In Memory Of Grandmaster Pan, Sim Woon 1950-2020

Yet another brilliant star flickered and passed away from the martial arts world. Grandmaster Sim Woon Pan, the 9th Dan Taekwondo, 1st Class Taekwondo Master Instructor and Dan Examiner, passed away peacefully in his sleep due to a heart attack on January 8th, 2020.

Final tributes to this exceptional teacher and martial artist were held on January 22nd, 2020 at the North Herts Crematorium, Hitchin, UK. 

Grandmaster Pan was posthumously awarded the 10th Dan on January 17th, 2020.

Kukkiwon Dan Certificate issued to Grandmaster Pan, Jan 2020

Our condolences go to his immediate family and this article will serve as a tribute to the unparalleled Taekwondo icon, who will be missed by all of the martial arts community.

Early Years

Grandmaster Sim Woon Pan stepped into the martial arts world at the young age of 12. He trained in judo at the Selangor Judo Club, Kuala Lumpur for 2 years. According to Grandmaster Pan, it was at the club he learned to perform exercises in an organized manner. In 1964, he and a few other friends were introduced to Taekwondo by a senior school friend, who was a 1st Gup brown belt holder then; which is equivalent to a red belt holder nowadays. With time, most of his friends gave up the practice, but Grandmaster Pan persisted and learned the entire Taekwondo syllabus that his senior knew of (The entire 1st Dan level).

My father was very serious and strict about such activities as he said that the martial arts were practised by gangsters. But he said that Judo was acceptable because it was a gentle activity

From GM Pan’s Book Of Memories ‘My TKD Life’

At a very young age, Grandmaster Pan instilled the importance of organized and strict learning; something that helped him to become an extremely successful teacher in the years to come.


Grandmaster Pan’s philosophy toward martial arts was methodical and organized. With his approach to Taekwondo, he left no room for mistakes, procrastination, or bad attitude. What separated Grandmaster Pan from most other martial arts masters is his never-ending strive for excellence. Grandmaster Pan absolutely refused to settle for half-measures; he demanded nothing but the best. It is the lack of helpful criticism like Grandmaster Pan’s that has led to the watering-down and errors in techniques.

Grandmaster Pan’s motto was simple: Practice makes perfect. He made it a point to repeat even the simplest moves over and over again until he’s confident that it is of the best achievable standard. That standard must be upheld for the upcoming training sessions.

Practice Makes Perfect

Grandmaster Sim Woon Pan has always stressed that students must remember the following:

  • Rome wasn’t built in a single day

Great things take time and patience. It’s important to take one step at a time and give every ounce of effort and focus on that particular step

  • Little drops of water make a mighty ocean

It’s the small things that add up to great things. Small consistencies in technique lead to perfect technique and Poomsae

  • Slow and steady wins the race

You can’t learn in a rush, nor can you train in a rush.

Grandmaster Sim Pan also had zero tolerance for a bad attitude. He warned his students and if they still made no effort to change, he asked the particular student to leave before one spreads his attitude to the other students in the class.

Even with all those strict regulations, Grandmaster Pan managed well and heightened his student’s Taekwondo spirit. Thus, making Taekwondo an enjoyable and healthy activity.

His ultimate goal in life was to contribute to helping motivate students around the world to raise the technical standards of students and masters alike. And, to ensure that they practice Taekwondo fearlessly and enthusiastically.

Master Pan was a proud Taekwondo coach for a number of foreign teams who have participated in different Poomsae Championships. He has helped many students from Italy, England, Japan, Russia, and many others to become the winners.

GM Sim Woon Pan with Winners from Russia and President Chungwon Choue of the World Taekwondo
Samsun, Turkey, Sept 2015

What style of Taekwondo do I teach? Traditional?
Yes I teach Pan Taekwondo is the answer! 

A modern style “Bruce Lee” of Taekwondo a true example of what Taekwondo has to offer!’

Julian Burton in his Small Tribute To A Big Name of Taekwondo

Julian Burton, one of Grand Master Pan’s students from England, precisely well described his teacher:

‘He teaches both WTF and ITF styles but you need to see his application to understand. You need to see how he moves. You need to work with his style and application. You must absorb the vast knowledge.

Alicante Spain, 2014

He will not teach you just because you ask or you think you are good enough – he chooses to guide you, not you choose him!’

Teaching Technique

With his years of experience, Grandmaster Pan revised and refined his methods of teaching. He described his method as that of teaching a new language: you got to teach the letters before the students will be able to form words.

Only when they [students] can form words with confidence can they string together sentences.

GM Pan

Grandmaster Pan strictly believed in teaching little at a time. This gives time for the students to absorb everything and cement them in their minds. This not only led to long-term memory but also led to rapid improvement of self-confidence in the students. He knew that overloading too much work and information led to errors and students losing interest in training.

He also had a particular training regime and every student had to undergo the regime indiscriminately. His lack of favoritism is yet another reason for the tremendous respect he gained from the Taekwondo community.


Just like his teaching technique, Grandmaster Pan perfected his Poomsae. He perfected it to a level some grandmasters came to Grandmaster Pan to learn Poomsae accurately.

With his years of practice and experience, Grandmaster Pan refined the reasons students failed to perform Poomsae correctly to 3:

  • Lack of adequate practice
  • Improper teaching practices of Poomsae
  • Instructors not continuing their own education. Thus, failing to notice errors that students perform when practicing Poomsae

Grandmaster Pan went against the traditional teaching of Poomsae when it starts with the first movement and proceeds to the last movement without a pause. Instead, he taught Poomsae from the last movement to the first, broken down into several steps. Even though it was difficult, it helped students learn Poomsae thoroughly.


It’s impossible to summarize Grandmaster Sim Woon Pan’s achievements in a single article. Being the influential and outstanding martial artist he is, he has won both medals and respect from the Taekwondo community around the world. The list mentioned below has been heavily refined; providing only a faction but a notable list of Grandmaster Pan’s achievements.

British Taekwondo Control Board – Referees Director
British Taekwondo Federation – Referees Director
Kukkiwon 8th Dan
WTF World Poomsae Championships in Egypt
Taekwondo Malaysia Poomsae Championships; Over 40s – Silver Medal 2011
WTF World Poomsae Championships, Colombia; Over 59s – 8th Place 2012
Chang Moo Kwan 9th Dan                                                                       
Kukkiwon Master Instructor Class 1 with Commendation
Kukkiwon Hanmadang Referee Class 2
World Hanmadang Poomsae Master 2 – Silver Medal
Taekwondo Malaysia Poomsae Championships Over 40s – Gold Medal.
WTF World Poomsae Championships, Bali, Indonesia, Master 3 – 5th Place
ASEAN Taekwondo Federation Championships Senior 2 Poomsae – Bronze Medal
WTF International Poomsae Coach 3rd Class 2014
Taekwondo Malaysia Championships Poomsae Over 40s – Gold Medal 2014
Kukkiwon 1st Class Taekwondo Judge 2015
World Children Taekwondo Union Referee 2015

Even though this barely scratches the fascinating life of the late Grandmaster Pan Woon Sim, we hope the memory of Grandmaster Pan lives through this article. The whole martial arts community prays for Grandmaster Pan Sim Woon!

Last Days Of Grandmaster Pan

Master Pan has always been an active man. He spent his last months traveling around Europe, meeting with the students, and celebrating his 69th birthday in Sweden.

His death was sudden. There were no signs of trouble, Grandmaster Pan was cheerful and happy. Only sometimes he would mention his high blood pressure during the European trip in October-December 2019.

Grandmaster Pan, Sweden, 2019

The last month of his life Grandmaster Pan spent among Korean martial arts lovers – Swedish Hapkido and Taekwondo Master Bo Mikael Lindstrom and Master Vrekic from Serbia.


Grandmaster Pan has been looking forward to his upcoming seminars. He was full of desire to impart his knowledge to Korean martial arts practitioners from all over the world.

By no doubt, his students will carry on Grandmaster’s teachings through the ages and the recollection of iconic, yet humble, Taekwondo master will be etched in the memory of those honored to meet him.

The Void He Left in the Taekwondo Legacy Can Never Be Filled!

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  1. Grandmaster Sim wong pan was my teacher from the start of my martial arts to my 3rd Dan black belt training and grading. He was sure the Best of the Best martial artist and the teacher in ever found in the world of martial arts. He was also a true gentleman. I will surely miss him and I promise to carry on with his legacy forever He will always be my martial arts father. I will always put him first whilst practicing my martial arts at any level

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Written by Natasha Tu


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