Thirty years ago today I walked into my first lesson in martial arts.
Since this day I have considered myself a direct student of Kriton Glenn Sa Bom Nim.
Who would have thought of the turns taken during my Martial path. On the 26th of November 1987 it began with Tang Soo Tao the art formed by Master Robert Caputo in 1974. Master Caputo trained and lived with our Kwan Jang Nim HC Hwang (whom he knew as Hwang Jin Mun) in Korea before arriving in Darwin, Australia in the 1970’s.
My first lesson was at “Lennons Health Club” in Kippax a place that is long since gone and replaced by hundreds of units. Those that trained there will remember the green shagpile carpet. Andrew Brown started just one month before me and we undertook every test together including our Master level in Sok Cho Korea in 2005.
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As a fifth Gup I began assisting in teaching at our local Do Jang. Something that became a part of my training ever since. Who can deny how much more you learn by the act of instructing.
Just prior to my Cho Dan Testing (1992 with Andrew Brown, Derek Koina, Myself, Natasa and Anthony Manning) K Glenn Sa Bom Nim made the decision to leave Tang Soo Tao and form a new school Tang Wu Do. Throughout this time he maintained strong ties to Damon Kenyon Sa Bom Nim in the USA.
Testing for E Dan in 1994 was memorable for the training starting before sunrise travelling to various locations around Canberra and learning a new Hyung to present the next day. Who can forget meditating in the bush and discovering that your focal point on the mountain across from the river was in fact a wombat that up and moved as the sun cleared the horizon.
In 1999 a group of us travelled to Japan and China with one of the most memorable parts of the trip training on the Great Wall.
2002 was a busy year for us, Glenn Sa Bom Nim spoke to his senior students and we decided to formalise our connection to World Moo Duk Kwan. This very year was that of my Sam Dan testing in Tang Wu Do and the rank that was recognised in transition to the Moo Duk Kwan.
Attending the 2005 Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa and 60th anniversary in Sok Cho Korea was my first formal MDK events (testing with Andrew Brown, Derek Koina SBN, Julie Garbode SBN, Gillian Dean SBN, Rick Diaz SBN and Roberto Fontora SBN to name a few). In 2007 I was appointed REX for Region 3 Australia and my home town, Canberra hosted SEALS. In 2008 I began running Capital Soo Bahk Do Academy at the location my instructor had operated for 19 years.
A WMDK appointment as Australian TAC Administrator in 2008.
In 2010 I attended SEALS in Darwin (meeting, the Darwin crew, Thomas Thai SBN and Frank Tsai SBN for the first time) and then tested for O Dan in Ramona California forming a second group of friendships the likes of which are only formed at Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa’s (Richard Wilcox SBN, Ernie Medina SBN, Rodrigo Cruz SBN, Gabriella Brown SBN, Chuck Smith SBN, Derek Koina SBN, Marylee Hendricks SBN and Scott Ridlon SBN).
I was appointed as an Australian TAC Assistant in 2012.
In 2013 my first student tested for Sa Dan in Dae Gu Korea my first time to attend as guest. This was followed by the 2015 Korean KDJSS (Guest) and 70th anniversary where my sons and wife also attended.
2016 saw my return to Ramona for my Yuk Dan testing and the opportunity to reconnect with and make new friends abroad (Cort Stinehour SBN, Christian Nagier SBN, Ed Horni SBN not to mention the many others testing and attending the event). In 2017 Kwan Jang Nim appointed Kim Wyles and myself as the two members of the Australian TAC.
Without the Martial Arts training and connections made my life would not have been what it now is. I can honestly say I have friends all over the world most of whom I would have never known in any other way. I look forward to what the next 30+ years brings to my life in the Moo Duk Kwan.
Mark Koina #34683