WOMEN IN THE MOO DUK KWAN® - Pioneer Women of the Moo Duk Kwan, Past, Present and Future

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Pioneer Women of the Moo Duk Kwan®Past and Present and Future. 

For those who don't know, the Women in the Moo Duk Kwan® Facebook group in support of the Heritage Program,  is an initiative and idea that comes from Kyo Sa Nim Carly Burris, Sam Dan.  Her Dan Bon is 29790.  She is currently a loyal student and practitioner of Jared Rosenthal, Sa Bom Nim, representing Oregon Moo Duk Kwan®   Thank you Kyo Sa Nim for your idea and initiative to action. Kamsahamnida.

Click on the logos below to be linked to this group site on Facebook.

We have been recognizing International Women’s Day, really one day is not enough.  How does the saying go?  Behind every man is great woman?  Well, I may have misquoted here, but certainly it is a truism that exists in many of our lives.  Maybe its "A man with dreams needs a woman with vision." The Moo Duk Kwan has not been any different.  In my bias opinion, I would consider one of the most influential women in the Moo Duk Kwan, Mrs. Hwang Kee, Cho Kyung Kap (maiden name).  The photo below was taken in 1979.  

There are many current World Moo Duk Kwan members who have had the honor of meeting the Founder‘s wife, prior to her passing.  I unfortunately never had the opportunity to be in her presence.  There are countless testimonies that I have read about and heard about her never-ending contributions as a supportive wife, supporting Mother, and supporting many of the activities for the Moo Duk Kwan.  Many of the photos you can find of her sitting at many international and national events at her place of honor next to our Founder.  


But there are also other women in the Moo Duk Kwan.  In the 1950’s as the Moo Duk Kwan became more popular and influential in South Korea, its birthplace; there are photos and Black and White video of women participating in demonstrations organized by our late great grandmaster Hwang Kee.  One such example is the International demonstration that was held in Seoul, South Korea, between China, USA and South Korea.  There is a video (below) where you can see a young female (probably red belt) practitioner demonstrating Kyo Pa. 





This Black and white newsreel, was done by the National Korean Press in the November 1957 during the 12th Anniversary demonstration done between the U.S., Korea, and China.

In this other photo, (below) a MDK demonstration done for the military in South Korea, you can see what appears to be a young female gup member standing in the front line.   I have no evidence to say that it is, just appears to be.   

There are also several short video clips of a training film in the late 60’s according to our current Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang.  In the videos, all linked above; you can see a dan member identified on a glass slate using during the filming to describe the dan members demonstrating.  The young Dan female member is identified on the slate as Kim Su Hi.  But Kwan Jang Nim corrected her name for me, as Kim Soo Hi (Hee).  However, after searching the Kwan Jeok Bu, could not find her dan bon (dan number).  He believes that her name may be spelled incorrectly.  The Kwan Jang Nim does not believe anyone of these two female members were the first female MDK member.  By the late 50's, there were many female practitioners in the Moo Duk Kwan in Korea. 

The background concerning this Black and White film project, was the idea of Master Dale Drouillard, 757, who went back to Korea to finance the filming of the project.  Master Jae Joon Kim, 38, organized the filming.  At the time, the current Kwan Jang Nim said, he was not aware of the project, until he was asked to show up and demonstrate.  The purpose of the project was to take the film to the U.S. and be shared with other Moo Duk Kwan dan members. 

In these videos (above), she performs Kyo Pa, demonstrating a Pyong Ahn form, and some E Dan Jok Gi (jump kicks), and seen free sparring with another dan male member.   Below is a still picture taken of the video.  

After the 1960’s, considered the Prime Time of the MDK, and when the art was brought to the USA by military members and into the 1970s, many women continued to walk into many do jang throughout the U.S. and don a do bok for training in the Moo Duk Kwan, first as Tang Soo Do practitioners and then as the name change took place, as Soo Bahk Do practitioners.   

Here are just a few of the early Tang Soo Do/Soo Bahk Do practitioners.  Note:  the name change to Soo Bahk Do occurred in South Korea in 1960.  I can only verify that in the New York Moo Duk Kwan Association, the name Soo Bahk Do was used on our ID cards, that we received during promotions.  However, we were still calling the art Tang Soo Do.  The US Federation name changed occurred in August 1996.   

The photo below shows Yeon Tae Kim #14351, seated next to then H.C. Hwang Sa Bom Nim, (at that time) during a meeting of the Korean leadership in the U.S. in July 1980, in World Ko Dan Ja meeting in Newark, NJ. Based on her dan bon, she probably reached Cho Dan during the late 60’s or early 70s.  However, I am not aware of her last dan rank.  During this picture, we know she was not a Ko Dan Ja member.  She later left the Moo Duk Kwan.  

She was recently recognized as a Tang Soo Do Contributor during the Virtual 75th Anniversary of the Moo Duk Kwan.


Mary Ann Walsh, Sa Bom Nim 

Mary Ann Walsh, Sa Bom Nim, was an 8° dan, #17926, the highest rank ever reached by a female in our organization. Several years after she passed away, she remained famous for her ability to find the most accurate words in certain occasions.  “Show up, Line up, Shut up!”  Her famous words of encourage to Ko Dan Ja candidates.  She also served in many positions for the US Federation including TAC, and BOD for the Federation in the U.S. 

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Above: Photo taken in 1975 at the Mountain Ave NJ Do Jang

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Keiko Mason, Sa Bom Nim 

Keiko Mason, Sa Bom Nim, Chil Dan #19023, Age 85, passed away peacefully in her sleep on December 15, 2020, due to health issues.

The Mason Family has been providing quality instruction in Soo Bahk Do/Tang Soo Do to North County San Diego since 1968 at Carlsbad Soo Bahk Do.

Keiko Mason, Sa bom Nim, #19023, taken in 1979. 

A dedicated and fierce supporter of the Moo Duk Kwan and the U.S. Federation for decades.  Her service to the Moo Duk Kwan has provided a positive and strong role model for Women in the Moo Duk Kwan, around the world.  She attained great success as an instructor and a Moo Do In role model for her own children, as well as every person she met during her Moo Do career.

Joyce Keyes, Sa Bom Nim 

1975 charter convention shows Joyce Keyes #19448 Sitting last on the left. 


Susan Robin Watkins, Sa Bom Nim #19459

Below Susan Robin, Sa Bom Nim, 19459, far right, was a dynamic competitor in the U.S. Federation, running her do jang in Princeton, NJ. Below second from the left is Brenda Mason, #19515, daughter of Ted Mason and Keiko Mason, Sa Bom Nim.


Below is Susan Robin and Linda Morey at their Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa at MDK HQ

Linda Morey, Sa Bom Nim, #20742 at a Dan class below.

Marlene Kachevas, Sa Bom Nim #20786

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Today is Sa Bom Nim Marlene Kachevas's 30th Anniversary of her dojang opening in Lakewood, OH.

Congratulations on 30 years of quality-without-compromise instruction, staying true & loyal to her roots, & upholding the highest ideals of the Moo Duk Kwan as a student and a teacher.

Congratulations and Soo Bahk!

Sa Bom Nim Kachevas was born in Dubuque, Iowa, and graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in 1974.
After graduation, she moved to Santa Barbara, California and began her training under Sa Bom Nim Jeong Sook Lee on April 5, 1976. While in Santa Barbara, she became Master Lee’s first female blue belt. In 1979, she worked as an Assistant Instructor at J.S. Lee’s International Martial Arts and Fitness Center in Seattle

The photo below shows Jong Sook Lee (1370) and Marlene Kachevas (#20786) are with the founder during a visit to Santa Barbara, CA.

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First Region 5 Examiners , with Sa Bom Nim Hanke, Sa Bom Nim Marlene Kachevas # 20786, and Sa Bom Nim John Johnson # 20510

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Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa 1989  Shown Lois Roccado, Sa Bom Nim, #20570 (RIP) and  Sandra Russell, Sa Bom Nim #21351, Linda Morey, Sa Bom Nim #20742


Lisa Kozak, Sa Bom Nim # 23540

A dynamic and powerful Ko Dan Ja, brought the art and the Moo Duk Kwan to light on one of their local TV stations with a memorable on camera demonstration in 1985 (linked below) and explanation of the Art and the Moo Duk Kwan.  She has been a leader in the US Federation and continues to support the Moo Duk Kwan through her teaching and action.  Lisa Kozak served as one of Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang’s appointed representatives on the Technical Advisory Committee Neh Gong Bu.

Region 5 Inductee into the Cleveland Martial Arts Hall of Fame - Lisa Kozak, Sa bom Nim

Lisa Donnelly, Sa Bom Nim # 23279   

Former Owner-Chief Instructor at N. Marion Soo Bahk Do (Tang Soo Do) in Florida.  Lisa Durfee Donnelly has been instructing in the Moo Duk Kwan for decades and just recently retired.  Well known throughout the US Federation as a Master Instructor, and has added several other women Ko Dan Ja to her teaching credit.  As always been active in US Federation events nation-wide, from nationals to summer camps, to regional clinics.  


Jennifer Gibbons, Sa Bom Nim # 32238

Gibbons Sa Bom Nim has been appointed by Moo Duk Kwan® President H.C. Hwang to serve on the United States Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation® Technical Advisory Committee, Technical Performance sub-committee (Ki Sul Bu) 2017-2020.

She was also previously appointed by the Kwan Jang Nim and served on the TAC Shim Gung Bu 2001 - 2017.

She is an instructor at both Aspen and Basalt branches of Rocky Mountain Martial Arts.

  • TAC Ki Sul Bu Bu  08/10/2017 to 08/10/2020

  • TAC Shim Gung Bu 06/01/2011 to 08/10/2017

  • Region 8 Regional Examiner 08/31/2005 to 06/01/2011

  • Sixteen time National Champion in Hyung and/or Sparring

  • USA National Demonstration Team 2001

  • Region 8 Team Hyung National co-Champion 1997

  • Starting date-September 26, 1989

  • Instructor-Jeff Moonitz, Sa Bom Nim

Denise Mullin, Sa Bom Nim # 30212 

Sa bom Mullin has been teaching for several decades at Hwang Karate Studio of Harrison, NJ.  She has been selected as a Regional Examiner for Region 2, and has been a student of H.C. Hwang Kwan Jang Nim at Hwang's Karate in Springfield NJ.  She is very active in the US Federation and has demonstrated the Art nationally and internationally during Moo Duk Kwan Anniversaries.

Susan Fittanto, Sa Bom Nim # 41586

Susan Fittanto serves as the Board representative elected by United States Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation® members in Region 8.

Susan Fittanto, Moo Duk Kwan® Dan Bon 41586 has been appointed by the Technical Advisory Committee Chairman as a Technical Advisory Committee Assistant 08/10/2017.

  • Board Chair 02/28/2018 - 02/28/2019

  • TAC Assistant 08/10/2017 - 08/10/2020

  • Region 8 Elected Director 2017-2019

  • Moo Duk Kwan® Dan Bon 41586

Vicki Kenyon, Sa Bom Nim 32665

She has been appointed by the Technical Advisory Committee Chairman, Craig Hays Sa Bom Nim as a Regional Examiner for Region 9 (CA,HI) of  the United States Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation®.

She also operates a successful Moo Duk Kwan® Certified school in California and actively supports Regional and National events.

Mary Kate Steinhour, Sa Bom Nim # 40097 

Operator and Owner of Ellenville Moo Duk Kwan Academy, and a Regional Examiner for Region 2, and is the Region 2 administrator.  She is very active not just locally in Ellenville New York, but also nationally.  She has proctored many Dan Shim Sa, and during her Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa assisted in receiving and posted electronic Spirit messages.  And she did so prior to attending the KDJSS on a yearly basis.  An District School Administrative Executive in her area, she is known as a Teacher's Teacher.  She and her husband Cort Stinehour Sa Bom nim, have both been recognized as community leaders by various community organizations.  Known for her warm heart and supportive attitude, she continues to make great impact on the World Moo Duk Kwan and the many students attending and learning at their Do Jang.

Women from around the world...being role models and leading by example, Moo Do In.   In no order, here are some of the women leading the way in the Moo Duk Kwan from around the world.  It would take a book to mention or show them all, so if we left some out, it was not intentional.  Member Countries represented in these photos: South Korea, USA, France, Iceland, Switzerland, Iran, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Panama, Italy, Spain, Philippines, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Brazil, UK and Ireland, Australia, New Zealand. 

SBN Pilar Leguel Balcells Sa Bom Nim, Pal Dan. # 22013, TAC Coordinator and Hu Kyun In (Mexico)

One of the ranking Pahl Dan in the World Moo Duk Kwan, operates and teaches at Ramiro Guzman MDK school in Mexico, has also been inducted into the World Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame along with her husband, Ramiro Guzman Sa Bom Nim.  Recently, Sa bom Nim was invited to be part of an online seminar concerning women sportmanship in the marital arts and other sports.  She has been involved in breaking barriers for women in the martial arts since the 1970s, and continues to support more involved of women in sports in Mexico.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'VIVO 07 DELAFRONTERA SBNPilar Leguel Balcells SBN Pilar Leguel Balcells Trayectoria dentro de las Artes Marciales y Deporte'

Ruth Barriga Canales Sa Bom Nim # 28790 Shim Gong Bu (Mexico)

Elizabeth Mora Sa Bom Nim Sa Dan # 31626 Neh Gong Bu (Mexico)

Yisel Mi Guzmán Leguel, Sa Bom Nim # 40192 (Mexico)

Active with the Youth Leadership in the World Moo Duk Kwan, Women in the Moo Duk Kwan, and she also represents Mexican WMDK Federation, and participates in virtual instruction throughout Mexico and Internationally. 

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Leticia Esmeralda Salinas González Sa Bom Nim, Sa Dan # 43325, Assistant of Neh Gong Bu. (Mexico)

Natalia Elena Blotta Master, Yuk Dan # 29029 Neh Gong Bu (Argentina)

Antonella María Blotta Master O Dan # 41206 (Argentina)

Lorena Sauch Master Sa Dan # 35960 (Argentina)

Samira Páez Master Sa Dan # 43294 (Argentina)

Jacqueline Maturana Olivares Master Sa Dan # 46093 (Chile)

Elodie Mollet, Sa Bom Nim # 38935 (France)  

A member of the Euro TAC, and the designee for the World Moo Duk Kwan in France.  She is very active in the World Moo Duk Kwan, organizing many clinics and seminars, some for women.  Travels through Europe assisting in training, Euro Ko Dan Ja Shim Sa, and is the administrator of the Facebook Site Moo Duk Kwan since 1945 @moodukkwan70th Community.

She played a very active role for the Project Delivery Team for the 75th Anniversary of the World Moo Duk Kwan.

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These pictures below are a small representation of the action philosophy of the Women in the Moo Duk Kwan.


This presentation would not be complete without honoring our Kwan Jang Nim’s Wife, Sa Mo Nim Ji Se Hun (maiden name) (Hwang) was born on October 26th, 1953, in Yong San Ku, Korea.  Pictured below is Sa Mo Nim, Se Hun Hwang with H.C. Hwang Kwan Jang Nim. 


Reserved and quietly supportive of her husband’s mission to preserve and spread the philosophy of the Founder and the art, she has been a gleaming presence at many National as well as International and even local events, supporting the Moo Duk Kwan.  Many of our members have experienced her warm welcomes and significant support of our membership worldwide.  A Mother, Wife and Friend, not only to her family, but also to her extended family of the Moo Duk Kwan.  An outstanding First Lady of our Kwan Jang Nim and his family, and the World Moo Duk Kwan. 



 Sa Mo Nim.   

There are many women involved in all different martial arts throughout the world.  And this is just a small sample of the leadership and influence they affect to all who they teach, mentor, and serve as strong role models.  The World Moo Duk Kwan recognizes our Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Women practitioners and our Moo Duk Kwan Heritage Women members.  All who continued the traditions established by our Founder Hwang Kee, and his successor, our Kwan Jang Nim Hyul Chul Hwang.  Let’s us honor them this month and every day of the year.   SOO BAHK! 

So in closing I have reprinted Kwan Jang Nim’s message to Moo Duk Kwan members, from November 2020.   

World Moo Duk Kwan 

Greetings, Moo Duk Kwan Members,  

It has been a few days since the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Moo Duk Kwan. I continue to have a very warm feeling in my heart from the outpouring of support and incredible professionalism by which the global community came together to create an environment that can only be described as epic. As I meditate on all the activities and experiences, we all shared together, I am compelled to follow up with two very important messages to all who have made this so memorable. 

The first point that I wish to make is that I would like to sincerely thank you all for the quality, professionalism and history making effort that went into this celebration. Whether as a member of the World TAC, who worked on creating an educational environment for our world community, or one of the countless members who played special roles behind the scenes. There were over 60 videos produced and distributed in commemoration of this special event. The pride that went into these outstanding products was clearly visible. It is really that process, of coming together and uniting to produce these historical records of our art, working closely together that is the real valuable and precious take away that will help shape and strengthen our organization. And the countless members who donated their time to make every element of the celebration. I thank you sincerely.  

The second point of my message is of a personal nature, but one that we should all easily recognize. Although apparent in many of the video products, my mother and the founder’s wife was a steady and instrumental force in the creation and sustainment of the Moo Duk Kwan. Without her, I am sure this history would be lessened in a significant way. Thank you, O Mo Nim. We celebrate this Moo Duk Kwan with our minds and memories firmly aware of your countless contributions. Your quiet and gentle presence was always felt. Regardless of recognition. 

In closing, I look forward to transferring such positive energy to our future work in strengthening our foundation for future generations. 

In Moo Duk Kwan, 

H.C. Hwang 




This list is posted to recognize all our Women Ko Dan Ja, current and those who are no longer with us, during this month of Women's History month and International Women's Day.  These women have met and exceeded the established Moo Duk Kwan's high standards of excellence through their dedication, diligent work, and action in the Art, all Moo Do In. 

Moo Duk Kwan Female Ko Dan Ja 2021-03

wdt_ID Country Sort Rank DanID Salutation Lname Fname Gender
1 USA 80 Pal Dan 17926 Sa Bom Nim Walsh Mary Ann F
2 USA 80 Pal Dan 20742 Sa Bom Nim Morey Linda F
3 USA 80 Pal Dan 20786 Sa Bom Nim Kachevas Marlene F
4 Mexico 80 Pal Dan 22013 Sa Bom Nim Guzman Pilar F
5 USA 70 Chil Dan 19023 Sa Bom Nim Mason Keiko F
6 USA 70 Chil Dan 23540 Sa Bom Nim Kozak Lisa F
8 USA 70 Chil Dan 28912 Sa Bom Nim Coffee Teri F
9 USA 70 Chil Dan 30212 Sa Bom Nim Mullin-Menendez Denise F
10 USA 70 Chil Dan 31097 Sa Bom Nim Oulashin Anna F
11 USA 60 Yuk Dan 23279 Sa Bom Nim Donnelly Lisa F
Country Sort Rank DanID Salutation Lname Fname Gender

Respectfully Submitted, Roberto Bonefont, Sr., 13927

Credits: Thank you all our members who have posted photos and information on the internet and Facebook to make this article possible.