Aspen man celebrating 50 years of practicing Moo Duk Kwan

Staff report
Jeff Moonitz demonstrates a proper takedown in Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, a traditional South Korean martial art.
Courtesy photo

Local resident Jeff Moonitz is celebrating his 50th anniversary in the Korean martial art Moo Duk Kwan on Sunday.

Master Moonitz began training in Southern California under Chuck Norris during the peak of the old-school tournament circuit. By 1975, Norris had gone to Hollywood, while Moonitz chose to attend the charter meeting for the US Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation (then known as Tang Soo Do) with its founder, Hwang Kee.

The next year, Moonitz moved to Aspen and became a officer in Snowmass while building the Rocky Mountain Martial Arts program. He and a few hard core students even trained in Harron Park during the winter months while waiting for the studio to be built. In 2018, he retired and handed down the Aspen Rocky Mountain Martial Arts to Jennifer Gibbons.

Branches of Rocky Mountain Martial Arts can be found in Basalt (1995), New Castle (2006) and Denver (2019) under the leadership of Moonitz’s student Jeff Griggs, who was born and raised in Aspen. One of Master Moonitz’s students who share the art with schools in Sun Valley and Hailey, Idaho, is Oliver Whitcomb (son of Aspen’s Dr. Whitcomb). His students have branched off with schools in Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah.