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

May 2013 Masters Profile


Name: James Alan DeBaca

Rank and date of rank: Chil Dan, July 2010

Region and Studio Name & Location: Region #1, Fitness Fanatics (#154) – Santa Rosa, California


Personal Information

Where were you born?

I was born in Eugene, Oregon

Family members involved in Tang Soo Do:

Throughout the years all my 7 children have been involved in Tang Soo Do, however, currently it's just myself.

Description of profession or trade outside of Tang Soo Do:

I am a musician and drummer in the group Amnesia.

Master DeBaca and his students - Brandon Rodenberger and Chantel Evett

Martial Arts Career

When, where and why you started Tang Soo Do?

I began my Tang Soo Do training in 1972. My instructor was Master Frank Scalercio, Institute for Better Health, Santa Rosa, CA. In my youth I took boxing for three years and always had an interest in trying the Martial Arts.

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

My instructor was with the US Moo Duk Kwan Federation. I was fascinated by the tradition and philosophy of the art as well as the physical coordination involved. When I began the martial arts, there was a more serious training perspective. There were no kids at our studio. The sparring and self-defense were much more physical than the martial arts today. Today some martial arts practitioners do martial arts more as an activity and not so much for training. The up side is more people such as young children can participant with less chance of injury. The down side is that some martial art schools don’t have students but instead have customers. I believe that there is a lot to be said for the old school training.

Difference between when you first started training and today?

After more than forty years in the martial arts, my body is that many years older. I think that now more than ever, I need to stay in good condition. This means being smart about my conditioning. Exercise for health and not for injury. Healing after a muscle pull or other injury takes a bit longer than it did twenty years ago. I still like to run and do resistance training as well as my martial arts trainings.

Any other martial arts studied?

During my first years of training my instructor himself having boxing experience began a kickboxing team. Since I boxed in my youth this was something I was very much attracted to. I was able to fight in the amateur status and traveled to Australia and compete against the Australian team and the Philippine team as well as other West Coast kickboxers. Our style of the kickboxing was that of San Chow, which incorporated take downs as well as kicking and punching. While training kickboxing I never abandon my Tang Soo Do training as I believed they complimented each other - Tang Soo Do being more of an art and kickboxing more of a sport like Mixed Martial Arts is today.

Notable accomplishments in the martial arts field?

Outside of achieving the rank of Sunim Kookjae Senior International Instructor (7th Dan), I am currently head of the Dae Ryun committee.

Masters Jim DeBaca and Mark Causerano during their Chil Dan promotion in 2010 with Grandmaster Shin and Grandmaster Beaudoin.

Tang Soo Do Career

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

I was asked by Grandmaster Shin to topic my thesis on succession as it might apply to our World Tang Soo Do Association. Every thesis I have written was a learning experience. This last paper was more personal because of the content and the fact that Grandmaster Shin requested the paper.

What is your favorite part of Tang Soo Do?

As a martial arts practitioner we grow through many stages. However as a teacher, we must not forget we are also still a student. I think the great thing about the martial arts is that there is no ceiling. It is like playing an instrument, no matter how long we study we can always get better.

What is your favorite Hyung and/or weapon and why?

I don’t know if I have a favorite form or weapon. Because of the tradition of Tang Soo Do I feel privileged to be able to do forms that were created many hundreds of years ago.

WTSDA committees or positions:

In the past I served as Region 1 Director for a number of years. As Regional Director, I was on the Board of Directors for the WTSDA. While on the Board I proposed and worked on the scholarship program. Region 1 was the first region to give out scholarships. This was perhaps my most proud accomplishment

I am currently head of the Dae Ryun committee. As committee chairman I have developed a number of curriculums for Tang Soo Do instruction including 30 takedowns, 20 advanced one-steps, 30 free sparring techniques, 10 Sam Soo Sik patterns/defenses and conditioning drills. I have taught these to my students, as well as regional events, and world events. They are available on DVD to studio owners. I am currently working on 2 man sets, incorporating traditional blocks and punches. Outside the Dae Ryun committee I have also developed cane, spear and sai forms for advanced students.

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

My first instructor, Master Frank Scalercio will always stand out as a driving force in my training. He was a very talented and charismatic instructor. After meeting Grandmaster Shin I was impressed with his humility and leadership. The more I got to know this man, the more of a mentor he became to me.

Master DeBaca and the Fitness Fanatics instructors

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

In 1989 (upon Grandmaster Shins request) I hosted the first Region 1 Championship. Having our Grandmaster in attendance with all our Region 1 schools coming together was such a great feeling of camaraderie. It was a lesson from my mentor about uniting peoples!

As WTSDA celebrates its 30th anniversary, what are your hopes/wishes for WTSDA in the next 30 years?

I hope to see our organization continue to grow. Our Grandmaster Shin had a vision for the WTSDA and he has developed committees, and key people to see this journey forward. We now have Grandmaster Beaudoin to lead us and I will be there to help him in any way I can. It will take all of our members to remain united to continue to be a major world martial arts organization. I feel confident that we will persevere!

Master DeBaca and his wife Anna Master DeBaca and Master Jerry Stine Master DeBaca and Grandmaster Shin

Advice/Words of Wisdom

Youth, teen and/or adult martial artist:

The martial arts have so much to offer. You can advance as far as you like. Some people are interested but not committed. If you are committed then there is no stopping you.

Teaching tips or ways you make classes more exciting:

If you are teaching make your classes challenging. Your students will live up (or down) to your expectations. If you want to keep your advanced students than you need to teach advanced techniques. Teaching martial arts is  such a great way to make a living, and if you do what you love for a living than you never work a day in your life!

Tang Soo!