Charles Hash

Charles “Buster” Hash was born in York, PA. June 9, 1949.

He began his study of the martial arts in 1965. He studied Mas Oyama style Kyokushinkai karate in Joppatowne, Maryland under an Army Captain named Coyne (Coin). CPT Coyne had been a student of Bobby Lowe, 5th Dan, in Hawaii.

Upon graduation from high school in June 1967, he boarded a bus to Army Basic Training, Fort Bragg, NC. Fast-forward to May 1969 and Specialist (E4) Hash, was shipped to Seoul, South Korea to work at the 502D Military Intelligence Battalion. Buster quickly became a taekwondo student studying Song Moo Kwan (Korean Army style) at the local gym under (SGT)Hong Kyung Hwan, 5th Dan¹. Song Moo Kwan style was founded by Ro Byung-Jik in 1944, and is one of the five original kwans of taekwondo in Korea. Grand Master Ro was a student of Gichin Funakoshi, when he was a college student in Japan in the 1930s, and was awarded a black belt in Shotokan karate.

Mr. Hash attended taekwondo classes 5-6 days a week 4-5 hours each night.  In 1970 Mr. Hash competed as a red belt (brown belt), and the only American, in a national Song Moo Kwan taekwondo tournament placing 3rd overall in the black belt division. Mr. Hash eventually competed for and was awarded a first-degree black belt in taekwondo at the main Song Moo Kwan school in Seoul in 1970, and was recognized as a blackbelt, by the National Taekwondo Association later that year in a national level promotional test. Mr. Hash was required to fight a Korean first degree blackbelt going for promotion to second degree to earn his blackbelt; the first degree blackbelt lost the match. During his testing for recognition by the National Taekwondo Association Mr. Hash was required to perform kata and participate in kumite at the event. American competitors were not allowed to fight Korean nationals. Mr. Hash was a little amped up at the event and knocked out his opponent with a spinning back kick in the first minute of the match. What occurred after that is a story for another time.

Returning to the states in June 1970 Mr. Hash searched for a taekwondo school in the Edgewood, MD area but found none. At that time Jhoon Rhee was the big deal in the DC area but had no schools in Edgewood/Aberdeen. Mr. Hash was working on his Associates Degree at Harford Junior College and found a flyer announcing a karate class to be held at the college in early January 1971. He dug out his old white belt, took the taekwondo patches off his gi, and showed up for class on a cold January night. The classes were being taught by Isshinryu brown belts from Elkton, MD; John Patti, and Dennis Longo. A guest brown belt was visiting that night; his name was Tom Sanson. Mr. Hash immediately connected with Mr. Sanson and they have been great friends ever since.

The second week of class a couple of black belts showed up from the main school Isshinryu School in Elkton, MD.; Sensei Toby Cooling and John King. During the kumite portion of the class Mr. Hash pretty much owned the brown belts at a distance but failed miserably once they got inside his kicks. At the end of class Sensei Cooling pulled Mr. Hash aside for kumite and seriously schooled him on the Order of Isshinryu version of Isshinryu karate.

When Mr. Hash returned to class the next week, he was informed that Sensei Cooling instructed that he would train at the Hombu Dojo. The rest is history of a great friendship with Grandmaster Cooling and a career in Isshinryu Karate. Mr. Hash was promoted to Shodan in the Order of Isshinryu summer 1972; Nidan in June 1973 and Sandan in January 1983.

Mr. Hash operated a dojo in Edgewood, Maryland with Sensei(s) Tom Miller and John Patti 1972-1974; and opened a dojo in Shrewsbury, PA. in 1980, and taught there through 1984.

Mr. Hash retired from the Army in 2007 as a Colonel, after over 40 years of active and reserve service. He served 14 years as an enlisted soldier, reaching the rank of First Sergeant E-8 before being commissioned as a First Lieutenant in 1981. He retired from the federal civil service as a GS-15 in June 2019.

Mr. Hash returned to active status in the Order of Isshinryu April 2020 and now trains under Master Cimorosi at the Elkton Dojo. He resides in Dumfries, VA with his wife, COL(R) Dori Hash.


1 Interesting note: Grandmaster Cooling met and worked out with Godan Hong when he visited the U.S. in the early 1970s.