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Grandmaster ditches retirement to help others make healthy choices (14 photos)

This past weekend, Rudy Timmerman marked 70 years of practicing martial arts. And also his 80th birthday

On Saturday after a lengthy delay due to COVID-19, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 executives, Legion Hap Ki Do instructors, and some students along with Grandmasters Rudy Timmerman and Ivan Bergeron gathered to celebrate some pretty worthy milestones.

Grandmaster Timmerman began his journey in martial arts in 1950 as a young boy while living in the Netherlands. His training continued after immigrating to Canada. In April of 1973, he opened his own school, Ancient Fighting Arts, in Sault Ste. Marie. He continued to instruct until he retired in 2012. Many locals passed through its doors, learning the principals of the art with some achieving World Champion status.

Recognizing the growing problem with addiction in the region, Timmerman came out of retirement to offer affordable martial arts classes with the hope it may help those struggling make healthier decisions. Martial arts is not just a class, it's a way of life, he said. 

He also wanted to support and raise awareness of our local Legion.

"All dues we collect are donated to the local Legion branch, and this is where we help take care of the local veterans who need assistance,” said Timmerman. “Few people know that the local Legion branch also helps many other local organizations, as do branches across Canada. Without funds to operate our facilities, these local groups and our veterans would suffer a great deal. The federal and provincial governments could never provide the services our Legion volunteers provide to our communities. They simply do not have the funds nor the manpower to take on those jobs."

In order to express his appreciation of Canadian achievements during liberation of his native country in 1945, Timmerman started the non-profit Legion Hap Ki Do Club – a Korean form of martial art which has a strong self-defence aspect.This is a 100 per cent non-profit venture. All funds raised are returned back into the local Legion. His hope is to coach instructors so they could carry on and branch out on their own.

Saturday evening’s heart warming and intimate ceremony began with a presentation of a certificate of appreciation from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 executive in attendance, to the Legion Hap Ki Do Club for the work they do to help Sault residents, students and families with an affordable option.

The evening continued with Grandmaster Timmerman presenting Grandmaster Ivan Bergeron of Elliot Lake his ninth degree black belt certificate, the highest awarded in their organization. Kevin Lamour was presented the Black Belt Of The Year certificate.

After those presentations, there were several promoted to higher ranks; Steve Jensen was promoted to sixth degree black belt, Mélanie Moreal was promoted to third degree black belt, and Sophie Lamour was promoted to first degree black belt.

Grandmaster Timmerman was also recognized by his students for his 70 years of training in martial arts and his 80th birthday.

"The title of Grandmaster can be earned by a martial artist who has spent 40 or more years of training. However, in the National Korean Martial Arts Association (NKMAA), one must also have produced Black Belts who in turn became Masters themselves. It is much like a family unit would work,” explained Timmerman.
He is affectionately known as SajaNim by his students which translates to the 'Inheritor'. The name was given to him by his own Grandmaster just prior to his passing when he in turn left the care of the art he founded in the hands of Timmerman.

"To give you an idea about black belt ranks within the NKMAA, it takes the average adult about five years to earn his first degree black belt, about the equivalent amount of time it takes someone to earn a Bachelors Degree from a reputable University. Second degree is equivalent to earning a Masters Degree in University, and to earn a sixth degree black belt takes some 20 to 25 years of diligent training.

"During the past 70 years of training, I can honestly say that martial arts has given me countless very dear friends the world over. I mean friends who would, in an instant, be by your side in case of need,” said Timmerman.

“For example, now I am older, and my body has been wrecked by a work-related accident. It is my students who come to help me shovel the driveway so I can come out to teach them. It is my students who allow me to live in my own home by helping me take care of my yard. And it is my students who shop for groceries during this pandemic. They do so voluntarily because we have developed a relationship you just don’t find outside of martial arts… at least not in the sheer numbers of caring students and peers who take care of each other. Without these awesome people, I would now be in an old folks home instead of doing my best to keep just one youngster from getting into drugs.”  

If you would like more information about getting involved, you can contact Grandmaster Timmerman at [email protected]