Black Belt Essays Tang Soo Do

My Experience

I have studied Tang Soo Do since 1987. I have studied in the US Tang Soo Do Mu Duk Kwan Federation, the International Tang Soo Do Federation (ITF), the American Tang Soo Do Association (ATA), and the International Martial Arts Association (IMA). I received my Cho Dan (#22284) in 2000 and my Ee Dan in 2002, and my Sam Dan in 2005. I was promoted to 4th dan and Sa Bom (Master) by Grand Master Ki Yun Yi in June 2013. I was co-owner with Master Romeo Medina, of Tang Soo Do Martial Arts, LLC in Albuquerque, NM until Jan 2012. In addition to Tang Soo Do, I have studied a little bit of Aikido and Hapkido. The picture at the right shows me performing a simultaneous triple break: 2 kicks and a punch.

You can read my Black Belt essay with my thoughts on becoming a black belt, as well as my Ee Dan essay on teaching Tang Soo Do and my Sam Dan Essay on Multiple Levels of Teaching and Training in Tang Soo Do. You can also read an article I wrote for Black Belt magazine (June, 2004) on the Physics of Tang Soo Do.

My daughter Akilah started Tang Soo Do at the age of 5, in 1999 and earned her Cho Dan (first degree black belt) at the age of 11 in 2005. My son Kiernan started Tang Soo Do at the age of 6 in 2006 and earned his Cho Dan at the age of 12 in 2012.

An article on "Physics in Tang Soo Do" appears in the June, 2004 Black Belt Magazine.

An important part of martial arts is the mental and spiritual aspects which complement the physical technique. Grand Master Hwang Kee's original school was the Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan where Moo Duk Kwan can be translated as "Stop Conflict, Virtue, Brotherhood or Organization", or put more smoothly, "an organization supporting the virtue of stopping conflict (both external and internal)". In the US Tang Soo Do Federation we had 10 Articles of Faith and 10 Training Principals which we recited at the beginning and end of each class. Similarly in the IMA we have 5 Codes and 7 Tenets which we recite before and after class. At each belt level a short essay is required on various topics.


I began my career in the US Tang Soo Do Federation under Master Ron Cechner (Dan #SE18450) in Cleveland, Ohio (1987). Sa Bom Nim Cechner trained under Col. Man Soo Chung who trained under Hwang Kee's nephew, Jin Tae Hwang. Master Cechner also trained under Hwang Kee's son, Hyun Chul Hwang (president of the US Tang Soo Do Federation).

I continued with the International Tang Soo Do Federation (ITF) under Master Richard Byrnes in Boston (now GM of the American Tang Soo Do Association). Master Byrnes trained in Korea under Master Chun Sik Kim and Master Ki Yun Yi.

I finally earned my Black Belt in the International Martial Arts Association (IMA) under (then) Kyo Sa Nim Romeo Medina (Dan #21730) in Albuquerque, NM. Kyo Sa Nim Medina (now Master) trained under Grand Master Ki Yun Yi who was trained by Kim Song Ki. I continued with Master Medina through Ee (second) Dan, Sam (third) Dan, and eventually Sa (fourth) Dan and Master (Sa Bom).

While I was working toward my Black Belt under Kyo Sa Nim Medina, (then) Cho Dan James Pumarejo often taught at the do-jang. Mr. Pumarejo subsequently returned to Korea for several years where he studied under Master Yoon Ki Kim in Songtan, earning his Ee Dan and then Sam Dan before returning to this country. Mr. Pumarejo (now Master Pumarejo) now operates a do-jang in Tucson, AZ at the Davis Monthan AFB. I was greatly honored when on a recent trip to Korea, Master Kim, Ivanhoe (7th Dan) recognized me as Ee Dan in his Soo Bahk International organization.

The following are links to people whom I have studied under:

GM Ki Yun Yi earned his Black Belt at age 12. He earned his Master's belt (4th Dan) in Songtan Korea under Jae Chul Shin and Song Ki Kim. He came to US in 1974 at the request of the Korean Soo Bahk Do Mu Duk Kwan Assoc.

GM Chun Sik Kim started Tang Soo Do at age 8 and earned his Black Belt at age 10. He earned his Master's belt in Songtan under Jae Chil Shin and Song Ki Kim. He was the head instructor at the Osan AFB in 1963. After moving to the US, he became president of the US Tang Soo Do Federation, before founding the Internation Tang Soo Do Federation (ITF), of which he is currently president.

GM Richard Byrnes studied Tang Soo Do at Osan AFB under Chun Sik Kim and Ki Yun Yi, before returning to the US where he founded the ATA.


This pictures shows the Black Belts at our Tang Soo Do Martial Arts do-jang in Albuquerque, NM. In the front row, Kyo Sa Nim (2nd Dan) Leslie and Jacob Rodriguez, in the back row Bu Sa Bom Nim (3rd Dan) Romeo Medina, Sa Bom Nim (4th Dan) Master Bonilla visiting from NJ, and myself.
While in Korea in Sept., 2002, I visited the Songtan do-jang outside of Osan AFB. This is the headquarters do-jang of the World Tang Soo Do Union. In addition, it is where my current Grand Master Ki Yun Yi (founder of the International Martial Arts Association (IMA) obtained his master's level black belt and where Chul Sik Kim, founder of the Interntional Tang Soo Do Federation (ITF) earned his master's level black belt. Another instructor of mine, Sam Dan James Pumarejo also trained here. Chuck Norris also obtained his Master's level black belt here. This picture shows me with head instructor, Master Yun Ki Kim.
During my Sept. 2002 trip I visited the do-jang of Master Koo Hong Kyu in Seoul. I was honored to receive a one and a half hour private lesson with Master Kyu.
Founder of the Soo Bahk International organization, Master Ivanhoe Kim, offered me several opportunities to train with him in Seoul. In addition, he and several of his students showed me around Seoul, taking me to a Buddhist temple, the InsaDong market area, and a large produce and herb market. This is a picture of Master Kim and myself in InsaDong market.

Jack Sanders-Reed,, 505-450-1851

Maya Waltons awesome black belt essay.

ByMiddleburg_MAonDecember 31, 2015inBlog

 Maya Walton is an awesome martial artist. She also is team leader on Mondays.Team leaders assist with class and are in charge of the helpers. She also helps MissSarah with our Adjunct program at First Baptist Church. We are very proud ofMaya. In her essay she describes the seven tenents and how Tang Soo Do hasenhanced her life. Please enjoy her black belt essay.  The Seven Tenets of Tang Soo Do by: Maya WaltonThe seven tenets of Tang Soo Do is a concept that Martial Artists, live by, follow and honor. The average everyday person wouldn’t understand what the 7 tenets mean. People who don’t get the concept or aspect of Tang Soo Do, haven’t taken or experienced a karate class.Shy, timid, and afraid, those were the labels I thought of myself .I needed a way to make those labels disappear. So, to do that, I asked my friend, who was taking karate at the time, if it was fun to do, what changed in her life, and if it benefited her for the things or events she plans to do.She said ‘ yes ‘, and that I should try it for myself. I did and that’s when I felt like time stopped, everything froze and I found my answer to why I was so shying, timid, and, afraid!Martial arts was my answer. After my parents signed me up, my journey began. After a few classes, my confidence was building up, I made new friends, and I wasn’t afraid anymore.He who holds the 5 keys has great power and a powerful mind. These keys will not only make him a better person, but also show him the way of life. To these 5 keys he gave the names:Concentration: The way I have set myself up to focus better on my technique and posture for my martial arts training. The word concentration is a way of saying don’t let anything distract you and empty your mind.Perseverance: The will to never give up. Perseverance lets me know how I see myself if I keep going. Perseverance is a way to keep active if you’re doing a sport or anything else.Self Control: To empty your mind and center your energy if you are ever mad or angry at something or someone. Self-control is something everyone should have. Self-control is very important in average people’s lives.Humility: Either you win the game or not, have humility, be thankful and happy you actually participated in the game in the first place. Don’t be sad if you lose, you played the game. You can be happy if you win, but not too happy to hurt the other players feelings. Having humility is also important in martial arts as well. If you’re in a competition and you win, you’re very happy. You can still be happy, but try not to embarrass yourself by crying if you lost or jumping for joy if you won.Indomitable Spirit: An undivided attention to one thing such as karate, you have one passion, one desire, that is karate. Indomitable spirit is a way of showing you do care for the martial arts and you do enjoy taking it each and every day. Once you are a black belt, you have to take a black belt oath. This oath says that in a nutshell, you shall recite that you will dedicate your life and time to karate and the martial arts.The guiding hand is the key to your success. The man who kicked 1,000 times failed. But, the man who did one kick 1,000 times learned 1,000 times on how to do it wrong.He who holds the 5 keys has great power and a powerful mind. These keys will not only make him a better person, but also show him the way of life. To these 5 keys he gives the names: Concentration, Perseverance, Self Control, Humility, and Indomitable Spirit.The seven tenets that we martial artists follow everyday and use wherever we go whether it is outside or inside the dojang is a big part in our martial arts training. Becoming a black belt is a huge opportunity when you have been given that belt. Whenever that belt is around your waist, it signifies that you have reached your goal; you have proven what you are capable of and shown it to many people. My family and friends have watched me grow as I have gone though the ranks up to testing for my black belt. This is my time now. While I have watched some of our fellow students at Middleburg Martial Arts achieve their goal of black belt, I have also wanted to be in their shoes and achieve that belt as well. When martial artists step onto the mat at their studio, they feel a sense of accomplishment and thankfulness because God has allowed them to take part in what they love to do and keep letting them do what they love as long as they can love it for. While watching some of Middleburg Martial Art’s students take on their black belt test is truly amazing. As you sit there for a grueling 4 hour test, you realize that this is how it’s going to be for you as well. As my time draws nearer to testing , Master Lappin and my instructors have been helping me with my endurance , power , energy, and mindset. The right attitude can give you confidence to achieve anything you put your mind to. “ If your mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve.” This is because I have been training for my stamina. During your black belt test you do need quite a bit of stamina to get you through that exhausting 4 hour test. I have watched the last test in the spring and have learned quite a few things from it. I will continue to train before it’s my turn to take on my black belt test and after it as well. The seven tenets have helped me every single day I have walked in and out of that studio, preparing my mind and body to attain my black belt. I do look up to many of our black belts. I am very thankful for all they do. My fellow students and instructors have helped me get to where I am today. Thank you Master Lappin and the great instructors of Middleburg Martial Arts for all the training and life skills that I have acquired.Tang Soo!



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