The World Tang Soo Do Association

A True "World" Organization

 

























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



















Grandmaster
Robert E. Beaudoin

Untitled Document

August 2013 Masters Profile


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Name: William Allen Sharpe

Rank and date of rank: Yuk Dan (2005)

Region and Studio Name & Location: Region #4  
Karate Masters Family Martial Arts Academy in Spring, TX

Contact Information: masterallensharpe@me.com

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Personal Information

Where were you born?

I was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1962.

Family members involved in Tang Soo Do:

My wife Giselle (4th Dan Master), son Alex 9 years old (Cho Dan Bo), daughter Mackenzie 6 years old (Green belt) and father (Cho Dan) are all involved in Tang Soo Do.

Description of profession or trade outside of Tang Soo Do:

I teach martial arts full time professionally.

List your academic accomplishments, military service:

I retired from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division in 1996 as a Training Specialist. I also worked as a General Manager for Starbucks Corp. for 11 years.

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Master Sharpe and his family.

Martial Arts Career

When, where and why you started Tang Soo Do?

I started my martial arts training in Seoul, Korea in 1970 at the age of 7.  My first school was the Jidokwan in Seoul which was the closest to my home. This was important since I walked to class each day.  My parents enrolled me in the school because of my small size and because I would probably be bullied once I returned to the States because of my size and also my ethnic heritage (my mother is Korean and my father is Caucasion…we are all American!).   Once I returned to the States I studied whatever was available:  Kodokan Judo, Goju Ryu and finally discovered Tang Soo Do. It was taught by Master Ki Yol Yu in Montgomery, Alabama who was a student of Grandmaster Shin.  Master Yu had a commercial that used to play during episodes of the “Kung Fu” series back in the 70s.  Once I saw the commercial and experienced the training I knew I had found my purpose in life.

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

Training in the 70s was not too much different than now as far as children are concerned.  However, our classes were longer, we had no mats or sparring gear. There was also no minimum class attendance and no guarantee of a black belt or any belt for that matter!  We trained for at least two hours and much more outside of the regular class hours.  We experimented with full contact (even as kids but controlled with “Kendo” headgear) but no grappling or weapons use until later in the 80s.  Classes were more focused on strong basics, conditioning and many jumping/flying kicks.

Today, we have a more diversified curriculum, less emphasis on conditioning for children and are very careful about contact and safety.  Fighting is not as emphasized and we take a “longer road” to the same results.  Today’s student averages two classes per week at 45 - 60 minutes per class.  That’s only two hours per week.  “Back in the day”, we “averaged” at least 10 to 14 hours per week of classroom training not counting additional hours outside of class.  Therefore, it takes longer today to get the same proficiency as yesterday strictly based on the number of hours training.  Students today are just as dedicated but there are more distractions and our lives are busier.  In some respects we are a “moral/ethical compass” within the contemporary “business” of martial arts because of our standards of quality within our schools and our WTSDA.  Our challenge as teachers is to extract the same and/or better quality from our students with less hours to do so.  We have done it, will continue to do it, for the betterment of our Tang Soo Do.

Any other martial arts studied?

I have been very fortunate to have studied with some of the greats in martial arts and continue to do so.  My main art and passion is Tang Soo Do, always and forever!  However, I study and am certified in several other arts:  Hapkido, Tukkong Mu Sool, Haidong Gumdo and my own personal compilation of techniques which I call “Baekho Kwon Bup”.  I teach these techniques in small portions to my black belts based on their desire, commitment and humility.

One thing to mention:  I study different martial arts systems primarily because I love to be a student.  I live to learn.  I don’t need accolades, ranks or titles.  All I need is the feeling of being alive and that is what martial arts does for me.  I have never met my goal of self improvement and probably never will.  That’s not a negative, it’s a postive.  It means that I’m constantly learning, refining and improving.  Not for rank.  Not for a title.  To be the best I can be so I can be the best “example” for my family and my students.  This is not just physically but mentally and spiritually.  I have a long way to go and though it may get difficult, it is always a joy.

Notable accomplishments in the martial arts field?

Material accomplishments include:  2002 WTSDA Master of the Year, privilege of testing for 7th Dan in the WTSDA with my friends, being able to assist withGrandmaster Shin’s books, Instructor and Master status in several martial arts systems, Tae Kwon Do Times “School of the Year” in 2012 However, the greatest accomplishments revolve around my friendships and relationships in martial arts and WTSDA.  My father and I have a great relationship and memories because of Tang Soo Do.  I met my wife at our WTSDA World Championships and because of that we now have two beautiful children who share in our passion for Tang Soo Do.  Some of my students are now professional teachers and highly successful businessmen in the martial arts community who credit me with starting their own blessings in martial arts and now have their own families and relationships.  This is what matters.  Life is a blessing and our martial art has given me so much and my students so much.

Advertisement from Master Sharpe's first school in Huntsville, Texas in 1983 (left) and Master Ki Yol Yu and Master Andy Stewart are grading the students as Master Sharpe proctored the test.

Tang Soo Do Career

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

My Master’s thesis was on the three components of Tang Soo Do power:  Physical, Mental and Spiritual.  I felt that there were and are, many practioners who only emphasize one or two of those categories, however, all three are highly important.  What I learned was that the concepts of this “triune” of power is not just inherent in martial arts but in many philosophies and religions of the world.  It’s our task to actualize the lessons and principles and model our lifestyle after these technologies.  This is Mudo or “Budo”.

What is your favorite part of Tang Soo Do?

My favorite part of Tang Soo Do has always been the hyung for various reasons.  The past 10 years or so I have taken more time to research and learn the applications for these movements.  This was not available when I first started learning Tang Soo Do.  There is so much information out there, so much knowledge that I feel like a beginner all the time.  It’s great!

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

I don’t really have a favorite hyung because I try to reflect the lessons from each segment of technique.  However, if I had to make a choice, it would probably be Seishan because of the hard and soft elements as well as the timing changes and use of animal forms. My favorite weapon is the sword.  Not only is it a fantastic physical workout but it is also symbolic of separating the true self from the ego.

WTSDA committees or positions:

I have been the Region 4 Director since 1992 and am available for any position or responbility that the WTSDA wishes.

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

Grandmaster Shin was always my martial arts father.  I treated him like my literal father in the Korean context and he understood and accepted that.  I will probably never stop learning the lessons he taught me but I will always cherish them. Grandmaster Beaudoin is such a pioneer in Tang Soo Do in the US and I consider him one of my role models.  Professional, highly empathetic and gentle in approach.  He is my example for the Kodanja of someone who exemplifies the dignity and approachability of a true Grandmaster. There are so many more, too many to list here.  Some have great technical excellence, some great discipline and ethics and some, great patience and spirit.  All are more advanced than I in these areas and I strive to be like them.

1991 Masters Clinic at St Leo's Abby in San Antonio, Florida.

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

Five memories stand out (in chronological order)

  1. Watching my father test and get promoted to Cho Dan many years ago.
  2. My first Master’s Clinic in 1990, testing and being promoted.
  3. Testing with my wife this past Master’s Clinic.
  4. Grandmaster Shin's memorial. it was not one of my favorites but it was a memorable time and a highly important event and memorial.
  5. Opening of the WTSDA Headquarters.

Simply put:  the laughter, the tears,  the love and the lessons.

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

I want the WTSDA to continue to embrace quality above all else.  In addition, I feel that we must incorporate more technology in order to make the organization more efficient and user friendly for studio owners and students.  We have a great association and it can only get better.  On a master level: I want our kodanja to focus more on the training and not on the rank.  We must embody the “idea” of a “master” and not just wear the belt.  No paper tigers allowed!  We must study, train, teach and inspire the next generation of Tang Soo Do masters by setting the example.  This is not just physical!  Mentally and spiritually!  A great technician is only an athlete without the other components !

Master Sharpe, Master Chambliss, Master Godwin and Master Stine at the 2013 Masters Clinic.

Advice/Words of Wisdom

Youth, teen and/or adult martial artist:

Never forget your roots, your protocol and respect.  Trust your teacher but challenge yourself.  Above all, “Less Yak and More Smack”!  Train hard my friends.

Teaching tips or ways you make classes more exciting:

I struggle every week with making and keeping our classes exciting because “I’m” excited to practice basic blocks but most students are not like me!  Therefore, we try to change the structure of the drills by disguising repetition and also spotlighting a specific skill that might be fun and/or new for the students.  The main thing is that the teacher must be excited for the student to be.

Tang Soo!

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