Today is the first anniversary of the death of the co-founder of the very first martial arts system I studied which was called Kang Duk Kwon. His name was Chul Hee Park.
Kang Duk Kwon, an early Korean style of Karate, eventually became known as Taekwando sometime after I received my first Black Belt and it later became famous with the rise of one of our students, Chuck Norris.
I had the pleasure of sparing with a number of the early martial artists like Chuck and Bruce, and I won one of the first early world karate championships.
In later years, two of my students won world level titles, and one went on to make movies like chuck.
In those early years, I was a “breaker”, and an exhibitionist and I was drafted to make martial arts movies, but it just wasn’t my thing.
Probably the thing I was most known for exhibition wise was blocking and catching arrows with hunting tips on stage which were shot directly at me by an archer and letting some of them go by and penetrate through a sheet of 1″ plywood behind me. But then one day I missed my block and one went through my hand and I decided to move on to other pursuits.
After achieving a third degree black belt in the Korean system and opening a chain of martial arts schools across the country, I went on to study Kung Fu and eventually became the Master of a whole system called Lung Gung Fa (The Dragon Forever Learning).
I actively continued my martial arts career until I was knocked off the top of a four story building in a construction accident. I broke my back and was hospitalized and in a wheelchair for a couple of years and I was told that I would never walk again, but as in other parts of my life, I refused to succumb to defeat. Instead, I used my martial arts training to design exercises to regain my strength and mobility and turned to the power of my spirituality to heal what supposedly couldn’t be healed. In the end I was successful!
After the accident I turned my skills to teaching paraplegics and the blind martial arts as a way of recovery and self empowerment.
My last great hurrah in the martial arts realm was when the current world champion at the time who was twenty years younger than me, challenged me to a public full contact match in Canyon Country California. I was still in a full back brace with metal stays when we fought, and after he threw a few kicks and punches at me I dislocated his arm and quickly broke his leg with a chop in the first minute and the match immediately ended as they took him to the hospital.
I believe that there are a few of my previous students here on my Facebook that were present at that last match.
I decided after that to retire from public martial arts, and I now just enjoy watching my son and grandson (who are both Black Belts) teach and compete. Both have won awards!
I have students across the world who have utilized their martial arts training to better their lives and I feel privileged to have been able to have helped contribute to that.
In any case, I owe this whole segment of my life to Chul Hee Park and Kang Duk Kwon Karate, and to my own direct instructor James Stewart, for inspiring me when I was just a kid, to reach for something higher.