At the age of 45, Kwan Jang Nim Michael Dunchok has been practicing for 34 years, having started at the age of 11 in 1989. From an even younger age, Master Dunchok was interested in learning in all its forms, and had an insatiable appetite to understand the world. His involvement in martial arts grew out of that fascination, as has his approach to teaching it.
When Master Dunchok was young in the early 1980s, martial arts seemed to be represented in popular culture as the one thing that offered legitimate hidden knowledge, and at the same time seemed to be about the individual quest for self-perfection. After looking around at all the martial arts schools in the area with his father, he found his teacher Grandmaster Huh's school, and was impressed immediately. Grandmaster Huh's studio lacked the fancy trappings of the other dojos in the area, but Master Dunchok and his father both agreed that Master Huh's presence was overwhelming. He began practicing for several hours everyday, and would sometimes go to the studio directly after school. After a performance at his blue belt test which impressed Grandmaster Huh's visiting colleagues, Master Dunchok was instructed personally by Grandmaster Huh with private training to receive his first degree black belt. Master Dunchok was very active with Master Huh's studio throughout his high school years as well, continuing the same habits of hard practice with which he began his martial arts training.
Master Dunchok is a scholar with multiple attainments. First, he attended Humboldt State University, where he majored in Theater Arts and graduated in May of 2000. Master Dunchok trains operatic voice as a tenor, is a portrait artist, and a student of Chinese, Ancient Greek and Latin. He has also studied wushu and currently studies taijiquan. He has since been involved with acting on stage plays and musicals as well as doing martial arts stuntwork and fight scenes on film and television. He opened the Kuk Sool Kwan dojang in Orange County out of a desire to preserve the unique martial heritage of Kuk Sool Kwan and to afford himself the lifestyle and practice time to take his martial arts skill to the grandmaster level and beyond. He reached that grandmaster level, 7th degree black belt, just last year in 2022.
Master Dunchok holds 7th degree black belt certifications in the Kuk Sool Kwan of Hapkido as well as from the Korea Hapkido Federation, and has trained and graduated black belt students. He is also licensed as a Certified Personal Trainer from the National Federation of Professional Trainers. He recently finished a graduate degree to become an acupuncturist and herbalist, a longstanding requirement for Grandmastery of Kuk Sool Kwan. He graduated from Southern California University of Health Sciences summa cum laude as the valedictorian in April 2015. In 2018, he graduated with two more bachelor's degrees in Classics and Religious Studies from UCI, again summa cum laude with the distinction of the UCI Humanities Award for Religious Studies.
Jo Kyo Nym Gabriel Ruan was born on August 29, 1995 in Orange County California. Throughout his childhood years he loved watching martial arts movies with his father and trying to reenact the fight scenes. For years he watched Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies along with cartoons like Shaolin Showdown and Avatar: The Last Airbender which were heavily influenced by the martial arts. Seeing characters in these films that portrayed such martial skill as well as the uniqueness and mystique that he was drawn to at the time sparked a desire for Gabriel to find a martial arts school.
In the summer of 2006 Gabriel was enrolled in the Kuk Sool Kwan Dojang school at age 11. He fell in love with Kuk Sool and trained there consistently for many years. He loved every aspect of Kuk Sool from the impressive powerful kicks and weapons to the philosophy and mysticism taught in the art. In 2011 Gabriel ventured out of his comfort zone and explored other art forms like boxing, kickboxing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the martial arts gym in Costa Mesa South Coast Martial Arts. There he learned boxing and kickboxing from coach Thourn Heng and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from coach Borna Baktiari. He was able to add the skills he learned from these teachers to his overall arsenal of martial technique as well as his coaching.
In 2012 Gabriel started teaching a group of friends from his high school every Friday at South Coast Martial Arts. This eventually lead to him creating his own team that he taught. He continues to train these young men today in martial arts passing on the knowledge he learned from his teachers. In summer 2014 Gabriel returned to the Kuk Sool Kwan Dojang to start his training as a black belt candidate. He trained intensely for close to a year with longtime friend and training partner Daniel Bukaty and on April 24th, 2015 received his 1st degree black belt. Gabe is still training at the Kuk Sool Dojang and plans on getting his 2nd degree black belt. He is also training with the EMC Monkey stunt team in Santa Fe springs with plans of eventually becoming a stuntman.
Master Ho formally named "Wuji Qigong Taijiquan" in 2003, after years of researching original taijiquan philosophy. He divides his time between teaching in Irvine, Taiwan, and Shanghai.
Exceptional in physical size and strength, Master Ho showed athletic ability at an early age. As a teenager in Shanghai, while studying both Northern and Southern styles of gongfu, he felt something was missing from external gongfu (Gongfu literally means "to spend time developing power."). Like those who pursue external gongfu, Master Ho had developed muscle and force rather than balance and speed. He recognized that the elements of balance and speed were missing, and were a very important part of gongfu.
Master Ho's search for a gongfu with structure and theory rather than rigid form and physical strength led him to study with a well-known teacher of Wu Style: Pei Tsu Ying.
Though Pei Tsu Ying had originally studied with Wu Chen Chuan, he didn't advertise his lineage. Pei Tsu Ying's fame was spread through word of mouth. Ying was described by his close friend, Ma Yuan Ling, son-in-law of first-generation Wu Chen Chuan, as having high level Tai Chi and as being a good person.