Who's Who in Tang Soo Do


Grandmaster James Saffold
10th Dan
Pin # 14489



As a young man growing up in Detroit, Michigan in the 1950's and 1960's you had to be tough and ready to defend yourself. Having three brothers to wrestle and a reputation in school as being able to stand up for oneself,  as well as working as a farm hand during the summers, led him to grow up strong.

In 1965 James entered the US Army and went through basic training. Because he showed a natural aptitude, while still in basic training himself, he was made an assistant instructor and asked to teach other trainees how to defend themselves in unarmed (hand to hand) combat. 

In 1967 the US Army stationed Lieutenant Saffold in Vietnam. In June of 1968 he began training in the Korean Martial Arts.  Since he was an Officer and training as a beginner, one of the senior (red belts) decided to take advantage of the opportunity and was overzealous in his attacks on the white belt. Not one to complain, he endured this until the Instructor observed what was going on and arranged for a 5th Degree Korean Army Captain, Captain Oh, to work one on one with him. What a great learning experience this turned out to be for the young Martial Artist. It was at this time that Captain Oh introduced him to the senior Korean Martial Arts Instructor, Chief Master Instructor Jae Joon Kim. Training with Master Oh was very intense. Occasionally they attended workouts that were taught by the Chief Master Jae Joon Kim.

In 1969 after leaving the military, young Saffold, desiring to continue his Martial Arts training enrolled at the newly opened school in Detroit, Michigan. Fortunately for young James, Grand Master Jae Joon Kim, 8th Dan, Kim had immigrated to the United States and chose Detroit to open his school.  A friendship grew between the two that would last until Grand Master Jae Joon Kim's untimely death in 2007.

While earning his black belt (1971) at Grand Master Kim's hand, he had the opportunity to meet and train with many of the senior Korean Masters that were immigrating to the United States.  It was a great thrill to be able to train and learn from so many of these exceptional Masters many of whom went on to become Grand Masters. This included Founder and Grand Master, Hwang Kee.



Grandmaster Saffold with the late
Grandmaster Jae Joon Kim

Over the years, as a black belt, James was asked by Grand Master Kim to run several different schools in the Metropolitan Detroit area.  During this time he became a Police  Officer with the Detroit Police Department and spent much of his time working the streets in uniform and as an undercover Officer.

In 1979 he began an intense training program to prepare for his Master's testing. The three people who trained every Saturday for more than a year were Master Stan Bojanowski (who was getting ready for his 5th Dan test), Mr. William Thompson and Mr. James Saffold. Grand Master Kim would frequently help with their training and observe their efforts. They became known as the "Three Musketeers" and developed a lasting friendship.

In 1980, he was trained by the U.S. Secret Service in Executive Protection. He used this training and his Martial Arts training to work as a Dignitary Security Team Leader during the Republican National Convention, and later as a part time bodyguard for Mr. Lee Iacocca and other leaders of Chrysler Corporation.

In 1981 the test came and was a combined Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do test. Grand Master Kim was the President of the Michigan Tae Kwon Do Association at this time. Grand Masters Park, "Tiger" Chung, and Lee were on the testing board. All three of the Musketeers performed well and were promoted.

Martial Arts continued for Master James Saffold, teaching and training 4 or 5 times per week. Promotion tests came and went, working ever higher. Finally in March, 2002 Grand Master Jae Joon Kim tested him for his Eighth Dan, earning him the rank of Grand Master.

Grand Master Saffold founded the American Kwan Tang Soo Do Federation in 2004. He did not launch this organization as his instructor, Grand Master Jae Joon Kim, was still alive and was the leader of the World Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do Federation and was his friend and teacher. Grand Master James Saffold's desire and the goal of the American Kwan Tang Soo Do Federation is to continue traditional Tang Soo Do as taught by Grand Master Hwang Kee and Grand Master Jae Joon Kim.  American Kwan Tang Soo Do Federation, Inc. is a growing organization with Masters, Dan Members, and Members in several states.

In 2007 with the unexpected death of his friend and teacher, Grand Master Jae Joon Kim, Grand Master Saffold attended the funeral and was honored by Grand Masters' wife and family, many who are Grand Masters and Masters in their own right. Grand Master Saffold was allowed by the family the honor of being one of the pallbearers of his longtime friend.

Grand Master Saffold has special respect and fondness for Grand Master Jae Joon Kim, Grand Master Oh, Grand Master C.I. Kim Grand Master Nam Kim, Grand Master Greg Boliard and Grand Master Lee Harper, with whom it was his great pleasure to learn and practice many sparring techniques first hand over the years. Also, Grand Master Joseph Sanders who cross trained him to Second Dan in Hap Ki Do. There are many other Grand Masters, Masters, Instructors and students (including White Belts) that contributed to his knowledge and training.

As Grand Master Saffold sees it: "It is our duty as Masters of Tang Soo Do to pass on the Art of Tang Soo Do to the next generation of Martial Artists. We need to train hard and practice to be able to pass on as pure a style as possible."

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