A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Master Hwang In Shik's Great Question

Here's an important life lesson that I only recently came to apply to my writing.

The first martial art I studied was Hapkido, which would eventually lead me to a much longer time in Aikido. But back then, in Toronto, Hapkido was gaining more interest--thanks, in part, to the film Billy Jack. I'd begun in one school that, like most others, advertised its teachings of a dozen martial arts--with hopes of picking up oodles of students. So, a school might really teach Kung Fu but advertise Kick Boxing, Aikido, Hapkido, etc. I'd started off at such a school, let down and faintly disgusted by its commercial crassness and failure to deliver what it was that I'd set out to learn.

Well! Along came this little Korean named Master Hwang In Shik with an authentic 100% Hapkido academy...and a background that included films with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. I was hooked at our first meeting and stayed with him for years, until I returned to the States. A tough call. I'd fought long and hard for the right to go home--and I debated fiercely about staying in Toronto with this incredible teacher.

What was the great lesson he taught me? The locks and holds and throws had always interested me most, way over the punches and kicks. But one night he said something to me that would continue to reverberate long after my martial arts injuries caught up with my poor  body. This particular night I'd gotten distracted, so badly I couldn't perform in the class. All I could do was stand there and watch one young visitor from another school do back flips and high spinning kicks like Bruce Lee. Now, Master Hwang himself had always expressed pure contempt for movie-style antics, insisting that Lee had basically killed himself with those high-tension angry faces and cat-like kiais. Master Hwang saw what had caught my eye and watched me with amusement. Finally, he took me aside and said:

"Listen to me carefully. That boy is good, he's very good, at movie martial arts. But who will still be kicking thirty years from now?"

A week or so ago I Googled Eagle and Hapkido...and, lo and behold, I found the link below. Master Hwang In Shik is indeed still kicking. And thanks to him, I believe, I'm still kicking also--though no longer in a dojo. And also thanks to Master Hwang, I don't pay any mind at all to flashy ebook wonders that come along with promotional back flips and endless kiais of MeMeMe...with one or two books to their credit.

The only thing that counts is this: Who will still be kicking five or ten books down the line?

Here's the link for you to have a look at actor/fighter/teacher Master Hwang In Shik:


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