Senior Master Carole Coker

Fri, 04/16/2010 - 7:42pm — webmaster
Q: Where were you born?
A: Montgomery, AL
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to become a martial artist?
A: At the age of 4 (1964).
Q: Can you share your background with us?
A: When the first martial arts class opened in Montgomery in 1971, I was the first person to write my name on the list. The two month wait was excruciating, but on the first night of classes, I was dropped off for the 6:00 class at 3:00 after school (with a sandwich for supper), so I would not be late!! When I lined up for class, my name had been erased off. I was told this was a Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan class for men, and it was not co-ed, please go home. This broke my heart, and I sat with my Mom deciding how to change city hall!! My mother petitioned the city's Mayor, City Hall, and also Governor Albert Brewer. She filed the first ever women's discrimination law suit in Montgomery to allow her daughter admission to the all male class. It did not go through. I was dropped off at class every day after school, and sat on the bleachers to watch the class I was not allowed to attend. After two weeks, the door was locked, and again I was asked to leave. I came back, and stood in a chair, learning my first forms through a tiny gym door window. After a while, the chair was taken from me, and I was asked to leave the premises again. The next night, the tiny window had been painted over. I took a quarter from my purse, and scraped a quarter sized holes in the paint to learn my next form. It was next covered in card board, and I was made to leave the premises again. By now, the men had tested for their first belts, orange, and I was not even allowed a uniform, or to even observe a class. The court's news came on October 6th, 1971 that the lawsuit was completed, and Carole Trawick, age 11 had won her fight and right to participate as the first female in a martial arts class. My Mom stayed with me that night, and actually got there at 3:00 after school again because of my excitement. That night I tried on my first dobahk. It was 3 sizes too big, but the smallest they had. When I went into the locker room to try it on, I felt something I never had before: "I know that I couldn't cry, because that would be a sign of weakness to the men that didn't want me there anyway, and it was huge on me, but it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and felt in my life. I still feel that way every time I put on my dobahk, now 38 years later." And the rest is Tang Soo Do history! I was the first female black belt in Montgomery, Alabama, the first female school owner, the first female Master, and the Federation's first female 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th dan.
Q: When did you decide to become a school owner?
A: I decided to open my own school after I graduated college. I had co-instructed with Master Michael Hicks for 11 years, and we wanted to spread Tang Soo Do throughout our area.
Q: What are your favorite memories of Tang Soo Do?
A: My favorite Tang Soo Do memories, were putting on my dobahk the first time. I also pretty much lived at my instructor, Ki Yul Yu's studio every second it was opened, and at 13 years old, I taught he and his family English. I was made an assistant Instructor at the age of 14. I soon started traveling the tournament circuit, and in 20 years won the World Breaking Championships, 7 Tang Soo Do Grand Championship Cups, and the Japanese US Open Championships, where I became the first woman to break a baseball bat with my shin in 1986. I trained for pro-sparring with karate great Joe Lewis, and I still love to break and spar today!!
Q: Who are your role models in Tang Soo Do?
A: Master Michael Hicks and KJN St. James. Master Hicks went to every court hearing to get the "no females allowed" rule taken out. He helped me become the first female martial artis in this part of the south. KJN St James accepted me into the APTSDF knowing my skills and love for Tang Soo Do. Wherever he goes, I am one step behind him, and he knows this is for life.