GMO Taekwondo World Cover

GMO in Taekwondo World

This right from the GMO Sidekicks Archives: Grandmaster Orange on Taekwondo World Magazine Cover from Summer 1989.

Yes, yours truly, Grandmaster Orange was featured on Taekwondo World Magazine Cover demonstrating the Taekwondo Hook Kick one of GMO’s signature moves. The article goes on to profile a much younger GMO, before he was a grandmaster.  The article was titled, “Maurice Orange: seeking new horizons” and the original text is below.

Maurice Orange is one of those men who always searches for new challenges and wider horizons.

ATA Regional Vice President – Maurice Orange 


The 34-year-old American Taekwondo Association regional vice president has come a long way from a poor neighborhood in Oklahoma City.

His drive to learn and challenge himself led to a successful Taekwondo career that may just be beginning – and he will tell anyone that his character requires new challenges and achievement both inside and outside Taekwondo.

Orange is the sixth of nine children. His mother, Estelle Berry, “was in charge. Definitely. She was a single parent extraordinaire.”

But, he said to stop misunderstanding before it starts: “I don’t want anyone to read this and say, ‘Poor Mr. Orange – Poor black child…’ That is not the truth. I never felt trapped by my early environment. I always felt my personal mission went beyond what was at hand.”

Mentors in My Life – Maurice Orange

“I owe my mom a lot. There are many people who have helped me over obstacles. There was my mother, of course; a high school teacher who actually became my mentor; and my older sister Carol.”

Orange is quick to point to others who helped him grow. His Frederick Douglas High School teacher Maurice Benefee is “number one” after his family.

“I don’t feel he identified me as an individual at first. He was an excellent communicator with young people — and being without a father in the home, I was very sensitive to those teachings.”

So Orange spent thousands of hours at school and home with Benefee talking about the world, culture, what motivates people, setting goals, proper speech and goal setting. 

Students at Orange’s school today see a little bit of that early training when he emphasizes good English — and requires black belts to turn in regular written reports.

There was more though, to Benefee’s influence.

Below image text: “Maurice Orange demonstrates the combination of power and control available to an ATA senior instructor as he lifts Bernard White with a side kick in photo at left.”

"Maurice Orange demonstrates the combination of power and control available to an ATA senior instructor as he lifts Bernard White with a side kick in photo at left."

Personal Discipline – Maurice Orange

Orange tells of one example: “When I bought my first car…a situation came up where I was in need of discipline. He called my mother and advised I should park the car and either ride the bus or walk..”

His mother trusted the teacher and Orange was on foot while learning about personal discipline.

“I was at a time in my life when I needed to identify with an adult male,” said Orange.

Today, he said, many Taekwondo instructors find themselves in the same position since many of their own students are from single-parent families.

Also, said Orange, his childhood with little money has made him a great believer in uniforms for schools of all types.

“It was embarrassing how unforgiving children are to one another when it comes to material acquisitions. That’s why I am all for schools with uniforms. It takes the pressure off the school, the child and parents.”

Imagine, he said, a Taekwondo school with no uniform rules. One kid has a “Gucci” uniform and another has a K-Mart dobok.

“The attitudes that surround material acquisition tends to undermine the reason the school is there in the first place, which is continuing education.”

Of course, Orange has nothing against material acquisition. His home, car, computer, and clothing outside the school are evidence of that. To him, it’s just that there is a time and a place for everything.

When Orange talks about “continuing education” in the Taekwondo school, it is something that he takes seriously.

It also means community involvement. Orange and his students are proud of many successes in fund drives and holiday food programs they operated for their community.

Musician – Maurice Orange 

As most ATA instructors, Taekwondo is only one of his own skills.

Orange is proud of his music ability. When he was in the 6th grade, he wanted to play violin in the orchestra. “There was no rock and roll in school, so I wanted to be in the school orchestra. I thought I could do it well.”

He wasn’t really into classical music, “but that was what was offered at the time…”

“I never got the violin, “Orange said. “But as I became a junior high school student, I was exposed to band. So I signed up for band and started to play percussion. That same year I received a set of drums. My father bought them.”

That was the start of a music career that took him into playing nightclub jazz dates by the time he was in ninth grade.

He loved his drum set because it involves the entire person in performance — both hands and both feet. “It’s a personal instrument; audiences identify with drummers.”

After a year of working at interior decorating and heavy equipment operator work (which might be a strange combination for someone other than Orange), Orange joined the Navy. It was 1974.

Navy Life – Maurice Orange

Once in the Nay, he began training for a future.

He went into medical work and trained as a corpsman, then went on for training as an audiologist — a hearing specialist. 

But in practice, he did more than just audiology. While stationed on the Pacific island of Guam, Orange traveled the South Pacific assisting in general medical work and surgery as well as hearing-related medicine.

It was quite an education on other cultures — and also what real poverty can be.

Orange also started martial arts in the Navy.

“I got beat up a lot as a kid because I would never fight back. Anyone who wanted a reputation could come after me because I was easy.”

He didn’t like being that way, but, he said, “I didn’t like being threatened physically or have anyone even raise their voice.”

Kung fu to ATA (American Taekwondo Association) Maurice Orange

He started training with a Wing Chun kung fu instructor. He trained for about a year and a half and learned a lot from a man he calls a really good instructor.

But it wasn’t what Orange wanted. 

“I wanted to jump and kick.”

His kung fu instructor recommended the ATA (American Taekwondo Association). Orange has been ATA ever since then –and discovered that he was a different person in many ways.

The confidence he got from Taekwondo meant that bullies never seemed to make him a target any more. “I have not had a fight since Taekwondo. I’m not as threatened now, so I don’t have any problems. I have a perfect record: No fights, no wins, no losses.” 

Well — maybe. Orange said that he has sometimes thought that competitors in tournaments were trying too hard. 

But he was hit hardest when he and Neil Singleton were both going 100 percent for first place. “He was the guy with the most experience that day. We were both going for it. He sidestepped my kick and hit me right in the solar plexis…”

That was good, Orange said, because he learned from it.

“Every time I have been hurt in free sparring, I have been able to remember my position in the room, my stance, my opponent’s stance, and what directions we were facing.”

“I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think the reason people remember is because of a disruption from an outside force… You tend to remember that happen, very much like an automobile accident.”

In a way, that also is why he moved his personal business office from his home to his school.

“I was neurotic when I had my office in my house. Now there’s nothing in that room except an ironing board. I learned you need to make a distinction between work place and rest place.”

IBM Personal Computer RAM – Maurice Orange 

On the subject of business and his office, Orange decided about two years ago that he needed a computer to enhance his business work and improve his presentations.

“I read some books and asked some questions, then bought my first computer.I didn’t know RAM from Sam.” 

After making typical first-time user mistakes with his IBM personal computer, Orange now uses the machine for school newsletters, business letters, correspondences, his Black Belt mailing list and some financial recordkeeping.

“There are no games on it. I spent too much money to play with it.” Still, he admits poor typing skills – so he bought a typing tutorial program to improve that.

“I let my junior and senior high school students use it to learn typing and to do term papers. My juniors and Black Belts have to turn in a report every four months because they need to improve their wiring and grammar skills.”

Page 23 Taekwondo World, Summer 1989


Although Orange’s writing and grammar are above average, he still has school teachers correct and grade his papers.

He feels that the “continuing education” in Taekwondo is not just from the kicking and punching. “If I ran an ad, “Come in and improve your character, nobody would come in. So I run kicking and punching ads and then…”

Orange had started a club while he was still in the service. But having his own school and students soon became a major personal goal. He started his first school in 1983 in National City. National City Taekwondo Center. 

Orange started a second school in 1986, but soon sold it to one of his juniors — which was his goal in starting it.

That, he said, is part of his role as a senior instructor working to help his juniors.

“I saw an opportunity to make a change in people’s lives.” – Maurice Orange 

Orange believes that one of his most important things to teach, besides regular Taekwondo technique and values, is proper English. “It is the only way children are going to get along in society.”

Orange said that his work in audiology — which involved some speech therapy — helped him realize that how people speak makes a big difference in how they relate to other people.

His school has a large population of people who come from families which do not have English as a native language, which makes English even more important.

Overall, he said, “I would like to be remembered as a hard working, conscientious man who cared about people and tried to make a difference in their lives, a competent martial artist, a tireless instructor, and a humble student.”

“Through my relationship with Master Lee and the ATA, I have excelled in all these areas.”

GMO Taekwondo World Article
Page 24 Taekwondo World, Summer 1989

His advice to juniors?

“Be true to yourself; don’t make unreasonable demands of your instructors; take plenty of notes when your instructor is speaking. Never be afraid to communicate with your instructor the things you feel are important.”

“And remember that your training is not the obligation of your instructor; rather it is a relationship between instructor and student.? 


~ From the Sidekicks Martial Arts Academy Archives of Grandmaster Maurice Orange

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