True Lineage from Grandfather to Father in the Martial Arts.

Grand Master Park Byung Hoon 1971

Grand Master Park, Byung Hoon

This past month, for the first time since accepting the position of President of the World Song Moo Kwan Association, I was able to speak Grand Master Park, Byung Hoon who, contrary to false assertions, remains well and active in Australia.  He is and will always be known as ‘Lion Park.’

The value of tradition and proper conduct is not lost on those of us who truly seek to see Song Moo Kwan ‘cherished’ in its proper context as the first of the Kwans.  Understanding that those who came before us continue to provide the knowledge that makes a difference in all we present (as examples) to the world.

In the proper order of a person’s conduct, your focus as a Song Moo Kwan member should be:

1) A person’s relationship with their Deity.  This instills and engenders a moral code.  That which provides for one’s family as well as ones moral self.

2) The School.  Your martial arts school comes second to the exclusion of all other activities.  The safety, security, and success of the school itself, includes the promotion, presentment, and assured financial success of that school as it represents YOU in your noted accomplishments in attendance.

3) Your Master/Instructor.  The people that trained you cannot be denied, put aside, or otherwise erased as your progression continues. You have a responsibility to see that your Instructors can pay their bills, meet their personal needs, and are honored for what has been brought to you by their adherence to this same duty.

4) Fellow Students.  The well-being of your fellow students depends on YOU.  You are the catalyst that brings about their successful training.  When you actively seek to serve others, you have adopted a success-minded basis for training.  Your fellow students need to be encouraged, uplifted and respected as you would have them respect you.

5) Self.  Self is your time and place for receiving the instruction needed for advancement. In the world today, most people see themselves as the center.  Especially when they become instructors.  They run from place to place to receive instruction, certificates and those who would lift them up before their appointed time in current systems.

When someone permits ‘pride’ and instant gratification to replace the proper order of things, then the ability to grow (for one’s self and their school or association) is lost.  You have a DUTY to build from within.  The strength of your organization, your Dojang, your fellow students and yourself depends on not shrinking from that duty.

If you have accepted an appointment of leadership, it is your responsibility to reach out and commence actions that will build that organization.  It is your duty to establish protocols of reaching out to learn (and to organize) your position with others that have likewise been called.  It is not for you to wait to be ‘told’ what to do.  Not if you have called yourself a leader, an instructor, a Master.

It may be explained by asking yourself what the difference between “training” and “practice” might be?

This week a 7th Dan and 5th Dan sat before me puzzled at my request for them to define the difference.  So may you, until you understand in this context:

A student goes to his/her teacher to become a concert Violinist. Their instructor shows them how to hold the instrument, how to prepare the fingering, and how to refrain from sour notes as they move up the musical scale.  When that training is over, what comes next.  The person leaves and must them ‘practice’ the lesson learned.

‘Training’ is what your Master/Instructor provides to you.  Practice is what you should be doing when you have left the training hall and are on your own.  You cannot seek additional knowledge when you have not ‘practiced’ what you have been provided in the lesson.  If you do not practice, then it becomes a waste of time for all involved.  You will have placed yourself above your school, your instructors, and your fellow students.

Why does someone who seeks knowledge not spend the time necessary to practice what they have been given before rushing to receive more?  Not even ten percent of the knowledge that could have been obtained from practicing a single lesson will be retained without practice.  If that violinist has practiced a single musical number for 20 to 50 hours, and continues to practice through the years, then why should your disdain for practice permit advancement after only a few hours of personal time on the mat?

Grand Master Park never charged for advancement to Black Belt.  There were many who asked if they could test.  Some, he would not permit to test until they were ready.  Others, after pestering him, might be permitted to test.  Yet, their name did not appear on the roster of those passing.  The lessons on the mat were each reinforced by equally proper elements of proper presentation.

Grand Master Park taught that lineage was more important than anything.  He did not disparage your training in other systems, nor other masters – with his permission.  It was understood that YOU were a part of HIS lineage, and that of Supreme Grand Master Ro, Byung Jick.  He did not tolerate people running from school to school to puff themselves up.  Nor any negativity towards your seniors.  And still does not accept those who breach protocols.

When I called him, someone else answered.  I was told that he was not available.  Then I spoke in Korean, giving my name, Korean name, then my lineage.  Grand Master came on the phone.  He told me that he was aware, and proud, that I had been appointed President of the World Song Moo Kwan Association.  He stated that he remembered all, from my time in Tucson forward.  We are corresponding, and look forward to his coming to the United States for a visit.

I was able to thank him for all he has done.  Some in the Korean language and some in English.  I was able to share with him the fact that his teaching me of Song Moo Kwan continues to bless my life.  My lineage of the Song Moo Kwan journey is that Grand Master Park is my “Father”; Doju Byung Jick Ro being my ‘Grandfather.’  And this is the proper order of things.

So, today I enclose a photo of the man who brought me to an understanding of how to follow traditions.  This Photo is from 1971, when Grand Master Byung Hoon Park was still the head of ALL Southeast Asian Special Forces, and Head of all Police Forces in Korea, under Supreme Grand Master Ro.  A reminder of the man, the training, the sweat of individual ‘practice’ that made us who we are today.

Thank you, Grand Master Park.  Thank you Supreme Grand Master Ro.  And, thank you Senior Grand Master Ro, Hee Sang, for reminding us that tradition and legacy require hard work.



Grand Master Kirk Koskella,  8th Dan