Articles - 'He fought death all the way'

Wake Photo BS Huan

By Benson Ang
The New Paper
Saturday, Mar 31, 2012


The man known as the father of Singapore taekwon-do lost his final battle on Wednesday morning.

But the 72-year-old had fought his illness with all the dignity and tenacity that his beloved martial art had imbued him with. Grandmaster B S Huan, whose full name is Huan Beng Seng, died from urosepsis, an infection of the urine tract. His health had deteriorated after he suffered a stroke in 2010, said his daughter, Ms Anjanette Huan, 38. After that, he had difficulty walking and was wheelchair-bound. He developed the infection last year and also had diabetes and high blood pressure. Every month, he spent a week in hospital undergoing treatment for this condition.

Ms Huan, also a taekwon-do instructor, said: "He was in and out of hospital for two years. "There were times when the doctors said he wouldn't make it. But he fought death all the way and won every time." After his stroke, Mr Huan had lived with his daughter's family in a four-room flat in Pasir Ris.

On Monday morning, he had developed a fever and Ms Huan called an ambulance. He was taken to Changi General Hospital (CGH), where doctors attended to him. On Tuesday evening, Ms Huan received a call from the hospital saying that the infection had spread to the rest of his body. She said: "His oxygen levels were low and he was not responding to treatment. The doctors told us to prepare for the worst." Mr Huan's wife, four children and seven grandchildren went to CGH to say a final farewell.

Said his youngest son, Aaron, 33: "He clenched his fists and he kept breathing deeply, still fighting for his life. Ms Huan added: "At first, I told him that I wanted to be able to take him home. But after seeing his condition, I decided that I had to let him go in peace. "I told him that I didn't want him to suffer. It was then that his muscles slackened and he left us."

Mr Huan died at about 3.30am yesterday. His wake is now at the bottom of Block 476, Pasir Ris Drive 6, and his funeral will be held on Saturday. His family remembers him as a family man who loved animals. He was also a devout Catholic.

'I'm proud of him'

Said his wife, retired teacher Elsie Ee, 69: "I'm proud of him. He lived a full life and had a huge heart." Added his son: "My father was sociable and well-liked. He befriended everyone he met." Not surprisingly, Grandmaster Huan was proudest of his taekwon-do. He brought the martial art to Singapore from Korea in 1963, when he and a few other Singaporeans wrote to the taekwon-do movement in South Korea and requested that some experts introduce the art to Singapore.

Grandmaster Huan and eight others gained their black belts. While the others eventually dropped out, he remained devoted to the martial art. He was determined to initiate a taekwon-do movement in Singapore and set up his own training school in Jurong. He also trained his first batch of students, a group of officers from the Police Security Branch. In 1971, Grandmaster Huan set up the Singapore Taekwon-do Academy (STA) in Serangoon Road.

To date, he has trained more than 50,000 students, including National Kidney Foundation chairman Gerard Ee. Mr Ee, who learnt taekwon-do from Grandmaster Huan in the 1970s, told The New Paper (TNP): "His passing is a big loss to the area of martial arts. He was very dedicated and passionate about the sport."

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong also received an honorary black belt from him in 1986. Grandmaster Huan, who had also written two books on the subject, even franchised his teaching methods in other countries. STA's chief instructor, Master Henry Low, said Grandmaster Huan never retired from taekwon-do. Said the 64-year-old: "Even in a wheelchair, he would attend the central grading every three months." But Grandmaster Huan shunned violence.

In a 1994 interview with TNP, he said: "It takes two to fight. "If you are not aggressive, I don't think the other person will attack you."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

 


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