Kwanjangnim Sogor Full Bio

 

Kevin Sogor's journey into the martial arts started like so many  other people - he saw Enter the Dragon - and got hooked on the notion of  self protection, self control and self awareness as a process through  training in the arts of fighting. Living in London, England at the time,  Enter the Dragon was rated "X" and many of the fight scenes and all the  weapons scenes were deleted - but still a great film.                 

This was the summer of 1979. By the fall of that year, Kevin had  become immersed in the search for the art he would study. To further  this search, he bought copies of all the available martial arts  magazines, Karate and Oriental Arts Magazine was a particular favorite.  Many of you in the UK made the journey to 638 Fulham Road, S.W.6 to the  "shop" - well more like a mini-warehouse. Kevin spent many Friday's  there, reading books he couldn't afford and talking to Paul Crompton -  the magazine publisher. His advice to Kevin was to try the Ving Tsun  Club of Victor Kan, the best able student of Yip Man and a formidable  instructor. Mr. Compton secured a referral, and Kevin was on his way -  but a lecture in an English class at the American School in London  changed all that.

                Mrs. Lee's Journalism Class had invited an instructor of  the martial arts to their class for an interview. Dressed in a black  satin uniform with gold trim, Kevin could only watch from another class  as the instructor kicked and whirled another student around the room.  Later that afternoon the instructor was given permission to do a  demonstration in the school after class - Kevin was in the front row.  The instructor was Bob Miller - 5th Dan Hapkido.

The classes in Hapkido started a few days later at ASL and Kevin was  the first to enroll. Hapkido seemed perfect, kicks, strikes, throws,  grabs, controls, and nunchuks... Well OK, nunchaku are not Hapkido - but  Kevin didn't really care. All the students had black dobok from day one  - $25 for a dobok and "karate" patch - we were the business!

The first class was huge - 65 kids of all ages in three pods of  classrooms - all ready to stretch and kick - for the princely sum of $2  per class. Kevin was no exception - and got into the training with zeal -  well, until he passed out from dehydration half way through class one.  But as fortune would have it, Bob Miller woke Kevin up and said, "You  don't pay here again as long as you always train that hard." That seemed  like a great deal. The classes at ASL were great, until Bob brought in  his "nunchuks" - the next day, the club was history - might have also  been the huge amount of weapons he offered for sale in the school  cafeteria that previous afternoon at lunch...

Training continued at the Abraxsis Racquet Ball Club. There were  dance studios and a small cafe' in addition to the ball courts and the  place had a real homey feel. One other ASLer made the trip to the new  club - and he left after a month or so. Never the less the Abraxsis club  got huge - fast. Mainly because Bob Miller was a supreme self-promoter -  his favorite word when asked how he was doing was "DYNAMIC". There was a  man in the club, with a goatee and a cane that was walking around  giving advice on kicking and hand position, he was not introduced to us  but I never forgot him.

Through the many adventures that were Bob Miller, I became the  instructor of the children's section at Blue Belt as well as a well  known replacement assistant instructor for adults - teaching all over  London when other Hapkido instructors were unavailable or went to Korea  to train.

Among the most notable people that I trained with in those days were  Michael Forster (from Canada), Gavin Snell, Kevin Taylor, and a  Shotokan guy named Leon Kuhn, whose white canvas uniform was stained  gray from cleaning dojo floors in Japan and who had the best front kick I  have ever seen.

Well, Bob Miller was a great self promoter - he promoted himself  right out of Britain - seems he was there all that time with no work  permit - so it was back to the States for him - he is remembered though  for a demonstration at the Bull and Bush Pub that was attended by almost  1000 people.

Christian Schilling took over teaching the club full time, and  started a search for a new club Chief. His selection was David  Morgan-Brown.

David Morgan-Brown was a formidable instructor. He was highly ranked  in Jiu-Jitsu through Professors Robert Clark and Richard Morris. In  addition, he was head of style of 3 forms of Northern Style Kung Fu  (never got the instructors names though). David Morgan-Brown was a  reality specialist before such a thing existed; we trained in the moors  of north Yorkshire, slept outside and did night training - long before  this stuff was in vogue. He kept his own training current by training in  whatever was trendy - he put on the first seminars in the UK in Hwarang  Do with students and the son of Dr. Joo Bang Lee and Ninjitsu with  Stephan Hayes. Kevin attended them all - but longed to return to more  traditional Hapkido.

David Morgan-Brown was a great instructor, and wanted his students  to grow as much as possible - but a series of decisions led Kevin to  move on. Those are not for publication, but needless to say, Kevin has  never left any instructor and that is that.

One real positive benefit of the David Morgan-Brown experience was  meeting lifelong friend Kerry Stanton. Kerry is currently training in  the Bujinkan - so there are still lots of fun, and pain, ahead when  Kerry and Kevin get together.

Kevin contacted Grandmaster Fred Adams, the man with the cane from  his early training in 1980, in the summer of 1984, and returned to the  fold of Traditional Hapkido in Grandmaster Adams organization of International Hapkido. 

GM Fred Adams

 

International Hapkido was the natural progression of the Great  Britain Hapkido Association and all of Grandmaster Adams travels around  the world teaching. Grandmaster Adams is a man of many firsts in  Hapkido. He was the first to start and organization in the UK - the  Great Britain Hapkido Association - founded in 1971. He was the first to  teach Hapkido in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and many countries in Europe  - including much of the former USSR - including some training  classified to this day.

Kevin is student AM1 - America 1, and is Grandmaster Adams longest  training student outside the UK and one of the longest training students  period. Training with Grandmaster Adams - often privately is both fun  and painful. Grandmaster Adams technique is superb. A common bond  between Grandmaster Adams and Kevin is the thirst for the history of  Hapkido - something Grandmaster Adams own instructor N. G. Joo was not  very willing to discuss.

This thirst for knowledge led Kevin, with Grandmaster Adams support,  to contact Michael Wollmershauser, the head of the American Hapkido  Association in the spring of 1987.

Kevin was a young, brash man in his early twenties when he first  spoke to Grandmaster Wollmershauser, and basically quizzed him about  everything he could think of - ignoring the fact that Grandmaster  Wollmershauser was the only Westerner to have trained in Korea with the  founder of Hapkido, Great Grandmaster Choi, Yong Sool. Grandmaster  Wollmershauser was very patient with Kevin (why??) and they talked often  by phone as Kevin absorbed all the information he was given.

During this time, Kevin was traveling back and forth to the UK to  train, and bringing Grandmaster Adams son Nial to the US for more  training. It was during this time that Kevin met Doug Suhr, his friend  and senior student since 1990. International Hapkido USA came into full  being in 1992 when the first dojang was opened in the Bliss Building on  Mulberry Street in Rockford, IL.

The first school was 300 square feet in the basement in an unused  storeroom. Kevin and Doug, with the help of several students cleaned the  room and put in the first throwing mats - old, dirty, cotton batting  filled things, down for training. The school got moved three times in  the same building. Every time Kevin cleaned a space, the landlord saw  potential in the spot and moved them to another dirty room - but for the  sum of $80 per month rent, complaining would have been futile.

GM Lim Hyun-Soo

  

The Rockford school closed in May 1993 when Kevin graduated from  Rockford College and moved to Chicago. He really had no real plans to  open a full time dojang again until a weird twist of fate intervened.

Kevin was on the internet and looking at EBAY items for Hapkido in  2002. (Yeah, there is a time jump here - visit me in Chicago and I'll  fill you in...) One of the items listed was videotape from the American  Hapkido Association that said in the description that Master  Wollmershauser was very ill and could no longer be contacted - out of  curiosity, Kevin grabbed his letter from 1987 and called the number -  and Master Wollmershauser answered. Master Wollmershauser remembered  Kevin and offered to do a seminar in Chicago in November 2002. The idea  of a seminar was great - but how to do a seminar with no dojang - so the  present 6500 square foot facility was located and cleaned up. Kevin met  Master Wollmershauser on November 30, 2002.  

After Master Wollmershauser passed away, the AHA offered to promote a  series of seminars with Grandmaster Lim, Hyun Soo. Kevin was asked to  host a seminar in Chicago. Grandmaster Lim is a 9th Dan, directly from  Dojunim Choi. See www.jungkikwan.com. After the success of the seminar in Chicago, Kevin was asked to come to  Korea by Grandmaster Lim - the first trip was in the fall of 2004, Kevin  travels to Korea yearly to train at the Jungki Kwan - and has founded  Jungki Kwan Midwest. The rest as they say is history...