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An Essay by Mary Kate Stinehour
An Essay by Mary Kate Stinehour
Ellenville Moo Duk Kwan
New York, USA
I am quite honored to have this opportunity to share my journey in Soo Bahk Do. In 1991, my husband, Cort Stinehour (Yuk Dan #33190), began training Soo Bahk Do with Master Paulo Amaral in a small do jang in our community. Being newly married and seeing the passion my husband had for the art, I began training in January of 1992 in order to spend more time with him and to experience the joy that he had in training. I enjoyed training together and making new friends who quickly became family. A year after I began training I became pregnant with our first son. At that time, I stopped training, but continued to support my husband’s love of the art and desire to train. In 1994, our instructor, Master Amaral, needed to leave our community and go back to his hometown in Brazil to take care of his ailing father. Neither Cort nor I wanted to see our studio close, so we purchased the studio in order to continue his legacy in our community. Our son, Brandon (Sam Dan #40715) and I began training together with my husband as our instructor in 1996. I continued training full time until I was eight months pregnant with our second child, Christian (Sam Dan #46874) in 2001. At six months pregnant, I tested for my Cho Dan. Although my seniors told me to “take it easy” at my test, I completed all requirements as that was what I had trained to do and I was determined that I was not going to pass just because I was expecting.
While being a new studio owner, I continued my pursuit as an educator. In 1995, I was hired as a third grade teacher. While teaching full time, running a studio, being a mom and wife, I went back to school to earn my Master’s degree in education. In 2002, as a mom of two, I continued my educational journey and earned my second Master’s Degree in administrative education. In 2008, I became an elementary school Principal in a neighboring community. I am proud to say that I am entering my twenty-sixth year as an educator.
With twenty-eight years of training coursing through our family’s bloodline, we eat, sleep and breathe Soo Bahk Do. My husband and sons have had the opportunity to travel internationally and demonstrate at various symposiums around the world in support of our Kwan Jang Nim. As a family, we traveled, and continue to travel, locally, regionally and nationally; building relationships along the way and creating memories that will last a lifetime! I am honored to have been a member of two hyungs teams representing Region 2, competing at two Nationals events. Our teams won first and second place respectively. As the first Regional Administrator in Region 2, I am proud to support our Regional Examiners. By taking on the secretarial role of their position, this has freed them up to become the instructional leaders that our studio owners need and deserve. Since the late 90’s, I have assisted in our Nationals, running judge’s and scorekeeper meetings and supporting the Technical Advisory Committee’s work from behind-the-scenes to keep the event running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. I truly enjoy supporting the many facets of our art and am honored to be allowed to do so.
Although my road to Ko Dan Ja was a long one, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I never trained for a rank; I train because I enjoy it. I train because family was important. I train for my betterment and to support the growth of others. As a wife, mom, educator, studio owner and instructor I surround myself with the art of Soo Bahk Do, my life was and still is, infused in our five Moo Do Values. I am humbled to stand in line with so many extremely talented men and women. Our studio flourishes with strong young women and men who have become family. They push each other in a positive way to be the very best versions of themselves. I am proud to be just a small part in the big picture of our art.
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.