Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Master Lewis Hise with second place sparring trophy from the Bluegrass Nationals tournament in Louisville, Kentucky in 1992.  Master Hise had not competed in 15 years and was 44 years old at the time.

Lewis Hise practicing sword fighting with his shinai on a mountain outside Seoul, Korea.

Grand Master PARK Sung Jae training with a staff in Korea in the late 1960s.

David Baiocchi, Marty Lashbrook, Rodney Hard, and Lewis Hise at Force One Karate School in Salem, Indiana.

                         A Brief History of Soo Hwa Hapkido

By:  Dr. Rodney T. Hard

It all started in 1969 in Seoul, Korea at the 502nd Military Intelligence Brigade, Company A.  Rodney Hard had lived in Korea already for 12 years during his formative years as a Presbyterian missionary's son.  He spoke the Korean language fluently, and, after joining the United States Army, was assigned as an interrogator of captured North Korean spies at the special Company A prisoner holding facility in Tae Bang Dong.  Previous to this, Rodney had only trained in the art of Tang Soo Do for a while and also had a second degree black belt in Yudo (Korean version of Judo) with six years of training under his belt under Master KANG Chung Shik.

Lewis Hise was a military policeman with the 512th Military Police attached to the 502nd Military Intelligence Brigade, Company A.  He was assigned as security for the facility and personal security for the transportation of captured spies along with Rodney Hard.  He was from Tahoka, Texas, a small town near Lubbock, and had not had martial arts experience before.  He had never even seen a martial arts demonstration.

Both Hard and Hise were at the NCO club on their compound one night when they witnessed the most amazing demonstration of martial arts they had ever seen.  Master PARK Sung Jae, who was a 6th degree black belt in Hapkido, and his brother PARK Kyu Jae demonstrated joint locks, throws, kick and punch combinations, weapons techniques and other feats that were incredibly fast, graceful, and yet extremely dangerous.  Master PARK Sung Jae attacked his brother Kyu with a sword and a blindingly fast flurry of hacks, slices, and thrusts.  Kyu defended himself with only a small 13 inch wooden dowel called a Dang Bong.  Wood chips flew everywhere.  The base commander, Col. Luis Castro Acobez, jumped up and stopped the demonstration for fear of someone getting seriously injured.  Both Hard and Hise knew at that moment that the martial art of Hapkido was something they had to learn.

Hise found out that Master PARK's dojang (Hapkido school) was right outside of the base. Hard and Hise promptly signed up for lessons.  They received private lessons four days a week from Master PARK and trained three to four hours a day, four to five days a week for the next two years.  Hise and Hard were the first American students to train under Master PARK, and the first Americans to receive black belt certificates under Master MYUNG Jae Nam and Master PARK's Korea Hapki-Sool Association.

Hard and Hise obtained their second degree black belts on August 1, 1970, shortly before leaving Korea. They opened a Hapkido school in Lubbock, Texas and began to work on innovations to what they had already learned.  They also worked on creative teaching techniques to maximize the students' learning experience. 

After six months in Lubbock, Hard went to Pennsylvania to visit his brother.  He stopped in a Kenpo school in Philadelphia owned by Marc Steiner.  Mr. Steiner introduced him to then World Heavyweight Karate Champion, Joe Lewis, who was in town to teach a seminar.  After spending some time with Hard and watching him demonstrate the unique techniques of Hapkido, Joe Lewis asked him to join the world's largest chain of karate schools called Tracy's Karate Schools.  Hard introduced Joe Lewis to Hise and he was also invited to join.  

Hise opened a school in Middletown, New Jersey in 1971 and continued to teach and develop the art of Hapkido.  He continued to learn from Joe Lewis and others and began to incorporate Kenpo and other techniques into his teaching routine.

Hard became a district manager in charge of 120 schools in the Tracy's Karate Schools and traveled all over the United States.  He met and compared techniques with hundreds of other martial artists and became part of the Tracy's Fighting Team, competing in many tournaments.  He got to train with and fight on the team with the likes of Joe Lewis, Roger Green, Ray Klingenburg, and Al Dacascos.  

​Hard visited Hise in New Jersey to compare notes and continue to innovate and enhance what they taught.  They had learned one of the best multi-man defense systems from Master Park Sung Jae but they also wanted to incorporate the spontaneous training techniques for mass attacks as taught by Master Al Dacascos in Denver, Colorado.

Hard finally settled in St. Louis, Missouri and took over a Tracy's Karate School there.  He taught mostly Kenpo as taught to him by Al Tracy, Tim Golby, and Dennis Cummings.  He taught Hapkido to Tim Golby, Dennis Cummings, and his advanced brown and black belt students. 

In the mid 1970s, Hise visited Hard in St. Louis and they continued to work together to incorporate Joe Lewis sparring techniques and principles into their system.  This is when the name SOO HWA (Water Fire) was developed to best describe their constantly changing and improving system.

Rodney Hard organized and consolidated all the 25 sparring principles as taught by Joe Lewis and Al Dacascos and completed a comprehensive manual and DVD teaching series which is available to his students and to those who attend his seminars.

In 1981, Hard finished chiropractic school and moved to Salem, Indiana to open a chiropractic practice.  While living there, he continued to teach martial arts and compete in tournaments.  He produced a commercially successful knife fighting video called KNIFE OR DEATH.  Some Navy SEALs saw him on an elevator in a California hotel once and asked him, "Are you Dr. Hard?"  When he told them he was, they said, "Back at the SEAL team, we've watched your knife fighting tape several times.  We really like it and learned some good stuff from it."

Hise moved to Salem, Indiana in 1991 and for the next five years, he and Hard ran a Hapkido school and a weight lifting gym.  Together, they continued to develop Soo Hwa by adding many unique and effective training techniques.  They did demonstrations and fought in tournaments.  ince then, though Hise moved to Georgia and Hard moved to Kentucky, they kept in contact.  In the Spring of 2008, Hise contacted Grand Master PARK Sung Jae in Brazil and invited him to come to the United States to teach a seminar at Hard's school in Salem, Indiana.

Grand Master PARK visited Hard and Hise in Louisville, Kentucky in September of 2008.  He taught a seminar at Master Hard’s school in Salem, Indiana on 9-20-2008.  Grand Master PARK spent the rest of the time giving advanced training to Hard and Hise in Hapkido techniques and concepts, advanced internal energy development, weapons, and more.

Hard and Hise have stayed in contact and continue to work on the SOO HWA Hapkido system to make it better.

Master Rodney Hard and Master Lewis Hise both have received the rank of 5th Degree Black Belt in Hapkido from tenth degree black belt Grand Master PARK Sung Jae.

The certificate translated below was issued by the government of South Korea (Tae Han Min Kuk) to six recipients.  Two recipients were non martial artists and high up government officials instrumental in spreading international goodwill through expediting the spread of Hapkido to Brazil, Europe, and North America.  Aside from the one other Hapkido master who spread Hapkido to Europe, Grand Master PARK Sung Jae, Master Rodney T. Hard and Master Lewis Hise were with only other recipients.

Rodney Hard's Hapkido Black Belt Certificate of 3-1-1970.  Lewis Hise and Rodney Hard took their black belt tests together and received certificates on the same day. 

Rodney Hard, PARK Sung Jae, and Lewis Hise in Hapkido dojang in TaeBangDong, Seoul, South Korea in 1970.

Master Al Tracy organized and Rodney Hard taught at the Kenpo GATHERING OF THE EAGLES in Las Vegas in 1999.

​                             Certificate of Appreciation

                                                      Mr. Rodney Thomas Hard

You have been very helpful in supporting Hapkido in many different ways.   We are grateful for your sacrificial attitude of cooperation and absolute support for the growth and propagation of Hapkido and herby award you this certificate of appreciation.

                                           December 5th, 1974

                 Hyundae Headquarters for Martial Arts Gymnasiums

                 of the Republic of Korea.

                                                     President Jung Hwan CHOE

Delmo Menezez Felicidades, Grand Master PARK Sung Jae, Lewis Hise, and Rodney Hard.  Master Hard is translating PARK's Korean into English for the seminar attendees in Salem, Indiana on 9-20-2008.

Al Dacascos, Master of KaJuKenBo and Grand Master of the Won Hop Kuen Do System.

Rodney Hard and Joe Lewis clowning around at Master Tim Golby's Tracy's Karate School in St. Louis, Missouri.

"Superfoot" Bill Wallace and Hapkido Master Mike Wollmershauser clowning with Master Rodney Hard at one of Hard's schools in St. Louis, Missouri.

Alan Holbert was a master of the Shidare Yanagi ryu JuJitsu system.  He was also a master of Shotokan.  Rodney Hard received a second degree black belt from Master Alan Holbert.

Rodney Hard practicing defending against Master PARK Kyu Jae's sword with a short 13 inch wooden Dang Bong - 1970.