This is truly the case with the Ohio Jidokwan Karate Association and their descendant, the American Jidokwan Karate Association. This is not to be confused with our American Jidokwan Association, an organization that is an official representative of the Jidokwan Headquarters in Korea (or any other organization using the name American Jidokwan), but I'll get to that shortly.
From Robert Moore's official biography:
"Robert C. Moore, 3rd Degree Black Belt, began his formal training in the school of Ji Do Kwan (Kong Su Do), in Chun Chon, Korea during an overseas assignment with the US Army in March,1962. His teacher was Mr. Nam K. Yun, 3rd Degree Black Belt and his training was directly supervised by Dr. Kwai Byeong Yun, 8th. Degree Black Belt."
Some sources say that Moore actually only achieved a 1st Dan in Korea, and that his 3rd Dan was actually awarded by Robert Trias of the US Karate Association, but for the purpose of this article we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. For those familiar with Jidokwan history, Kwai Byeong Yun was the President of Jidokwan from 1950-1961. Any rank issued or overseen by him must be considered legitimate rank. All good so far, but that's about where the legitimacy stops.
In 1970, Herrington along with his student E.A. Fuzy created the Ohio Jidokwan Karate Association, and over the next 50 years numerous black belts would come up through the ranks, including several reaching master and grandmaster level status under Fuzy, who renamed the organization American Jidokwan Karate. As currently listed in their official bios, Herrington is credited as holding a 7th Dan in Jidokwan Karate and Fuzy somehow held an 8th Dan in Jidokwan Karate, plus a 10th Dan in his own American Jidokwan Karate.
My question is where did their authority to issue rank actually come from, and what connection other than Moore's year or so in Korea do they actually have to Jidokwan? The answer is they have no authority to do so, and there is no connection. If Robert Moore was only a 3rd Dan, how can his student and his grand-student be promoted higher than he is? There are only two possibilities...
- They promoted themselves
- They received rank from a generic Karate organization, like USKA
Let's continue giving them the benefit of the doubt and say they were promoted by a generic karate organization like the USKA and didn't just promote themselves to whatever rank they saw fit. Rank issued by such an organization is not the same as official rank from a recognized style, and does not give one the right to say that rank has been earned in a specific system. It doesn't matter if twenty 8th Dans and higher from Shotokan, Goju Ryu and Taekwondo came together, they can't issue even a yellow belt in Judo. The same is true for organization rank. Unless the person signing the certificate also belongs to the particular style you are claiming, and they are high enough rank to have the authority to issue such rank, it's just not the same. To be promoted by such means and then claim your rank is in a particular style, such as Jidokwan, would be fraud. The only organization that can issue Jidokwan rank is the official Jidokwan headquarters in Korea.
So where does the confusion come from? When I took over the AJA in 2017 and began publicly promoting the organization, people began asking about its history. I'll admit that the information I and my instructor, Steven Hatfield, had at the time was limited. He had inherited an art called "American Jidokwan Taekwondo" from his step-father William Sirbaugh, who had mentioned training with people like Fuzy and Herrington. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the information we had and so we compiled a history based on what we knew. Over time, we have continued our research and made changes in order to correct whatever errors were written as we do not want to promote a false history of our organization.
One of those changes was that we initially thought Sirbaugh had collaborated with Fuzy in the development of American Jidokwan, and the two had split into both Taekwondo and Karate factions. We later learned that this was not the case, that Sirbaugh was most likely a student of Herrington in the late 60s for only a brief period of time, which has been verified by Herrington's daughter stating that Sirbaugh was a "very familiar name" in their household (click here). How and why he chose the name American Jidokwan Taekwondo for his art (which has since been renamed American Jidokwan Tang Soo Do) can only be speculated, but we've made sure to continually publish only the most accurate information we have available at the time.
Special thanks to Ed Mathna and the webmaster for American Jidokwan Karate for publicly providing the biographies and information regarding the ranks held by Robert Moore, Curtis Herrington and E.A. Fuzy, and other information needed to make this article possible.
Tang Soo Do is a generic term, like the word Karate. As Fuzy's organization sometimes uses Kong Soo Do instead of Karate for his American Jidokwan, we did not want to use the same name when reclassifying Sirbaugh's art yet wanted to highlight the fact it was based on Okinawan and Japanese karate rather than what modern Jidokwan Taekwondo has evolved into. Another reason we chose the name Tang Soo Do was that Sirbaugh did have verified training in Moo Duk Kwan while stationed in Korea, and for a time the Moo Duk Kwan and Jidokwan were connected.