Skip to content | Caps, Gowns & Black Belts

March 30, 2007


University of Bridgeport First In U.S. To Offer Martial-Arts Degree
March 18, 2007
By JESSE LEAVENWORTH, The Hartford Courant

Preparing for midterm exams recently, some University of Bridgeport students passed around square boards, padded vests and helmets.
Paired off in the university dojo, sparring students landed bone-jolting kicks before moving on to a board-breaking test. One student failed in three tries to split an inch-thick slab held about 5 feet high. Another tried to kick through two boards held at different levels. He broke the lower board twice but couldn’t crack the upper.

Professor Yongbom Kim slowed down the student and urged him to concentrate. “Last chance,” Kim said before the student’s third try.
Splat! Splat! The class cheered, then sat silently while Kim prepared to announce grades.

Faculty members, however, are quick to counter perceptions that they’re handing out college degrees for barroom fighting or bully beating. Although physical training is a big part of the program, students also must absorb a liberal-arts curriculum that includes the psychology of martial arts and the history of fighting skills developed in China, Korea and Japan.
“We’re trying to raise the level of consciousness about what the martial arts really represent,” said Mark K. Setton, a professor of world religions who is chairman of the martial-arts studies program.
In South Korea, more than a dozen colleges offer martial-arts degrees, but Connecticut’s Board of Governors for Higher Education called the University of Bridgeport’s program the only one of its kind in the Western world.
The board licensed the program in October 2004 and granted full accreditation in December. Winning state approval wasn’t easy. In evaluating the proposed program, state officials wanted to see more diverse course offerings.
“After reviewing the original curriculum, [the state Department of Higher Education] expressed its concerns that the major requirement and the free elective categories appeared to focus on the `practice’ rather than the `theories, histories and religions’ related to martial arts,” a state report on the university’s license application said.
“Basically,” Setton said, “the message was: `Do you realize how significant this is?’ and `You better get it right because you’re setting a tradition here.'”
Raised in England, Setton had an early interest in Asia, particularly Confucianism, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education and East Asian philosophy and a master’s degree in Confucian studies from Sung Kyun Kwan University in Seoul, South Korea.
He speaks Korean and Japanese and has taught at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of California at Berkley and at Oxford University in England, where he earned his doctorate.
Kim, a native of South Korea, holds a seventh-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
The director of the university’s Martial Arts Institute also has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in martial arts, from Kyung Hee University in South Korea. He has been teaching tae kwon do at the University of Bridgeport for about 10 years.

Source: | Caps, Gowns & Black Belts

This is a Reader’s Digest of the article. 

A neighbor and I were talking about the need for better education as we watch students walking from school.  I’m going to tell my neighbor about this program at the University of Bridgeport.  Families need more education opportunities like this for their children.  What do you think?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2007 8:19 am

    I was looking for some info about the martial arts degree at UB and discovered your site, this morning. I was pleasantly surprised. I love the music that first comes on, so soothing an relaxing. I work with Dr. Setton on other projects and enjoyed your write up. I also do quite a bit of freelance writing on varius subjects. So now that I know where you are I will be visiting you frequently. I love the idea “family party”. That’s the real party. Thanks again for the reprise in the early morning sun.

    G Davies

    • 1familyman permalink
      June 23, 2009 12:48 pm

      Time has past . How are things going with your work at ? The Family Party got a real blast with the Father’s day celebration. It is interesting that no one thought seriously of taking a day to honor fathers until a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, sitting in a church service on Mother’s Day, thought of her father, who acted as both father and mother to his six children after his wife’s death years earlier. It occurred to her that he deserved to be honored every bit as much as the mothers of the world. She arranged for a tribute to her father in 1910, and began a campaign to declare an official annual holiday in honor of the fathers. Though a bill was introduced in 1913, it was only in 1972 that President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day an official holiday in America. Here’s to the fathers!

  2. 1familyman permalink
    May 5, 2007 3:02 pm

    Hello G Davies

    Thank you for your kind words. I visited your site.’s History Page shared about Abraham Maslow and the positive psychology movement. A memory arose of Feb. 21st 1968 at the Jesuit’s St. Charles College Novitiate classroom in Grande Catou, LA. as Fr. Romagosa was prepareing us second year novices for the permanent vowes of Poverty, Chastity, and Obiedience. He used Maslow’s “encounters” with self, woman and the world as the backdrop of his guidance. I was 21 and wanted to do God’s will no matter what. Fr. Romagosa, S.J. summed up his guidance stating, “Since Adam, man has failed to fulfill the three blessings God granted which were, to be fruitful (our encounter with self), multiply (our encounter with woman/family) and have dominion over this world (our encounter with the world). We renounce our encouter with self through the vow of obiendience, our encounter with woman/family through the vow of chastity and our encounter with the World through the vow of poverty. We renounce or stand back from these blessings so that we may stand as a symbol that God intended something more. I nodded as I thought through his words. I was ready. And then, uninvited, these words reverberated through the whole of my being, ” WHY DID I GIVE THEM TO YOU?” My internal, immediate, uncomplicated response was, “TO FULFILL THEM.” Awakened, it took three days for me to keep my ship on its course and steer out of the tributary with the conviction I will find a way to fulfill the three blessings.

    I shared this with you because Maslow was a significant contributor to that Feb. decision to keep the course to encounter self, woman/family and the world.

    Your Brother,

  3. May 24, 2007 3:29 am

    Nice to see the martial arts are going more mainstream. Learning about the Self is more valuable than just learning how to be a more productive member of the economical machine.

  4. renee permalink
    September 6, 2007 12:16 pm

    Thanks for the awesome and soothing music and for the info on the Bridgeport TKD program. My son – a 3rd degree blackbelt , 22 years old, and a christian is searching for his future as God directs and is considering the university – or some of its summer programs.
    Very soothing music… in life’s busyness… a blessing for today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: