Russ Hanke, Sa Bom Nim, dan bon #4137, 9th Dan, Oral History
Russ Hanke and Fred Messsersmith are mixed and need to be seperated
SS: This is Sandra Schermerhorn, It is August 12, 2006, and I am in San Diego, California, USA . I am talking with Russ Hanke Sa Bom Nim. Sir, could you tell me what town and state you currently live in and your Dan number?
RH: I live in a suburb of Detroit, a city called Dearbourn Heights, which is about 12 miles away from downtown Detroit. My Dan number is 4137.
SS: Who is your current instructor?
RH: Kwan Jang Nim H. C. Hwang.
SS: Do you have a studio right now?
RH: Yes I do.
SS: What is the name of that, sir?
RH: Russ Hanke Soo Bahk Do College.
SS: Where is that?
RH: That is in Wyandotte, Michigan.
SS: Could you tell me just a little bit about yourself? For example, employment you’ve had, education, hobbies, just a little profile.
RH: Education, GED education. Hobbies, I attempted golf, but it has gotten the best of me. I will never be a golfer. I have been involved in many different things. Mostly martial oriented things: Archery, shooting guns, spear chucking, knife throwing, ax throwing. I have dabbled in just about every sport. I have never gotten proficient in anything. Work, throughout the years I have been a “jack of all trades”. My first employment job was a pinsetter at a bowling alley. My second job was a file clerk, before they had computers; it was called Peoples Outfitting Company. When people came in and paid the money they didn’t have computers and someone would have to run and get the file and bring that back. I worked in the steel mills for 4 years as a laborer and then an electrician’s apprentice, then I got into selling life insurance, vacuum cleaners, Kirby vacuum cleaners, baby pictures, and one thing or another off and on and wore that out. I got married and worked at the Ford Motor Company on the assembly line, for a while and then switched to selling life insurance and then switched back to working at the Michigan Truck Camp, where I worked again on the assembly lines. Utility Inspector was my title, but none of these jobs lasted long. I would only work to get enough money to do my training, if I had enough money or my work had any kind of a hindrance to my training, that was it. Most of the work that I had done and I still do is security work, so I still do that off and on to help pay the bills.
SS: Sir, could you tell me what motivated you to start training in martial arts?
RH: Yes. All my life, even before martial arts was even known, this is from 1945-46, I was born in 1940, so since I can remember I was always with the cowboys and the guns and that kind of stuff, and I was always small for my age, and people I ran with were always big, so I always had a reputation that back in “them days” it was who could beat up who, that was your status. If my friends wanted to establish themselves as “the man” or if they had a fight with their girlfriend and they were just frustrated, and they wanted to take it out on somebody, they knew they could come to me, because I would “fight the fight” and once they pushed me, I would immediately start fighting. I couldn’t hurt anybody. I was like a punching bag, and I was like that up until I went into the army. I was in the army when I was 18 and they made me a tank driver, that was interesting. When I was out of the army in 1960, I was 20 years old and the only thing I knew about martial arts back then, was in the man’s magazines or there might be some article about judo. Karate was unknown. I decided that I was going to learn judo, because the little guy could always beat the big guy and I was going to take care of myself. I went to a local YMCA to learn judo. The class was taught in the basement. So, I went in to watch a class and sign up, I thought. I was watching the class, the judo instructor’s name was Jim Whomsley, he was about my size, a little heftier, and he was called a 2nd Dan, 2nd degree black belt, which I had not known what a black belt was, much less a 2nd Dan. I was observing his class and in this particular class, at the time I got there, he was working with a brand new beginner. This guy had lesson “zero”. He was a white belt and about 6 foot, a little bit less, and weighed about 300 pounds. He was as wide and round and he was tall and had an “attitude”. Mr. Jim Whomsley, the judo expert, he was really doing everything in his power to throw the big guy down, and he couldn’t do it, he could not move him. It broke my heart, I’m looking, I’m thinking I don’t know what a black belt is, but this is the expert and this is that Japanese stuff that “the little guy can take the big guy” and here is this expert and he can’t even move a blob, so I was disappointed. As I said, the room was downstairs, so I went upstairs to leave, I heard a bunch of yelling, being very curious, I looked up and I wondered what was going on in that room, and it said Tang Soo Do, and I didn’t know what Tang Soo Do was either. So being a curious guy, I walked down, and it was in a room like this that they were training in, and I seen my instructor who is smaller then me and skinner then me, his name was Mr. Dale Drulliard. Mr. Dale Drulliard was the first non-Korean ever to be promoted to black belt in the Moo Duk Kwan. He studied in Korea under Kwan Jang Nim, and he is the very first non-oriental to ever be promoted and his Dan number is 757.
So, I just walked in again, I don’t believe in coincidences, they happened to be free-sparring and he was on the floor and he was fighting two guys at one time. One of the guys he was fighting, his name was Jim Young, he had a green belt on, I didn’t know what a green belt was, but he was about 15 or 16 at the time and small framed, typical 15 or 16 year old. The other gentlemen was another green belt, his name was Rick Abrahams, and was bigger then I was and maybe had about 30 or 40 pounds and he had an attitude, it was very obvious he had an attitude. I am watching this little skinny guy, smaller then me and Mr. Drulliard, what he would do is when the little guy came at him, he would just do some punches and kicks and very nice and the big guy came in and tried to overpower him, he would jump up, very quietly put the side of his foot on the guy’s hip and straighten out his leg and throw him into the wall. Then when he was picking himself up off the floor, the other guy would be attacking, and he would be just like a father treating his little son, and then the big guy would come in, he would jump up, put his foot on the side, straighten out his leg and throw him into the wall. I don’t know what Tang Soo Do is I don’t know what anything is, but this is what I’m going to do, and that is how I got started, and I’ve never looked back.
SS: Before you started training, was there any family tradition of training in martial arts?
RH: Martial Arts was unknown back then in America. Like I said earlier, you might see them in a man’s magazine, or see a small article about judo, but other than that, Martial Arts, at least in my era, was unknown, other than boxing or wrestling.
SS: What was your early training like? What was the class like?
RH: Again, I was very fortunate, everyone has their own personal qualities and nature, Mr. Drulliard, he was a true martial artist, he was only interested in techniques, and perfecting perfect technique. It wasn’t about fighting; it wasn’t about anything, except perfection of form and of the basic motion. We had classes two days a week at the YMCA. In the YMCA in the basement, they had a room and they used to call it the “mirror room”, Mr. Drulliard was only a 2nd or 3rd Dan at that time, and I knew he would be in the room in front the mirrors practicing basic motions and basic kicks, so I would always get to class a half an hour or forty-five minutes early, because if I would go in the room, I would stand side by side and he was just meticulous about technique, almost like a classical ballerina. He was that meticulous about perfecting technique. In the beginning of the class, a typical class, we would do a warm up then after that you would stand by the wall and you did so many front stretch kicks, so many side kicks, so many this, so many that, and you would always use the wall to support you, it had no bars. We would then have a regular class. After, when the class was over, I would immediately go back into the mirror room, when everybody else was going home, and whatever he taught me; I would do in that mirror room by myself, trying to perfect my technique, like he did.
SS: How long did the class last?
RH: The classes were only about one and a half hours. So I went almost an hour early to be in the mirror room and after class go back to the room until they closed.
SS: That was twice a week?
RH: Back then yes.
SS: Who was in the class? Was it men, women?
RH: Back then, women weren’t in martial arts, women weren’t even considered to be in martial arts. It was just all men, the average age I would say (they never taught kids back then), it would be like 15 to 35, was the average age, all male.
SS: Did they wear a Do Bohk to train in?
RH: The Do Bohk was exactly the way we wear it.
SS: Anything else about the school experience that you can remember? How about a fond memory of a training experience you had?
RH: With Mr. Drulliard? (incredulously)
SS: Yes, sir.
RH: At that time, nothing really stands out. The one thing again about Mr. Drulliard was he was very regimented. You could almost set your clock when you were done with your basic motions, and you were done after the basic motions, the kicking, after the kicking the forms, after the forms we had 3 step fighting, we did not have 1 step fighting back then. It was originally 3 steps. Your challenger would come in and he would punch once, stepping forward and you would step back and he would punch twice and there would be another step back, and on the 3rd punch we would side step and block and counter. Originally it was 3 steps. You didn’t even know about 1 steps until after 1974, when the current Kwan Jang Nim came to the states.
SS: Do you remember any of your early training partners? Not necessarily back then, but early training partners?
RH: Other than the two I mentioned, there was two other ones, but again they were only green belts and there was no affiliation, you came, you trained, you left. None of them were meaningful.
SS: The two that you mentioned, did you know what happened to them?
RH: The one that did stay around was Jim Young, and that was the young kid I observed when he was fighting. He continued on, we made our Dans together and then when he became of age, he went to Ann Arbor, which is about 20 miles away from us, a college. Of course, after his four years of college, he started teaching at the college and picking up a few extra bucks for about a year and then something happened, at that time that completely discouraged him from martial arts. It turned out that he graduated from college, he became a lawyer, he moved up north, he became a judge for a little city, and every time he comes to town, we still have communications.
In 1962 Dale Drulliard sponsored over from Korea a man named Sang Kyu Shim.. At that time he was sponsored over by Mr. Drulliard on a 3-month visitors visa. Mr. Drulliard has always been very naive as far as politics and he had no knowledge of the visa regulations. He thought if he sponsored over this Korean on a 3-month visa, after that 3 months they go back. The reality was, once a Korean came over to the United States, it was forever. So when he had to go back, he lost face in Korea. All the Koreans thought that he was in the United States and he was very embarrassed about the whole thing. So right after that, he was being drafted into the ROK army, (Sang Kyu Shim). Around 1962-63 Mr. Drulliard took ill, he had a nervous breakdown, which was caused a lot by this Master Sang Kyu Shim, because he kept writing him, and kept pressuring him, you got to bring me back, you got to bring me back, and he even had him talked into flying to Korea to bring him back and there was a layover in Japan, and he had a nervous breakdown and had to come back. So, Sang Kyu Shim started zeroing in on me, because when Mr. Drulliard had the nervous breakdown, none of the other students wanted to teach, there were four senior to me but none of them wanted to teach. We had a membership of over 100 students at the YMCA, and none of them would take the responsibility, so that is how I became an instructor. Saying that, Sang Kyu Shim started writing me that I should bring him back. So I wrote to the late Kwan Jang Nim that I wanted to sponsor Master Shim back to the United States. I got a response back that the late Kwan Jang Nim really preferred to send someone else. I was married at the time, I had my wife and 1 child, and he was going to be living in my home. So I wrote back to the Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee that, “I know Master Shim and would prefer him over a complete stranger.” The late Grandmaster went along with my request. I was being manipulated by Master Shim. Master Shin was given the position of the Ambasssador, as the very first Korean that was designated by the Late Grand Master to come to the United States. When he came to the United States, there were about 115 students, and he actually lived with me at my home for 9 months. The man had a very devious character, which I did not know, so while he was living there, and I had him on a visitor’s visa, he enrolled in the Wayne State University so that he could change his visa to a student visa and not be under my control. Once he got a student visa, then he started showing his true colors, which was to come here and start to build his own empire, which he did, Tae Kwon Do. He died, he was killed in an accident, 15 years or so ago, but while he was here, he was what we would call the spiritual guru of Tae Kwon Do and Tae Kwon Do Times. In the early 1970’s, 1980’s or maybe later, in any of the Tae Kwon Do magazines, there was always one or two pages in the magazines, of Shim Gung, the spirit of Tae Kwon Do, the spirit of this, the spirit of that and he was really one of the highest Koreans of Tae Kwon Do. Like I said, he lived with me for 9 months, and once he had a student visa, then he wanted to get out of the YMCA, so he could have a storefront studio. He opened up the first storefront studio and then after that, he really changed. He moved out and from that time on, it was attack, attack, attack. Discredit, discredit, discredit. Me personally and anybody else because he wanted to be “king” of Tae Kwon Do and run all the karate throughout the Detroit metropolitan area.
SS: What happened with the school at the YMCA?
RH: That was interesting. I was young and I was always like from the streets. The harder you made it, the more I liked it. When he was ready to make his move, our classes started getting harder, physically harder. Physically more demanding. So much that if during any one class, at least two or three people did not drop out of the class, to throw up or just physically strained, he would think that it was a good class. Now of course being young and naive, I am not leaving, I’m just going. I remember one particular time, he had me doing multiple free fighting. He had me fighting three opponents. You know in multiple fighting, 30 seconds, may be a minute, I was fighting three guys for I would say four to five minutes with continuous attacking. I was so exhausted I would have my back leaning against the wall for support and I would see the punches and kicks coming in and I could not even lift up my arms and that was a typical type class. What I didn’t know, because he knew I would always to the mirror room, because that was my habit, after class, whatever I learned I went to that room. He was going to all the students that were saying “I can’t do this, I got a wife, I got kids, I got to work,” and he would say “Gee, that is because we are at the YMCA. I have my studio, it is only five miles from here.” He took my club of 115 students down to about 30 students. It was intentional attrition by burnout that was his nature.
SS: What did you do after that?
RH: Of course he started the Tae Kwon Do and Mr. Drulliard recuperated, he was never a federation man. It was probably 1964, I knew he was better. All the time I taught at the Y they would charge a fee, part of the fee would go to the instructor. All the time I taught, in my mind I was just cheering the club on for Mr. Drulliard. It wasn’t my club, I was just taking care of business. Things got to the point of 1964-1965 that financially, when I was working at the assembly line at Ford Motor Company, I was bartending and bouncing at night, and still taught the two classes and of course I had the wife and the children, finances got tight to where I needed either to cut back, especially like on all the bar work. One, because it wasn’t a good way of making a living and two, I was exhausted. I knew Mr. Drulliard was well again, so I went over to his house, this was in November and asked him. Mr. Drulliard, “When are you coming back?” He said “I am not coming back.”. He can’t burn out again from the bad experiences that he had with Master Shim. I said all I have been doing is running for the last few years, running the club for you. He says that’s ok, but I am not coming back. I said all the money that was ever paid through the time of his illness; I just put it in the bank. I didn’t think that was my money. So I said to him, “Well I’ve got a little bit less than $1,000 and it is in the bank, thinking that it belongs to you.” and of course he is a beautiful person, he said, no, no that is yours. Again, in my mind, up to that point, I was just covering for him. Well I can’t live with that money. I happen to have it in my pocket. I just gave it to him and from that point on I considered myself the instructor.
SS: Was there anything else in your training, major changes that affected you, such as illness, or you had to stop training for a chunk of time?
RH: No. I had my first major injury was in the late 1980’s, where I was hit by a car and my knee was hurt, but I never stopped training.
SS: During the early years, what was it like to be in a tournament?
RH: Dangerous. My first tournament I was a first-degree black belt. The first tournament was in Toronto, Canada. There was no age difference, or size difference, or rank difference. You could have been a green belt fighting a 3rd degree black belt. I was a 1st degree black belt. I remember my very first match. I went out on the floor and back then, what they called the point, if you knocked him hard enough to knock him down, you got a point. If he couldn’t get up, he was disqualified. That is just the way it was. In the martial arts, the history of martial arts in the peacetime was called “flowering of the arts”, because you could work more the culture and essence. During wartime, the training was not in the artistic direction, it was in survival. Korea was occupied by Japan for over 35 years. The Koreans back then, they took martial arts to survive. It was what you would call “Navy SEAL” training, blood and guts and that is just the way it was. All the other martial arts pretty much had the same nature. It wasn’t competitions back then, even in the United States, it was dangerous, you had to knock the guy down and hurt them, otherwise you would not get scored. If they knocked you down, you got disqualified. It was just a matter of survival. I remember I was in Chicago for a tournament, we were in a big auditorium, I heard this distinct sound of bones breaking, and all the way across this gymnasium, I see this guy jump up and do a jump round kick, I don’t know his style or anything about him, it was full contact and noise I heard was the guy’s jaw breaking. He was disqualified because he couldn’t get back in. I had a student there, and again these are just coincidences, the guy was the smallest guy there, he only stood maybe 5 foot maybe 110 pounds soaking wet. In his first match he was fighting a guy 6 foot 4 300 pounds. I will never forget the guy he was fighting, he was Okinawan style. It was full contact. Okinawan stylists, they never kicked above the belt. The Japanese /Okinawans, all their kicks were from the groin down, they didn’t learn high kicking until the Koreans started teaching. My particular student was kicked in the groin so hard, picked him up off the floor and he landed, and when we were driving home, his testicles swelled up to where it was almost the size of a football, but he lost the match because he was disqualified, cause he couldn’t fight. That was an average tournament. That was the way it was.
SS: Did people back then, when they were in tournaments favor hand techniques or foot techniques?
RH: Until the Koreans entered the picture, it was all hand techniques. Okinawans used all hand and no kicks above the belt, and Japanese, same way. Back then it was mostly the Moo Duk Kwan Koreans, you had on the tournament circuit. Chuck Norris, all the major players that were in the national circuit, most of them came from the Korean background. What made them so devastating was that no one knew how to fight with feet. Back then; the Koreans did not know how to fight with their hands. The hands were part of the culture. The legs are stronger, but if you’ve got a busted toe or a shin, that was no problem. If I lost my hands, then I could not do my work, I could not farm. The Korean culture or style back then was probably 90-95% foot, in all other styles; there were about 95% hands. The Koreans dominated the tournament circle. I am trying to think of the one guy, super foot Wallace, and Fred Raymond, all these names; they were all from a Korean stylist. Then the Okinawan/ Japanese started mimicking us and of course we were becoming more proficient with our hands. Through the years I’ve made the change.
SS: Anything else about tournaments you think people might like to know?
RH: Just like anything else, in the beginning it was blood and guts and how much you could take and how much you could give. I’m glad for the experience, because it made me tough, but it was completely a very dangerous, a very detrimental thing. A lot of lives were ruined from injuries and such.
SS: What were people’s attitudes towards the martial arts? Just the general population.
RH: To the general population, it was mysterious. If you were known as a black belt back then, in the neighborhoods or anywhere, people were in awe, mystified, and scared to death of you, because it was of the unknown. Now, you can be an 8 or 9th Dan, people say you’re only an 8th or 9th Dan because it is just the nature of man, especially Americans. You’ve got more Grand Masters now then ever before, they don’t know anything, they don’t do anything they just decided I’m going to open up my own school, have my own style and now I’m a Grand Master, you know a lot of “our people” that have done that. Names, I won’t even bring up.
SS: When you were training in the martial arts, what were your ambitions?
RH: To be the best martial artist I could. As a fighter back then, for me it was perfection of technique, which was from what I had from my basics from Mr. Drulliard. I was always motivated to learn “the mysticism, the secret powers”, we know it now as ki. We can now explain what it is. Back then, it was this mystical power, you know if one finger touches a piece of wood and I remember reading stories about Master Ueshiba, who was the founder of Aikido. By just a scream you could knock a bird out of a tree. When Master Ueshiba demonstrated in Japan, the army was kind of wanting to know what this aikido stuff was. Master Ueshiba, again was a very small man, very thin man. So the demonstration was that Ueshiba did was that he said give me 10 of your mps (military police) but please make sure that they have some kind of a background in falling techniques, like judo or something. The army, as the story goes, they had two rows of five along the room. Master Ueshiba said what I am going to demonstrate is, I am going to walk in here out that door and as I do that, your people are free to try and stop me. He literally, like taking a casual walk, as the story goes, walked through as these big guys came in. He walked to the other door and turned around, he asked, “Any questions?” So the army was convinced that martial arts was something more than just physical because he was a very small man.
The same story goes with Master Funakoshi. He was an Okinawan. He was probably smaller than me. Of course that was during the Japanese occupation. If you lived in Japan, Japanese hated everybody other than Japanese. The Koreans were the garlic eaters and they were hated. If you know anything about the Japanese occupation, you knew how they treated them. Back then anyone other than Asians were just trash. So when Master Funakoshi went to Japan, to teach them karate, because there was no such thing as karate in Japan back then. When he went, as small as he was, he was taking on the judo experts, the jujitsu experts, and the sumo champions, and that is why Japan adopted karate, because this little skinny runt went in and beat their best, we are not talking tournament, we are talking “best fighters”. They were so impressed with Okinawan karate. That was how karate was introduced to Japan. Japan’s history in karate wasn’t before then. It was those kind of stories, it’s like these guys were smaller then me taking on guys that I would never dream of fighting you know, we are talking fighting, not tournaments. I knew there was some kind of a power or something they were doing and that has always been my prime motivation. That is why I took Moo Pahl Dan Khum like I did. In 1984 when the late Grand Master first introduced it, it was ah, here is the key to the door. It wasn’t a matter of super power, it was just the knowledge and experience, so that was my specialty. I was never a gifted martial artist. Some people are flexible, some take to fighting naturally, the only thing I had going for me was my tenacity because I was small. I was never a gymnast, I could never kick above my knee until who knows when, and everything I could do, is because I was in that mirror room, and when I wasn’t in the mirror room, I would be out 4 o’clock in the morning, kicking at trees, and training, it was just “blood and guts”.
SS: Dan testing. When and where was your Cho Dan Test?
RH: That’s an embarrassment, but I will share it with you, to let you know how it was. This was a time when Sang Kyu Shim was here for the first time, on that three-month visa. When I started there were four gentlemen that were green belts. These gentlemen were always my seniors and so I went from white belt then to green belt, 6th and 5th, I don’t even think I did the 4th, and then made red belt. I wasn’t a red belt more than a matter of months. This whole time from my beginning to my first Dan is only 1 year. That was because Sang Kyu Shim wanted a lot of black belts so that they would open a lot of schools. I wasn’t a red belt more than 2 or 3 months and he needed black belts, so I was promoted to black belt.
SS: Did you have to do anything?
RH: Basically we would go out and do a form. No formal test. He just wanted black belts. It was one of the reasons I broke away from him. Because he explained to me his philosophy in why people made black belt. It left a stigma in me. I was always embarrassed that within a year I made black belt. I knew in my mind and heart I didn’t know anything. Because of that it took me a year or two before I actually felt comfortable wearing the blue belt. Because I was the head instructor at the time, as the instructor at the time, my students’ testings were so hard. You not only had to do everything, like we do now, it is an endurance thing, that you do every basic motion, every form, every kick. You had to do the three steps. We had to fight one person, you had to fight two persons, you had to fight three persons and by then you were usually physically and emotionally exhausted and then you did Kyok Pa. You had to do every kick breakings, side kicks, round kicks, pivot kicks, every kick you had to break.. With the hand techniques upper body, you had to break with the soo do, you had to break with the front kicks, you had to break with backfist. My tests were so severe; one of my students back then his father came and watched the testing. After the testing, his name was Rich Howard, he said his father was ready to come out of the audience and kill me. That was how hard the test was. When you made your black belt, or your 2nd Dan, you are going to know you are at least 6 months overdue, because I didn’t want to put the stigma I had because of the early promotion. Actually, the reality in Korea that is the way it was. Mr. Drulliard was only in Korea for a little better than 2 years from a white belt to a 2nd Dan. That was again, you would have to understand it was then the Korean war, at the end of the Korean war, and just like any other nations, all the Koreans knew was that the U.S. was the land of good and plenty, they would be working with all these American soldiers, so this is in all of them. They weren’t interested in quality, they weren’t interested in anything but making them black belts so that the Americans could sponsor Korean solders in the United States so that they could be be rich in things? Promotions was not even a political tool, it was economic. That was in the mid 1960s.
SS: What happened with E Dan testing and Sam Dan testing? Who was involved with that?
RH: I tested for my 1st and 2nd Dan under Master Shim. For the 3rd Dan test there was no one local, so I drove out to Maryland with a Master Lee, who was supposed to be Moo Duk Kwan. Again, he was one of those typical blends. When I went there, competed in this tournament, gave them the money and got my 3rd Dan.
SS: Do you recall how old you were then?
RH: 21 at 1st Dan, 23 at 2nd, 25 or 26 at 3rd Dan. Mr. Drulliard started teaching again actively in 1967 and so I still had a rapport with him, but Mr. Drulliard wanted nothing to do with the beginning of the Federation. His nature again, all he wanted to do is teach Tang Soo Do. Even to this date. I tested under him then, it was basically before 1974, so the Federation wasn’t born. So I tested for my 4th Dan under Jae Joon Kim. He did the promotion. Mr. Drulliard married a Korean woman. One of her relations is this Master Lee, that is now running one of the world federations and one of the biggest . I think Mr. Drulliard is caught up in family. All he is hearing about the Grand Master and the Grand Master’s son is all this ugliness that these Koreans are throwing at him. So I tested actually with his wife, we both tested for 4th Dan.
SS: What was that like?
RH: You just had to go out and do the two required forms. Mr. Drulliard didn’t know that there was a time requirement so he sent the promotions to the Late Grand Master and it was difficult back then. Maybe 3 or 5 months before you got the results from Korea. I remember him calling me one day and not sounding too happy, so we met at a restaurant. He said when are the promotions coming in? His wife was testing for 3rd Dan. He said my promotion did not come through. I said I don’t know why, because back then you didn’t question. I didn’t know why, and he couldn’t give me an answer. So about 6 months later he gets my promotion, with no correspondence. What it was because I was 6 months short of the time element for my 4th Dan, again nothing was explained, and so after that time period was over, then the Late Grand Master sent my promotion for 4th Dan.
SS: So your Dan number was always registered then?
RH: No. It wasn’t. My original Dan number was 4140 and it was issued by Sang Kyu Shim. I thought when I made my 1st and 2nd Dan, then my 3rd Dan, then that it was registered. But Sang Kyu Shim was making his own certificates, forged the stamp, forged the Grand Master’s name. That didn’t come out. Master Seiberlich was caught in the same thing, because he trained under Master Sang Kyu Shim. The certificates had everything, you couldn’t tell the difference. I can’t remember the year; it was somewhere in the 1980’s and all of a sudden it came up. So the late Grand Master is caught in the quandary, because there is me, Master Seiberlich, and quite a few others I am sure that had these numbers that belonged to Koreans, so that late Grand Master had to readjust, and that is how I got my Dan Bon 4137. It is only a three number difference, but it wasn’t until I was passed the 4th Dan that it was addressed. [55:09]
SS: When did it happen that you started to be under the Grand Master.
RH: I was always under the Grand Master, I thought.
SS: Yes, I see.
RH: I never met the man until 1972. But again, there was this connection, spiritual. I just always knew that this was the way. He was the way. Again, there was no communications. The communication for that was from Koreans that were here, and later were lying, lying to the people and caused a lot of problems. It took a lot of years to work that out.
From the beginning of the 1960’s on I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Drulliard until 1962. When he left and Sang Kyu Shim left I was kind of left on my own. This would be the history of just about all of them. Again we continued training and learning things we would start what is known as cross training. I made affiliations with someone that was teaching judo. I tried judo and we had a very good relationship with them. I got into aikido, had a good relationship with them. Kendo, good relationships with them. Basically in my area, we had some Japanese stylists in Isshinryu which is an Okinawan style. We would do things like I would visit their studio with my students and we would line up all his students in one room and all my students on the other and then would just get together and we would spar, just for the experience and that is how the Okinawans and Japanese started learning kicking and that is how we started. Mr. Drulliard is becoming active again, he sponsored over Jae Joon Kim, Dan Bon number 38, who was in the Detroit area. I looked to him to be an instructor, but I couldn’t connect. There was something missing. Master C. I. Kim, probably the most deadly, proficient fighter in Tang Soo Do, he had the reputation, and it was the real thing. Every Korean that ever came over was a national champion. In Korea he would walk into a situation, it is almost like being the God father. If anybody had problems they would see him and he would walk in and it could be anybody, and they would back away because that is how awesome Master C. I. Kim was. So he was teaching in the Detroit area. I tried to train under him, again there was something missing, I couldn’t connect. So in 10 years I did a lot of cross training. I was never interested in rank but like in judo I wanted to learn how to throw and fall. In aikido I wanted to learn the rollingl and falls and joint grips. I wasn’t interested enough in training in these arts like a regular student. I was getting together with the instructors because we were all 2nd Dan and I was like the stylist and artist and back then it wasn’t so bad, as far as relationships. We were all friends. We would all get together, all of us instructors, all these styles, a couple times a month and we might be doing some jujitsu, this or that and we really had a nice thing, before everything started to be a competition everything. I tried Jae Joon Kim as an instructor. Although as fighter, or whatever you would want to call it, with all my cross-training, that was growing, but again, there is an emptiness, because I didn’t have an instructor and I wasn’t learning the Moo Do, of which I know now. But back then I did not know, especially Moo Do Shim Gung. I wasn’t disheartened, but was never happy. All these other arts, they all have their beauty and their quality and their proficiencies and whatever, but it really wasn’t fulfilling to me, and I wasn’t interested in other than learning the basic fundamentals, so that I could be a better fighter in case I ever went up against one of these guys.
In 1974 myself and my area sponsored the late Kwan Jang Nim for the very first tournament in the United States and it was held in our area. Actually it was held at the Lincoln Park Recreational Center, which is now Master Joshua Lockwood’s studio. We have pictures in the book. It shows all the people from all over the United States that came to this particular tournament. The late Kwan Jang Nim didn’t speak English, so he came and was accompanied by Kwan Jang Nim HC Hwang. It was the first time I had seen him then. Then again when I think back then, wow the Grand Master’s son, he’s got to “walk on water” and you know he’s going to do all these kind of things. You had no idea. Again Moo Do Shim Gung skill- fighting skills, kicking skills and whatever. He was the interpreter for the late Kwan Jang Nim. Master HC Hwang was going to demonstrate a form and I am thinking to myself, “Wow, I am going to see some spectacular thing that I have never seen before”. The Grand Masters son, he’s a Master. When he went on the floor and gave his demonstration was Kicho Hyung Il Bu… but by the time the man hit his first ki hap, I knew I had found my instructor. It was his spirit. By the time he got to technique #8, “Ki Hap!”, I knew in my heart that this was who I was looking for. So I went to him, and said, “ Would you be my instructor?”
SS: Where did he live?
RH: He was living in New Jersey. From that time on, he fulfilled everything, plus, things I couldn’t imagine back then. There are significant tests as you go through your ranks. The first big test was making that black belt, it’s a big deal. The second big test is making that 4th Dan, that red stripe, big deal. There is an interim one there. A 4th degree especially back then, you never referred to it. The culture was 4th & 5th degrees were considered Junior Masters. The 6th degree was considered a Senior Master. The way I learned that is back then there was a big conflict between Koreans, especially with the Americans. All of us have been burnt by someone, the Sang Kyu Shims and the Jae Joon Kims. Any of our seniors can tell you the same story, different names, and we didn’t trust, didn’t like most of them. That was because we were judging on our experiences. The Koreans that were over in our organization, I always felt they were kind of stand offish, when I was a 4th Dan, I was an American, didn’t mean diddly, when I was a 5th Dan same thing. When I was promoted to my 6th Dan, Master H. C. Hwang had some event in New Jersey, I went there and all these Koreans that were so far, so distant and had that wall, all of a sudden were coming up and hugging and back patting, and I’m going what the hell is going on here? The Administrator Natalie D’Alessio said, “Master Hanke, you look confused,” and I said “What is going on here? I’m being set up.” She said no. Of course, she worked with the Kwan Jang Nim. When I made that Senior Master, I was now accepted by them. That is one of those invisible laws. But again, going back to the beginning, your 1st Dan, your 4th Dan, then the next most significant is your 7th Dan, because that is your last physical test. When I tested for my 7th Dan, in Springfield, New Jersey, I tested under the late Kwan Jang Nim. Because you are a Ko Dan Ja, you know you have requirements and you have to do this and you have to do that, attending the Ko Dan Ja is never a problem with me, because I was at every one from the very beginning. To me, that’s the highlight of the year. It has always been that way. So we were at the gym or at the studio for my 7th Dan test and I was the only candidate, actually I was the first to ever be promoted to 5, 6th or 7th by the Kwan Jang Nim. So when I went for my 7th Dan test, I knew that I didn’t have to do the basics, the forms and like that. The Ko Dan Ja test got to the point where it was my time for my presentation. I got up went on the and then did my bowing, to Kwan Jang Nim and to Kwan Jang Nim. What would you like to demonstrate? I said “I would like to demonstrate Kicho Hyung Il Bu.” So I did Kicho Hyung Il Bu. When I got done I bowed and I was done, and that was my presentation. After that the late Kwan Jang Nim was talking to our current Kwan Jang Nim in Korean. Our current Kwan Jang Nim said to me, “The Kwan Jang Nim wants to know, why did you do that, why did you do that form?” I said, “ Sir that is how I met my instructor.”
That was followed by the Late Kwan Jang Nim and his wife at their home they had a special dinner for myself. That is probably one of my most fondest memories. (1:09:44
SS: Ohh…and how it came full circle. Perfect.
I’m blessed. I’ve always felt I’ve been blessed. A lot people don’t understand and never understood me, my history back in the beginning. Like the Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa, like I was the meanest ugliest…I mean people came in terror of me because I was helping and I was the senior, and I was at every one. What they didn’t understand was that one, there were no criteria, there were no scripts, the first Ko Dan Ja was only like 3 days, and that was the end of it. There was no sitting down and we are going to do this and we are going to do that. We had a class at 9 o’clock in the morning and after the classes were over the Kwan Jang Nim would go back and I would be living with the people but there was never any verbal guidance. The Kwan Jang Nim of course was the Senior, and so someone had to be… in the army they call it the DI. When you go to basic training, your officers are always respected people. It is that first Sergeant that takes you through basic training and beats you over the head with the pipe or whatever. That was my position. It was never my nature. Because I never really had guidance, you know from your experience in Ko Dan Ja, things would come up, now in the later years, the Ko Dan Ja candidates come, they come with a different attitude. Back then, the attitude was not a good attitude. If class was scheduled for 9:00, they might still be in the locker room at 9:15, 9:30, in street clothes. I had to be the DI. I had to take that position. The Grand Master didn’t, and I did it. My rule of thumb has always been that when the unexpected came up and decisions had to be made, if the Kwan Jang Nim was there, and then after he left if he wasn’t there, I would make a run of things a list, this is going on, or that’s going on, or I did this or I did that, hoping that I did the good thing and not the wrong thing.(1:12:45
My guiding and my motivation, because again, there was no instruction. Even the Kwan Jang Nim, we were all ad-libbing We were just creating this new thing. There still is, with some people, a lot of resentment because they misunderstood who I was and what I was. Whenever I had to make a decision, like I remember when Master Boussalaa, came for his masters testing, he couldn’t speak English. He had a gentlemen or one of his students with him that could speak English. Back then there was no observation of any Ko Dan Ja Class, no outside participation and even the final presentation, it was closed. We are hitting the wall in the middle of the week, the third day in Master Boussalaa came. I will never forget this. He came at 2 o’clock in the morning and said I am leaving. I said “why?” He said, “I don’t understand English, I don’t know what is going on out there. I don’t understand, and I think it is a waste of time and I can’t stand the politics.” Again, we had a lot of members that have recently left and some left long ago that were really not good people. Mr. Boussalaa said “I don’t know what is going on, I don’t understand what is going on.” But he could see and feel the politics. He was going home. He was quitting. Now it is about 2 o’clock in the morning, and I had to make one of those decisions, what will I do about this? Do I call up the Kwan Jang Nim and see he has left. All I said to Mr. Boussalaa through the interpreter is, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it, and you be there in the morning.” So then it’s, ok, now what do I do? (1:15:19)
Poor Master Kris Poole and his motor lodge. He happened to be walking by it’s about 3 o’clock in the morning now. I said Master Poole, can I talk to you? I said I had to run some things by him and I explained the situation. I said I have a choice I can call up the Kwan Jang Nim and ask him what to do at 4 o’clock in the morning, I had three options. I could just let him go, or I could make a decision to keep him. The decision I made in that what I told Mr. Boussalaa before he left, you come tomorrow and you have your Dan come with you to the Ko Dan Ja, so that when all the talking is going on he will be there to interpret for you. (The interpreter was not in the room. He was picking up only with feelings. ) (1:16:40)
What I told Mr. Boussalaa that tomorrow morning your interpretor can come into class with you. We are talking about a 2nd 3rd Dan coming to interpret. I threw those three options at Master Poole. I asked him what would he do? Oh I definitely would call the Kwan Jang Nim. I definitely wouldn’t let an outsider come in. I guess he is going to do whatever he is going to do. I used to sleep at headquarters.. I never stayed in a hotel. I stayed at the Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa. I just loved sleeping on the studio floor, or I used to have my van outside. So I went back to the studio. So now it is about 5 o’clock in the morning and know at 9 o’clock the Kwan Jang Nim is going to come walking in and his 3rd Dan is going to be there. I was meditating in the steam room. Ok Hanke, your either going to be ok or you are going to be a white belt. Because the tradition was.(1:18:05)
That is how I spent the night. What I’ve always used for my guiding, because again all I do is previous Ko Dan Ja. So it’s never we are making it up as we went. You never had to make a decision. I had a little simple trick I used for cleaning my mind. What would be the newer way. When I made my decision, it was ok Boussalaa would have his interpreter with him. Now I am faced with what is going to happen with the Kwan Jang Nim comes. At 9 o’clock in the morning I was ready to greet (the current) Kwan Jang Nim and of course Mr. Boussalaa was going to leave because he didn’t understand anything and………..I had invited an “outsider” in. The Kwan Jang Nim just looked at me and says oh, ok. That’s is exactly what I did. That was what all those previous Ko Dan Ja were.(1:19:34)
Whether I make wrong decisions or harsh decisions, there are things now that I wouldn’t do even if it was the same old days. But now we are living in a whole different world. Everybody is real. Back then, one or two out of 15 or 20. The rest were egotistical, self centered ugly people. (1:20:00)
So that takes us up to the 7th Dan.(1:20:06)
SS: Can I just go back and ask you about your Sa Dan Testing? The Sa Dan Testing was under ________________. I just went to his studio and I did one or two forms and that was it. The O Dan was the first one. The first testing under the Kwan Jang Nim.. Again, back then we all got up to about 4th Dans, one way or another. I am talking about the “old timers”. The Ko Dan Ja Shim Sha experience started, I don’t even know what year. Maybe the late 1970s or something. We would have to check the date when the first one happened. Even in Korea, once you made 4th Dan, you never had to test again. Your 4th Dan six years later, you were a 6th Dan. For those even our senior Koreans, there was no such thing as testing after you made 4th Dan. Being that I was at all of the Ko Dan Ja experiences and when my time was up, to me it was just another Ko Dan Ja thing, I’m there. All of a sudden it became required to physically attend Ko Dan Ja for your 6th and 5th Dan. Of course 6th Dan come rolling around and I am at them all. I got my promotion and then all Ko Dan Ja had to physically test, not for your 6th Dan. (1:22:06).
I think the late Kwan Jang Nim was kind of like “good idea.” So that was established up to the 6th Dan. So now there is a 7 year period which went by and of course I’m on the floor and I’m elated with what I did, other than that it was just like everything else. All of a sudden if you wanted to be a 7th Dan, you had to physically attend. I got a lot of resentment from the seniors. I understand. Up until then it was different. Now they were required to go on the floor, we are talking about the Ah Po’s and the Ferraro’s. We have to physically do the test. Oh I see. Yes you do. Why? Because that is tradition. It was only here in the United States, it wasn’t in Korea, it was because I did it, so hey, now I got a lot of resentment from our people. Of course the 8th Dan, that is not like you automatically made Dan, that is a very special thing. There is no physical requirement for that. Eventually honorary, because that means that it is not the same as earned. I see. There is a difference there. So you make your 8th Dan and then at the Kwan Jang Nim’s pleasure, whether he would give you that or not. Ah Po, he actually came and knew that there was no test for the 8th Dan. He came to the one Shim Sa up in your part of the country, and he actually came with this application for testing and all that. It was like he was trying to bully the Grand Master. Even now, if you’ve got your 8 years in, that don’t mean anything. If you don’t get the 8th Dan until either the Grand Master decides that he feels that is what should happen, and then his practice has always been, he will sit down with the SAC and ask all the SAC members. That is how Master Martinov made his 8th Dan. That was the cutting rod that made Andy split. Even though he tried to intimidate, buy it and enforce it, if you didn’t measure up to the Kwan Jang Nim’s standards. (1:25:24)
SS: What offices you held in the Moo Duk Kwan? You were a charter member?
RH: I started as a charter member and was appointed to the Board of Directors when it was first formed, I was appointed on the Board and then the TAC was formed. I was appointed on the TAC and then the SAC was created, I was on the SAC. (1:25:59)
SS: Any especially challenging times when you were in any of those offices?
RH: In the old days the Board of Directors was always challenging, because that’s is when we had a Board of 30 members, and a lot of them were Koreans, and they were all these people that eventually are gone. The Board of Directors meeting wasn’t a one hour conference on the phone once a month, or 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon. It was 14 hours on Saturday, things would get so heated, and I was caught up in one with a Master Lee from California, where they would be lying, doing things that we would literally be ready to go across a table and tear each others heads off. Then we would go back Sunday, for another 7 or 8 hours just to try to accomplish something. It was horrendous.
SS: Where were they held?
RH: Usually at headquarters, in Springfield, New Jersey. The workings and the structures and all that, I’ve done what I’ve done because of the request by the Kwan Jang Nim and my rank and status, but for me it was Ko Dan Ja and summer camps, that was what I lived and breathed for. Everything else I took in. (1:27:53)
I sat on the Board of Directors, and I’ve stood on the Board of Direct6rs when we’ve cut down 15 people, 5 appointed. Being that I’m not a politician, I speak straight, and that kind of goes completely against my nature, by nature I’m living out in the woods, so that whole structure to me is mind boggling stuff. We were at that time in a sticking point. There is a conflict what is the Board and what is the Tac and there is conflict between territory, we couldn’t get anything accomplished and I wasn’t qualified to be a politician. So what I did was I talk to the Kwan Jang Nim and said I would like to resign, because we all know Master Johnson, this is his specialty. I would like to resign and wholly recommend Master Johnson to fill my shoes, because that is what the Board needs, and that’s what I need. I need to get out of it. So that is when I left the Board.(*1:29:11)
The TAC, I was there until it came to the time where we had to open up to I call it, the original Tac, first generation. But, there came a time that we had to let the younger generation come up. So that was when Tac Sac was formed. Then we had second generation of Tac. Then in the last couple of years, we’ve created the Hu Kyun In, so we could take all those senior members, move them out of Tac. Sac is a very exclusive thing. It is very important to the Kwan Jang Nim who sits on the Sac. When Sac was formed that made room for the second generation, which was of course your husband, Master Mason, and all like that. Then it was time for them to move on, for the third generation, and right now what we now have is the third generation. What they are accomplishing is, whatever we are, the quality, whether it’s an event, a function, teaching a class, anything, the third generation is putting out a quality that it at least 500% better than the first generation Tac accomplishment and at least 100 or 200% more than the second generation, and that is the current Tac that we have now.(1:31:34)
As nature takes it course, already looking at whose is going to be in what kind of accomplishments is this fourth generation going to come up with? We have a beautiful future. In this particular event, I am watching the rings and I am watching everything going out there, it is like I’m just so happy. I can almost see perfection. Master Bartolacci says, no no, we can do better than that. It is just so well worth. It gives us so much to look forward to. I am watching little 5 year olds, and 7 year olds doing forms that I couldn’t do technically as good when I was a 1st and 2nd Dan. I am watching teenagers that are red belts and 1st Dan doing techniques, whether it is form or sparring combinations, I couldn’t do when I was a 5th Dan, nobody else could either. No matter what they think. It is just that growing, I am just so excited to see what the fourth and fifth generation of Tac going to create. It is just a beautiful thing. I am a very happy man.(1:33:01)
SS: What was your best time in the Moo Duk Kwan?
RH: I couldn’t answer that, because one my memory isn’t good enough, and we could probably write 2 or 3 books, there’s been so many, on something maybe so small an insignificant, to things that are mind boggling. I couldn’t do it.(1:33:44)
Just being here and seeing the fruits and being able to be with the Kwan Jang Nim and his wife and the family, and see all of our children. I am living in heaven.
SS.: Do you have a photograph or remember a photograph of a special moment for you? I have none. I was trained with Sang Kyu Shim back in 1962, I was a flyer. One of my specialties besides fighting, I call myself a flyer a “jump kicker”. When I was in high school, the only sport I got into was swimming and I was not good, but I was on the freshman diving team. So I knew how to jump. In 1962 or 1963 I got a picture of me doing a side jump kick against this Jim Young that we were talking about. He was throwing a punch and I did an E Dan Yup Podo Cha Gi, I got the picture hanging on my wall. That is my fondest memory, because I’m over his head kicking down. People still think it was trick photography. When I look at that picture it is like, hah, that is my most meaningful picture.(1:35:18)
SS: How about do you have a treasured item from your training?
RH: A treasured item. I have never been like a collector of too many things. I can’t think of anything that is really special. You get so many different things. Most of the treasured things I have are my plants. The inside of my house the inside of my studio, is nothing but plants. I don’t really know much about plants. I can’t tell you the names of them, I have a rough idea. Like in my studio, in my office, I have two ferns, they go up the wall to the ceiling and front of the studio and the front of the window, is just the hanging ferns. Those are my Keiko Mason plants. Whenever I would visit, when I was in Carlsbad visiting Master Mason, I was in her backyard, of course she has this beautiful Japanese garden, you ever wanted to see. In back of her house was just covered with this beautiful fern, so I would take cuttings wherever I would go, and I started from a cutting and now the front of my house is covered with a red honeysuckle. That is my Lisa Donnelly plant. I can’t tell you the name of my plant, but that is when I was in Florida visiting Master Donnelly. I took a cutting from her house and those are my treasures. They are living things and whenever I look at them I say, “that’s Keiko, that’s Lisa.” (1:37:50)
If you go to my studio, you wouldn’t think it was a karate studio. That is the front window and I have like a reception desk, and just like a little booth for my office, it is open. Across the wall and ceiling I have philodendrons and I love plants, to me it is living art. I’ve got about four or five philodendron plants and they are hanging. They are all along the walls to the floor, this is all you see. If you go to my house, you won’t see a picture on the wall, you will see philodendrons. You go into the bathrooms, philodendrons, you go in the laundry room, I have my plants, to me this is living art. Whenever I walk by there is nature. To me that is my living breathing art. That is my family, means life. (1:39:37)
Even at the Ko Dan Ja experience, you always see me somewhere during the training you will always see me going outside, a lot of people think it is for one thing or another, but actually it is for emptying my cup. For the pressures or whatever is happened, all I have to do is go outside and like I always did, walk along the building once and listen to some birds and see the rabbit and the trees or something, and then it’s just like one walk around the building and it is just like I had 20 hours sleep and I am all ready to go. That is what keeps me going. (1:40:14)
SS: I remember you liked Phoenecia.
RH: Phoenecia was very special , very strange, the witches (not our people) were having the coven and they were burning the candles and doing their ceremony, there were memories there that were unbelievable. That is why Ko Dan Ja and summer caps were some of my favorite times. In Ko Dan Ja I am in “Hanke Heaven” as I call it. Because that is all we are, we got the best of the best, the leaders are the best of the best and that is all we do for eight days, as you well know, 20 hours a days and in summer camps it is shorter, but it is always out in nature. Second heavy, if there is a “second heaven”. (1:41:20)
SS: When you first saw our founder, or met him what was your impression of him?
RH: The late Grand Master?
SS: Yes sir.
RH: Because I didn’t see him personally until after my bitter experiences with these other Koreans, I really didn’t know what to expect. As you know, he carries a charisma with him. When I first met him at the airport, it was the first time I seen him, it was like you know, I could almost see the love energy radiate from his body and he was so humble and there are no words to explain it, as you well know. He just carries as does our current Kwan Jang Nim. It is just beautiful. That was my impression, I was seeing this energy of love and whatever, and that kind of like made it all worthwhile, given all the negative Korean experiences we had. All of us had at that time. (1:42:58)
SS: Do you have a favorite story about you and our Founder or any time you spent with him?
RH: Yes I do. I last time I was with him. The last time I was with him was in Korea in Korean Shim Sa. Of course, I’m sitting at the table and I happen to be sitting on his right, the Kwan Jang Nim was on his left. As the Shim Sa was going on, we are sitting there, he reached over and took my hand and for half an hour he just held me hand. That was the last time I was with him, but it wasn’t a hand squeeze, it was just he held my hand under the table, and for half and hour he just held my hand and looked over and smiled once in a while and it was like moving, you can see. Don’t tell the other people, they think I’m “hard as nails”, if they see the tears, they will loose respect for me. (1:44:53)
SS: Besides our Founder and our current Kwan Jang Nim, if you had to choose a memorable person out of all the people you have met who would you pick and why?
RH: That question is almost impossible to answer. I could talk about Master Martinov, I could talk about Master Mason, I could talk about anybody just name them. I just couldn’t. They are all so special, because they are all such individual entities, and they all have their special charisma, their special thing. I would be hard pressed to add anyone other than the Kwan Jang Nim to stand out. With most of them we had the good times and the bad times. The bad times were at the beginning of the Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa formation and I had to carry the hammer. There was a lot of confusion and a lot of hate. The things flashing through my head right now, is like Master Kenyon, Sr. I remember when he was trying to do what he could do in California, which was under Master Ah
Po and he (Ah Po) was like attacking him in anyway that he could. On more than one occasion, he was almost ready to go and hand master Ah Po his head. Daymon has always been that special. At an event at the old school, we are not talking about this is when he was on Mountain Ave, his studio. I remember, I don’t think it was a Ko Dan Ja testing, but I knew Daymon’s father quite well, as a few others, Kwan Jang Nim was teaching a clinic and it was time for free sparring-“any volunteers”. I think my hand was up one second ahead of Fred Kenyon so the both of us stood up, of course all I knew about Fred Kenyon was that he was from California. We sparred. Later he took ill, passed on and I always considered Daymon like my little brother. As of course he was under the Kwan Jang Nim’s wing, the Kwan Jang Nim was doing a lot of traveling, especially out of the country, and I wasn’t there. I knew Daymon was going with the Kwan Jang Nim, I was very comfortable. Daymon would bring so much back then, I was just like, “I am blessed because I can’t answer that question.”(1:49:48)
SS: What is your favorite area to teach?
RH: Moo Pahl Dan Khum that was given to us by the Kwan Jang Nim in 1984. When you are young, you are physical. As I said before, I was always looking for that hidden key-Nirvana, if you want to call it that. Then as I learned, because there are no books on this subject, I have only had one or two comments from the Kwan Jang Nim over all these years, as far as what it is and what your teaching. So I would practice and nature would teach me. Whatever nature taught me from that experience, it would just grow and grow to where it is now. I am at a place in my life now where after all these years I call it “in my world”. In my world, inside of me, the Moo Pahl Dan Khum is the most significant. Whether it is to learn basics, I’ve had a couple of knee surgeries and I had the motorcycle injury, it is not all that many years ago. I had 6 major ribs, the top ribs and scapula, fractured. I had to go to the doctors and all that. With the knee and I would go to the specialists. I would go in and usually you don’t see him until 2 or 3 weeks. After you get out of the emergency you have to go to your doctor. The doctor would be expecting a 62 year old man coming in that was about to crash and all humble and all like that. I would go walking in and the doctor says “Are you Mr. Hanke?” He is looking at the x-rays and he’s showing me. “Let’s see your range of movement” and I can do this and I can do that. The doctor was so overwhelmed with what I could do and what is already healed, he says you just had this accident a couple of weeks ago, and I can see the bones are mending. Well what do you do? I said I do Soo Bahk Do. He said what is that? He wanted to joint a club, but because he was a doctor, he was on the other side of town it never happened.(1:52:59)
This is tangible proof of the power of the self healing and the longivity. You’ve got to remember, what is the purpose of the martial arts? Rejuvenation, prolonging life. When I went to my second set of xrays, a month or two after the first set, you could look at one that he said was advanced here, I didn’t know. I just saw the pictures. Then he put the second picture up and the injury was gone. He is saying well what can you do now? I could do everything. The prognosis on my knee, because I had the major surgery, I got pins, they did the whole thing. I said to the doctor then, what is my prognosis. He says may be in 2 or 3 years you might get 70-80% of your range of motion, and then as you get older, you’ve got to remember I’m going on 66 in a couple of weeks, you will have to look forward to arthritis, bursitis and all like that. So when I was going for physical therapy, in a very short time I went to the doctor, I’m going to the physical therapist. They are saying I can only do this, I can only do that. He knew I was doing Tang Soo Do at the time, so he said so you just do whatever you want, don’t worry about my physical therapist. Then then there is a period of time and the last time I went to see him I went into the office. “Mr. Hanke how are you doing?” I said fine sir. On the wall he had the coat rack. Well sir my right leg I can only do this, (demonstrates his flexibility), I can do this and this and with the left leg I can only do this, and only do this. He just looked at me and said hey, if you ever need me give me a call. (1:55:29)
In the training of our healing art, I have had these doctors just look at me and be completely blown away from all their medical knowledge, the healing and all that. Moo Pahl Dan Khum, that is great. Whether I’m 66 or may live to be 100. That is a little bet I have with the Kwan Jang Nim, because we know in time the Kwan Jang Nim, as we all do, we pass on. We hope the 3rd generation of TAC. If something would happen with the Kwan Jang Nim, God forbid, what would happen to us? What would happen to all the work? History, from the beginning of time-When the leaders go, the style goes. This had happened in all your Okinawan and all your martial arts. When the leader goes the organization splits apart, falls apart. That is the biggest concern the past and present Kwan Jang Nim have. We know where we are at now, but the reality is, it is going to take another generation or two to learn if we are going perpetuate. In the history of all martial arts, when the senior goes or the creator goes the organization splits apart, the system goes. So we know at least 20 or 25 more years of the Kwan Jang Nim’s presence and guidance in our growth. We used to say the last 200 years, but lately we have it up to 1000 years. I made a pact with the Kwan Jang Nim, he is my junior. He is only going to turn 60. I am 66. Kwan Jang Nim let’s make a pact, I’ll stick around until I’m 100, and I made this pact a few years ago, we will just round figure it. I’ll stick around God willing, until I’m 100 to help support and grow the art so you can’t die before me because I am older than you and I’ll be here until I’m 100 and once I turn 100, with the way the world and chaos and the ugliness of the word, and it is really getting ugly, then when I turn 100 I will look around and decide is there an after life, because I am curious about that. Is there a heaven or hell? Is there reilncarination? Back in the 1970s I was studying religions and theologies. My thesus was comparative religion through history. I can give you the history of how every kind of a church or a religion started, that was what my thesus was. It is all done in faith. Once I turn 100 maybe I might decide to see if there is another world. He can’t die before me. So that gives us another 36 years of the Kwan Jang Nim’s guidance, otherwise I’m going to be real mad at him, if he goes before me. He broke the pact and I’ll be real mad at him. (2:00:36)
SS: As a senior, what do you feel the most important thing a senior can contribute to the juniors?
RH: As we said when the late Kwan Jang Nim would walk into a room, or whenever he did anything, this was the epitome as our Kwan Jang Nim, is the epitome of what our art is. I feel that myself and everyone else and the higher their rank the more it is their requirement, to demonstrate by our actions the epitome of what it is to be the Moo Duk Kwan.(2:09:48)
SS: If you were going to give advise to a practitioner, what would be the best advice you would give them?
RH: If they are children they would be white belts.
Children by age, children by art. Keep it very basic and simple. If they are Masters, Senior Masters, then my expectations or hopes for them is to naturally grow from the physical to the internal Neh Gung to the spiritual. It is all inner related. The Neh Gung and the Shim Gung for us seniors, our future is in our physical abilities or our presence. You look at Master Seiberlich. Have you ever seen a healthier looking 70 year old than Master Martinov? You look at Master Seiberlich, he actively plays handball , national competition. I don’t think I look so bad myself. The reality is now I spend probably 90% of my training time-I literally try to train 24 hours a day-my major focus is in the Neh Gung Shim Gung. The Neh Gung Shim has taught me Moo Pahl Dan Khum, they are connected. The last because both of my knees, I was never known as a kicker. I never had the flexibility and I never had the range in motion. In the last 3 months, my legs and my kicking as I just demonstrated, are effortless. I couldn’t do that 6 months ago. So this rumor, this fallacy, that as you get older, just accept that your body is going to deteriorate, is not true. My legs, my kicking, my personal techniques, again as it is already written in the Song of the Sip Sam Seh, if it is done correctly all will appear effortless. Again, I have the living proof. It is just so highly motivational for me. I am actually a recluse. I go home I don’t visit, I don’t shop, I don’t go anywhere, except to meet with the Kwan Jang Nim. But other than that, I am a total recluse. In the old days, I would be one of the guys living up in the mountains. People and negative energy distract me and and upset me. If I am upset, you know, it disturbs the pure energy. I will not allow a negative energy in my house. I just won’t allow it. At the studio I have to deal with the students and parents and all that, but I am the most happiest at my studio, when I’m there alone. It is my second home. (2:05:39)
Because I have Master Zickafoose and Master Lockwood and Mrs. Lockwood, they do most of the teaching, when they come and the people start coming, I go home. I go into my yard, I go into my cave, because my world is the world of pure high energy and love. Anything negative from other people you say you grew a thick skin, my skin is getting thinner. Because I am so attuned with nature and love, that anything that is contrary to that, it just like the emotional or physical trauma for me. So I just stay in my world and pursue this road I am on, and I don’t know where it is going. I don’t know where the end is. I don’t know. But I know that every day I am learning so much. In Soo Bahk Do, the people really understand and have the time and dedication. When I say that, what I mean is people have jobs, they have families, obligations and interest, I don’t-I am totally focused on the Neh gung Shim Gung. I was pushing Shim Gung for awhile, but I found that I am not ready for it. For me, to obtain wherever that direction goes, again, you literally you have to live in a perfect environment with no negative energy. I am not ready to leave friendships. Even coming to these events is a big trauma for me. To have me go to the airports and even being at the events. For a day or two I am fine. Ko Dan Ja too, for a day or two I am.fine. But after that, I start having this magnetic draw, go back to your world. I am not ready to give that up. It is really hard on my personal relationship with my lady, because thankfully she is understanding. I live in a whole different world and the world is inside. It is hard to explain. I was talking to Master Pryor just yesterday. We were talking about professional studios and how my studio it barely pays its own way. Most of the time I work side jobs to pay the rent and pay my personal bills. I am lucky I don’t need the money, other than food and clothing. There is no way. Even with the Kwan Jang Nim, I can’t explain it. It is that personal and private so you can call it selfish. All I know it is my world and I’m going to stay in it every chance I get and let it show me whatever it is. I’m at my best when I don’t think. I just respond. Then you go into a little psychic, psychic energy, premonitions, and all these different things, I studied all that. I used to teach mental telepathy and all these psychic things. You come to me with something, what I realize is that I don’t think, I just respond. If I think about it , I would probably give you the wrong answer. If I just spit out the first thing that comes that comes into my mind, and as I leave you will be saying, oh wow, this or that. What you don’t know is I’m leaving and replaying it in my mind, and it is like wow. That was neat, that was profound. I’m a good student. I love it. It is only when I think that I get in trouble. (02:10:30)
SS: Just a kind of final question. What would you like people to know about you or how would you like to be remembered?
RH: Years ago, at one of the Ko Dan Jas Shim Sa, when Kwan Jang Nim took out the first volume of the Kwan Jang Nim’s book, where it has a picture of all those new students. We were sitting and he was going over the pictures and I forget what the guy’s dan bon number was, the Kwan Jang Nim’s comment was “he was the most loyal dedicated student the late Kwan Jang Nim had.” That is how I want to be remembered . (2:11:55)