Though I had been teaching martial arts in Tucson, Arizona, for a couple of years, I needed to find an identity that would go forward since Grand Master Park had moved to Australia. The identity would be what I wanted my school to be called. I settled on Proficiency Tae Kwon Do. Proficiency being the key to proper execution of technical prowess. But I hoped it would be much more. I hoped that the identity would instill a desire to seek perfection.

I had been doing quite a bit of film work and decided to move to Los Angeles, California. I went to work for Universal Studios as a spokesperson in their themed venues. Before long I was asked to train some of the bouncers and other security staff for one of the clubs at the entrance to Universal Studios.

There were a lot of waiters and waitresses there who worked nights and sought training during the day. We trained in North Hollywood Park during most mornings. Only when it rained did we have to find somewhere else to train.

That led to the first studio at the corner Burbank and Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood.

First-School-in-North-Hollywood-1981

First School in North Hollywood – 1981

Then we needed a bigger place and found one just down the street… Proficiency Tae Kwon Do became a reality.

That’s the place where I first wrote “Power Without Force.”

Yong-Kil-Kim-Master-K-1984

GM Yong Kil Kim and Master K in 1984

“Power Without Force” was based on the teachings of Grand Master Park and Grand Master Young Kil Kim of the famed Do San Gymnasium. It represented an extension of proficiency – and provided an understanding of the delicate balance between power and force.

I moved up to Utah to scout locations for contemplated films.

While there I met several young martial artists and decided to befriend one of them. I helped him with an upcoming test. He passed with flying colors. I introduced him to some of my friends, including Grand Master Bong Soo Han. It was also there that I began funding a studio that would later provide a student base for my formation of the American Song Moo Kwan Association.

Grand-Master-Bong-Soo-Han-Orem-Utah

Bringing the International Hapkido Federation to Orem Utah 95 – 96

 

song-moo-kwan.org ~ song-moo-kwan.com ~ song-moo-kwan.net ~ song-moo-kwan.us

I hired one of our early members to create a website under www.song-moo-kwan.org, Thereafter, having as many of the available website domains as possible obtained to assure the Song Moo Kwan continuing legacy.

Song-Moo-Kwan-NTC

I flew out to Minnesota one day that I might meet the son of Tae Kwon Do’s founder, Byung Jick Ro. When speaking with him on the phone I gave him the Korean name my instructors have given me.  When I arrived he seemed a bit impatient until he realized that I was the person he had spoken to. Then we arranged for him to come out to Utah to see our schools and to meet our students.

Grand Master Ro

When he came to Utah we had a school in American Fork. We started training that morning at 6 o’clock. He marveled that the techniques we were teaching our students have been those that his father had himself once taught. We had a great time.

Since the people I’d hired to put together the website had been taking too much time (I was quite impatient) I went home and used the CorelDRAW program to create what I wanted to see on those pages. Including, a tribute to Grand Master Byung Jick Ro.

Song-Moo-Kwan.com_The American Song Moo Kwan Association was a help-meet to Grand Master Ro and the World Song Moo Kwan Association. I was permitted to act as a trustee for that organization. I was able to assist financially, and promote the tenets espoused by the parent organization. I recommended that the term Song Moo Kwan be trademarked. I understood the trademark was in process but it had not yet been granted.

Training In Korea

I took several students to Korea so that we could train at the Korean American Song Moo Kwan headquarters. Our hosts were embarrassed that there was no longer any such association that they could find for us to train while we were there. Yet, each morning while we trained there were men in suits standing on the hills watching us. There were people who would come up to us just to say hello and mentioned that they too once attended the famous Song Moo Kwan.

Training-in-Korean-University

When we trained at the universities, our students overshadowed those of similar rank. And our dearest proficiency was revered.

Returning to the United States, we increased our efforts at training above and beyond that which most schools would undertake. We brought in additional instructors. Formed new alliances and associations. And saw our ranks and numbers increase. For the next time we returned to Korea the Korean Song Moo Association was solid in its foundation.

Song-Moo-Kwan.com-Charter-Dojangs

 

There sprang up a number of additional schools started by black belts we had trained. And we added additional websites each proclaiming proudly membership in the American Song Moo Kwan Association.

2nd-Dan-Neal-Koskella-with-5th-Dan-Lee-Gillenkirk

2nd Dan Neal Koskella with 5th Dan Lee Gillenkirk

Grand Master Ro was present on that next trip to Korea. While we had not traveled together, we met up at the headquarters of the Korea Song Moo Association. Grand Master Ro was gracious as ever when he asked that our students provide a professional demonstration for our hosts. And we properly performed.

Korea-National-University-Training

Our students trained and demonstrated on the mat at the Kukkiwon Black Belt Training Academy in Seoul, Korea. The second-in-command of the World Taekwondo Federation, Grand Master Kim, Chang Sung sponsored us. Then we trained at the headquarters for the World Haidong Gumdo Federation. And walked paths where ageless warriors once stood ready to defend.

Master-Koskella-Isle-of-Man-1997

Master Koskella Teaching at the Isle of Man Taekwondo Academy 1997

Schools expanded into Idaho, Nevada, Washington state and Oregon. A few more backing Arizona and California. One in the Isle of Man and another in Beckham, England and in the past few years, El Paso, Texas at Fort Bliss Army base.

Wherever we go in whatever we do, we are Song Moo.

Some people pretend at their lineage. Some people stand proud. Some people will defend honor without losing integrity. Let these be those who follow the tenets of the Song Moo Kwan; “If you can do one thing, you can do anything.”

Looking back over the years, pride is not in the name. It is found in a way of life that is lived with purpose and distinction. In this, the American Song Moo Kwan Association remains for those who stand by their word, at all times, and in all places. No matter what adversity must be faced along the journey.

The websites, photos, and journey demonstrated here provides a glimpse of the legacy of the American Song Moo Kwan Association, since 1994.