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Mi Guk Kwan News: June 2020

Updated: Jun 16

In this edition:

  • Greetings from Kwan Jang Nim Charles Ferraro

  • 2020 MGK Scholarship Award Winners

  • 25th Annual Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan National Championships Update

  • How to Create and Maintain Your Very Own Martial Arts Studio at Home

  • Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Studio Profile: Aim and Focus Karate – Austin, TX

  • Sa Bom Spotlight: Master James Savidge 

Greetings from Kwan Jang Nim Charles Ferraro

Kwan Jhang Nim Charles Ferraro

Greetings members of Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan:


First and foremost I hope you and the members of your families are staying healthy and safe during this viral pandemic that has caused so much distress and change to the way we are accustomed to living our lives. Students have had to study from home through virtual leaning as academic schools from college level to elementary level have had to shut down. Many have gotten sick and unfortunately, in some cases, families have lost loved ones. People have had to learn how to shelter at home, had to stand in line to get into grocery stores, had to be more vigilant in their personal hygiene, and had to learn what PPE was. Yes, life in America has become very, very different in a very short time and it has taken some time to get used to the changes.

Tang Soo Do Schools across the country have been closed down since mid-March. Many students have had to either practice on their own or participate in the many zoom classes that are being offered by our instructors around the country. While some instructors are teaching zoom classes 3-4 times per week it has been noted by the instructors that less than 50 percent of Tang Soo Do students have participated by this method. This means that many students will need review and some remedial training to get back into shape.

President Trump has issued a 3 phase guideline for states to follow in reopening their businesses. Because the life cycle of COVID 19 is at different stages in each state the President has left it up to the Governors of each state to implement the guidelines when they feel it is safe and prudent to do so. Some states have already begun to open, some have opened completely. States like Texas and Florida have already begun teaching Tang Soo Do classes again. Connecticut is on schedule to reopen martial art schools on June 20th and California should be not too far behind.

As we get our dojangs up and running again it is imperative that the students of each school restart their training as soon as possible. Instructors have been carrying the expense of their dojangs even in the absence of monthly revenue provided by the students. In addition, when it comes to staying in shape and remembering your techniques there is a saying, “An escalator carries us down when we fall out of shape but, it is a long walk up the staircase to get back into shape.”

It is often pointed out that in the midst of a crisis there is always a silver lining. One such example of this is that during the entire COVID - 19 pandemic many of the TSDMGK instructors met by way of on-line zoom meetings every Saturday at 5:00 pm. In those meetings much was discussed on how we could keep our students engaged during the shut-down and what we as instructors needed to do in order to keep our dojangs healthy so that we could reopen efficiently when the pandemic was over and our governors gave us the go-ahead to reopen our schools. This level of communication was extremely helpful to our instructors. It is for this reason that I am truly excited about the publishing of our Mi Guk Kwan Newsletter.

The Newsletter will be an exceptional vehicle for our members to communicate with each other. It will provide information regarding national, regional, and local events. It will feature information about our members. Each Newsletter will feature some of our prominent members who will share their experiences with the readers. Also, the newsletter will offer a vehicle in which any member who is inclined to do so can contribute an article on some aspect of Tang Soo Do that is important to them. I hope everyone will find the Newsletter to be something that they look forward to each time it is published.

I also find it significant that the first issue of the Newsletter is being published during our 25th year as an organization. We are anticipating a number of great events, projects, and announcements that will commemorate our 25th anniversary. But before all of that, I would like to take you back to the beginning.

It was a cold, snowy day that morning of December 1995, in fact the weather was so bad on that day that I don’t think there was anything else going on except for that historical meeting which took place at the West Haven Academy of Karate in West Haven, Connecticut. Fifty-five individuals were involved in a huge undertaking that day. Those individuals were dedicated men and women, who had decided years before to dedicate their lives to the study and practice of Tang Soo Do. A living testimony to that dedication is borne out by the fact that 21 of those original participants are still actively training in Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan today.

Some of those present were owners of Tang Soo Do dojangs, many others were instructors at those dojangs and still others were simply practicing the art. They were all unified in the purpose of how to move their art forward in a new direction while preserving the traditions that had served them so well in the past. Having recently determined that the martial art organization that had previously been their home was no longer fulfilling their needs it was decided that a meeting was necessary in order to chart a new course forward.

On that day, December 9, 1995 this group of charter members under the direction of Grandmaster Charles Ferraro established the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Association, Inc., (the brotherhood in America for the practice of the empty-hand way). A Board of Directors was voted into place and this group developed a Charter and a set of By-laws from which the future of the organization would be directed. Grandmaster Ferraro established the first TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) which was comprised of Sa Bon Nim Richard Kopf, Sa Bom Nim Howard Dugan, Sa Bom Nim Joesph DeVita. Grandmaster Ferraro served as the first Chairman of the TAC. The TAC was later expanded to its current composition of nine members and SBN Richard Kopf became its second Chairman. This administrative structure allowed for the business decisions to be made by the Board of Directors while the technical / curriculum decisions of the Association would be determined by the TAC.

Since that early beginning, 25 years ago Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan has become recognized and respected worldwide. Many of our members have participated in events and competitions throughout the USA and around the world. Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan has dojangs in 4 different countries, USA, Argentina, Chile, and Aruba. Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan is a member of the Worldwide Tang Soo Do Family that has membership organizations throughout Europe, Asia, Scandinavia, North and South American as well as South Africa. We are looking forward to participating in the next Worldwide Tang Soo Do Family International Championship which will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in late summer of 2021.

I wish all the instructors the very best of luck in reestablishing their dojangs and reconnecting with their students through “in-person” training. I look forward to celebrating our 25th anniversary together and I can’t wait to read our first issue of the Mi Guk Kwan Newsletter. I wish everyone continued health, happiness, and safety.

Yours in Tang Soo Do,

Charles Ferraro

Grandmaster / Founder / President, Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan

Co-founder, Worldwide Tang Soo Do Family

2020 MGK Scholarship Award Winners


Congratulations to the 2020 graduating Senior recipients of the $1000 2020 MGK Scholarship!

Region 6, Josi Tesauro!


Josi trains under SBN Brett Riley in New Braunfels, Texas.


Josi Tesauro graduated from Memorial Early College High School in New Braunfels, Texas where she also earned her associate’s degree. She earned her Green Cord for 369 volunteer hours (WHAK-NB, Kids

Club, Headwaiters at the Comal and more). She attended Bluebonnet Girls State,


President of MECHS National Honor Society, and Vice President of Eagle Fellow Bible Study. She was awarded the American Legion Female Award Winner and Senior Eagle Spirit Female Award Winner. In 2018, she won three silver medals in WWTSDF International Championship in London.


Josi will attend Trinity University to study Chemistry and Geosciences.


Region 9 Michael Zepeda!


Michael trains under SBN Stephanie Argentine in Highland, California.


Michael graduated from Blooming Christian High School. Michael served on the student council and was also the President his senior year. He was on the National Honor Society for 3 years. Mike has also earned the Highest Honor Roll for the last 4 years with a 4.0 gpa or higher, and graduated with a 4.31 gpa. He played Varsity Soccer 4 years and Varsity Football for one year. Michael was the class of 2020 Valedictorian, and did an amazing job leading his fellow students and their families with his speech during a virtual graduation. Michael has traveled the world competing in Tang Soo Do. He has won numerous medals nationally and Internationally.


Michael will continue to train at ATSD and assist teaching while going to college.

Michael chose to attend Cal. State San Bernardino to earn his Bachelor degree in Biology. He will then transfer to Medical School to become a Doctor of Oncology.

Congratulations to our 2020 MGK Scholarship winners!


MI Guk Kwan Scholarship Committee

25th Annual Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan National Championships Update


Region XI is excited to host the 25th Annual Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan National Championships in Houston, Texas in 2021! Houston is America’s fourth-largest city and is a diverse destination with something for everyone! It draws out-of- town visitors with its world-class and diverse cuisine, shopping, renowned arts and theater community, funky bar scene, craft breweries, professional sports teams, and museum district including the No 1 ranked Children’s Museum and the Houston Zoo. There are hundreds of festivals, concerts and events that take place in Downtown’s award-winning parks and public spaces throughout the year.


Just outside of Houston there are many more family destinations to explore like Space Center Houston, the beaches on Galveston Island, and Kemah Boardwalk that has amusement rides, shopping and restaurants. Water parks in the Houston area include: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown, Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventure, and Typhoon Texas Waterpark.


Once the date and specific location for the Championships are set, more details will be available about places close to the venue. Recommended restaurants, activities, tours, and packages along with discounts will be put together for anyone attending the National Championships. In the meantime, you can visit these websites and learn more about our great city!

How to Create and Maintain Your Very Own Martial Arts Studio at Home

By Charlene Roth @ http://safetykid.info (charlene.roth@safetykid.info)


Indeed, martial arts is more than just a practice; it’s a lifestyle. Creating your own martial arts studio at home reinforces your ability to stay connected with your martial arts training while your neighborhood studio remains shut down as part of this COVID 19 response strategy.


This is especially true when you and your kids need to stay active while in quarantine, or even when you’re just too busy with normal life. Here are some great resources on how you can create your own studio at home.


Creating Your Studio


Having sufficient space and the right gear to practice your discipline is essential to an at-home martial arts practice

Keeping It Clean


Keeping your at-home martial arts studio clean and fresh-smelling will not only fend off bacteria and unwanted viruses, but also inspire you to put in the work regularly.

Ultimately, your own martial arts space at home is only as good as how you set it up, as well as how you take care of it and keep it clean. So make it as inspiring a space as it can be to keep your training pleasurable and fruitful.

Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Studio Profile: Aim and Focus Karate -- Austin TX

By SBN Susie Cuseo (thecuseos@yahoo.com)

Our first featured Studio Profile is on Aim and Focus Karate located at 8516 Anderson Mill Rd #100 in Austin, TX. Its owner is SBN Ben Johnson, who along with SBN Therese Pasket, teach 80 and 30 students, respectively, on any given day of the week in an afterschool program and still more during their evening classes.


The studio recently celebrated its 20th anniversary at the beginning of February by promoting several midnight blue belts and praising their success as a business with the hope that they continue to do so in the future. Aim and Focus’ slogan is “Developing Peaceful Confidence” through respect and etiquette as all instructors strive to set the example for their students.


SBN Johnson hosts several Women’s Self-Defense programs throughout the year. Students attending these classes learn to “fight like a girl” whereas they become empowered with the skills and the understanding that they have the capability of strength and ingenuity to protect themselves and others if they have to. Classes in Aikido and License to Carry Handguns are also offered.

Pi Beta Phi Sorority at University of North Texas, SBN Ben Johnson, KSN Holly Holt and KSN Paige Newcomb

Instructors at Aim and Focus range from midnight blue belts to Sa Bom and their ages go from 15-65 years old. Their student body encompasses those who have ADHD, autism and dyslexia. They will be holding their Region 6 tournament on June 13, 2020 called Aim and Focus Shootout which will include forms, sparring, weapons competition as well as board breaking.


Notable achievements by instructors and students include: National Mi Guk Kwan Champions KSN Holly Holt in Women's Sparring, Forms, Weapons Forms, Team Forms, Team Sparring, Ms Anusha Razdan in Chil Sung Forms and National Kodanja Champion SBN Therese Pasket.


So if you happen to be in the Austin area, stop by and visit SBN Johnson. Chances are there’ll be a class going on or he’ll be in the studio working on something. You can contact him at 512-257-8552 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/aimandfocuskarateinc/.


Check out this video link to see some of the students and instructors in action: https://youtu.be/7Ot3bPdyKu0

Sa Bom Spotlight: Master James Savidge

By SBN Susie Cuseo (thecuseos@yahoo.com)

Sa Bom Nim James Savidge

The first Spotlight on a Sa Bom Nim is Master James Savidge. He grew up in West Haven, CT, and started his Tang Soo Do training at the West Haven dojang at the meager age of six in 1979. There was no escaping his attendance at the studio since it was run and owned by his uncle, Mr. Ferraro (a 2nd dan at the time). However, that said training only lasted for one day. That’s right, just one! It was a Saturday morning and all he wanted to do at that age was to stay home and watch cartoons, not come to a studio and learn karate for several hours among lots of adults and few children. This young boy fussed and did not return. Two years later, on the strong urgings of his mother, he returned and continued to first gup until about spring/summer 1986.


While looking over these fond memories of his training, Master Savidge saw certain advantages of being at the studio during this time: Mr. Howard Dugan, Mr. Joe Devita, and others were promoted to Cho Dan in class and Grandmaster Hwang Kee came to visit the school. On the other hand, he felt pressured into being there because of his uncle, the long classes were unbearable, he had to train almost every day of the week and he wanted to participate in other activities like the other children did at his age but couldn’t due to the family’s financial struggles. By the time Master Savidge turned 13 he became more resentful while his behavior became intolerable resulting in his being kicked out of the studio. He returned to train in 1990 and earned his Cho Dan at 19 years of age in 1992. He taught full time alongside Sa Bom Nim Ferraro, Sa Bom Nim Dugan, Kyo Sa Nim Talavera, and Kyo Sa Nim Steefel for several years.

As the college years came and overtook his time and concentration, he reduced his teaching time and focused on his studies while pursuing a professional career. At the young age of 24, he earned his Sahm Dan, continued his college education, strived for progress on his career path, and got married to Erin. An average day for him was getting to school in New Haven by 8 AM, put in a full day’s work in Norwalk, then rushing back to West Haven to take class at 7:15 PM and ultimately, returning home around 9:30-10 PM. He became the first in his family to graduate with a college degree.


When he was 27 he was invited to test for Sa Dan and for his Sa Bom certification in 2001. He states that “Earning my Sa Dan and entering the kodanja ranks, along with graduating college and now having all of that time back in my day to day life, helped me find the ability and confidence to push myself to a much higher level in the martial arts.”

As the years progressed and Master Savidge continued with his studies in Tang Soo Do, he learned how to take better care of himself physically and mentally, how to regiment his nutrition and exercise to match his maturing body and physical abilities and to enhance his ability to teach and convey the art of Tang Soo Do so that the needs of the student is considered versus trying to get the student to fit a particular mold. In 2006 he tested for O Dan and felt that all things were running its course nice and smoothly only to have a curveball thrown at him during the summer of 2010 when his mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She lost her battle after a rapid decline after nine months. Several years prior she had taken on the responsibility of adopting Master Savidge’s half sister’s three and half-year-old daughter Olivia, and with her passing that little girl’s future was filled with uncertainty. Master Savidge and Erin decided to adopt her.


Since January 2012 after acquiring the rank of Yuk Dan, his growth and love for martial arts would continue to be successful and stable.  As his Chil Dan test approached, he wanted to find a way to re-invent himself, to continue to push further and to make his Chil Dan testing a celebration and testament to everything his instructor and his seniors had given to him over the years.  This reminded him of the saying from Calvin Coolidge who said, “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” Comfort can lead to self-absorption, boredom, and discontent. You can either be comfortable and stagnate or stretch yourself — become uncomfortable — and grow.  Master Savidge reflects on the classes he’s taken with Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang, Kwan Jang Nim Andy Ah Po, his own instructor, and the many other martial artists who’ve been promoted before him.  He’s in awe of those who’ve spent years teaching others and passing on their knowledge of Tang Soo Do.  Master Savidge understands his goal as one where he has to inspire his peers and maybe reach someone facing uncertainty or complacency and be the catalyst who sparks them to dedicate themselves to a thirty-plus year journey in the martial arts.  He is an instructor who is always learning and growing and is more than willing to pass on his knowledge and to keep motivating students until he’s not able to.  His motivation to keep training is that he wants to be better than he was yesterday, to provide the spark and inspiration for others to find their path to be better than they were before, to leave a legacy that will outlive him and to help build up and promote the next generation of leaders and to give them the tools to surpass any challenges put in front of them.

Other than practicing martial arts of over four decades of his life, Master Savidge is a Client Relationship Manager with bswift, a benefits administration and outsourcing firm owned by CVS Health/Aetna. Among his other hobbies Master Savidge enjoys playing electric guitar and practicing photography. For almost twenty years now Master Savidge has been the de facto historian of TSDMGK Kodanja, personally maintaining the photo archives at kodanja.net.  He, along with his Kodanja classmates SBN Bruce Rodgers, SBN Dave Berube, SBN Ed Pereira and SBN Mark Pattison, is also a member of the Kodanja group who in 2018 started a new tradition of charitable giving to worthy causes.



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