The World Tang Soo Do Association

A True "World" Organization


Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin
(December 20, 1936 - July 9, 2012)

Robert E. Beaudoin

Untitled Document

April 2017 Master's Profile


Name: Thomas Marker

Rank and date of rank: Sah Dan (July, 2016)

Region and Studio Name & Location: Region #22, Columbus Tang Soo Do Academy, Columbus Ohio.

Contact Information:


Personal Information

Where were you born?

I was born in Dayton, Ohio, where I lived until I went to college at The Ohio State University. I’ve been in the Columbus area ever since.

Family members involved in Tang Soo Do:

My wife, Kelly, is a Sam Dan and our daughter is a Tiny Tiger.

Description of profession or trade outside of Tang Soo Do:

Outside of the Dojang, I work in the Information Technology field for The Ohio State University. This has actually provided me with a few opportunities for crossover with Tang Soo Do. I’ve been a part of the Region’s website, and I gave a talk on computer security at our 2016 USA Master’s Clinic.

Interest or hobbies outside of Tang Soo Do:

Outside of Tang Soo Do and work, I’m usually asleep!  In my waking hours, when I’m not in front of a computer or wearing funny pajamas (or in a car going between these activities), I greatly enjoy photography, reading books, and listening to and playing music with my family. Our daughter is very much into the Beatles right now so we will sometimes try to mangle a few songs on different instruments.

Master Marker, his daughter, and his wife, Ms. Kelly Burke, Sam Dan Master Marker participating in group hyung and starting his daughter's training early at Region 22 Dan Clinic

Martial Arts Career

When, where and why you started Tang Soo Do?

I started my training in 1998. Oddly enough, I started on my 21st birthday, which I understand is not a common way to pass that milestone age. I trained at Buckeye Tang Soo Do under Master Simone Genna until he left Ohio in 2006. Buckeye Tang Soo Do is a college club on the Ohio State University campus, and it continues to thrive today under the direction of Mr. Mark Holtman.  Buckeye Tang Soo Do will always hold a very special place in my heart due to the intense martial education I received from Master Genna, because of the lifelong friends that I made, and most especially, since it was also the place where I met my wife. I can say without exaggeration that joining Buckeye Tand Soo Do changed my life in a very fundamental way.

What were your first impressions when you started and how have they changed?

When I first started training, I was looking for something to do. I needed an activity to keep me accountable and get back in shape. As I continued to study and learn, I saw a whole world of physical movement and mental development. I still strongly believe in developing Tang Soo Do as a complete art and learning to use the movements in a functional way. In many ways, I’ve started to come full circle, and I see the art as a means of preservation for improving physically, but also in a way that strengthens rather than abuses the body.

Any other martial arts studied?

I have never studied another art as intently as Tang Soo Do. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many black belts in Judo, Shuai Chiao, Gumdo, Isshin Ryu, and I have been able to learn a great deal from them. I’ve also had the pleasure to train in Tai Chi on and off for the last 15 years and have recently found an informal study group at the University.

Notable accomplishments or future goals in the martial arts field?

I’m still here! When I was a Cho Dan Bo, there was an article about Grandmaster Shin in the Philly Inquirer where he spoke of perseverance as his secret to success in the martial arts. Of course, he was being very humble in his answer, and we all know about his extraordinary talents. I was never the most physically talented person on the floor, nor the smartest, but I soaked in as much knowledge as possible by reading books, listening to other instructors, and working hard to improve.

Master Marker and Mr. Osai Robinson demonstrating their winning hyung at the Region 5 Master's Grand Extravaganza.

Tang Soo Do Career

What was your Master’s thesis on, why did you choose it, and what did you learn from it?

For my thesis, I chose to write about the usage of the bong and its lessons. Bong is a weapon near and dear to my lineage.  My instructor wrote about bong, and his instructor -- the late Master Michael White -- developed a bong hyung named Mountain Wind. In Kung Fu, the bong is often referred to as “The Great Teacher”, and I look to my staff practice as a way to supplement and enhance all that I do.

What is your favorite part of Tang Soo Do?

I always like to focus on cultivating the basics. I love learning new forms, new weapons, new ways of doing things, but I also get a deep sense of satisfaction from returning to the fundamental skills and refining them.  When we troubleshoot our movement -- whether it’s a turn in a form that is off balance or a ho sin sul that just doesn’t work, -- chances are we need to return to our foundation lessons and see what is out of whack.

WTSDA committees or positions:

 I have been the Region 22 Dan Camp Director since 2010. In April 2017, I will be taking over the position of Regional Director for Region 22  In addition, I have served as head of Photography at our World Championships for the last few years.

Columbus Tang Soo Do Academy students representing the WTSDA and YMCA at the Pataskala Street Fair. Master Marker and students demonstrating Tang Soo Do during the Pataskala Street Fair.
What is your favorite weapon and why?

For me, my favorite weapon will always be the staff. Training with the staff opened me up to a world of universal movement and the lessons that transferred to sword, nunchaku, and other weapons.  It is an amazing gift to any martial artist.

Who are some of your role models in and out of WTSDA?

It would be very difficult to name everyone without feeling as though someone deserving has been left out so I’m going to artfully dodge this question and instead say that I have always been overwhelmingly grateful for the members of this group who have so freely given of their time and knowledge with no expectations attached. Whether a person gave up their weekend to wake up at 4:00AM and drive to an 8:00AM gup test, took me aside to work on a skill that I’d shown interest in, or took my phone call and talked me out of walking away from it all, I’ve had so many positive interactions in this WTSDA family that have meant so much to me.

What are some of your favorite memories of your time in WTSDA?

My favorite memories are the many “repeat” moments: seeing someone enjoy an experience that you’ve been able to take in; shaking Grandmaster Shin’s hand after receiving my Black Belt and then years later tying the black belt around my first student’s waist; teaching a parent and their children their first class and then having them teach my daughter her first class; seeing my students look of amazement at their first World Championship, taking in all of the Masters and their demonstrations. This is one of the reasons I enjoy photographing events so much because I get to be part of the process of documenting these events. For some of us who have been to 20 Regional Championships, the luster may have worn off a little bit, but someone in that room is experiencing it for the very first time.

What are your future goals in WTSDA?

I think our organization has a unique opportunity to move forward and continue being an innovator in the art of Tang Soo Do. There are so many areas that can be developed and refined, and I hope to have a part in that process.

Mr. Mark Holtman (Sam Dan, Buckeye Tang Soo Do) Master Tom Marker, Ms. Leslie Flaum (Sah Dan, Joint Forces Tang Soo Do) and Master Simone “Cy” Genna (Sah Dan, Joint Forces Tang Soo Do) having a Buckeye Tang Soo Do “Reunion” at the 2016 USA Master's Clinic.

Advice/Words of Wisdom

Youth, teen and/or adult martial artist:

Whatever you choose to do in your training, whether it’s 1,000 low blocks or the crazy jump spinning backflip kick, do it with a sense of purpose and intent. Don’t just blindly walk through the practice, but be mindful of yourself, how you move in space, the direction of your energy, and how that all comes together.

Teaching tips or ways you make classes more exciting:

Have a sense of humor and stop taking yourself so seriously. There is a time for protocol and decorum, but never forget you’ve chosen to spend a great deal of your life standing in a room of people who are barefoot, wearing funny pajamas, and mangling the Korean language.

Tang Soo!