Master Robert Caputo, founder of Tang Soo Tao, was born in the U.S.A. in 1950. At the age of 10 he began his martial arts journey firstly studying Judo and then Japanese Karate before beginning his study of Tang Soo Do.
As a young Black Belt he had a keen interest in meditation and spent hours each day practicing as well as reading what he could find and talking to martial artists from different styles. In search of answers to what he felt was missing from his training he embarked on what was to become the first stage of a life’s quest.
Master Caputo would train with anyone from any style and would travel great distances in order to find other dedicated martial artists. Traveling to Korea he trained under the founder of Tang Soo Do, Grandmaster Hwang Kee and in Japan he met and trained with a number of great masters including Gogen Yamaguchi (Goju) and Tohei Sensei (Aikido) refining his skills, practicing yoga and practicing and studying meditation.
In the mountain monasteries of Korea he began his study of Shi Palge and with that his cultivation of internal energy through the practice of both Nei Gung and Wei Gung exercises.
His travels then took him to Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, studying and training before eventually arriving in Darwin Australia in 1974, the birthplace of what Master Caputo later called Tang Soo Tao. Using Darwin as his home base he regularly traveled back to Asia studying Tai Chi, Hsing I, Pa Kua and oriental medicine.
In 1976 Master Caputo had a life changing experience when he met and received teachings from the Tibetan Buddhist Lama, Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche at Chenrezig Institute on Queenslands Sunshine Coast. Those teachings and the close bond he formed with his spiritual teacher set him on the path that was to answer all his questions.
Receiving letters of introduction from Ven. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, Master Caputo traveled to India to meet the exiled king of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Receiving his blessings Master Caputo was given instruction and initiation by a number of high lamas including both the senior and junior tutors to the Dalai Lama, H.H. Kabje Ling Rinpoche and H.H. Kabje Trijang Rinpoche as well as H.H. Rato Rinpoche.
Master Caputo completed a number of long meditation retreats in India and went on to open the first clinic of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Darwin. He also established a centre in Victoria for the practice of martial arts and spiritual retreats.
Sadly, Master Caputo died in a car accident in 1985.
We dedicate our practice in his honour.
Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
In 1976, Rinpoche moved to Australia to translate and teach at the Chenrezig Institute for Wisdom Culture in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Queensland. It was during this time that our founder, the late Master Robert Caputo, met Rinpoche, beginning a lasting friendship. In 1980, Rinpoche accepted the invitation of his Canadian students and moved to British Columbia, Canada, where he still resides today.
Over the past 26 years Rinpoche has given numerous teachings, discourses, commentaries, initiations and meditation retreats for all his students around the world, including numerous workshops and retreats for the students of Tang Soo Tao. Zasep Rinpoche has now been teaching in the west for over 25 years. He is knowledgeable in six languages: Urdu, Hindi, Sanskrit, Thai, Tibetan and English.
He is spiritual director of more than twelve Buddhist meditation centres in Canada, Australia and the United States and we are honoured to have him as our spiritual master.
Grandmaster Ah Po
Grandmaster Ah Po (Tang Soo Do) gave regular instruction to the students of Tang Soo Tao for almost 15 years.
Through him senior instructors were guided to the rank of master.
We thank him for sharing his unique insights into martial arts and martial movement with us. His invaluable contribution to Tang Soo Tao has changed the way we move forever.
Master Anthony Brown, 5th Dan, began his training in 1976 under Master Caputo.
Following in his instructors foot steps, he became a student of Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine having now been in practice for 30 years. Master Brown was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism in the late 1970's and travelled to India with Master Caputo to receive teachings when he was 19.
He is deeply involved in the continuing Tang Soo Tao links with Tibetan Buddhist teachings in meditation and all aspect of the internal arts. Master Brown, with Master Spielkamp has been instrumental in facilitating the growth and progressiveness of modern Tang Soo Tao.
Master Deiter Spielkamp
Master Dieter Spielkamp began training in 1974. He is a 5th Dan instructor and was Master Caputo's first student.
He was the first person to establish a friendship with Master Caputo in Australia and this experience cemented Master Speilkamp's lifelong and continuing journey as a martial artist.
Master Speilkamp's steel like commitment to his work, opening and supporting many schools in Australia is legendary. His deep understanding of meditation and internal arts is, with Master Brown’s knowledge, fundamental to the ongoing evolution of Tang Soo Tao.