Man of Many Uniforms: A Veteran’s Story

Michael Murphy, USAF

Michael Murphy has always been a man of many uniforms. From the time he was a young boy, he has worn the uniforms of various sports teams, Scouts, and eventually, the uniform of the United States Air Force. But his journey through life was far from ordinary, and his favorite uniform would always be the one he wore as a Taekwondo instructor.
His military career began in September 1981 when Michael decided to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. A year later, in 1982, he officially started his martial arts journey as a student of Senior Master Richard and later CM Stauffer while stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. He enjoyed the discipline, confidence, and perseverance that it gave him. He worked hard and became an instructor.
In 1985, Michael became good friends, and an assistant instructor with Go2Karate Founder Tracy Thomas. As a TKD instructor, he found purpose and fulfillment in helping young minds develop discipline, confidence, and respect. The joy he derived from witnessing his students’ growth was unparalleled.
Michael Murphy and mentors
Two years later, the USAF sent him on an assignment halfway around the world to Korea. Feeling dissatisfied with his progress in Taekwondo, he remembered the wise words of EGM HU Lee, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” Determined to continue his martial arts journey, he trained diligently on his own during his assignment there. His dedication paid off, and he returned to the martial arts community with renewed vigor. Later, in another corner of the world, still serving as an active duty service member, he opened his own club in Germany. Returning to the States and making a career change within the military to an Air Traffic Controller, his rigorous training forced him to take a break from Taekwondo.
Michael Murphy and mentor
At the age of 48, after a quarter-century hiatus, Michael received a life-changing phone call from CM Stauffer. Coincidentally, CM Stauffer was in the same town as Michael, Charleston, South Carolina. This call reignited Michael’s passion for Taekwondo, and he wasted no time in reconditioning himself and opening another club in Summerville, SC. Once again, finding so much joy in training another generation of martial artists.
Michael Murphy and students
Reflecting on his journey, Michael can’t help but smile. He’s traveled the world, served his country, and shared his passion for martial arts with countless students. He remembers the words of EGM HU Lee once again; he had been right all along; you could indeed “achieve anything with determination and hard work.” He has worn many uniforms throughout his journey, each representing a different chapter of his life, yet his favorite uniform would forever be the one that allowed him to teach and inspire the next generation of martial artists. It is a life well lived. Michael is a true testament to the power of determination, resilience, and the belief that one can achieve anything they set their mind to – just as EGM HU Lee had told him all those years ago.
-Go2Karate Magazine article submitted by Michael Murphy