Face to Face Interview with Mr. Thung Jin Ping – Artist cum TKD Exponent (updated Oct 14, 2011)

“Painting in watercolor is like walking a tight-rope; one must find perfect balance between what the paint wants to do and what the artist wants to do, or all is lost.” – Mary C. Taylor

Taekwon-Do exponent Mr. Thung Jin Ping and his collection of watercolor paintings

When I first met Mr. Thung I only knew him as a TKD Instructor who holds a 4th Degree Belt commuting with his motor bike to the schools to conduct his TKD classes. Only upon further interaction did I find out that he is also an accomplished artist specializing in water color painting.

Water color Exhibition 94_MIA Gallery Taman Melawati 2














More than just a Taekwon-Do exponent, this soft-spoken and reserved artist cum martial artist has also won commendable awards over the years as listed below:

  • 1991 “Tingkatan 4-6 Pinkat Gansa” Pertadingan Melukis Dan Kaligrafi Peringkat Kebangsaan
  • 1994 MIA Financial Aid/Scholarship (Malaysia Institute of Art)
  • 1995 “Third Prize” National Horse Show 95 Art Competition. (STC Equestrian & Sports Centre and the Equestrian Association of Malaysia.)
  • 1996 MERIT in Recognition Of His Leadership Qualities and Involvement. (Malaysia Institute of Art)
  • 1996 In The Extra-Curricular Activities of the Institute. (Malaysia Institute of Art)

“A good piece of watercolor is expressed by heavy washes, calligraphic lines, forceful spirals, luminosity of colors, and chromatic freshness.” – Kwan Y. Jung


Date of Birth: 02 March 1972

1996-97 Certificate in Computer Application in Art & Design (Icon Computer Center)
1994-96 Diploma in Fine Art Major in Oil Painting (Malaysian Institute of Art)

1. Can you discuss your early experiences with martial arts, and Taekwon-do in particular? What were your first motivations to take up TKD?

My earliest encounter with martial arts goes back to my childhood when television was showing lots of martial art related programs and movies. To my delights, when I was in primary standard 4 (10 years old), a martial art class started at the badminton court in the community ground in front of our house at home. I did not know which type of martial art that the members were practicing in their uniform but I was very much attracted and wished to join them.

THUNG leading Black Belt class

However, it was not possible as my family could not afford the fee. Still I would watch them practicing each time through my window. Martial art came into my life since then.

The time came for me when Taekwon-do, karate and judo were implemented as extramural (curriculum) studies /activities in my secondary school at SMK Confucius with only a small fee. It was such a wonderful opportunity for me and my 2 brothers who also love martial arts. By that time I already knew about Taekwon-do and I joined the TKD class whereas my 2 brothers chose karate and judo.

My first motivation to take up TKD was simple. I saw it as a self defense physical training with good discipline.

2. Could you provide a brief overview of your training history and main instructors?

In 1987, our instructor Master Alex Lee Ming Pong (he was a black belt 3rd degree then, currently black belt 7th degree in 2011) taught us from all the basics , guided us and encouraged members to learn from each other through practicing together regularly. He led our team (the Confucius Boys TKD) to participate in various tournaments and presentations.

From 1989 to 1992, our TKD team won Overall Champions in different state tournaments (Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Perak etc.) every year.

3. How has your pursuit of TKD enriched your life on the whole?

The pursuit of TKD has indeed enriched my life on the whole. I have also acquired the tenets of TKD: ”Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control , and Indomitable Spirit” to guide me through my daily life and as a person. At times of difficulties, I always remember the tenets and find strength and courage to cope and move forward. It also helped me to gain confidence.

4. What is your proudest moment in Martial Arts?

Mr. Thung Jin Ping performing a jumping reverse turning kick breaking 2 boards with eyes blindfolded.

The way I see my achievements in Martial Arts, there never occurred to me any proudest moment. It is simply because I felt each great moment will soon be shadowed by another. I generally do not get too excited over it.

5. You are also an accomplished artist who does painting work. Can you share with us how you got involved in painting?

Red Clogs in watercolor








I found my passion in art since I was small with the encouragement from my parents. I drew a lot until I got into secondary school when my art teacher Mr. Yong Look Lam taught me watercolor painting which I did very well.

6. Which came first, TKD or painting? Do you pursue any formal study in painting?

Both Taekwon-do and Painting/visual art mean a lot to me. As for painting, I enrolled at the Malaysian Institute of Art in Kuala Lumpur to study Fine Art after I completed my secondary school study.

During the 3-year study, I experimented in drawing, oil -painting, ink-painting, printmaking, design and mixed media work and even experimental studio with installations. I graduated in 1997 with a major in Painting, thus I am a visual artist who may be referred to as a painter. Fine art can be my profession. When I worked as artist designer at The Mines Resort (The Mines Wonderland Theme Park) in Kuala Lumpur, it was an occupation.

7. From the paintings that you have displayed, do you have specific preference on the medium that you use in your painting work?

Yes, I prefer water color as my medium in those close-up still life paintings that I have displayed.

8. Being both a TKD exponent and an artist, what kind of experiences you usually go through when doing your painting work as compared to executing your TKD movements or patterns?

When starting a painting, one generates from point to line and to form a dimension on a blank piece of paper or canvas. With the addition of color, every element in when working well together will take form into a piece of art work. Likewise, this principle is the same as in TKD, for every execution of movements and patterns such as jumping, rhythm and breathing should be performed smoothly, in coherence in order to achieve top form. To achieve form we must keep going practicing. There is no shortcut.

9. Did you host any art exhibition in the past and how was the response from the public? Did you take part in art competition? What was the highest price your painting works have so far fetched?

I had participated in various art exhibitions in the past. I am pleased to mention that sale of my paintings had helped me through my college fees and expenses.

Young Talents 96 Water World 2 Unit Muzium Matawang Bank Negara Malaysia

10. A painter uses paint, oils, acrylics, watercolors. An artist is a broader term. When you refer to yourself or talk about your artwork, do you call yourself a painter or an artist? Perhaps something else? Does it vary depending on who you’re talking to, or do you try to avoid using a label of any kind? Share your thoughts and experiences

I do not try to use or avoid any particular label in referring to myself as an artist. If any community uses different term or label, it is only out of their common knowledge. Surprisingly, the term fine art artist is not common in our society, but people will refer to painter in the arts as artists.

To me artists are more concern about sharing their art creations, less about how they may be called.

11. Given a choice to turn professional, which would you prefer to be – Martial Artist or Painter?

Since I love Martial Art as well as Visual Art, I would like to think that I may be able to make both professional. To me they complement each other, one being physical and the other spiritual.

12. Can you share your personal experience regarding what is going on your thinking process and the thoughts at that very moment when you are actually performing your brush stroke on the piece of art as compared to that of performing the ‘hyung’ movements?

In my case, the instance of executing the brush stroke or the performing of Hyung movement is an instinctive action or reaction excelling the basic steps and rules. It has to have a good flow. Of course this can only be achieved after the skill becomes a natural instinct, through many years of practice.

In the early years of practicing, every movement went through hesitation and decision, thus each action became a decision of a thought process and the end product was not convincing.

Building in Malacca




























“Painting is the most beautiful of all arts. In it, all sensations are condensed, at its aspect everyone may create romance at the will of his imagination, and at a glance have his soul invaded by the most profound memories… Like music, it acts on the soul through the intermediary of the senses… hearing can only grasp a single sound at one time, whereas the sight takes in everything and at the same time simplifies at its will.”
Paul Gauguin,c.1889-90


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