Grandmaster Terence Walsh was introduced to the oriental martial arts in 1955. He initially studied Judo under the famous Dutch champion, Jan Ruijg. In 1960, Grandmaster Walsh was selected to demonstrate Judo before Primo Canera, the reigning World Heavyweight Boxing champion. Canera voiced his amazement at the skill of the young judo player considering his age and experience. Three years later, Grandmaster Walsh captured the NSW Middleweight Black Belt Judo Championship with relative ease from some of Australia’s most experienced and world-travelled players.

Around this time, Grandmaster Walsh was given a newspaper article reporting that a “Karate Master” had broken a brick with his bare hand in a demonstration of “superhuman powers”. He began to research the little known Art of “Karate” by any means available: studying articles, speaking with overseas travellers and interviewing merchant seamen alighting ships in Sydney Harbour. As part of his search for accurate and reliable information, Grandmaster Walsh privately imported a textbook called “This is Karate” by the late Karate Master, Mas Oyama.

After studying the text in 1965, Grandmaster Walsh wrote two letters expressing his interest in learning more about the Oriental martial arts: one to the President of the People’s Republic of Korea, Park Chung Hee, and the other to Master Oyama.

Master Oyama wrote back in 1966, stating in broken English that he had “felt” an unusual depth of knowledge and insight the letter of the young Australian. Master Oyama extended a formal invitation to Grandmaster Walsh to come to Oyama’s Tokyo Karate Headquarters and study martial arts under him full-time. A couple of days later, Grandmaster Walsh received a second letter from the Korea Amateur Sports Association, offering him a full government scholarship to study Tae Kwon Do in Korea. The letter said that the Korean government saw the scholarship as a means of furthering Korean-Australian international relations and that the Association was organising a suitable martial arts instructor in anticipation of his arrival.

Later in 1966, Grandmaster Walsh received an official invitation to spend 18 months in Korea undergoing an intensive martial arts study regime. The invitation said that he was to be placed in the “foster care” of Lee Sung Soo, 9th Dan Black Belt (then 4th Dan). The invitation warned that few Westerners had ever trained in Tae Kwon Do and no Australian had ever undertaken this military-style, hyper-intensive, training regime: 6 hours per day, 6 days per week for 18 months.

Grandmaster Walsh underwent his initial training at the Kunil Tae Kwon Do Training Institute in Donam Dong, a suburb of Seoul. The school trained more than 1000 students per day – huge by today’s standards. Grandmaster Walsh was the only westerner among the 1000 students training at the Institute. Numerous photographs of the Kunil Institute show wooden planks nailed across its windows – a precaution taken to stop students being kicked through them and out onto the street. Despite many obstacles, Grandmaster Walsh gained the respect and admiration of each of the Institute’s instructors and top black belts through his relentless determination, courage and powerful technique. His training was a constant news item in Oriental newspapers. Many Korean journalists were fascinated with the “man from Hoju (Australia)” who competed against the Korean’s in their national martial art.

In 1967, Master Walsh was graded 1st Dan Black Belt by the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association and the Tae Kwon Do Jidokwan (the largest and most popular school of Tae Kwon Do and one of the five original “kwans” of Tae Kwon Do).

In 1968, during the second term of his Korean scholarship, Grandmaster Walsh was invited by the (then) All Korea Middleweight Champion, Master Park, to attended Park’s private winter mountain training. Park trained in the snow to prepare his mind and body for competition. The temperature in the Korean mountains during winter consistently falls below -20 degrees Celsius – a result of the chill factor brought by winds rushing through Korea from Siberia. Grandmaster Walsh recalls that water froze in taps and thin icy sheets formed on the floors of the do-jang (training hall) from the condensation of student’s breath.

Grandmaster Walsh was one of only three students to survive the gruelling winter training program. He did not miss any of Park’s sessions during the 30 day camp. 59 other Korean black belts invited by Park failed to complete the program. When Park and his three companions returned to Seoul, Park awarded Grandmaster Walsh a special “Ironman Training” award for (literally) surviving his snow training program.

In 1969, Park invited Grandmaster Walsh a second time to attend his mountain training. Again, Grandmaster Walsh completed the amazing test of endurance under Park’s direction.

Later that year, Grandmaster Walsh returned to Sydney to teach Tae Kwon Do and thereby introduced Tae Kwon Do into New South Wales. From his original school in Balmain, he introduced the superior fighting method of the Korean martial arts to many now-prominent masters of Japanese Karate and Chinese Kung Fu.

In 1970, Grandmaster Walsh accepted a third scholarship to further his studies in Korea. In 1971, Master Walsh became the first Australian to receive 2nd Dan Black Belt in Korea from the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association and the Tae Kwon Do Jidokwan.

In 1972, Grandmaster Walsh returned to Australia and founded the New South Wales Tae Kwon Do Association – an organisation that is still in operation to this day.

In 1973 Grandmaster Walsh was invited to attend a national conference held in Melbourne with other pioneer instructors from all over Australasia to organise the first national Australian Tae Kwon Do tournament. Grandmaster Walsh was appointed as coach of the New South Wales team for the inaugural Australian Championships.

After completing his third term of his Tae Kwon Do scholarship, Grandmaster Walsh gave countless demonstrations of Tae Kwon Do and appeared in numerous martial art magazines of the time to foster the development of Korean martial arts in Australia. Over the next decade, Grandmaster Walsh (then graded 5th Dan Black Belt and one of the highest ranking non-Korean Tae Kwon Do Masters in the world) taught Tae Kwon Do to thousands of students, and produced many fine instructors. Throughout this period, he also taught modified Hapkido courses to personnel of the NSW and Federal Police Forces as well as members of the Australian armed forces.

In March 1990, Master Walsh founded the Tae Kwon Do Federation of Australia (TFA) in an effort to counter what he saw as an unhealthy trend away from Tae Kwon Do’s traditional values and the overt commercialism of the Art. In January 1997, the TFA was transformed into the United Tae Kwon Do Federation of Australia (UTFA). The UTFA was formed to provide a new administrative base through which the Grandmaster’s aim of providing a quality, teaching-based (rather than competition-based) Tae Kwon Do organisation would be brought to fruition.

Grandmaster Walsh was the first Australian to be graded 7th Dan Black Belt by the Korean Kido Association – the martial arts governing body of the South Korean government. He received this honour from Grandmaster In Sun Seo, 10th Dan Black Belt, one of the most senior Korean martial arts practitioners and President and Chairman of the Kido Hae. Grandmaster Walsh was also the first Australian to be graded 7th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. He received this honour from Grandmaster Kwang Sung Hwang 9th Dan, who was (at that time) the third most senior ITF Tae Kwon Do practitioner in the world.

In 2000, Grandmaster Walsh was invited by the Kido Hae to attend the 2nd World Martial Arts Championship and Demonstration in Korea. At this event, and to his surprise, Grandmaster Walsh was presented with a Commendation from the Kido for his lifetime of effort in teaching and spreading the traditional Korean martial arts.

In 2003, Grandmaster Walsh founded Walsh Martial Arts Australia as a specialist teaching school in order to promote the benefits of Korean martial arts through the innovative and advanced instruction of traditional Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido.

In 2004, Grandmaster Walsh was graded 8th Dan Black Belt by the World Kido Federation.

In 2005, Grandmaster Walsh celebrated 50 years involvement in martial arts.  He continues to teach Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido to Australia’s leading instructors.

Photo captions:

  1. 1.1967: Grandmaster Walsh's first Tae Kwon Do lesson at the Kunil Tae Kwon Do Institute, Korea under Grandmaster Lee, Sung Soo (now 9th Dan). This photo and its associated news article were syndicated by the UPI Press. It appeared in newspapers throughout Asia and the United States.

  2. 2.1968: Grandmaster Walsh and his personal instructors, just prior to his examination for 1st Dan Black Belt before the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association and the Jidokwan.  The man standing to the right of Grandmaster Walsh is Mr Seo, Yu Seok, Grandmaster Walsh's personal instructor and mentor. The men flanking Grandmaster Walsh and Mr Seo are Mr Seo's assistant instructors.

  3. 3.1968: Grandmaster Walsh and the instructors of the Kunil Tae Kwon Do Institute. Grandmaster Walsh is seated third from the right.

  4. 4.1969: Grandmaster Walsh after snow training in the "Secret Garden" of the Changdeokgung (Palace) in Seoul. In ancient times, the garden was only frequented by the King and his favoured subjects. Later, the garden was used for martial arts tournaments and special training sessions conducted by famous masters.

  5. 5.1969: Grandmaster Walsh demonstrates his jump reverse turning kick at the Kunil Tae Kwon Do Institute in Korea. The wooden planks nailed across the windows were designed to stop students being kicked through them and out into the street.

  6. 6.1969: Grandmaster Walsh was the first Australian permitted to teach Tae Kwon Do in Korea. He was also one of the first instructors to teach the modified syllabus of the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association which enabled children to learn Tae Kwon Do.

  7. 7.1972: Grandmaster Walsh demonstrates his famous focus power by destroying a stack of 12 roof tiles. Grandmaster Walsh's calm expression and relaxed posture during his amazing breaking feats became his trade mark during his third term of study in Korea.

  8. 8. 2009:  At 65, Grandmaster Walsh continues to teach and promote Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido throughout Australia.