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.

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?

Regional Examiner Visit

Last Wednesday we had a visit from one of our Regional Examiners, Jennifer Gibbons, Sa Bom Nim.  She’s from Basalt, Colorado.  All of the kids loved the class, where she taught about awareness, effort and focus.  The physical emphasis was on awareness and focus of our weapons.  This has been a theme we’ve been working on, specifically how it applies to breaking. 

At the end of the night, Gibbons Sa Bom Nim taught me Chil Sung Yuk Ro, one of my new forms.  Here’s some pictures of the event.

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Visit from Oliver Whitcomb, Sa Bom Nim

In November, I received a visit from my personal instructor, Oliver Whitcomb Sa Bom Nim.  He is a Yuk Dan (6th dan) and lives in Hailey, Idaho.  It was a special occasion for me in many ways.  This was the first opportunity for the majority of my students to meet my instructor, who I consider to be one of the art’s finest technicians.  He was also in the area to present me with my newest promotion, Sa Dan (or 4th dan).

Group PhotoAll of my students, for the first time, were together in one class.  We were over 30 strong (though we have give or take 40 students to date) and completely filled the gym.  It was quite a sight to watch, especially since our school has been open for only a year.  All age groups and ranks were present, from my most senior green belts, to a few Tiger Tots who just started training.  It was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to connect as a school and as an art.

At the conclusion of the event, I was presented with my 4th dan, which I tested for back in August in San Diego, California.  The test lasted 8 days and was definitely one of the highlights in my martial arts career.  It was an honor to receive my master’s belt from my instructor, who years ago awarded me with his very own dan belt he wore when he was a teenager.

It was quite an honor to have all of my fellow Moo Duk Kwan associates with me, both my instructor and my students.  It’s quite awe-inspiring when you have various generations of Soo Bahk Do practitioners in the room.  I’m sure my instructor was also honored to see his legacy continue through my students.  I can’t wait for the dan shim sa in May where we will have my instructor’s instructor–Jeff Moonitz–who is a Charter Member, Hu Kyun In, and 7th dan in Salt Lake.  At that moment, we will have 4 generations of Soo Bahk Do practitioners training side by side.

Training Session with Whitcomb Sa Bom Nim  Master Belt Presentation 1 Master Belt Presentation 2  masters.jpg

Congratulations Students of Wasatch Martial Arts Academy!

On August 16, 2008, the following students participated in the Soo Bahk Do National Championships: Grace Greis, Mia Brickey, Elle Sweetland, Stephanie Nolan, Daphne Mitchie, Olyvia Mugweh, Davis Kahler, and Alex Kahler. I ended up placing first in hyung and 3rd in sparring. Their dedication to Soo Bahk Do does not go unnoticed and they have represented our school and the art with dignity and respect. From the competition, Mia Brickey placed 3rd in sparring, Stephanie Nolan placed 2nd in hyung, and Olyvia Mugweh placed 2nd in hyung. Grace, Elle, Daphne, Davis, and Alex received participation medals for their superb performance in hyung.

In fact, their conduct was so excellent, that a member of the Technical Advisory Committee, Jang Sa Bom Nim, awarded their group with a first place trophy for being the most well-mannered, good kids at the competition.

I believe they had a wonderful time competing and taking seminars during the Moment with the Masters and will come back to training with a better understanding of the art and refined confidence in their own abilities.

A special thanks goes out to the parents who made the sacrifice to allow their children to go to San Diego and take part in this historic event. Without their support, Soo Bahk Do would not be able to exist in Utah.

Gibbons Sa Bom Nim with our students Olyvia placed 2nd in forms Stephanie placed 2nd in formsMia placed 3rd in sparring. kyosaform.jpg kyosasparring.jpg

Note: Previously, I recorded that the Region 8 Hyung Team did not place. On the contrary, the Region 8 Hyung Team did a superb job! They placed 2nd. The Region 8 Sparring Team (of which I was a part), did not place. I apologize for the misinformation.

Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa Reflection — Standardization & Connection

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This weekend I returned home from my 8 day “Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa” in Ramona, California. It was an experience I will never forget. I’m sure many posts will be dedicated towards the event. Here I’d like to give a general overview of my impression of the event.

The shim sa had the theme “Standardization, Connection, and Strengthening the Philosophy through Action.” This was the goal of the entire week. I do not know of any other martial arts organization that maintains the same standardization that we do. We are truly connected worldwide with professional, standardized material. The same philosophy, terminology, and phyiscal technique is used in every dojang (studio). Much of the week was devoted towards standardizing our ki sool (techniques), hyung ( forms), il soo sik (one step sparring), and ho sin sul (self defense techniques).

The Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa began in San Diego, California as a part of the Moment with the Masters Seminars. There we took part in seminars of our own choice, along with a few seminars directed towards the Sa Dan and Sa Bom Candidate Groups. Next, we participated in the National Championships where I participated in Hyung, Sparring, and Team Sparring (I was a Region 8 representative). I was happy to share this experience with many of my students who participated. Later, I will relate a detailed post on the occasion.

Following the Championships, we went to Ramona and stayed at a quiet mountain lodge for the remaining of the Ko Dan Ja experience. On Sunday, I taught a class with Greg Booker, Kyo Sa Nim, fulfilling a requirement for my sa bom examination. The theme was “ki-seh” with an emphasis on practical application of kyo cha rip jaseh. The class was well received and many encouraging comments were made after class and during the evaluation that evening.

Immediately following my class, Griggs Sa Bom Nim, my TAC proctor, elaborated on my concept. I was teaching a defense against a front kick by stepping back into a cross-legged stance and performing a low block. From there, you counter with a roundhouse kick with the front leg. The proper preparation and execution of the roundhouse from this position is particularly difficult. Apparently, my kick was too linear. From this position your partner’s solar plexus is positioned to the side. Therefore, the roundhouse should come around, in a circular fashion, parallel to the ground. Instead of preparing your knee into your chest, you should focus your heel towards your buttocks.

The following days were pure training from early morning moo pahl dan kuhm till late at night trainings and evaluations. I enjoyed every session, being taught by some of the world’s best! The highlights of course was receiving instruction and counsel from Kwan Jang Nim Hwang himself. Each day we received new insights in all of our standardized material, history, and philosophy.

Many friendships were created among the candidates. We had plenty of time to get to know each other through training. The last part of Ko Dan Ja was principally dedicated towards unity and harmony within the group. Griggs Sa Bom Nim taught a class at midnight on unity. He said the 7 steps towards group harmony was

  1. Huri
  2. Ho Hoop
  3. Shi Sun
  4. Shin Chook
  5. Completion
  6. Effort
  7. Success

We worked on one hyung, Yang Pyun, until close to 1:30 attempting to complete the hyung without any mistakes and with group harmony. By midnight, we were all extremely fatigued and our brains were mush. The exercise required every ounce of shim gong we had. It is an experience I will never forget. Thank you Griggs Sa Bom Nim!

We trained hard and before you knew it, the last day approached and we were demonstrating our hyung in front of Kwan Jang Nim and the senior Soo Bahk Do officials. I enjoyed the presentation and felt good about the experience. I’ve learned many things about myself and I have a deeper appreciation for the art. My hope is to be able to pass on my appreciation for the art to my students so they too may receive the rich benefits I have received.