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

July 2014 Masters Profile


Name: William Reese Strong

Rank and date of rank: Pal Dan (July, 2014)

Region and Studio Name & Location: Region #6,
North Alabama Tang Soo Do, Florence, AL

Contact Information:


Personal Information

Where were you born?

I was born in Henderson, Texas.

Family members involved in Tang Soo Do:

All of my family members are Tang Soo Do Black Belts and Life Time Gold members. My wife Rachel is Cho Dan and daughters Rita and Morgan are E Dan and Sam Dan respectively. Morgan completed her first year of training and testing at the 2014 Masters’ Clinic. Rachel has managed the information booth at the World Championship for many years and is the local arrangements co-chair for the annual Masters’ Clinic.

Description of profession or trade outside of Tang Soo Do:

I was a Professor of Geography at the University of North Alabama for 42 years. I am now retired from active teaching with Professor Emeritus status. I am also a coordinator of the Alabama Geographic Alliance which is a member of the National Geographic Society Network of Geographic Alliances.

List your academic accomplishments, military service:

I achieved an undergraduate degree in anthropology and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Texas in Austin. Research for the latter two degrees was conducted in South India. Chair of the Department of Geography at UNA for 29 years, Interim vice-president for Academic Affairs, Member of Board of Directors of the UNA Foundation, and Fellow of Grosvenor Center for Geography Education at Texas State University.  For two years, 1991-1993, I was the Geographer-in-Residence in the geography education program at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC and received the Distinguished Geography Educator Award from the National Geographic Society.

Grandmaster Strong and his wife Rachel.

Martial Arts Career

When, where and why you started Tang Soo Do?

Although I started Tae Kwon Do training earlier in the 1960’s, I began studying US Tang Soo Do with Yong Ju Lee, Lee’s Karate in Huntsville, AL in the early 1980’s..

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

Tang Soo Do was quite a change from Tae Kwon Do training which was mostly oriented towards tournament competition with little emphasis on actual self-defense or hyung. Tang Soo Do was a new and enjoyable challenge with its emphasis on all aspects of the arts and I achieved my Sah Dan Master’s promotion under Master Lee.  By the mid 1980’s I joined WTSDA and my only instructor since then was Grandmaster Shin.

Any other martial arts studied?

Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Shotokan.

Notable accomplishments or future goals in the martial arts field?

In WTSDA, I was the  general editor of all Grandmaster Shin’s books; author of chapter on “Oh Sip Sah Bo Hyung” in book 6; and my 7th Dan thesis was published by WTSDA as the Journal, volume 3.

Grandmaster Strong with Jerome Jeffries on the left around 1976. Grandmaster Strong at the 2002 Foreign Instructor's class.

Tang Soo Do Career

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

The title was Perspectives on the Tao of Tang Soo Do.  My purpose was to research the meaning and to seek an understanding of the fundamental concept of the art of Tang Soo Do:  “becoming one with nature.”  It was one of the most enjoyable projects I have undertaken and allowed me to reach a higher level of understanding the more philosophical and spiritual dimensions of Tang Soo Do. What I learned greatly influenced and continues to enhance my personal training.  Without this research and study, reaching towards the elusive goal of moo shim would be much more difficult for me.  I pass on to my students what I have learned and how it has enhanced my training.

What is your favorite part of Tang Soo Do?

Training and working with some of the most brilliant, talented, and dedicated people in the martial arts world is an incredibly rewarding experience.  In terms of techniques, I enjoy all of the technique work in Tang Soo Do with special emphasis on hyung and  il soo sik dae ryun.   It is my experience that exceptional and successful sparring/fighting for self-defense, and even sport, is a logical and practical outcome of these two pursuits.

WTSDA committees or positions:

Positions include past Region 6 Director, WTSDA membership committee Chair, Technical Advisory Committee Chair, Secretary General, member of the WTSDA Executive Committee, Director of the annual Masters’ Clinic for 22 years, host for the Masters’ Clinic for 21 years.

Difference between when you first started training and today? 

When I first started training in mid-1960 at the Jhoon Rhee school in Austin, Texas, classes were several hours long with considerable amount of line drills of all material. Classes were somewhat militaristic and breaks were uncommon. The tests were physically demanding and not everyone passed. After moving to Alabama, my first Tae Kwon Do classes were similarly physical but much more emphasis was placed on sparring…and this was before safety equipment was invented.  We left classes with bruises all over the body. After the earliest safety equipment became available serious bruising was almost eliminated. Classes in the early days meant long hours of physical training, a big focus on basics, freestyle (not tournament) self-defense sparring, a testing about twice a year.  My first test was in front of Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee and I was awarded the green belt.

Grandmaster Strong training with a bong (left) and flexible weapons (right).

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

Oh Sip Sah Bo Hyung:  I have studied it extensively and wrote the chapter on it in Volume 6.  It requires rapid and slow movement, several changes in direction and stances coupled with a variety of different blocks and strikes. I enjoy training with the sword and with special focus on stances, drawing, cutting and sheathing techniques.

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

The most outstanding and memorable role model is Grandmaster Shin who mentored me in so many different ways.  Also there are many Tang Soo Do Masters who have influenced my training throughout the years which are too numerous to list but among them I recognize Grandmaster Robert Beaudoin.

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

Traveling, talking, teaching and training with Grandmaster Shin; training with my daughters and wife; training and teaching in South Africa, Mozambique, Germany, Costa Rica and many regions in the USA. Some of my most favorite memories are the tests for my 6th, 7th and 8th Dan because I was testing with and being evaluated by my peers at the annual Masters’ Clinic. Gaining recognition for passing the tests from these men and women means a great deal to me.

What are your future goals in WTSDA?

My future goals relate to an increasing emphasis and training in the internal aspects of Tang Soo Do as they relate to and increase the efficiency of the external aspects of hyung, self-defense, and weapons.

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

We have faced some challenges with the passing of Grandmaster Shin but because of his wisdom and guidance, and his sharing of his vision for WTSDA, we have continued along the pathway which he originally defined and for which we are responsible.  I believe that those who worked directly with or were influenced by Grandmaster Shin sincerely believe that we are a part of a unique world-wide martial arts organization that is worth protecting, enhancing, and moving forward with innovative ideas while maintaining a traditional focus on Tang Soo Do.

Grandmaster Strong during the 2010 Master's demonstration at the World Championship (left) and at the 2014 Region 6 Dan Camp (right)

Advice/Words of Wisdom

Youth, teen and/or adult martial artist:

Keep the ultimate goal of Tang Soo Do in the forefront of your mind and seek to discover its meaning through consistent physical practice, quiet mediation and thoughtful reflection.

Teaching tips or ways you make classes more exciting:

Each class should have a goal however small. Explain, for example, that the focus for a particular class is ahp chagi and that by the end of class students will be able to refine this technique, use it more precisely, and visualize many applications.  Then after warm ups, creatively show how this kick is part of many hyung, il soo sik dae ryun, sparring, etc. and allow students to practice several different ways of delivering the kick and ending with a variety of jumping kicks.

Tang Soo!