I started in Chinese Kenpo when I was 15 (1972) in Sacramento CA. My first instructor was Bruce Juchnik, now of Kosho-Ryu fame. At that time he was teaching a variation of Tracy’s Kenpo, though not under the Tracy’s franchise system. I was well into working on my purple belt when I had to stop studying due to finances. But my foundation in the arts is Kenpo, through and through. It has had a positive effect on every art I have ever studied or taught.
I pressed on, dabbling in whatever else I could link up with until I entered the USAF in mid-‘74. At the various bases I was stationed I sought out, through the base recreation centers or word of mouth, whatever was available in Chinese systems at that particular location. As such I became a student of a few different arts. The ones that affected my martial arts thinking and execution the most during that period were Won Hop Kuen Do (Al Decasco’s derivative of Kajukenbo); Sil Lum Gung Fu and Wing Chun Gung Fu under Sifu Dave Lopez; and Five Animal System Gung Fu.
In late ’76 I received orders to Kunsan AB, South Korea. Knowing that I was going to an area with a rich martial arts tradition, I was in a quandary because I wanted to stick with primarily Chinese methods in my training. About a month before deploying I saw a little movie called “Billy Jack”. Terrible movie, no plot to speak of, terrible acting, but terrific martial arts sequences. I found out that the art being shown was a Korean art known as Hap Ki Do. I sought out that art when I arrived and remained in Hap Ki Do for over 20 years. My instructor in Korea was Mr. Song Hun Pak, his instructor was Mr. Bong Soo Han of Billy Jack fame. I left Korea as a 1st Dan and remarkably when the plane landed in San Francisco, I was still a 1st Dan. I understand that’s not always the way it has worked over the years. I contacted Mr. Bong Soo Han when I returned stateside and received written permission to teach Hap Ki Do as I saw fit, even though I was only a 1st Dan at the time. Over the years I have studied and taught the Wae Moo Kwan and Sun Moo Kwan methods of Hapkido.
Though teaching Hap Ki Do at various military bases, I continued to experiment with other arts. While stationed in upstate New York I became lifelong friends with a fellow aviator and martial artist and studied with him. He was a 2nd Dan in the Chuck Norris UFAF organization and practiced Norris’ version of Tang Soo Do. When transferred to California I established the Merced Hapkido Academy, teaching primarily active duty service personnel.
After leaving the military I dabbled in TKD for a short time down in Tampa, Florida. I then moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to pursue seminary studies to enter Christian ministry. While in seminary I purposefully set aside the martial arts to focus on my studies. That 2 ½ years is the only gap in my training and teaching. After graduation I accepted a pastorate in Eastern North Carolina. In the church I pastored were some practitioners in Shito Ryu. Discussing the arts with them rekindled my desire to resume training and teaching. It was also at that time that I began to feel a pull back toward Kenpo. It seemed to me to be unfinished business in my martial arts journey. I began to seek out local Kenpo instructors and came across Darrell Lee, a student of Professor Terry Rich and a local police officer. Unfortunately, before I could begin my formal studies in Kenpo once again, my pastorate in that location came to an end.
After returning to Raleigh, I continued looking for qualified, local Kenpo instructors but to no avail. Professor Rich’s school was too far away for regular study based on my job situation at the time. It was then I learned of the Karate Connection Distance Learning program. Frankly, I was very skeptical at first. I thoroughly researched Chuck Sullivan and Vic LeRoux, their relationship with Ed Parker, as well as the IKCA system itself. I decided to give it a shot and thus began a relationship that continues to this day. The IKCA system itself is a solid system, huge on insuring the fundamentals of good Kenpo are present all the way to Black Belt. I am currently privileged to be one of two individuals granted the recognition of being an instructor in the IKCA’s Distance Learning Program.
Currently my martial arts plate is pretty full:
Founder/Owner of Triangle Kenpo Institute, IKCA affiliated school.
Staff Instructor, IKCA Chinese Kenpo Distance Learning Program.
Chinese Kenpo Technical Advisor, Goldade Kajukenbo Ohana
Now, I’m privileged to be asked to be an advisor for UMASDA