When I was 15, I joined the American Kang Duk Won Association, a martial arts program in Port St. Lucie, FL. As many activities during one’s teen years become, KDW became more than my hobby. It became my second family, where my best friends could be found and what I wanted to dedicate my life to – teaching martial arts. My Instructors, Grandmasters Raymond P. Arndt and Dan Borger as well as Mr. Greg Smith, were wonderful mentors – probably the best a teen could have. (Yes, the Florida school has former ties with the NY AKDW schools under the direction of Robert Lawlor.)
Through this program, I learned to teach martial arts and eventually earned my 3rd Degree Black Belt. I left FL in 1992 when my husband received orders for Ft. Lewis, WA. We opened up schools at recreation centers in both Tillicum (in the early 90s), outside the base, and in Tacoma through Metro Parks (in the late 90’s-2004). When I went to Iraq with my Army Reserve unit in 2003, war changed me and upon my return, I could no longer handle combative-activity and a fighting nature. I closed my school.
I didn’t know way back in my early days with KDW that I had such an intense love for writing, designing and publishing. I thought everyone did that stuff on a routine basis. I was the oldest in our “karate club” of kids that hung out together at class and occasionally outside of class. Dedicated to the martial arts as we were, we decided one day to being a monthly newsletter where we’d research and write our own articles. I was one of the few with a typewriter (mine was similar to this one if not this exact kind) at the time (nope, no home computers yet) so I along with 1 or 2 others, typed up what everyone wrote and then cut the rectangles of paragraphs out, taped them to a blank sheet of paper and printed out the newsletter. Just before moving out, I walked into a local Radio Shack and paid $1000.00 CASH (yeah, I was stupid – but debit cards did not exist yet) for a Tandy 1000 computer (check it out on a “computer museum” page, lol). It would have been great for newsletter work but I was leaving home so it never got used for these publications.
For graphics, we drew them or traced them from photos and again, cut and pasted them to their home within the newsletters.
All I have to say is, “Thank GOODNESS for computers and programs”. It was such a sloppy, daunting task. But I am thankful that our mentors supported our endeavors, allowing us to grow. It certainly got us to read, if only about martial arts topics. But then again, it was the late 80s. Karate Kid was a major hit as were movies with Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and Steven Seagal. We were hungry for knowledge. Publications such as Inside Kung Fu and Black Belt Magazines were all the rage, even if the info was a bit ahead of our time.
Here are the covers from the first few years of our work: