Sensei Shin holds a 5th degree black belt and Ph.D. in education. He has been involved in judo literally for his entire life. His parents were both highly experienced black belts before he was born and actually met through judo. He grew up learning how to walk on the judo mat, and began formal lessons before he was five years old at his parents’ dojo, Military Arts Institute, which, coincidentally was established in 1964, the same year he was born.
Since his father, Kyung Sun Shin, was a well-known instructor and president of the Chicago Yudanshakai, he avoided promoting his son so as to preclude any intimations of favoritism. As a result, sensei shin was a white belt for eleven years. When he began to defeat black belts in competition, the other instructors in the area went to his father and insisted that he promote his son. He agreed to do so on the condition that his son must first go and take first place at the Jr. Olympics, which he did that year.
In the meantime, Sensei Shin also began wrestling in high school and was undefeated his first year. Unfortunately, his freshman season was cut short when he suffered an accident which maimed his left hand. Even after he healed, the injury had a permanent effect; it took off the first two joints of his middle and ring fingers, and he could no longer close his hand fully, making it impossible to grip the sleeve of a judo gi. However, he could grab the collar, and so therefore had to switch hands and learn how to play as a lefty. Today, as a result of his injury, he is fully ambidextrous in judo.
Sensei Shin continued to practice judo and wrestle throughout high school, winning the state championship in wrestling as a senior, and several junior national competitions in judo. During this time he also traveled to train across the US, including the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, with the National team in Germany, and the Olympic team in Seoul, Korea.
While a student at the University of Chicago, Sensei Shin became a two time NCAA All-American in wrestling, taking fourth place in 1984 and second place in 1986. At the same time, he took bronze medals in the U.S. Open, the Senior Nationals, and at the Olympic Trials. He also met Katy Mullin while they were both students at the U of C, whom he later married in 1990.
Sensei Shin retired from national competition in 1987. He began teaching high school English and judo in Oklahoma in 1988. In 1996, he moved his family to Charlottesville to earn an M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in education from UVa. He and his wife loved Charlottesville so much, they chose to settle here and raise their family, which now includes three sons and two daughters, all of whom are now actively enjoying judo as well. He has taught judo continuously since 1989, and opened SSJ Judo in 2006. He was inducted into the University of Chicago Hall of Fame in 2009.