In 1971, Dr. Sang Kee Paik, Ph.D., a pathologist who immigrated to the US from S. Korea in 1969 began teaching the Chuan Fa system he had learned in Korea during the 1940s. Dr. Paik started his training in 1945 at the Sung Kyun Kwan University under a Shudokan Karate master, Ki Whang Kim. Having studied Shudokan Karate at the Nihon University in Tokyo, Japan under Toyama Kanken, Kim had accomplished a 3rd degree blackbelt in the Shudokan system.
As an employee of the Sung Kyun Kwan University, Master Kim had started the Karate club but there were times due to scheduling that Master Kim could not teach his karate classes. In such a case, he recommended that his students attend the Chosun YunMukwan and train with his senior and close friend, Byung In Yoon who had trained in the same hall with Master Kim and received the 4th degree in Shudokan.
Master Yoon, a skillful Shudokan blackbelt was first a Chuan Fa master having been born and raised in the Northernmost province of Korea. He frequented Manchuria and learned Chuan Fa from an original Chinese master. Master Yoon had set up the Kwon Bup section of the Chosun YunMuKwan. YunMukwan was a training center of martial arts in Seoul, Korea, Kwon Bup is Korean for Chuan Fa. In training with (Grand)master Yoon, Sang Kee Paik learned a flowing, waterlike martial art which was considered SOFT system. (Grand)master Kim had already set a solid Karate foundation.
In 1947, after several years of training, the young Dr. Paik became the first of the Kim/Yoon pupils to receive the blackbelt. Soon thereafter, Korean War broke out and Grandmaster Yoon disappeared, and after the war, Ki Whang Kim taught in the Seoul area where Dr. Paik pursued his passion. When Grandmaster Kim left for the US, in 1959, Dr. Paik sought out his friend and training mate at the old dojang, Grandmaster Chull Hee Park, who had founded the “Kang Duk Won Kwon Bup Bu” in 1956 and had been training many future grandmasters. Throughout the 60s, the 2 friends trained.
In 1969, the Paik family moved to the US. The Paik family had grown to four with son Peter and daughter Myung. Opened in 1971 and originally named “Paik’s Oriental Martial Arts Institute”, Dr. Paik started to teach the system he learned and researched in Korea. The system resembled the Chuan Fa he had learned from Yoon and the movements were flowing, circular, and absorbing, much like water. Named after the elements of life, Dr. Paik had a unique system he called “Sa-Sang”. Many of the concepts and techniques are based on the philosophy of the 4 elements, air, earth, fire, and water. Added to this his knowledge of Taekwondo style kicking, and the linear, direct attack style of Karate he had mastered from his days in Korea training under the Kim/Yoon tutelege, Dr. Paik had a unique, devastating system.
In the mid 1970s, Dr. Paik had surgery on both his knees, which had been bothering him for a while. To help instruct and manage his school, he brought on a young, dynamic Taekwondo Champion from Korea, Il Sik Kim to instruct for him. Master Kim introduced the Paik’s school to the competitive aspect of Taekwondo.
After Master Kim moved on to open his own schools in Indiana and Illinois, Paik’s school, now named Paik’s Academy of Martial Arts began to dominate the tournament scene. Always open to new ideas and systems, Dr. Paik instructed his son Peter and daughter Myung to attend all different styles of competitions, to pit their skills against the best other schools and systems had to offer.
Led by the younger Paik’s, particularly Peter, Paik’s academy enjoyed much success in the tournament arena. In the 1980s, the martial arts boom separated the martial arts industry into either a traditional school based on the philosophy and the traditions as passed on by the ancient masters, or the more modern school which taught a more trendy, “Americanized” version of martial arts.
Preferring to stay with a more traditional version of the martial arts, Dr Paik stayed close with the Taekwondo movement and was instrumental in helping Taekwondo become an Olympic sport. Also well aware of the bounds that tradition can put on progress, he developed Taekwondo’s creative side as he introduced the creative form competition in the 1990 United States Taekwondo Union National Championships which he was asked to host at the Dane County Coliseum in Madison, WI.
In 2011, Grand Master Sang Kee Paik was formally inducted into the Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame.
THE ETHIC OF ORIENTAL MARTIAL ART: A will to Superior Good
Many who witness a Tae-Kwan-Do, Kung-Fu, and Karate demonstration are impressed with its tremendous power and believe it is a violent sport. This is not true.
The Oriental Martial Art emphasizes the following: flexibility, balance, velocity, concentration, accuracy, impact combined with proper breathing in blocking, kicking and striking technique. The Art also emphasizes meditation. It is this combination which gives an Art an impressive and overwhelming amount of power. Power used for right and good is permissible, but amoral power is the most destructive force that exists. Therefore, the most important thing to learn about the Art is not only its techniques but also its ethic of superior good.
The ethic of the Oriental Martial Art can be learned through practice of meditation and its unique discipline which ensures complete coordination and balance of body and mind. To meditate properly, a person must be familiar with the oriental concepts of time, space, and eternity. It is a person’s meditation on these three subjects which will give him sensitivity and concentration necessary to use his Art power for the superior good.
Time – on the continuum of life, we are but a tiny dot in time. Millions of years have come before us, millions will come after. It is important to appreciate ourselves relative to an infinite number of points in time and to respect the significance of all different points. Right here, right now is but a dot — a tiny dot in time.
Space – Just as there are infinite dots in time, there are infinite points in space. We should not be overwhelmed by this vast number of points, but this should give us a mature appreciation for our own significance relative to other things.
There are many things to see, but there are also many ways to see just one thing. A small room is filled with many particles of dust, and a particle of dust is but a speck. But a speck of dust has ten faces and we must be flexible enough to see them all. We must learn perfect concentration so that we not only see the particle of dust, but its ten faces too. This is a sensitivity and awareness which enables us to see the object and to see all parts of the object at the same time.
Sensitivity and concentration are an important part of Oriental Martial Art. It is important to look at the opponent’s eyes, feel opponent’s breathing, but at the same time to see his temples, his hands, his groin…ten points. More than just sparring techniques, however, sensitivity and concentration heighten our entire appreciation of life. For example, love is blind for people who are blind. But for people who are sensitive, love is an experience of infinite sensation.
In some ways man is very analogous to a container. Just as there are all different men in the world, there are all different size containers. The more a man sees and appreciates, the bigger the container he will be. This does not depend on raw intelligence. Rather to be a big container of life requires a sensitivity and respect for the relative significance of oneself and all other things. The more subject we can see beyond our own point in time and space, and the more facets of a single object, the greater will be our capacity to understand and appreciate. In the long run, it is only men of great sensitivity and understanding who will be big enough to contain life and to know enough of it to distinguish good from all else. Only the man who can distinguish good is capable of good.
Eternity – According to the Oriental concept of eternity, everything is composed of (+) and (-)… two dualistic opposites such as life/death, hard/soft, day/night, heaven/earth, water/fire, man/woman, good/bad. These opposites are not necessarily antagonistic. They work in harmony, and there is always some of each to be found everywhere. For example, a man lives and dies at the same time. From the moment he is born, he starts his journey toward death. These two processes – life and death – are not stark opposites; they occur simultaneously. Since they are both present, we should not be afraid either of living or of dying. A true grasp of eternity is one which goes beyond fears of personal mortality and sees the flow of time – and all things in the flow of time – living and dying simultaneously.
Another eternity – pair which is important is good and bad. “Good” is something we do for another which makes his life easier or gives him some benefit. There are all different qualities of good depending on the consciousness and intent with which we perform our services for others.
If we have an ulterior motive for our actions, we might benefit others but the good we are doing really does not make us a more moral person on our own right. If we benefit others without necessarily seeking reward, we do a higher good. But if we can benefit others without being conscious of it — if we can be automatically and intrinsically good — that is the superior good.
A person who strives for superior good never has thought of status or reward. Such a person is a “big container”. One who has carefully meditated about himself and all other things and who understands what relative good is unconsciously strives for it. Such a man who strives for superior good must have superior vision and superior concentration, while other men fall prey to human weakness such as vanity, greed and arrogance. Such a superior man must ignore the temptation to be a self seeking materialist and to use the things he has acquired to hurt others by furthering himself at any cost. This is the ethic of Oriental Martial Art. A superior black belt will nevr use the techniques he has acquired to seek status by hurting others and showing off his techniques and training.
The man who falls prey to weakness distracts himself. And the man who distracts himself is not only capable of amorally using his force to destroy others, but in his weakness and misuse of the force, he himself is capable of being destroyed. He who is weak and destructive will himself be disposed of, for the ultimate power that exists is the power of good and truth. These last two qualities are what make a man superior; and by the laws of nature, the truly superior man, both physically and morally, will dispose of those who are strong only because of muscle and technique. For a man who holds a black belt – for a man who has tremendous power – there is no question as to whether he should strive for superior good. This is not a prerogative, it is a responsibility.
At first, superior good can be attained through meditations and discipline… a sensitivity and concentration which sees many objects and many facets of an object. Only by appreciating the relative significance of many things, can a man learn to come beyond himself and see himself as just one of many equal things in nature. And only when a man attains the perfect concentration that will bring him beyond himself will he make himself immune to the many weaknesses which stem from thinking of oneself.
Eventually, though, “superior good” will not be just something we meditate on before participating in Oriental Martial Art. Superior good must become an ethic – a standard which constantly guides our behavior at all times. A black belt always carries with him his power capability. He must always carry with him his ethic of superior good. He must do more than “carry with him”, he must constantly practice his ethic in life, to be sure that it is always firmly in his grasp and will never desert him in a moment of weakness. He must develop his ethics so that his ethic perseveres over any and all circumstances, no matter how difficult his situation may be. He must remember that power used amorally is the most destructive force that exists, and that the only responsible use of force is to have and constantly develop an ethic of superior good.
November 15, 1972 In the study of Sa-Sang System of Oriental Martial Art.
By: Grand Master Sang Kee Paik, Ph.D.