A Student's Perspective of Soo Bahk Do Philosophy

Dear Corrales Sa Bom Nim,

The three key concepts I will specify are 1)CHUNG JIK; Honesty 2)SHIN CHOOK; Tension Relaxation and 3)CHUNG SHIN TONG IL; Concentration. These three concepts are my favorites at this time in my MOO DO training because I feel it impossible to assess my past, presence, and future performance without being honest with myself and others. As I face a SHIM SA I must concentrate on the skills necessary for advancement and balance that concentration with the wisdom of the SIP SAM SEH; ‘Bent and stretched, open and closed, Let nature take its course…Skill will take care of itself.’ The natural and essential movement of my lungs teaches me of the continual concept of SHIN CHOOK.

The benefits of the eight key concepts are the high definition and unity they bring as a SOO BAHK DO practitioner incorporates them into his art. They are the keys to WEH GONG, NEH GONG, and SHIM GONG. One of the key concepts-HIM CHO CHUNG; Control of power directly expresses this benefit. Without YONG GI; Courage, IN NEH; Endurance, and KYUM SON; Humility-the combat is over before it begins. In order to fight in justice and rightness we must fight as God gives us the light to see right, then our action philosophy takes over and we preserve life and freedom with the appreciate movement, applying the key concept of WAN GUP; Speed Control.

1975 seems like a pivotal time in the history of SOO BAHK DO MOO DUK KWAN in the United States and around the world, as our style and school reached a more perfect unity and standard. While Kwang Ja Nim Hwang Kee studied ancient texts and different martial art styles, the Federation and Dan pedigrees ensured a tradition with a heritage and a future.

The five MOO DO values are driven for me by KI SOOL; Technique- because of the detail and precision of movement which pushes my mind to remember the history; YEOK SA, appreciate the Tradition; JON TONG, and live by the Philosophy; CHUL HAK, as I work and learn in the DO JANG, where I balance Discipline/Respect; NEH KHANG WEH YU, and develop etiquette with others.

The Ten Articles of Faith on Mental Training are harmonized in the three flags we salute before any training. I am an American and saluting this flag reminds me of my loyalty to my country, obedience to my parents, and love for my wife, all who are Americans and many who were American soldiers. Saluting the Republic of Korea flag reminds me to cooperate with my brothers, respect my elders, be a faithful student and teacher, and be faithful with friends. And lastly, saluting our flag reminds me to face combat in justice and honor, never retreating, and finishing what I start.

James R. Jefferies
Your student

Welcome 2011

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays with your family. I’m getting ready for our next round of classes next week and wanted to pass on some information to all of you in preparation.

Winter Schedule

Tiger Tots – Wednesdays from 4:00 to 4:45 (McGillis)
White and Orange Belt Kids – Mondays at 4:00 pm (McGillis) and Wednesdays from 4:00 to 5:30 (JCC)
Green and Red Belts – Mondays at 4:00 pm (JCC) and Wednesdays from 4:00 to 5:30 (JCC)
Junior Dan Candidates – Mondays at 5:00 pm (JCC) and Wednesdays from 4:00 to 5:30 (JCC)
Adults – Mondays at 6:00 pm (JCC) and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:00 (JCC)

Please note that Monday classes will be designed to go over theory, philosophy, and testing material. Wednesday classes will be devoted towards stretching, conditioning, and free sparring.

Free Classes for Parents

I would love for some of the parents to join in the Soo Bahk Do classes. I know that many families have really benefited from Soo Bahk Do together. Parents can train free this January and your child is welcome to attend some of the adult classes so that you can get some additional time with them. I encourage you to give it a try. It’s a great way to help improve your overall well-being, including reducing stress and getting in shape. Ongoing family discounts are also available.

Regional Examiner Seminar

I hope everyone will support our guest instructor who is traveling from Sun Valley, Idaho to teach us various seminars on January 21 and 22. We will likely have some of his students participating as well as the instructor from Whitefish, Montana-Andy Hamer, Kyo Sa-attending. It will be a fun event. Registration is $25.00 and is open to all students 7 years old and up. I hope all of you will support this event so we can have others like it.

  • Kids seminar is January 21 from 4:00-5:15 pm – (Jewish Community Center)
  • Adults and Dan Candidates is January 21 from 5:30-7:00 (Jewish Community Center)
  • Dan Candidate Workout is January 22 from 10:00 am-12:00 pm – (McGillis School)

Wasatch Martial Arts Academy Sparring Tournament

We will be holding a sparring tournament on March 19th unless someone notifies me that it’s a holiday or spring break that I’m not aware of. This will be a Saturday event, likely at the McGillis School gym where we will have a sparring competition. This should be fun for kids and adults. Sawtooth Martial Arts in Sun Valley, Idaho will be participating as well. To prepare for the tournament, we will all need to get Federation approved sparring gear. These are very cheap and includes headgear, cloth hand guards, mouthpiece, and groin cup for males. More information forthcoming on how to purchase these.

127th Dan Classing Championships

On April 29-30, we are hosting the 127th Dan Classing Championships for the second time. This is a historic event where students who wish to test for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd dan as well as Kyo Sa (teaching certification) demonstrate in front of a panel of masters. This is open to the public and is a great way to make the art of Soo Bahk Do visible to others. The event is supplemented with various seminars, banquets, and other activities. You can think of it as a Soo Bahk Do convention. I need everyone to mark this on their calendars as this is a very mandatory event to attend in support of the art and a great learning experience to rub shoulders with others who have dedicated themselves to Soo Bahk Do.

I am also in need of a committee who can assist in the preparations, logistics, and overall administration of the event. As most of you know, we have our first set of testing candidates: Ryan Rios Jo Kyo, Joshua Jefferies, Grace Greis, Mia Brickey, Lily Philips, and Olyvia Mugweh. I am going to need a lot of help with this event so most of my attention can go towards the needs of our candidates. If you would like to help, please respond to this email. I need as many members as possible and a committee chair who can interface with me easily. Adult students, please volunteer to assist the best that you can. We need the following help:

  • Determining discounted lodging accommodations for travelers (we plan on 100 participants).
  • Location and menu for Saturday Banquet (I would prefer a Korean restaurant for this either Myung Ga or similar).
  • Media coverage
  • Video recording of the test.
  • Seating, flag, and table set up.
  • Advertising
  • On-site registration
  • Commemoration T-shirts and other memorabilia
  • On site medic (perhaps one of the parents who are a doctor or nurse wouldn’t mind volunteering?

T-shirt Suggestion

I would love for any artists to help me think of a good t-shirt to go with the Dan Test. Your help would be welcome. Also, what types of products would you like to have such as bags, water bottles, hats, sweaters, etc.

Tuition Reminder

Don’t forget to pay for your winter block (January-March) online or bring a check next week. Many of you have not yet registered for the next session.

New Classes in Clearfield, Utah

Ryan Rios, Jo Kyo has opened a location in Clearfield where he will be teaching an 8-week course at the Clearfield Aquatics Center. If you know anyone in the area who would enjoy a Saturday morning class, contact Mr. Rios at 801-510-9169 or rios707@sbcglobal.net. He is teaching kids and adult classes.

I hope we have a fun lineup this year. I hope to have information on this summer’s National Festival and Championships soon and will notify you when I have more information on that. I look forward to seeing you all again next week.

2nd Board Breaking Tournament


Wednesday the 17th, we had our 2nd semi-annual board breaking tournament. We had 24 competitors and 3 judges along with everyone’s families in attendance. I thank you for your support and know everyone had a great time. Everyone should be proud of their accomplishments. Below are the results of the tournament as well as some videos of the winning breaks.

Tiger Tots

1st: Katie
2nd: Devlan
3rd: Thomas

Beginner Kids

1st: Brooke
2nd: Xavier
3rd: Aiden

Advanced Kids

1st: Lucas
2nd: Al
3rd: Mia


1st: Stephen Skidmore
2nd: Jim Jefferies
3rd: Joshua Jefferies

For more videos, please visit our YouTube page.

Youth Ambassador Seminar – Fall 2010

Region 8 Youth Ambassador Seminar
Region 8 Youth Ambassador Seminar

This fall, during the 126th Dan Classing Championships, we created history as the Youth Ambassador Program was unveiled to each of the 10 Regions that represent the US Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation. This program was a result of Kwan Jang Nim Hwang’s wishes that regional and national seminars would begin to have a new track for kids, teenagers, and young adults that would suit their unique needs, interests, and abilities. The Regional Examiners from each of the 10 Regions appointed one Youth Ambassador representative and one of those representatives would become the US Youth Ambassador and represent the USA at an international level. That person is currently Katie Worley, Jo Kyo.

The Youth Ambassador’s mission is to create fun, dynamic training opportunities for kids, teenagers, and young adults while still aligning the trainings with the same theme and purpose as the TAC seminars for that year. This year’s topic being Moo Do Jaseh and a fusion of Chun Jin and Hu Jin motions in the form of Sam Soo Sik Dae Ryun, the Youth Ambassadors decided to give a seminar with a similar focus.

The following are some major takeaways from the seminar that will be useful for instructors and students alike to add additional repetitions to the exercises taught.


Bodhidharma was an Indian Buddhist Monk born into either the Brahman or Warrior class.  This high status gave him a good education and a privileged life.  After seeing the suffering of those under him, he gave up his status and birthright and became a hermit, hiking over the Himalayan Mountains into China.  He eventually encountered a monastery of feeble monks who could neither provide for their physical needs nor protect themselves from bandits.  He tried to teach the monks to protect themselves and improve their physical strength and health.  Unfortunately, his guidance was not wanted and he was sent away.

Bodhidharma spent the next 9 years in a mountain cave meditating.  Showing perfect stillness and discipline, he meditated on how to best help the monks.  Legend says that once he lost his discipline and fell asleep during his wall gazing.  He was so upset by his lack of discipline and awareness, he ripped his eyelids off so he could never fall asleep again.  As he continued to meditate, his eyelashes became seeds of the tea plant, which today helps monks stay awake during very difficult meditation practices.

Bodhidharma eventually left the mountain and returned to the monastery.  It is said that what he taught the monks was the beginnings of the Shaolin style (So Rim).  He is considered not only the founder of Shaolin Kung Fu (So Rim Jang Kwon), but also of Chan (Zen) Buddhism.

There are many oral and written legends about Bodhidharma.  There is substantial evidence that Bodhidharma did exist, however, various conflicting stories make it hard to decipher truth from legend.  What we can extract from this is that what we consider to be traditional East Asian martial arts began with a strong foundation of moo do jaseh.  This story is the very embodiment of moo do:  discipline, stillness, and awareness that will lead to self-mastery.

Course Summary

The following two exercises will challenge the practitioner in discipline, stillness, and awareness.  This was the heart of the routines taught in the Youth Ambassador Seminar.

Rope Exercise

Two participants are tied to each other, one moving forward with Choong Dan Kong Kyuk and the other retreating with a Hu Gul Jaseh and a natural block (Pahkesu Ahnuro Mahkee).  Neither side should pull on the rope or allow the rope to drag.  Keep the rope tight at all times.

Sweeping Exercise

This next exercise comes from Chil Sung Sam Lo (pronounced Sam No) and Chil Sung Yuk Ro (pronounced Yoong No).  The following videos will do a good job explaining how it works.  In the first video, please pay attention how I break down the sweep.  It is important to get the hand positions correct on each step of the sweeps.  Use the strength of your legs as you transition from one sweep to the next.  As you perform each sweep, don’t emphasize moving your leg, rather the twisting of your body using your waist (Hu Ri).  Don’t forget your foundational Soo Bahk training!  Remember, this is not an easy combination and is very physically demanding.  Only extreme effort will result in success.

The Purpose of Soo Bahk Do

Below is an article that was presented during this year’s Nationals at the beginning of the event.  This year’s theme is Moo Do Jaseh and this article gives a description of what that is and what the true purpose of our art is.  This article was researched by D.K. Jang Sa Bom Nim.  Earlier this year, I went to Santa Barbara and Sa Bom Nim Jang dictated his research to me and I compiled it into essay form.  This final copy was reviewed by Sa Bom Nim Jang and approved.  All of the beautiful calligraphy was written by Sa Bom Nim Jang.

The Purpose of Soo Bahk Do

Soo Bahk Do is our moo do, or martial art. The “art”, or “Do”, is a language of the spirit and body, therefore, “moo do” is our language of spirit and body through martial training. It’s not what moo do is that’s important, but how we express it that matters.

Many practitioners believe Soo Bahk Do translates to “hand strike way”. This is an inaccurate translation and does little to describe our art by labeling it as merely a form of attack. Soo Bahk Do is not defined as a method to strike with the hands, rather Soo Bahk Do is a tool to strengthen our spiritual and physical language and improve overall personal well-being.


Seal Script for the term Soo Bahk Do. Figure 1.

The term “Soo” does mean “hand” but the hand is a representation of the human body. Look at Figure 1 to see the seal script for the term “Soo” (Seal script is an older style of Chinese writing and the first writing style that used the term Soo Bahk). It is a representation of the human body with a head, spinal cord, and tail (tailbone). The two horizontal lines symbolize the arms and legs. Placing a real hand upside down, each finger represents one of the 5 main branches of the nervous system:



  1. The middle finger represents the spine.
  2. The index and ring fingers represent the legs.
  3. The thumb and little finger represents the arms.

The term “Bahk” has many meanings including to tangle, twist, turn over, pound, or change. An example would be a farmer turning over the soil which is a form of cultivating the earth. Another example would be a smith who works with metal by pounding and folding it to produce something of value. Every translation has one thing in common: Bahk is a term to improve or cultivate. The symbol on the left is the same symbol for “Soo” showing a human change. Just as a farmer and smith put forth tremendous effort and hard work to achieve the desired result, we as Moo Do In (Martial Art Practitioners) must give sincere effort as well. Physical cultivation will only come after intense physical conditioning as you pound, twist, and change your body. The same process is required for a spiritual change. Only after you are exposed to life’s challenges and successfully overcome them by choosing the path of virtue can you achieve spiritual refinement.

“Do” is an abstract term that is roughly translated as a spiritual way or path. The left side of the character signifies a road or path and the right side stands for head. Do can be expressed and observed through our actions.

Therefore, Soo Bahk Do really means the way of the art of human well-being. Our destination is to improve every aspect of the self. We need to keep every part of our self healthy. There are three distinct areas that we should concentrate to improve:

  1. Our skin, muscles, and bones relate to our external, physical health. In order to strengthen our body, we need to apply a scientific method. This is accomplished in the do-jang as we improve our strength, endurance, flexibility, and technique. We strengthen and improve our physical body through Weh-Kong.
  2. Our internal health relates to how we eat, sleep, and breathe. Training in both Moo Pahl Dan Kuhm and Moon Pahl Dan Kuhm (Standing and Sitting 8 Pieces Brocade) will improve the health of the internal organs through Ki-Kong breathing and an understanding of O-Haeng. Our internal health is closely coupled with O-Haeng, O-Ki, and the related 5 internal organs: Kidney, Liver, Heart, Lung, and Spleen. Regretably, few Moo Do In understand the relationships of O-Haeng, but is a vital component to the training of Nae-Kong 內功 (sincere internal effort).
  3. Our spirit, or ma’ulm, relates to our heart or soul. It is not intellectual, but spiritual. Enhanced intellect is only beneficial as long as it is applied to cultivate one of these three distinct areas: Weh-Kong, Neh-Kong, or Shim-Kong. The value of the 8 Key Concepts, for example, is much more than a standard for improved martial technique. Courage, concentration, endurance, honesty, humility, and others are principles that need to be engraven in your ma’ulm, and revealed in your every action—both in and out of the do-jang. This is Shim-Kong 心 功 (sincere spiritual effort) training.

All three work together to find well-being. The composite gives us good health and longevity. Soo Bahk Do is the vehicle to improve each of these three aspects of our selves and that is the purpose of Soo Bahk Do.

Kohn Kyung means sincere effort. In order to improve yourself in these three areas, it’s important that you have sincere effort. Kong 功is another term that translates to effort and is the basis for the terms Shim-Kong, Nae-Kong, and Weh-Kong. Only by exercising sincere effort in cultivating the soul, breath and internal organs, and the physical body, will a Soo Bahk Do practitioner succeed in the purpose of Soo Bahk Do.

Soo Bahk Do gives us various tools to accomplish its purpose of “rejuvenation and prolonging of life beyond the normal span”:

  • Um Yang is balance, which stands for harmony.
  • Ship Sam Seh which comprises Pal Gwe and Oh Haeng (not to be confused with the Song of Ship Sam Seh).
  • Chil Sung
  • Yuk Ro (pronounced Yoong-no)

Each of these is an important tool, or asset needed to be connected to the history, culture, and philosophy of Soo Bahk Do. They are much more than mere lists or terms to memorize, but have great significance and application in your moo do training in and out of the dojang. If you cannot apply these principles in both your training and personal life, you cannot connect to the art. As the Song of Ship Sam Seh states: “Failing to follow [these principles] attentively, you will sigh away your time.”

Do Jang & Do Bok

Do Jang
Calligraphy for Do Jang. Figure 2.

The Do-jang is the place where we train Soo Bahk Do. Not so long ago, nature was the dojang since there were no formal dojangs with beautiful, painted walls; soft mats or polished wood floors; modern kicking bags and plush targets; or air conditioning and heating. The dojang was outside with whatever conditions Nature was willing to give you.

Even then, there was still a sense of do-jang, called do ryang, which is a Buddhist term. In Buddhism, outside of the main temple structure, there was a do ryang, or place of awakening. Traditionally, the monks would clean the dirt around the do ryang before they became monks. This was a way for them to clean their ma’ulm and connect with the Buddha.

The term do-jang comes after World War II where formal structures were erected called do-jang. “Jang” janghas two parts. The first is “place” place and the second is “change” change. Do-jang is the place to change your “do” or your “ma’ulm”. See figure 2 for the calligraphy. It is the place to cultivate your soul and improve self well-being through sincere effort in Weh-Kong, Nae-Kong, and Shim-Kong training. It is not just a place to memorize your forms or learn new martial techniques. Both of these are additional tools used to improve the self.

Calligraphy for Do Bok. Figure 3.

In the do-jang, we need to wear do-bok. Do-bok means wearing your soul (ma’ulm). When we wear our do-bok in the do-jang, we are reminded that we are here to try and change and improve our ma’ulm and that my ma’ulm is visible to others through my actions. The way you put on your do-bok or the way you care for your do-bok will say much about your ma’ulm.


Moo Do Jaseh

The physical expression of Soo Bahk Do is moo do jaseh. We know that moo do is a language (spiritual or physical language). Jaseh is a posture. We need a good posture of both physical and spiritual. Ja means manner and beauty. Seh means aspect or strength.
mannerManner (Ja) means:

  1. A way of doing something or the way in which something is done or happens.
  2. A way of acting, bearing, or behavior.
  3. Socially correct way of acting.

aspectAspect (Seh) means:

  1. A way that something can be viewed by the mind.
  2. Appearance to the eye.


Moo Do Jaseh
Calligraphy for Moo Do Jaseh. Figure 4.

Moo Do Jaseh is a physical manifestation of your ma’ulm. Therefore, the way you perform the moo do jaseh will determine how close you are to the art of Soo Bahk Do. The way you present a Chun Gul Jaseh, for example, is a manifestation of your ma’ulm. Likewise, the way you wear your do bok will say a lot about who you are as a person. A dirty, wrinkled do bok will tell a different story than a clean, crisp one. Moo Do Jaseh is everything in our training including the way you tie your belt and the way you communicate with your juniors, seniors, and the general public. Moo Do Jaseh is manifested through your walk, your tone of voice, your words, and your actions.

From a spiritual perspective, all ethical behavior is proper moo do jaseh and can be summarized by the term Duk Haeng—Virtuous Action. Moo Do Jaseh should be made manifest in our every action. If this is the case, then every action will reflect our philosophy. As we practice and become accustomed to acting with proper Moo Do Jaseh, everything we do becomes ceremonious, not as a result of vain repetition, but as a result of sincere, consistent, and natural effort. Actions become ceremony as we tie our belt, ironing our do bok, clean the dojang, and help each other. When all of these things become ceremonial, you become more than a martial artist. You become an artisan of Soo Bahk Do. The art defines you and you contribute to the definition of the art. When you become an artisan, everything you do becomes a serenading stage, full of beauty. This is true mastery.

Soo Bahk Do and Moo Duk Kwan

Soo Bahk Do is more than just an activity to learn to get in shape and practice self defense techniques. It is a set of Korean principles that are available to help better ourselves and those around us. True moo do comes from seeking to learn and to apply these principles and then sharing these ideologies amongst each other as those before us have done in order to preserve this legacy of learning. The Moo Duk Kwan is an organization founded by the late founder, Grandmaster Hwang Kee to do just that. It facilitates the movement of ideas and principles and allows us to connect with people of similar passion. Our Moo Duk Kwan pride should come from our proper application of Moo Do Jaseh in our members, which will make a positive change in the societies in which they live.

Download PDF version.

2010 Moo Do Festival

Last weekend I attended the 2010 Moo Do Festival in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  There were about 800 Soo Bahk Do practitioners in attendance.  The weekend was jam packed with seminars, demonstrations, competitions, and chances to reunite with old friends and create new ones.  I competed in the Sa Dan (4th Dan) division in Hyung (forms) and got 2nd place.  I was pleased with the results and realize that I need work in making sure that my techniques are standardized.

During the festival, there was some new information about the philosophy of Soo Bahk Do.  I helped Sa Bom Nim Jang compile it into essay form and will be posting it online soon so stay tuned.  It was also announced that Sa Bom Nim Moonitz was promoted to 8th Dan and Sa Bom Nim Martinov to 9th Dan.  Both of these masters are in our Soo Bahk Do lineage.  Congratulations to both of them for their dedication and accomplishments.  Without them, none of us would be training in this art.

I was also nominated by Gibbons Sa Bom Nim, our Regional Examiner, to represent Region 8 as a Youth Ambassador.  I’m not completely sure what that means yet, but all 10 of us demonstrated during the opening ceremony of the Festival.  We trained the day before very hard in preparation and it was a good chance to meet the other ambassadors and create relationships with them.  I was honored to be counted as one of them.  Many were school owners and all of them were dedicated to the art.   Below is our demonstration.  I think a lot of what the Youth Ambassador program is designed to inspire, teach, and lead the Soo Bahk Do youth to do great things in their young martial art career.

I hope to post more videos and photos of Nationals here soon so check back often.  The other one I’d like to show is Steyer Sa Bom Nim’s demonstration of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji and Moo Pahl Dan Kuhm.  He and his partner were the champions in the Ko Dan ja pre-sequenced sparring demonstration.  Can you see the Pal Gwe in the demonstration?

Courage by Eoghan

The following essay was written by Eoghan Knibbe (10 years old) for his red belt test:

Courage is something that everyone needs to grow and progress. Without courage, we cannot earn the rank of our age. A forty year old might have the progression of an infant if he has no courage. We need courage to break through the mental barriers leading to maturation. Some barriers may be thicker than others, but we can get through them all if we have enough courage to break them down. Soo Bahk Do is a great trainer of courage. It teaches you not to be afraid to surge forward in life.

It teaches us how to build up strength to go uphill instead of downhill. A board may not be exactly the same as a mental barrier, but they definitely complement each other. It takes the same courage to do a class presentation, that it does to get up and break a board. This is how I add the courage aspect into my daily life.

Gup Shim Sa (Color Belt Test)

Gup Shim Sa June 2010

Earlier this month, we had our end of the school year Gup Shim Sa or color belt grading.  For the first time in our young academy’s life, we had the full spectrum to show.  There were students testing for the very first time, others testing for orange, green, and red belt.  There were even the first group of dan candidates who will test next May for their dan (black belt equivalent).

Soo Bahk Do only has 5 colors:  white, orange, green, red, and midnight blue and each color represents a season.  At each level, your skill level and learning should reflect the specific season.  White begins with winter, orange is a transition time between winter and spring with green belt representing the full season of spring.  Red symbolizes summer and midnight blue represents autumn, a fruitful result of training.  Below are a few fun videos that will give you an idea of the progression that takes place over the years as a student ripens and matures in the art.