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  • Writer's pictureSusie Cuseo

Mi Guk Kwan News: February 2023

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

In this edition:

 

Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan and the Song of the Sip Sahm Seh

(Part I)

By Kwan Jhang Nim Charles Ferraro (cferraro04@snet.net)

I first became aware of the Ship Sahm Seh when I was studying Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan under Sa Bom Nim Robert E. Beaudoin who was a direct student of Sa Bom Nim H. C. Hwang (son of Grandmaster Hwang Kee – founder of the Moo Duk Kwan). I was later introduced to the same principles as a student of Tai Chi under Master Aiping Chen through the Chinese Classics namely through a writing known as the “Song of the Sip Sam Seh”.


Having observed that these principles displayed in Tang Soo Do’s “Ship Sahm Seh” and Tai Chi’s “Song of the Sip Sam Seh” occupied such a prominent position both physically and philosophically and that they were held in such high esteem by high-ranking members of each of these arts, I decided to pay close attention to what was being communicated through these writings.


The Ship Sahm Seh has played an integral role in the evolution of the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan art form. It is a systematic approach to understanding the principles behind the creation of self-defense theory. Understanding the Ship Sahm Seh theory and philosophy is all encompassing to include physical (Weh Gung), spiritual (Shim Gung), as well as the mental (Neh Gung) training aspects of Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan.


This article will attempt to show the relationship between the Um/Yang, I Ching (Book of Changes), Ship Sahm Seh and the Weh Gung, Neh Gung and Shim Gung applications of our practice of Ho Sin Sul (self-defense), Hyung (form) and Ja Yu Deh Ryun (sparring).


In order to fully appreciate the application of the Ship Sahm Seh, it is important to have a basic understanding of the historical background that led to the systematization of these principles as a martial arts guide for practitioners

to follow. Historically, it would be impossible to separate the evolution of the Ship Sahm Seh from Um/Yang (Ying and Yang) philosophy. One of the earliest texts dedicated to the study of nature and its relationship between the elements is the I Ching, called Ju Yuk in Korean. The I Ching represents the world via 64 sets of six lines called hexagrams. The solid line ____ represents Yang and a broken line _ _ represents Um. One could look at the teachings of the I Ching as simply Um/Yang philosophy.


In ancient Korea, the Um/Yang symbol had three distinct sections instead of two. They were heaven, earth and mankind.


This depiction of the Um/Yang led to the understanding that whenever two forces opposed one another that either one force would dominate the other creating a superior force and an inferior force or both opposing forces would cancel each other out if they were equal in creating a neutral situation. It was only natural for those who studied the I Ching to examine how these forces of nature (Um/Yang) impacted humanity.


These scholars realized that everything around us has an opposite: hot/cold; high/low; love/fear; spring/fall; fire/water; soft/hard, etc. One half of the law of opposites is represented by Um (soft, yielding and passive) while the other half is represented by Yang (hard, aggressive and active). In order to be successful in life, mankind must learn how to balance these opposite forces. When one is in this state of neutrality then they can enjoy perfect harmony. Each of these opposite forces flows naturally from Um to Yang and back to Um…without effort…neither force dominating the other.


We in the West tend to look at things in a linear fashion where you progress step by step to a finished product. Meanwhile, our Eastern colleagues tend to understand life in a circular fashion. For them there is neither a beginning nor an end; instead, it is a circle where you can go in either direction depending on your desired goals. A great example of this dichotomy can be seen in what is called the “circle of life”. As a westerner one would see life as a straight line…you are born, you live, and then you die. However, our circular thinking friends would realize that after our bodies return to the earth and through the deterioration process providing nutrients to the soil which in turn produces more life (Yang), which will eventually produce more death (Um). It goes on and on. This endless cycle of life provides us with an excellent example of how the energies of nature continually flow from Yang to Um and back to Yang.


With this historical context in mind, let us look at how Um/Yang and the Ship Sahm Seh philosophy have impacted the evolution of our martial art. The Um/Yang and Ship Sahm Seh (13 Influences) philosophies can be found in many aspects of Korean culture. It permeates in just about everything in our lives.


Let us begin with the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan logo depicted in both our patch displayed on our uniforms and in the flag of our style that is displayed on the walls of our dojangs. These items have contained within them representative symbols of our style that have significant influences to the physical and philosophical aspects of our training.


The outside circle of our logo is symbolic of the cyclic nature of life, i.e., birth to death; planting to harvest; growth to stagnation and decline; order to chaos are just a few examples. It also represents the earth itself and reminds us of how we are supposed to live “in harmony with nature”.


Prominently displayed on our logo is the Um/Yang (representing the duality of nature/law of opposites) which is superimposed on the blue field and stripes of the American flag (which correctly demonstrates how our art is a convergence of Western and Eastern thought and philosophy.


The five stars, representing the five elements (Oh Heng) of the Sip Sahm Seh, replaces the 50 star pattern of the US flag. The five stars surround the Chinese symbol for “moo” or “to stop conflict”. The Moo symbol is drawn in eight strokes which represent the eight points of the compass. They also represent the eight points of balance referred to as “happo no kuzushi” (breaking balance).

A complete understanding of happo no kazushi will enable a practitioner to move their opponent off balance, for example, if your right foot is on position #2 and your left foot is on position #6 then the off-balance points to that stance are at positions #8 and #4. It is easier to knock an opponent down if they are off balance. There are many ways to achieve kuzushi, i.e., pushing and pulling, breaking an opponent’s rhythm, fake attacks, strikes, changes in body position or grip, kiai or a sudden change in speed or tempo. A crucial element of kuzushi is that it should disrupt more than the body. Kuzushi is very much a mental thing. Kuzushi should always disrupt the opponent’s concentration, resulting in a momentary opportunity for an attack. This is one of the reasons that confidence is such an important factor in Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan. A strong and positive mental attitude can often dominate a weaker state of mind, which would result in effective kuzushi.

The eight points of the compass are: N (earth), S (heaven), E (fire), W (water), NW (mountain), NE (thunder), SW (wind), SE (lake). There is a correlation to the Eight Trigrams depicted in the I Ching. These eight trigrams are referred to as the Pa-Kua. In Korean we refer to the Pa-Kua as “Pal Gwe”. Each of these directions refers to different types of martial arts techniques.


For example: “warding off” or deflecting (Korean: pong); “rolling back” or absorbing (Korean: ri); “pressing” (Korean: Jeh) which is applying slow steady pressure to (pressure points, application of wrist locks, etc.) and pushing (Korean: ahn) are located in the South, North, West and East, respectively. These techniques are named the “Four Directions” or Ssa Cheng. The Ssa Cheng (Korean: Sa Jung) are considered Yang and are more aggressive and should be used when there is a greater distance between you and your opponent. The intent is to expose your opponent’s vulnerabilities enabling a counterattack, redirecting your opponent’s energy during his/her attack, to create distance from your opponent to avoid getting hit or to disrupt your opponent’s center to create a circumstance of “off-balance”.


South – Warding off or deflecting West – Pressing

North – Rolling back or absorbing East – Pushing


The act of pulling down, grabbing or shocking the opponent by disrupting concentration and balance (Korean: chae); the act of splitting, or throwing (Korean: yul); the act of executing an elbow attack, strikes, punching techniques or kicking techniques (Korean: jul); and, shoulder and knee techniques, striking with the full body (Korean: ko) reside in the following points of the compass: Southeast; Northwest; Southwest and the Northeast, respectively. These techniques are named the “Four Corners” or Ssa Yu. Collectively the four directions and the four corners are referred to as the “Eight Gates”.


The Ssa Yu or Korean Sa Wu, often referred to as the intermediary direction are considered Um and are designed for in-close fighting (elbows, knees, trapping, grabbing, pulling, pushing, etc.). They are also designed to disrupt your opponent’s center and to create distance.


· Southeast – Act of pulling down or grabbing

· Northwest – Act of splitting or throwing

· Southwest – Act of executing elbows, strikes, punching or kicking

· Northeast – Act of executing shoulder and/or knee techniques


Stay tuned for the next issue of the TSDMGK newsletter where we will have Part II of Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan and the Song of the Sip Sahm Seh by KJN Charles Ferraro.

 

Leadership Corner 2023

By SBN Susie Cuseo (thecuseos@yahoo.com)


Do you know what the TAC is? Have any idea what responsibilities the Board of Directors have? How about who the Regional Advisory Committee members are? The Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Association also has a Board of Governors. Here’s a list of each group, who sits in what position and what region each represents.


The Technical Advisory Committee

President

Kwan Jhang Nim Charles Ferraro

Chairman

Sa Bom Nim Richard Kopf, K-1, Eighth Dan

Vice-Chairman

Sa Bom Nim Joseph DeVita, K-3, Eighth Dan

Committee Members

Sa Bom Nim William Lear, K-9, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim Ricardo Longinotti, K-65, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim John McGuiness III, K-14, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim Jeff Talavera, K-15, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim Brett Riley, K-26, Seventh Dan

Sa Bom Nim James Bergers, K-33, Eighth Dan

The members of the Technical Advisory Committee are responsible for upholding the technical and moral high standards set by Kwan Jhang Nim Charles Ferraro. The TAC is dedicated to their mission ensuring that members will have the proper technical guidance and insight needed to continue their study of the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan system. Kwan Jhang Nim Charles Ferraro has established very high technical standards for rank certification of his students as well as teacher certification for those who wish to instruct Tang Soo Do to others. The TAC, with the guidance of the Board of Directors, establish curriculum and evaluate all activities within the Association to preserve the integrity and purity of standards of the Mi Guk Kwan.

All requests for certification of studios, instructors and/or individual ranks are reviewed by Kwan Jhang Nim Ferraro and the Chairman of the TAC. Kwan Jhang Nim Ferraro and the Chairman of the TAC may approve or deny any applicant's request based on individual qualifications. After certification is approved, the TAC will coordinate all activities and continue to evaluate.

Board of Directors

Chairman

Sa Bom Nim Mark Pattison, K-63, Seventh Dan - Region 9

Vice Chairman

Sa Bom Nim David Brandt, K- 96, Sixth Dan - Region 6

Treasurer

Sa Bom Nim Hoke Nunan, K- 74, Seventh Dan - Region 6

Secretary

Kyo Sa Nim Mike Guidone, Dan#147, Third Dan - Region 4

Directors

Sa Bom Nim Richard Kopf, K-1, Eighth Dan, Appointed

Sa Bom Nim Rocco Tirrozzi, K- 13, Sixth Dan, Appointed

Sa Bom Nim Brett Riley, K-26, Seventh Dan, Appointed

Sa Bom Nim William Conforte, Jr., K- 23, Eighth Dan, Appointed

Sa Bom Nim James Bergers, K-33, Eighth Dan, Region 1

Sa Bom Nim Susie Cuseo, K-159, Fifth Dan, Region 1

Sa Bom Nim Noelle Talmon, K- 109, Sixth Dan, Region 1

Sa Bom Nim Rodney Batista, K-82, Fifth Dan, Region 2

Sa Bom Nim Jeff Talavera, K-15, Eighth Dan, Region 12

The Board of Directors is a body of both elected and appointed members whose primary responsibility is to create policy that governs the day-to-day running of the association. They make the business decisions of TSDMGK as they pertain to the running of special events such as championships, clinics, Weekend with the Masters training, etc. They also make the business decisions necessary to move the association forward as circumstances and times evolve, i.e., technology improvements and changes, supporting, incorporating, or cancelling events regionally, nationally, or internationally. They work to represent their constituents (members of their regions); the vision of Kwan Jhang Nim and the Board of Governors. A more in-depth understanding of the Board of Directors can be found in the charter and in the by-laws of the TSDMGK Association.

Regional Advisory Committee

Region 1

North – Sa Bom Nim Seth McCalaster, K-25, Seventh Dan

Central - Sa Bom Nim James Savidge, K-40, Seventh Dan

South - Sa Bom Nim David Bankowski, K-52, Seventh Dan

Region 2

Sa Bom Nim Rodney Batista, K-82, Fifth Dan

Region 4

Sa Bom Nim Michael Ramirez, K-99, Sixth Dan

Region 6

Sa Bom Nim Hoke Nunan, K-74, Seventh Dan

Region 35 - Chile

North - Sa Bom Nim Moises Miranda, K-143, Fifth Dan

Central - Sa Bom Nim Cesar Rubio, K-136, Fifth Dan

South - Sa Bom Nim, Esteban Ardiles, K- 188, Fourth Dan

Region 36 - Argentina

Position Open

The chief responsibility of the Regional Advisory Committee is to support the Technical Advisory Committee. When an event is sponsored by a region or within a region, the RAC members ensure that logistical, organizational and operational arrangements are completed for the event. They assist TAC members who are teaching or administrating the event and RAC members also assist in teaching clinics when necessary. Generally, the RAC are the main resource and support for the TAC in all matters.

Board of Governors

Chairman

Sa Bom Nim Joseph DeVita, K-3, Eighth Dan

Vice-Chairman

Sa Bom Nim Richard Kopf, K-1, Eighth Dan

Governors

Sa Bom Nim Kenneth Hilliard, K-6, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim Jack Bennett, K-12, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim Rocco Tirozzi, K-13, Sixth Dan

Sa Bom Nim Dawn Veign, K-19, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim Steve Arbuckle, K-20, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim Thomas Cox, K-24, Seventh Dan

Sa Bom Nim Seth McCalaster, K-25, Seventh Dan

Sa Bom Nim Paul Carty, K-29, Eighth Dan

Sa Bom Nim David Berube, K-38, Seventh Dan

Sa Bom Nim Donald Allen, Jr. K-43, Seventh Dan

Sa Bom Nim Anthony Manchisi, K-45, Seventh Dan

The Board of Governors is a new body of administration whose primary job is that of planning and development. They are a steering committee that evaluates policy and the strategic direction for the Association and its future. They are responsible for evaluating changes in technology, society, and business operations in order to make recommendations to the Board of Directors and the TAC on operation issues that affect the vision and purpose of the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan.

 

Upcoming Events


March 3-5, 2023 – TKS Training Camp – Trinity, TX, Contact SBN Tripp Davis: 281.812.2811

March 11, 2023 - Kodanja Class @ NMA 1-3 PM – Contact SBN Hoke Nunan: 512.335.2890

March 14, 2023 – Gup Testing – White through 4th gup upgrade – 6:30 pm – West Haven Dojang.

March 27, 2023 – Kodanja Class – 7:30 pm – West Haven Dojang

April 1, 2023 - Kodanja Class @ NMA 1-3 PM – Contact SBN Hoke Nunan: 512.335.2890

April 15, 2023 – 55th Region 4 Dan Shimsa / Clinic – Tang Soo Do Karate, Inc. Leisure City, FL – Contact: SBN Michael Ramizez 786.255.5440.

April 22, 2023 – 55th Region 1 & 2 Dan Shimsa / Clinic – West Haven Dojang – Clinic 9:30 am to 10:30 am; Dan Shimsa – 11:00 am. Contact KJN Charles Ferraro – 203.932.5335

April 24, 2023 – Kodanja Class – 7:15 pm – West Haven Dojang.

April 28, 2023 – Annual Texas State Championships – New Braunfels, TX – Contact SBN Brett Riley: 830.606.0444

April 29, 2023 – Gup Testing – White belt through Cho Dan Evaluations – 12:30 pm – West Haven Dojang.

 

Training with Adaptation and Modification

By SBN Noelle Talmon

Edited by SBN Susie Cuseo (thecuseos@yahoo.com)


People practice martial arts for many different reasons, but the primary focus should be self-defense. The word “martial” has its roots in the Latin term “martialis” which translates to “of or belonging to Mars”. Mars is the Roman god of war, so a martial art is war art. When you’re preparing for battle (or learning how to protect yourself in the event of an assault), you need to tap into the skills you possess so you can defend and attack with speed, strength and power. However, your particular skills will be different than someone who’s older, younger, smaller, bigger, more experienced, less experienced and so on.


One Size Does Not Fit All

While tradition is important in a number of ways, it’s not always practical and it probably wouldn’t save you in a life-threatening situation. Many traditional arts provide the tools that can be applied to self-defense situations, but they are a one-size-fits-all approach. What if a practitioner cannot execute the technique in the traditional way? They must modify. We had a student who had a stroke years before he started training. He had trouble coordinating his hand and foot movements, particularly with one-step defenses. He simply could not perform the exercise the traditional way. When he tried, he was slow and clumsy. This would be detrimental if he was placed in a life-or-death situation. Instead, modifications were made to the techniques and focus was placed more on getting out of the way, blocking and attacking by instinct rather than the set technique. This change in learning would probably save his life if he found himself in a position where he had to protect himself. Following the “proper” footwork would not. In order to survive, people need to adapt in all areas of their lives, particularly in self-defense situations. If they do not, they will pay the consequences. Jessica Hagedorn, American playwright, writer, poet and multimedia performance artist is quoted in saying, “Adaptability is the simple secret of survival."

If you practice martial arts because you want to learn self-defense, it is vital to apply this mindset to your training. For example, if you can’t do a sweep in one of the advanced Chil Sung hyungs due to a knee condition; eliminate it. Either replace it with a comparable skill or simply remove it. There’s no sense in fumbling clumsily through a technique you can’t execute properly just because “that’s the way it’s always been done” or “it’s a tradition”. If you did the same thing in an altercation on the street and tried to defend yourself with a poorly executed technique, the result may include serious injury or loss of life. Only do what you can do and modify what you can’t – inside and outside of the dojang. To do otherwise will not properly prepare you for a real-life situation.


Build Up Your Skill Set or Stick to the Basics

Chinese martial artists follow this philosophy largely because only so many practitioners can perform advanced skills. The same exact form is taught on several levels. Beginners do basic techniques while advanced practitioners add in more complex ones. The main structure of the form remains the same. That’s not to say that you can’t practice and aim to master more advanced skills; especially if you’re young and healthy. However, if you start training at an older age, are not flexible, have a chronic injury or know you will never be able to do certain skills, you must modify based on your abilities. Otherwise, you will be practicing sloppy techniques that will be completely ineffective. It’s a waste of time and can be dangerous in a real-life threat.


It goes without saying, it’s best to do something basic incredibly well than to do something more complex badly.


Adaptation is also necessary even when you’re confident in your technique because sometimes it doesn’t work. One of the best ways to practice self-defense is through "randori". Randori is a term used in Japanese martial arts to describe free-style practice or sparring where you apply techniques to a random set of attacks. This practice is used to defend against multiple attackers in quick succession without knowing how they will attack or in what order. There may come a time when you will defend an attack using one of your favorite joint locks, but it won’t work. So what’s the solution? Abandon it. Follow up with something else. Don’t get hung up on a technique because it has always worked in the past. Circumstances demand change and some techniques that work in certain scenarios; don’t work in others. A Chinese proverb says, “The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.” To emphasize what this proverb is stating, here’s Bruce Lee, Hong Kong and American martial artist, martial arts instructor, actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and philosopher who says, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water, my friend.”

People who do not adapt to their environment, in life and on the mat, can suffer greatly. You can’t tap out in the real world. Animals are known for adapting to their environments to defend themselves against predators. Otherwise, they will die. The same can be applied to human beings.


Be the winner who adapts.

 

Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Studio Profile: West Haven Academy of Karate – Greater Hays, Buda, TX

By Virginia Folger Dan #411 (virginia.middleburymaa@gmail.com)


West Haven Academy of Karate (WHAK)-Greater Hays in Buda, Texas is not your typical martial arts studio. In an industry that is primarily male, WHAK-Greater Hays is owned by women: Head Instructor Sa Bom Nim Melanie Mearse and Program Director Sa Bom Nim Linda Mearse. What they have been able to accomplish in such a male dominant field is truly remarkable. They pride themselves on being able to provide strong leadership and they set wonderful examples as great female role-models. As martial arts instructors they delight in the satisfaction in knowing that what they do has a deep and positive impact on their students' lives. This year, 2023, they will be celebrating their 15-year anniversary.

Currently, the studio has about 65 students. In addition to Melanie and her mom Linda, they also have 2 other certified instructors and other Dan members who assist with teaching either on a regular basis or as needed. Since opening, they have promoted 32 students to Dan, 11 to Ee Dan, and two to Sahm Dan.


Like many studio owners, WHAK Greater Hays has overcome some obstacles throughout the years. When they first opened in 2008, they were in San Marcos, TX. However, six years after opening this location they realized that the low to average income levels and transitory nature of it being a university town was not the right fit for the studio. They decided to make the bold move to their current location in Buda, TX. They also began operating as a licensed after-school program when they made this move.

This new business model coupled with their amazing staff resulted in over 50 students in their after-school program alone. Unfortunately, when COVID hit in 2020 there were major restrictions placed on childcare programs. These changes made it unwise and financially unfeasible to continue with the program. Thankfully they had already established strong roots in the community and had a solid student base to retain and draw in additional students for their martial arts program.

Owning their 4,500-square-foot building also allowed them additional options in early 2021 when a local church approached them in need of a space to lease. It seemed as if their prayers were answered. The decision was made to construct a wall dividing the building in half and lease one side to the Word of Life Church while maintaining their martial arts program on the other side. Although this was a big adjustment, it still left more than enough space for training and financial security to continue the program. SBN Melanie Mearse said, “The two business entities blend well and complement each other due to a similar focus on community goals and self-improvement.”

In the fall of 2022, they updated their schedule to allow for a daily 30-minute "special focus" class. It's strategically placed between the two most attended class times allowing students to come early or stay later so they can devote more time to topics that may need more focus than is usually available in regular classes. Topics may include Weapons Training, Flexibility & Conditioning, Board Breaking, Practical Self Defense & Awareness or simply allowing additional time to prepare for upcoming events such as tournaments or testing. Sometimes they designate this opportunity as a "game day" as those activities are always excellent for building camaraderie and teamwork among the students.


They have hosted many regional training camps such as Weekend with the Masters and Women’s Sparring Clinics. They have also held an in-school tournament in 2021 to enrich the students who may have missed out on the tournament experience during the COVID years. Preparing for tournaments is something SBN Melanie Mearse knows about having won seven Grand Champion awards in forms, weapons and sparring.

When asked what they like the most about being a studio owner SBNs Melanie and Linda Mearse unanimously responded, “Our favorite part of being instructors is seeing the students grow in so many ways. We aren't just teachers and students and classmates, we're a family.”

Additional information about WHAK-Greater Hays can be found at www.whakgh.com, by phone at 512-754-9600 or email at whakgh@gmail.com. If you’re ever in the area, stop by, visit and take a class with SBN Melanie Mearse or SBN Linda Mearse. They’ll gladly welcome you with open arms and open hearts that are just as big as the state of Texas.

 

Sa Bom Spotlight: Masters Dwayne and Cheryl Smith

By SBN Susie Cuseo (thecuseos@yahoo.com)


“Extended family bonding provides a solid foundation for every individual's life.” This is a quote from Love to Know.com about keeping family together. The SBN profile in this issue is based on the Smith family, most especially SBNs Dwayne and Cheryl Smith. Their children Madyson and Tyler grew up studying Tang Soo Do when they were very young. Learning martial arts has been a family thing for years in the Smith household. Here’s their story:


SBN Dwayne Smith is a 4th Dan who was born and raised in Milford, Connecticut. He attended Platt Tech in Milford and continued his education at the University of New Haven studying electrical engineering. In between high school and college he was in the Air Force for a short stint of service. Today he boasts the fact that he has produced avionic systems that will travel to the moon and to Mars in the future as part of his occupation as an engineer. At the age of 35 Master Smith began his martial arts career in Tae Kwon Do with people from work training at a gym during his lunch hour. After two years he moved on to bigger and better things.


SBN Cheryl Smith is also a 4th Dan born in Derby, Connecticut but raised in Oxford. She went to Holy Cross High School in Waterbury and attended Eastern and Southern Connecticut State University. Her plan was to get into the medical field but while studying at the University she got married at the age of 24 and moved to Tampa, Florida. She resided there for 10 years but decided to move back to Connecticut after having her daughter, Madyson. Three years ago, she received her real estate license.

The two SBNs met on New Year’s Day in 1999. They married and had Tyler. In 2000, Master Dwayne switched over to Tang Soo Do and attended classes with Madyson to give them an activity that they could bond over. Madyson started her training at the age of five. Much insistence was placed on Master Cheryl to begin her martial arts career, especially from her neighbor, SBN Rick Welsh. Her reply was, “I can’t do this!” She reneged on any pleas to learn Gi Cho Hyung Il Bu in their adjoining backyards. By the time she was 41, she caved in and her reluctance turned into a love of learning the art, teaching and passing on her knowledge of Tang Soo Do. She came to the understanding that it may as well be a family thing. She also didn’t want to call her son “Sir” when he began training and would outrank her eventually.


Fast forward to the present and you have Madyson reaching 2nd Dan and then putting Tang Soo Do on hold as she attended college. Tyler became a 1st Dan but was enticed by football, so he decided to stop. After a knee injury, he found a new hobby in archery.


All four members of the family trained under SBNs James Bergers, Michael Tabone and Jack Bennett at Valley Karate in Shelton, CT. Master Cheryl states, “I love the people I train with. We have a great time together and became a family. I love the sport itself. It keeps me constantly thinking because we are always discussing technique and rhythm. As I get older, some things have changed as far as my training and I’m OK with that.” Master Dwayne is motivated to continue training because “It’s fun. It keeps us in shape. It’s a good stress relief, but most of all, it’s the people.”


In 2006 they decided to move to California since Madison attended the University of San Francisco. To be closer to her, they made the move and continued to train under SBN Mark Pattison. Master Dwayne trains frequently while Master Cheryl started to volunteer as an instructor and over time became a full-time teacher at the Center for Martial Arts’ two studios and at the numerous elementary schools in the local area. As an instructor to young children and adults, she’s proud to know that they look to her for guidance, encouragement and reassurance that when training gets tough, they can get through it and succeed. If she could do it; they can too.


SBNs Dwayne and Cheryl enjoy the wonderful activities offered by the southern California landscape by boating, kayaking, camping and hiking. Master Cheryl enjoys shooting her compound bow in archery and hopes to get back into competing with it as Master Dwayne works on renovating houses and cars, loves boating and is an avid radio hobbyist.


As you can see, Tang Soo Do has brought this family closer as they have a common bond among them. Training has given them the courage to stand in the face of adversity. They’ve experienced a couple of earthquakes in their

local area and summertime brush fires. They’ve been through hardships like the one where they traveled cross country towing their belongings with a stopver in Las Vegas and had everything stolen. They were left with nothing other than the clothes on their backs and having to start their lives in Carlsbad from scratch. In 2010 their 5th grade son’s school was involved in a shooting on campus, but thankfully nearby construction workers were able to control the situation. Endeavoring to work together with resiliency and strength bring this family closer to weather any kind of stressful situation that may come their way. They follow one of the major reasons why everyone should practice Tang Soo Do: Martial arts excellence can be and is achieved by young children, men and women, and the elderly, all it takes is discipline, dedication and desire. They train. They test for their next rank. They pass on their knowledge. They work together as a family, as a community and as a Tang Soo Do family.

In January of 2023 Masters Dwayne and Cheryl and Madyson tested for their new rank with everyone succeeding with flying colors. They are still coming off the high that is Kodanja especially this time since they all tested together. “It was a spectacular and a once in a lifetime experience. I’m one proud Mom. I’m still mesmerized” states SBN Smith.



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