Ever Ask Yourself? How Do the Masters Train?

We know the process in our martial art Soo Bahk Do®, how to achieve our "Master Level" or "Ko Dan Ja"... the eight day process is our "Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa."  A remarkable tradition of our Moo Duk Kwan® Organization, and at one time unique to our style and organization.  Originally initiated by our Founder, Hwang Kee in December 1983. Our Founder, Hwang Kee organized and attended the first week-long Ko Dan Ja test.  Since 1983, there has been an annual Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa Experience in various locations throughout the United States and in many countries abroad, including South Korea, Mexico and South America. Yes, it is now copied by other organizations, in various ways.

According to Ted Mason, Sa Bom Nim, former Chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee, “Testing for Sa Dan and above was conducted at Regional Dan Testing until December 4, 1983 when it was extended to a week of testing and held at Headquarters in Springfield New Jersey. Since that time, a week long “Kodan Ja Shimsa” has been held every year. The number of candidates has grown from the four that tested at the first “Kodanja Shimsa Week” to 44 Candidates in 1998.” (source: US Federation History, Wiki Site, Nov 2005)

The Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa has been described as a comprehensive examination where …

“Potential masters must successfully complete an eight-day examination that tests not only the physical aspects of the art but also the character of each candidate”

(by Greg Ryman, Editor in Chief, Tae Kwon Do Times, July 2004, Vol. 24, No. 4, issue 140), from the article, “Ko Dan Ja, Eight-Days to Master” (Copyright 2004, by Tri-Mount Publications Inc., All rights reserved.)

After a candidate successfully completes a Ko Dan Ja evaluation, they are awarded their Master level and/or their Sa Bom (certified instructor) level. The training and the evaluations don’t stop there, it continues on a recurring basis through training in all the regions. The Kwan Jang Nim holds monthly training classes for Ko Dan Ja, for any Ko Dan Ja who wants to attend at Federation Headquarters. Below are some recent pictures from Ko Dan Ja training at Federation Headquarters.

One of the initiatives that various regions in the USA continue to maintain is their "regional Ko Dan Ja training."  While I can only speak of my experience in Region 2 of the US Federation, hopefully I can paint a realistic picture of the training that is available to "master level" practitioners.  Our regional examiners, sit down and coordinate annual regional

training.  These training dates can be monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc.  In Region 2, this occurs not only on a weekly basis at our HQ at the "famous" Springfield Do Jang, where on every Tuesday and Thursday evenings, region 2 Ko Dan Ja meet to train.  Sometimes these training sessions are conducted by our Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang, whenever he is available.  Often, there are always "special guests" who drop in to supplement and share their training experiences with the class, see below a recent photo of special visitors to the "Springfield Do Jang."

At the "Springfield Do Jang"... l to r: Chang, Kwon, Kwan Jang Nim, Chung, and Bonsignore Sa bom Nims.

There is also dan member regional training sessions, here is a photo of the first "regional dan member" training class for 2015.


On top of the weekly class opportunities available to any Ko Dan Ja who visits to attend, the regional examiners hold monthly Ko Dan Ja training sessions that are also open to Sam Dan members training to become masters.  Below are some recent photos of a "regional training" class that was held at Frampton's Karate in New Windsor, New York.  Local studio owners volunteer to host the "regional training" throughout Region 2.  The photos are courtesy of Ed Frampton, Sa bom Nim, who has provided his services as a former "regional examiner" for many years in Region 2.  His photographic talent has been seen world wide through the internet on Facebook, including his wonderful and inspiring photos of wild life in the Hudson Valley of New York.

PIctured above is Frank Bonsignore Sa Bom Nim, Pahl Dan, Hu Kyun In Member and original Charter member of the US Federation. He volunteers his time to help conduct training classes on a regular basis throughout Region 2, and holds regular classes at the Springfield Do Jang when the Kwan Jang Nim is not available.
The "Traditional" group class pictured of the most recent regional Ko Dan Ja training sponsored by Ed Frampton, Sa Bom Nim who is seated to the right of Bonsignore Sa Bom Nim (seated in the center).

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Hopefully through these photographs and a short summary, I've answered the question, "how to do the masters train?"  One of the unique things about our martial art based on the philosophy of Moo Do ... is to be able to maintain "consistency"... not only in our display of technique but also in the consistency of maintaining "high standards"... Sun Sok Me... Line, Speed, Beauty.

As Ko Dan Ja members and Dan members, we... represent the art, we... represent our Moo Duk Kwan® organization, and we will continue to train into the future to maintain the high standards that have been set by our Kwan Jang Nim, H.C. Hwang and our Founder, Hwang Kee.

Be where the art is...  TRAIN!




  • 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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