told The Chronicle-Telegram back in 2016, each position requires something different from his martial arts expertise. “For the defensive line, it’s beating the offensive line with quick, powerful hands,” the paper explained. “For the offensive line, it’s shooting hands in the perfect spot to neutralize the pass rusher. For the tight ends and receivers, it’s using hands and feet to gain separation at the line of scrimmage.”
Kim went on to say that reactivity and preparation were key components of his philosophy for training, going so far as to evoke a certain beloved martial arts legend in his explanation. “We don’t want to anticipate things. On the field it happens too quick, it’s too violent. You have to train your body to be reactive. Bruce Lee said, ‘I’m not afraid of the man that knows 10,000 kicks. I’m afraid of the man who’s practiced one kick 10,000 times.’ When training these guys, I keep that in my head.”
Are you a football fan? Or a Taekwondo fan? Both? Have you been following GrandMaster Kim’s work in the NFL? Let us know in the comments!