Charles “Buster” Hash

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

In 1965, at the age of 16, he began studying Mas Oyama-style Kyokushin Karate under an Army Captain named Coyne. CPT Coyne was a student of Bobby Lowe, a 5th Dan from Hawaii.

He graduated high school in June 1967 and boarded a bus to attend Army Basic Training at 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, attending classes 5-6 days a week, 4-5 hours each night. 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.

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. At a national-level promotional test in April 1970, the National Taekwondo Association recognized him as a first-degree blackbelt.

Returning to the United States in June 1970, Mr. Hash searched for a taekwondo school in Edgewood, MD, but found none. Mr. Hash was working on his associate’s degree at Harford Junior College when he saw a flyer announcing a karate class on campus 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 from Elkton, MD, John Patti, and Dennis Longo were teaching the class.

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, 7th dan, and John King, 2rd dan. 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.

Grandmaster Cooling promoted Mr. Hash to shodan in the Order of Isshinryu in the summer of 1972, nidan in June 1973, sandan in January 1983, and godan in July 2021. He was promoted to rokudan by Master Ortenzio-Cooling in November 2023.

Mr. Hash operated a dojo in Edgewood, Maryland, with Sensei(s) Tom Miller and John Patti from 1972 to 1974. Whenever possible, he also helped teach at the Bel Air, MD, dojo. In 1980, he opened a dojo in Shrewsbury, PA., and taught there through 1984.

Mr. Hash retired from the Army in 2007 as a Colonel after over 40 years of 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 trained under Master Chris Harris at the Hombu Dojo, Elkton, MD. He resides with his wife, COL(R) Dori Hash, in Dumfries, VA.

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