Master-Han-and-Master-KoskellaI have been asked lately to explain why the ASMKA has photographs of the late Grand Master Bong Soo Han on its website.  After all, Song Moo Kwan is in association with Taekwondo.  The lineage being from Supreme Grand Master Ro, Byung Jick.  Though there are schools around the world that use the name Song Moo Kwan in association with their respective Hapkido disciplines.

The answer is both simple and not so simple.

For those who have followed my website, the friendship between Grand Master Han and myself is not new. But the questions surrounding why I would leave him may not be easily explained. For now I mean no disrespect in calling him Master Han for ease of this conversation.

I was 14 when we met on the set of “Trial of Billy Jack.”  I am the kid who tosses the apple to Billy Jack that immediately thereafter explodes off the hand of Master Han’s student.  Years later, I would be able to assist him in expanding Bong Soo Han’s International Hapkido Federation. Even being appointed the first occidental President of that organization.  It took a bit of doing, but Master Han later relented and demoted me to Executive Vice President.

There is no animosity here between myself and the BSH-IHF.  I returned my shares of the entity and asked to be disassociated to protect Master Han’s reputation. The finest of his long-time students is the Chairman and President now; Master Eric Friske.

As for me, what happened is akin to that old adage; “People will question the good things they hear about you but believe all the bad without a second thought.” Since my fight in the courts was to be a long one, and the Santa Monica studio is full of government agents – my decision would keep many from being compromised.

Yet that does not speak of the travels Master Han and I shared to Korea, and elsewhere.  The 6 a.m. workouts… every day abroad. Traveling the same path Master Han trod as a youthful soldier. Or, learning what a fine voice he had when performing at Kareoke.  I met the men he grew up with. I trained on the same floors as they. I went where he went. Everywhere I went, I was well taught.

I had torn the Planter’s facie tendon on my foot and found it quite painful to walk. This lasted a bit.  Then, as we waited for a car, Master Han asked me; “Why are you here?” Puzzled I sought to explain myself.  When the question was asked again, I stated firmly; “To protect you.”

For a moment Master Han said nothing.  Then he looked at me and calmly said, “If you are hurt, how will you do that? If others see you hurting, will they see me as vulnerable? If this is the manner in which you guard me, as a cripple, we must think of going back home.”

Imagine my surprise that my foot no longer hurt where anyone could see me.  I stood tall.  I hurt. But I found I “could” stop the pain when my focus remained on the “Snow Tiger” (Master Han) and not my own injuries.  Oh, yes. There were many nights soaking in the tub and washing my feet.  Even a cortisone shot as soon as I returned to the states. But Master han was never seen in the company of a cripple again.

Master Han asked me not to speak of my Hapkido training over the years. He and I spoke of Supreme Grand Master Ro, Byung Jick’s prowess in Hapkido as well as Taekwondo. This was one of the reasons Master Han did not require me to give up Taekwondo as he had asked others to do. He permitted me to bring to him my thirst for knowledge and share what I had learned along the way. Not all of it did he agree with – but he let it be known that I was his friend.

We argued when I told him I needed to leave. That I could no longer be a part of BSH-IHF as I had been.  That the fight I was in would likely be lost.  I asked him to step aside as my friend also.  He refused.  I asked for a letter confirming that I had returned the shares of the Organization and was not a BSH-IHF Black Belt. He begrudgingly sent me two letters.  One which defined my former role within BSH-IHF and the other, as his friend.  The Certificate that he provided me sealed with the seals I had made for him on our last trip to Korea together.  Those received after his being raised to 9th Dan Grand Master.

So where do I place Grand Master Han on the Lineage chart?  Do I explain his intervention when I sought Grand Master Chang Soo Ma for instruction?  Or, our mutual friend, Grand Master Ho Jin Song. In my life, I knew a man who once permitted me to call him “father” (아버지), then “friend” (친구); and, finally he called me something after I had walked from him.  After I had moved out on my own and asked him to step aside from me.  He said, “You have found your place. We are generals. To lead is often lonely. But to lead means to accept a greater responsibility.  As my friend, you are now a “general” (일반). Lead well, my friend.

My lineage is through Supreme Grand Master (Doju) Ro, Byung Jick, Grand Master Park, Byung Hoon, and Grand Master Kim, Yong Kil.  But for my Hapkido lineage, I remain a friend and under the lineage of (Doju) Choi Yong-Sool, and Grand Master Han, Bong Soo. Though he has provided the means for me to continue under another, I have yet found no other who can eclipse what I have learned of being a man and standing on my word that Grand Master Bong Soo Han.

It matter not what others profess. We find truth – on the mat. (그것은 중요 하지 다른 고백. 우리는 매트에 진실-를 찾아.)

I now offer a few photos in our Portfolio that I had taken of Grand Master Bong Soo Han in moments of honored reflection for the man I love as a son should his father. Even as I am one of many.

Grand Master Bong Soo Han appears as a prominent friend of the American Song Moo Kwan Association.  And, often smiled at others consternation as he professed my children as his own grandchildren.

아버지 평화, 휴식. 당신은 항상 내 일반 있습니다.