On Saturday, September 26th, 2009 the founding of the International Association of TAI Martial Arts, Inc. was officially announced. This association was started by M. Steven Fishman and Robert F. Beall, both students under the late Grandmaster David German, founder of the TAI Martial Arts system, and O'Sensei Virgil D. Kimmey; 10th Degree Black Belt and Former East Coast President of the TAI Martial Arts system. Alongside Senior Black Belt Robbie Sikes(10th Degree in the TAI Martial Arts), Sensei Fishman (8th Degree in the TAI Martial Arts), and Sensei Beall (5th Degree in the TAI Martial Arts) made this official announcement at the grand opening of North Augusta Martial Arts and Self Defense; in North Augusta,
When asked why the decision was made to create the new association, Sensei Beall replied "after we lost O'Sensei Kimmey we knew something needed to be done to solidify the martial arts family we had in the region and help it to stay connected to the rest of the TAI schools across the United States. O'Sensei Kimmey was a strong driving force for the growth of martial arts in this area for over 50 years. With Mr. Kimmey gone, things just weren't the same. I began speaking to Mr. German about reorganization of the TAI association, and with his permission, myself and several other black belts began work on coming up with a plan to make that happen. Sadly, we were never able to officially put anything into place before Mr. German passed away. Shortly after Grandmaster German passed away, we began to hear about all of these different black belts laying claim to being the new head of the organization. As those claims became more abundant, I began to be concerned for the future of our system of martial arts. We had a family here, and something needed to be done to protect its members. It was this need that motivated Steven Fishman to suggest that we continue the proposed reorganization."
"With all these new 'Grandmasters' coming out and claiming to be the head of the organization" Steven Fishman continued "and with no clear successor being left by David German or Virgil Kimmey, we needed a way of protecting the local black belts. We didn't want to see someone coming in and trying to enforce some outrageous changes to what we have been doing for most of our lives. We all saw what happened to the American Kenpo System after the death of Ed Parker. This was shaping up to be the same type of thing. So we created this 'umbrella' to allow our members to continue to grow and thrive as they always have in the past. The only difference now is that we no longer have the watchful eye of Mr. German or Mr. Kimmey to look out for us. I guess now, we have to look out for ourselves."
"The most important thing for people to understand that this is something we are doing because we have a true love for the martial arts that we teach. It is not about money, the IATAI is a fully non-profit organization licensed in the state of Georgia. It is not about power, we have no changes or regulations that we are trying to push down to our members. This is about helping to continue the legacy left by Mr. German and Mr. Kimmey. They both left a mark on our lives, and in this area. So what better place to start this organization which is dedicated to their memory? We have almost 700 years of combined martial arts experience in this room tonight. The black belts are here for a reason, and one reason only; to show respect to our late instructors, and to make a commitment to continue to grow and strengthen out martial arts family" said Mr. Fishman.
David German started his martial arts as a child in California. Starting as a student of a "children's ju-jitsu" class, he would later move on to train and teach for Al Thomas and the Budo-Jujutsu style. From there, Mr. German was introduced to Ed Parker and Kenpo Karate. He would continue training in both of these styles, and actually open up one of Mr. Parker's first franchise schools. Mr. German would then branch out and create his own system of martial arts; TAI. It would be a creation that stemmed from his training with Mr. Parker and Mr. Thomas, as well as many other influences.
Virgil Kimmey, a World War II veteran, would start his training at a young age as well. However, it wasn't until after he returned from the war that he began his martial arts career. Mr. Kimmey would begin his training in Shorin Ryu Karate. From there he would continue his training in the styles of Moo Du Kwon Tae Kwon Do, Zen Shoto Kai Karate, and finally US TAI Karate. Mr. Kimmey would spend the rest of his life teaching martial arts; running his school in North Augusta up until his retirement in his late 70's. Together, these two men had a huge effect on the growth of martial arts in the communities of the Central Savannah River Area.
In front of a room full of students, parents, family members, and instructors; senior black belts Robbie Sikes, Steven Fishman, and Frank Beall handed out almost 30 separate certificates; acknowledging the ranks of the charter members of the new International Association of TAI Martial Arts. Many black belts expressed their appreciation for the new organization, and commented on how this was the first time they had seen each other in decades. Mr. Fishman and Mr. Beall both thanked all for showing up to support their endeavor, and promised many more opportunities for the members to meet and train in the future.