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

2013 Masters Profile


Name: Nicholas Acri

Rank and date of rank: Sah Dan Master (2012)

Region and Studio Name & Location: Region #8,
Jae Nam Training Academy, Kingston, PA

Contact Information:


Personal Information

Where were you born?

I was born in Harrisburg, PA but moved to the Wilkes Barre, PA area when I was about ten years old.

Family members involved in Tang Soo Do:

My brother started training with me but stopped training at green belt.

Description of profession or trade outside of Tang Soo Do:

I recently left the biochemistry field to pursue being a full time studio owner.

List your academic accomplishments, military service:

I have a B.S. in biochemistry.

Grandmaster Beaudoin promoting Master Acri at the 2012 Region 8 Championship.

Martial Arts Career

When, where and why you started Tang Soo Do?

I started Tang Soo Do when I was 15 in the summer of 1994. I always had an interest in martial arts but my mother would never let me join anywhere because we tended to move a lot. When we moved to the Wilkes Barre area she decided to let me try it out. I had friends that were training at a school in the city. That’s when I met Master Joe Leone at Wilkes Barre World Karate

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

Classes were small when I first started, so I guess I kind of had the impression that the dojang was some sort of elite club for people that didn’t mind sweating a lot and getting smacked around a bit. Obviously now I know it’s not an elite club. Tang Soo Do is for everyone, which is what I tell people when I’m trying to get someone to try a class. I went from thinking training was all about becoming a great fighter to realizing it was so much more. I realized training is about discovering what you think your limits are and going past them. It’s also about learning how to interact with other people. Everyone isn’t a social butterfly who is comfortable being around a crowd but in the dojang you have no choice but to interact and you learn that it’s not so scary.

Difference between when you first started training and today.

When I first started training classes were longer and for the most part the children trained with the adults. There were more adults than children because it took a certain type of youth student to be able to endure the intensity of the adult class. Also the dedication level was different. You followed your instructor without question and devoted all the extra time you could training to earn the privilege to be taught more. Now the classes are shorter and the youth and adult groups are separated. The up side to the separation is that it helps the instructor cater to the different needs of each age group. The down side is sometimes I feel that a certain type of competitiveness between the age group is lost. The “I can do just as good as that adult” or “I can move just as fast and stretch just as high as that person younger than me” attitude is lost. I felt like the competitiveness brought them to a common level.

I also feel like people have gotten busier. Children have definitely gotten busier. When I hear the schedule some of the parents have for their kids it makes my head spin. And because people are busier many are looking for more of an instant gratification. That’s why workouts like Zumba, kickboxing, and Insanity are doing so well. I’m not taking anything away from the workout these activities provide, however, once the workout is over, individuals no longer have to think about it until the next time he or she puts in the dvd or goes to the class. Tang Soo Do takes dedication outside of class as well, and many people feel they do not have the time for that. They want to train and go about their life. Finally, since we live in age that is saturated with information people like to question just about everything. There is nothing wrong with this until it gets in the way of the self discovery training provides. If your instructor gives you all the answers you miss a big part of what is learned through training.

These changes don’t mean things have gotten worse. It just means that they are now different and as instructors we have to be creative in order to get the students to show the same passion we did back then. We have to show them that even though their lives are busy Tang Soo Do can be their safe haven from all the stress of the world and that it can help them better deal with it as well.

Master Acri performing a sword hyung for a community demonstration.

Any other martial arts studied?

I have not studied any other martial art but went to one introductory Kenpo class before I found Master Leone. First impressions go a long way and this particular instructor had a very 'Cobra Kai' feel to him. I wasn’t digging it. The next week I went to my intro class at Wilkes Barre World Karate and have been pure Tang Soo Do ever since.

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 cultural relevance of the sword throughout history. I’ve always been fascinated by the weapon. It is more than just a tool used for battle and the sword survives into modern day times because of what it symbolizes to each culture.

What is your favorite part of Tang Soo Do?

Hyungs are definitely my favorite part of Tang Soo Do. They are the culmination of everything we do in class. They are also how our traditions are passed down through the generations. There is so much to learn while practicing hyung and during practice you can immerse yourself in the moment. I challenge anyone to do all the hyungs you know with all out effort. If you didn’t get a good work out and learn something about yourself then you weren’t doing them right.

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

It’s hard for me to narrow down a favorite hyung. Each one has different lessons. I suppose if I had to pick one it would be Kong Sang Koon because it is a great blend of the Pyung Ahn Hyungs, which happen to be my favorite set. As far as weapon, definitely Jang Gum Hyung. I love the sword so much I wrote my thesis on it. I’m drawn to the precision and endurance it takes to perform it.

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

My first instructor Master Leone is definitely one of my martial arts role models. He had a way of getting the best out of you without being overly demanding. I always tell my students what he told me. “A black belt is just a white belt who kept coming to class”. Grandmaster Shin is also one of my role models. He was the embodiment of the World Tang Soo Do Association. His ability to see the potential in a person was super human. He was like a real life super hero whose special ability was getting other super heroes to realize their true potential

Master Acri and his students.

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

There are so many good memories. My favorite memories of my life are almost all WTSDA related. How can you not have great memories being involved with such a magnificent group!?! I guess one of them would have to be getting to promote my first black belt, which also happens to be my girlfriend, Angela Croop. It was a great feeling to see my student achieve such an accomplishment.

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

I hope that WTSDA continues to grow and I’m sure it will. It’s important to keep the traditions the Grandmaster Shin taught us so that future generations can enjoy Tang Soo Do as much as we do now and so that our history is not lost!

Master Acri and Angela Croop during the 2013 Adult Clinic and after a Championship.

Advice/Words of Wisdom

Youth, teen and/or adult martial artist:

My words of wisdom are universal for anyone training in martial arts. I truly believe anyone can be a great martial artist. The formula is simple: Get to class and train your hardest, go home and train some more, repeat. Have faith in your training and your abilities; there is a reason why your instructors keep telling that you can to do it. It’s because you can! Every obstacle can be overcome and all it takes is determination.

Teaching tips or ways you make classes more exciting:

Every student has something that they like/love about training and something that they find difficult or not as enjoyable. The trick is to show how the parts of training they love can seep into the parts they dislike.

Tang Soo!