POCONO TANG SOO DO CELEBRATES 40 YEARS!
Fourty+ years, over 1,000 students, and 208 black belts later, Pocono Tang Soo Do is still
going strong. Led by Master Thomas Richards, Pocono Tang Soo Do meets in Tannersville, PA. On
March 6, 2022, the school celebrated 40 years with an anniversary party. Families from the school,
former students, and guests from region 8 came together to celebrate and remember. The afternoon
included a slide show of memories and speeches given by region 8 masters. The school put on
demonstrations, which included forms, weapons presentations, and a unique form created by one of our Black Belt students, Jayden Batoon!
Master Richards started his training in Tang Soo Do under Master Giacobe in South Jersey, at the Tang Soo Do Academy. Master Richards moved to the Poconos in 1980 and started training
under Master Frank Trjaganowicz at Scranton Karate. Master Richards was the pastor at the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Tannersville. Several of the children at the church approached Pastor Richards and asked him to teach them the art of Tang Soo Do. Master Trjaganowicz encouraged him to start the school at the church as an outreach program. Master Richards had some obstacles, such as several women in the church, to convince that Tang Soo Do was a positive program for the church and community. Master Richards explained the strong correlation between Martial Arts and Christianity. There are many similarities including character building, morals and building strong families. Master Richards was on his way to establishing Tang Soo Do in the Poconos.
Pocono Tang Soo Do was formed in November 1981, with the support of Master J.C. Shin, founder of the World Tang Soo DO Association. It
was the first Tang Soo Do school in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The school served as an
outreach program sponsored by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, thus does not charge any fees for weekly lessons, and runs the school at cost. In January 2018, the school relocated to the a building provided by the Pocono Township Volunteer Fire Company, again at no cost, allowing us to continue to operate without charging fees. Pocono Tang Soo Do instructors are all volunteer and work as a family to support each other and their students. This is a way for the instructors to give back to Tang Soo Do and the community. Since there are no fees for weekly classes, it allows students from all walks of life to enjoy martial arts. Pocono Tang Soo Do does not advertise and recruits their students through word of mouth. For many years, Pocono Tang Soo Do has been involved in the planning and set up for the Region 8 Fall tournament in Split Rock, PA and most recently held at Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor, PA. Tradition is very important at Pocono Tang Soo Do, as they continue to train the traditional way. There is a great feeling of family throughout the dojang, with all students and instructors encouraging each other to continue to develop in their Tang Soo Do training.
Today, Jim Agins, Oh Dan, assists in running of the school and is a fantastic role model and
inspiration to all the students. Jim Wilkins was the first Black Belt of Pocono Tang Soo Do and only recently retired and moved away from the area. Over the years, there have been over 200
students to achieve black belt level. Master Kuehner initially trained under Master Richards and then started his own school. Master Heise also occasionally trained with Pocono Tang Soo Do. Master Richards stated “Never in a million years did I think we would be here 40 years plus. It’s mainly a hunting and fishing area and I thought the interest would just die out.”
Master Richards continues to teach Tang Soo do classes weekly, he supports his students and encourages them to be better people, scholars and martial artists. Pocono Tang Soo Do is a role
model for other schools. Master Richards advice to aspiring masters is to “Know Tang Soo Do, Know
your students and understand what it means to be an instructor. Learn from your instructors. One
must teach but also be an administrator. “ “Make the sacrifices for your students, give the time and keep up with your training. We are not only here to teach martial arts but to support and help others and for guidance for your students. Martial Arts are very competitive, many styles come and go. Tang Soo Do has stood the test of time. Tang Soo Do is highly respected because we turn out good instructors and good schools.”
Pocono Tang Soo Do has existed for over 40 years and plans to continue for many more
years. Master Richards along with Jim Agins and other instructors at Pocono Tang Soo Do, continue
to inspire other martial artists to continue to grow in their personal lives and in Tang Soo Do. Master Richards stated, “I do this for the love of people and love of Tang Soo Do.”
Here is to all the fond memories of the past 40 years and many to come. TANG SOO!!!!