Global expedition leader receives two national awards in July

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Dr. Tom Mullikin, a global expedition leader and chair of the S.C. Floodwater Commission, was named to the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame as a “distinguished master” on July 16: The induction taking place in absentia midway through the third-annual South Carolina 7 (SC7) expedition which Mullikin was leading throughout the month of July. An accomplished martial artist who was featured in the Oct.-Nov. 2017 edition of Black Belt magazine, Mullikin was inducted into the prestigious S.C. Black Belt Hall of Fame in 2019.

“Tom is a truly skilled martial artist who possesses a unique warrior spirit that is demonstrated at the core of every challenging event and evolution in which he is involved,” says Bruce Brutschy, American Karate Black Belt Association 10th DAN and inductee and director of the SCBBHOF. “A great leader who elevates all those around him, Tom is one of those rare men who are always in the process of making his world a better place and consequently that of the rest of us.”

Mullikin has long incorporated the discipline and skills he acquired through martial arts training into his work as an attorney, university professor, former U.S. Army officer, and retired two-star commander of the S.C. State Guard. “Martial arts has provided skills in breathing and stretching that have given me the confidence and capabilities to confront challenges while leading expeditions around the world,” he says.

Mullikin’s expeditionary accomplishments to date are legion: Having already logged SCUBA dives in every ocean on Earth and climbed mountains on every continent (including four of the seven great summits and surrounding ranges), Mullikin has also navigated isolated stretches of desert, rainforest, and arctic tundra often at the head of groups of former U.S. military special operators.

For the past three years, Mullikin has directed and led the SC7 expedition across the Palmetto State. Throughout SC7, participants – including everyone from the Governor to the Lt. Governor, the president of the S.C. Senate, Supreme Court justices, and military and business leaders – hike, climb, explore, and in some instances whitewater raft, kayak, and SCUBA dive on a pre-planned trek roughly paralleling the Palmetto Trail which stretches from the mountains to the sea.

The induction into the U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame was not the only honor Mullikin received last month. On July 27, he was named a LIFE FELLOW of the American Bar Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit national research institute established in 1952.

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