Although the year 2011 actually marks Grandmaster Andy Ah Po's 52nd year in Tang Soo Do, he celebrates his 45th anniversary this year of being promoted to Cho Dan. He began his Tang Soo Do training in 1959 with his original instructor Grandmaster Mariano Estioko (Dan Bon #759) in 1959. However, because Grandmaster Estioko had lost his direct ties with the Korean Soo Bahk Do (Tang Soo Do) Association, Moo Duk Kwan, at that time he advised all of his students that he would train them but did not feel he was authorized to promote them to the Dan level.
None-the-less, Grandmaster Ah Po and all of Grandmaster Estioko's original students during that period decided to continue training as this was more important to them then being concerned about receiving any rank. "This is how things were in the old days," states Grandmaster Ah Po, "all we ever wanted to do was train."
In 1965, Master Jong Hyung Lee who was stationed in San Diego in an exchange agreement between the U.S. and Korean military contacted both Mr. Mariano Estioko and Mr. Chuck Norris and was able to re-connect them with Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee and the Moo Duk Kwan. As a result, the first Tang Soo Do Dan testing in California was held in 1966 at Chuck Norris's dojang in Torrance, California. Grandmaster Estioko was promoted to 2nd Dan and Chuck Norris to 3rd Dan (although Estioko was Norris's senior he had not been tested since leaving Korea) at that time. Although more than 12 individuals tested for Cho Dan that day only Andy Ah Po (Dan Bon #10187), Gerald Taylor (Dan Bon #10188), and Vic Martinov (Dan Bon #10189) were promoted to Cho Dan at that time. Willie Norris, Chuck's brother (who was later killed in Vietnam) was also promoted to Cho Dan a few months later.