School History

Northern Illinois Tang Soo Do was founded in 1998 as classes provided through the Oswegoland Park District. The original head instructor was Master Tom McGregory who established the class after he taught alongside his instructor Master Chuck Baehr. His philosophy of martial arts teaching was to teach the traditional style of Tang Soo Do, but to do it in a fun and safe environment focusing on honor, respect, and discipline. Our school operated through the park district for 18 years until the park district needed to condense offerings due to limited space. Our school moved to it's current location in 2016. During this time Master Tom handed the school over to his Assistant Instructor, Master Bill Knopf. Master Bill continued to run the program following Master Tom's philosophies of Tang Soo Do, and expanded the school's inclusion of self-defense instruction. After six years of being the head instructor Master Bill has transferred the instruction of Northern Illinois Tang Soo Do to his Assistant Instructor Master Mikey Tito. Master Mikey's goal for Northern Illinois Tang Soo Do is to build a community of martial artists that emulate honor, respect, and discipline, and enjoy both the art and application of Tang Soo Do.

Instructors

Master Mikey Tito

4th Dan

Mikey began training at Northern Illinois Tang Soo Do in 2003, at the age of 8, under the instruction of Master Tom McGregory. At the age of 15, Mikey started instructing during the beginner class every week with Master Tom teaching the white belt class. Mikey completed his First Dan Black Belt test in 2012 at the age of 18. Mikey continued to teach as assistant instructor to Master Bill Knopf until August 2022 when he took over as head instructor. Mikey also teaches 5th Grade in the DeKalb School District and uses his background in education to develop new ways to help students evolve their skills in Tang Soo Do.

Master Tom McGregory

6th Dan

Master Tom McGrgegory is a 6th degree black belt and has been teaching Martial Arts for over 20 years. He began his martial arts training in 1992 under the direction of Master Chuck Baehr. Master Baehr trained him in the art of Tang Soo Do with additional emphasis on Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu, T’ai-Chi Ch’uan, Isshinryu Karate, Small Circle Jujutsu and various weapon styles of the listed empty hand styles. Master Tom has awarded rank over 1000 times.

Mastery Teddy Leggett

6th Dan

Master Teddy began studying Tang Soo Do under the instruction of Master Gill Hernandez at West Chicago Tang Soo Do in 1991. He earned his First Dan Black Belt in the fall of 1996. He has also recieved training in the styles of Hapkido, Judo, and Jujitzu. Master Teddy brings his experiences to Northern Illinois Tang Soo Do and is a valuable instructor at the school.

Master Bill Knopf

4th Dan

Master Bill Knopf discovered his interest in Tang Soo Do in 2001 and began teaching the martial art form in 2007 alongside his instructor, Master Tom McGregory. Since he began teaching, Master Bill has worked with over 100 students.  Students under his direction focus on learning while having fun. The goal of every class session is to increase students' understanding of, and abilities in, Tang Soo Do.

Taylor Knopf

3rd Dan

Taylor began studying the art of Tang Soo Do when she was 6 years old. Her instructor since the start has been Master Tom McGregory. She received her 1st Dan (black belt) just prior to her 16th birthday on August 3, 2011 after studying for 10 years. Taylor has been teaching since she was 12 years old and has instructed over 100 students. Taylor is currrently away at college and returns periodically to instruct.

Kat Lenertz

1st Dan

Kat started learning Tang Soo Do at age 11 in 2014 under the instruction of Master Bill and Master Mikey. Kat began assisting with instruction of beginner students at the age of 15 as needed to fill in for the instructors when they were absent. After seven and half years, Kat tested for her First Dan black belt at the age of 19 in 2022. Kat continues to assist with the instruction of students in both the beginner and advanced classes.

John Baker

1st Dan

John began studying Tang Soo Do with Master Gill Hernandez at West Chicago Tang Soo Do in 2001 at the age of 17. He obtained the rank of brown belt (3rd gup) before taking an extended break. John returned to the art in 2017 and started lessons with Master Mikey and Master Teddy in 2018. He earned his First Dan black belt in 2022. In addition to Tang Soo Do, John has studied boxing and Muay Thai kickboxing.