March, 22, 2014

Chang Moo Kwan Black Belt Promotion Test

Grandmaster Jon Wiedenman and Master George Fullerton Overseeing

Master Alex Paredes and Instructor Jim Farley Judging

Master Wilson Wong Presenting
World Martial Arts Training Center

Ontario, CA

Chang Moo Kwan Events

San Pedro In Photos

Chang Moo Kwan Events

San Pedro In Photos

Photo: 2014 Black Belt Promotion Test with from left to right: Jasmine Diaz, testing for her 1st black belt; Ryan Cook, testing for his 2nd degree black belt, Darrell Cook, testing for his 3rd degree balck belt, Grandmaster jon Wiedenman, 9th dan, Chang Moo Kwan Grandmaster; Master Geroger Fullerton, 8th Dan, Custodian of Chang Moo Kwan Spirit, Master Wilson Wong, 6th Dan; Instructor Jim Farley.

This was a very significant day for Chang Moo Kwan in general, but for me as Grandmaster it was a very special event.  I should start with those who tested.

Darrell Cook, who I affectionately and playfully refer to Captain Cook--he is a airline pilot--tested along with his son Ryan Cook. Darrell tested for his 3rd degree and Ryan his 2nd.  Now that rocks, it really does: father and son.  Mr. Cook is our Chang Moo Kwan Historian, and he has been my "sounding board" for several years. 

Darrell Cook loves Chang Moo Kwan and spent almost two full years accurately and flawlessly reproducing the "Greenbook" for our  This, quite literally, assured this classic text which memorialized Chang Moo Kwan at its historical and global apex, would be a "click" away from everybody and anybody.  In addition, "The Captain" spent two years interviewing myself and Master George Fullerton for his 3rd degree thesis.  Like the "Greenbook" his paper was reflective of his concern for Chang Moo Kwan, its roots, and those who are involved in its traditions.  What more could you ask from a man who has dedicated well over a decade and a half to the Chang Moo Kwan Spirit.

Ryan was on the fence about taking his test.  I would of bet he would have.  If I had any doubt before he took his 2nd degree alongside his dad, that was set aside when I read the introduction to Ryan's 2nd degree black belt thesis.  The heartfelt tribute to his relationship to his father through Chang Moo Kwan would make any dad emotional and envious.  Ryan said it like it was, is, and it was powerful.  Ryan acknowledged the role of his sister Christine, also a Black Belt in Chang Moo Kwan, and a very integral part of his Chang Moo Kwan journey...and of course mom, Susan, the consummate Chang Moo Kwan "mom."  Ryan is a senior in high School and his writing is expressive, articulate, and direct.

Jasmine Diaz tested for her 1st degree.  Ms. Diaz 1st degree black belt thesis was fantastic.  I joked with Ms. Diaz on the day of the test she had the coolest cover, but her writing style, photos, and attention to detail was indicative of a "student" of the art and spirit of Chang Moo Kwan.  It was clear she thought about what she wrote, and she wrote from her heart.  Again, like Darrell and Ryan  Cook, there was no lack of emotion for family and friends who helped and guided her.  She honored those who helped her along the way, and this was special.

Speaking of honor, I did something different on this test.  Generally a good portion of our Chang Moo Kwan promotion tests are "oral" questions and scenarios.  This time I did something I had never done before.  I asked Darrell and Ryan Cook and Jasmine to ask me a question.  They were all great questions, by no means easy, and I told each of the candidates not to hold back, I don't think they did.  Jasmine's question was "In one word describe what you feel is most important in Chang Moo Kwan to you?"  My answer was swift and easy: "Honor."

So how did they do?  I don't score.  I never have.  I watch.  I listen.  I take in all I can and I learn.  I feel the spirit.  If a head judge wants to ask me how they did I will share it with them.  Normally they don't, and I am cool with that too.  I think we all know if you are at the point of testing, you have run the physical, mental spiritual, and emotional gauntlet to get to this place and time.

OK, so that being said, how did they really do?  Darrell, Ryan and Jasmine rocked, really they did outstanding.  I think from the photos which follow one can see their test was through, almost four hours long, and very, very challenging on all levels.  They dealt with everything which was asked of them superbly.  They have my humble vote.

What made the test especially significant for me was the people I had the privilege of sitting next too.  On my right as always was Master George Fullerton, 8th Dan and my best friend.  Our Chang Moo Kwan journey has been shared for 35 years.  We are two of the remaining four "untouchables."  One person over to my left was Jim Farley.  Jim is my first black belt.  30 some years ago, when I started the now time tested tradition of presenting our "Provisional Black Belts" to a student who you believe would follow in your "footsteps..." I gave mine to Jim.  That was 1982.  Thirty years later we are side by side still. In between Jim and I was Master Alex Paredes, one of Master Fullerton's first Black Belts, and the man who is responsible for us finding out Supreme Grandmaster Nam Suk Lee lived in San Pedro. 

I would like to thank Master Wilson Wong for hosting the test, for his hard work in promotion Chang Moo Kwan through the World Martial Arts Training Center, and for tirelessly training Darrell Cook, Ryan Cook, and Jasmine Diaz for their test.  I would also like to thank Christine Cook, Ty Romero, Sunny Cruz, and especially Mike Smith for their help on test day.


In the Spirit of Chang Moo Kwan,


Grandmaster Jon Wiedenman, 9th Dan MA Ed,

Last Student of the Founder of Chang Moo Kwan...

Supreme Grandmaster Nam Suk Lee

Custodian of the Chang Moo Kwan Spirit