Women in the World Moo Duk Kwan - Jenn Gibbons Dan # 32238 Yuk Dan

An Interview With Jenn Gibbons Sa Bom Nim

What is your current rank, title and lineage?

Dan # 32238
Yuk Dan/ Sa Bom
US TAC Ki Sul Bu
Jeff Moonitz Sa Bom Nim #17650 Hu Kyu In, is my instructor.
Victor Martinov Sa Bom Nim #10189 SAC was his instructor.

Please give us a brief timeline... What led to your journey in the art?

Growing up in the small mountain town of Aspen, Colorado, life involved all things team sports and the major influence was my father. He had a long successful career. All-American, Hall of Fame, National Champions with Iowa Hawkeyes to the NFL for 11 years with the Detroit Lions and a 3 time All-Pro football player. I was determined to follow his footsteps somehow athletically and deep down felt disappointing to be involved in women's sports after High School. It was, however, exciting and fun to focus on teaching skiing in a world class ski resort party town. Moving through my twenties, with so much freedom, this path was steering me towards unhealthy habits, so I took advice and encouragement, and September 26, 1989, walked in the Rocky Mountain Martial Arts door. This forever makes that date far more than just my Dad's birthday.
This was the coolest thing I ever experienced... The mat, the uniforms, the lines, the energy created by these gorgeous men, (there were only two women training at the time). It quickly became apparent that every individual was on their own path and yet connected through the same process. The art provoked a full expression of myself as it embraced and encouraged who I was as an athlete and woman. Peaceful confidence took hold as I realized I had nothing to prove and so much to learn. It was all guided discovery and training a vehicle to become more of the person with strong values I strived to become.
The Moo Duk Kwan is absolutely a place for women to give and gain support. The only requirement is effort. Before long, over half the enrollment was women. It was awesome to witness and our leader was/is Jeff Griggs Sa Bom Nim. Together, he cultivates and we support a high percentage of active women leaders in the Moo Duk Kwan. His students, Sue Fittanto Sa Bom Nim currently serves the Youth Leadership council, Financial Board, is a TAC assistant and has her own school, a branch of the Rocky Mountain Martial Arts in New Castle, Colorado partnered with Cyndi Speedy Kyo Sa Nim, Region 8 accountant. Jen Rupert Sa Bom Nim is on the finance committee, serves as secretary of the Board of Directors and represents Region 8. It is an honor to train next to these women every Monday. Most importantly, the friendships that come from all these years of training are treasured. We share in gratitude, making a small part of the history of women in the Moo Duk Kwan.

Can you please give an order of your participation?

Train, assist classes, assist events, teach classes, support the leadership, attend every Gup Shim Sa at RMMA, all Regional events, every Nationals, represented US/Euro Goodwill Championships, Brussels,Belgium (2001), participated at the 50th, 60th & 65th Moo Duk Kwan celebrations in Korea. Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa visitor/facilitator (2006 thru present), Regional Examiner Region 8 (2005-2011), First and only woman to attend the 1st Korean Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa (Sa Dan/Sa Bom candidate) (2002). Da Doon Mountain. TAC appointments (2011-present). Studio owner since Moonitz SBN retired (2018 - present).

How do you feel female practitioners can best support and encourage each other to grow in the art?

The best way is to train next to each other. Look for opportunities in your community, start women's self defense programs, volunteer for projects to make regional events more special and connect with each other. Support National and International demonstrations. Being part of the first all women Adult Team Hyung Champions 1997 in Cherry Hill NJ gave us great motivation beyond ourselves to get together. Winning was a bonus but it was the training together I fondly recall the most. We rallied each other to travel to events. We extended our trips to include memorable adventures. Most of all, open your heart to each other and know we are stronger together.

How has the art changed compared to when you first began your journey?

The art has evolved!! It is a living art. The source, Kwan Jang Nim HC Hwang, is available and busy passing down valuable knowledge from his father, the founder, to grow the art. Every detail we receive is an important small stepping stone to improve human relations and our connection to nature. We have a lot of work to do and must pay attention to the slightest change. The Sip Sam Seh, Shim Gung, Neh Gung and Weh Gung applied to every action and the 5 Moo Do Values have provided a clear picture of who we are and how we approach interaction. We are practicing an Action/Philosophy.
The art of Soo Bahk Do, once dominated by tough men who could give and take a beating, is now a kinder and gentler art and by no means is this a sign of weakness. We move more naturally and it has become a much more effective art. The enrollment is also dominated by children. They are the next leaders and need our support to train through to adulthood and secure the future of our art . We live in an evolved culture where traditions and patience are fading. We best continue to work together and find new ways to maintain the art's relevance and draw attention to the value of training in the Moo Duk Kwan and take care of each other and our family's art.

What does it mean to you to have a "beginner mind" and on what occasion did you experience it?

Cho Shim is a concept highlighted by Kwan Jang Nim at the 2019 Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa & Moment with the Masters event. It means to activate and carry the feeling and excitement into your training that you felt when you first began. Just as you turn on your Shim Gung (mental and spiritual focus), Cho Shim brightens the awareness and eager attention to every aspect of the lesson. It sets aside the ego and opens the heart to remember how exciting it is to train next to friends and share the experience. Respond to every instruction like it is all yours regardless of who it was intended for. This action/philosophy is brought to the surface of my attention every day as an intentional starting point.

Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to the next opportunity to share the art.

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  • Roberto Bonefont

    Began training in 1967 at the age of 16, as a member of the Brooklyn Highland Park Y.M.C.A., under the guidance and training of Mr. Mike Masley, Jr., Dan Bon 10180, and tested for Cho Dan on June 18, 1969.  Now a certified 4th Dan Ko Dan Ja, and was issued his original testing date Dan Bon 13927 by Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang based on his petition to honor that date and evidence showing Mr. Mike Masley and his instructors,  Mr. Robert Sohn, Dan Bon 6037 and Mr. Vincent Nunno, Dan Bon 7291, were legitimate representatives of the Founder, and Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee and the Korean Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Association in 1969.

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