Charles “Buster” Hash was born in York, PA. June 9, 1949.
He began his study of martial arts in 1965. He studied Mas Oyama style Kyokushin Karate in Joppatowne, Maryland, under an Army Captain named Coyne (Coin). CPT Coyne was a student of Bobby Lowe, 5th Dan, from Hawaii.
Upon graduating high school in June 1967, he boarded a bus to Army Basic Training, Fort Bragg, NC. Fast-forward to May 1969, 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 Korea’s five original kwans of taekwondo. 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 central Song Moo Kwan school in Seoul in March 1970. He was required to fight a Korean first degree blackbelt, testing for promotion to second degree to earn his blackbelt; the first degree blackbelt lost the match. At a national-level promotional test, he was recognized as a blackbelt by the National Taekwondo Association in April 1970. During his testing for recognition by the National Taekwondo Association, Mr. Hash was required to perform kata and participate in kumite. American competitors were not allowed to fight Korean nationals. Mr. Hash was a little excited at the event and knocked out his opponent with a spinning back kick in the match’s first minute.
Returning to the United 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 a big deal in the DC area but had no schools in Edgewood/Aberdeen. Mr. Hash was working on his Associate’s Degree at Harford Junior College and found a flyer announcing a karate class to be held in early January 1971. He dug out his old white belt, took the taekwondo patches off his gi, and showed up for the class on a cold January night. Isshinryu brown belts were teaching the classes 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; they have been great friends ever since.
During the second week of class, a couple of black belts appeared from the primary Order of Isshinryu School in Elkton, MD.; Sensei Toby Cooling and John King. During the kumite portion of the class, Mr. Hash 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 him to train at the Hombu Dojo in Elkton, MD. The rest is the 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 of 1972, Nidan in June 1973, Sandan in January 1983, and Godan in July 2021.
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 in 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.