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

August 2016 Masters Profile

Name: Susan M. Strohm

Rank and date of rank: Sah Dan Master (2015)

Region and Studio Name & Location: Region 22, A Mountain Wind Martial Arts, State College, PA

Personal Information

Where were you born?

I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Family members involved in Tang Soo Do:

My husband, Dr. Patrick Parsons, is a Sam Dan at Appalachia Tang Soo Do, in Philipsburg, PA.

Description of profession or trade outside of Tang Soo Do:

I am on the faculty in the College of Communications at Penn State University, where I teach courses in Advertising. I also serve as the Director for Undergraduate Research for the College of Communications, and the College of Communications Coordinator for the Schreyer Honors College.

Martial Arts Career

When, where and why you started Tang Soo Do?

I started training in Tang Soo Do in 1992, at the urging of my younger brother, who was a Black Belt in another Korean martial art and living in Minneapolis. My brother was concerned about my late nights alone doing research in the stacks at the Penn State Library, and encouraged me to take a short self-defense course, at a minimum. I stalled and hoped he’d forget about the whole thing. Finally, mostly to make him happy, I agreed to give it a try, never dreaming that it would be more than just a short-lived experience. I found Dr. Richard Yahner and Master Michael Kaye of the Penn State Martial Arts group, holding class in a nearby athletic club. My first class was a surprise! I never understood what martial arts was about, or ever dreamed that I would feel so deeply connected to the martial arts so quickly. Later, as an orange belt, I had my first class with Master Michael White at the IM building on the Penn State campus. That was it. I knew I would be part of Tang Soo Do for the rest of my life.

Master Strohm and her promotion to Sah Dan Master with Grandmaster Strong.

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

When I first started training, I was surprised by the welcoming spirit in the dojang, and the way my instructors were able to connect so many different types of people to the martial arts, and to each other. We had students of all ages, ranks and physical abilities training together, learning together, and working together in a true family spirit. Thankfully, that hasn’t changed. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to grow with my Tang Soo Do brothers and sisters – and I continue to be thankful for the warmth, generousity of spirit, and commitment to the martial arts that we share.

Difference between when you first started training and today?

I can honestly say that I don’t see many differences. We train in the same technqiues, use traditional teaching methods, and focus on achieveing the same goals. The focus is still where it should be – on Traditionalism,  Professionalism and Brotherhood. I think what is different is the way we’ve reached out to new types of students (very young children, seniors, etc.) and helped them find value in traditional martial arts training.

Notable accomplishments in the martial arts field?

I was honored with the WTSDA Hall of Fame Student-of-the-Year award in 2008, the Region # 8 Roundtable Award in 2001, and the Region # 22 Instructor-of-the-Year Award in 2015. Thinking about all of the martial artists who have also won these awards is a humbling experience….and deeply meaningful for me.

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 cultivating the mental side of our martial arts training. This topic was inspired by Grandmaster Shin, who at a Region # 8 Dan Test in April of 2008, told the assembled students and instuctors that doing well on written Dan Tests, and being serious about furthering our Tang Soo Do studies, was a matter of “right attitude.” My thesis shared some strategies for helping our students to develop this attitude and be successful in this aspect of their training.

Master Michael White, Master Strohm and Master Michael Kaye.

What is your favorite part of Tang Soo Do?

At this point, my favorite part of Tang Soo Do, and what I’m most proud of, are the students at A Mountain Wind Martial Arts, and their families. I am very honored to have the privilege of teaching my students, and training with them. They show true martial spirit, both in and out of the Dojang.

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

Ro Hai is my favorite hyung – in part this is because I find the swift strikes and lightness of movement in the hyung to be very challenging. But I also have many fond memories of this hyung – as a new Gup student, I remember watching Master Mark Jorgensen do Ro Hai at a tournament when he was an E Dan, and being so impressed, and inspired, by the quality of his movement. Years later, Master Mark Causerano taught Ro Hai to us on a very hot day at a Region # 8 Black Belt Camp - he spoke with such passion about the hyung, and about giving 100% in our training. Most recently, I treasured the opportunity to concentrate on Ro Hai with Master Scott Merrill, Master Michael Kaye and others in Master Michael White’s backyard…in the rain and snow.

WTSDA committees or positions:  

Since 1994, I have been involved in producing the WTSDA World Championship Videos. I have also produced the WTSDA Hyung and One-Step Videos, the WTSDA Ki-Gong Video and the WTSDA 25th Anniversary Video. In 2001, I was asked by Grandmaster Shin to write the WTSDA Journal Volume Two: Study Guide Questions. And I’ve helped edit Grandmaster Shin’s Traditional Tang Soo Do, Volume V: Instructor’s Manual and the new version of the Dan Manual.

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

There are so many great role models in the WTSDA and in Region # 22! Master Scott Merrill, Master Michael Kaye, Master Scott Homschek and many others are outstanding instructors and martial artists. But most of all is Master Michael White – he was truly a master of the Art, and a phenomenal teacher and mentor. He seemed to know exactly what to teach each student, and how and when to push us to become better not just at the Art of Tang Soo Do, but better people as well. Outside of the WTSDA, my role models are Steven Hawking – who proves that a person can defy all odds and make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the world. My other role model is my husband – who teaches the value of kindness and patience on a daily basis.

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

My first year at the Master’s Clinic was not only a great training experience, but it showed me how real, and how powerful, the brotherhod of Tang Soo Do can be. It’s amazing, and wonderful, to see people from around the world come together, support each other, and make each other stronger.

What are your future goals in WTSDA?

Becoming a better instructor is one of my key goals. I’ve been so fortunate to have excellent instructors over the years – I’d like to do all I can to give something back to my students, and to the Art that has given me so much.

Master Strohm and Master Scott Merrill.

Advice/Words of Wisdom

Youth, teen and/or adult martial artist:

Be true to yourself and honest with yourself in your training. Focus on celebrating and developing what you do well, and challenge yourself to put equal effort into the things that may be more difficult for you. To be true martial artists, we need to develop all aspects of the Art in ourselves.

Teaching tips or ways you make classes more exciting:

Each of us is different in our interests, abilities and goals. Listening carefully to our students, and making time to find out how each student connects to his or her training, helps us make the Art more personal and meaningful for our students.

Tang Soo!