While in Detroit recently, I stopped at a Tang Soo Do school. It was perhaps the most interesting experience I’ve ever encountered.
The Class was held in a small 20’ X 50” storefront. Crammed inside were at least 50 students. the students were undergoing the most rigorous form of karate training I have ever seen. The discipline was unbelievable. Not a sound was heard, yet most of the students looked like they were on the verge of passing out. The instructor, Sang Kyu Shim, a sixth degree black belt from Seoul, was putting them through side bend kicks and correcting their mistakes by hitting them full contact across the legs and soles of their feet with a length of broomstick.
Most of my training has been rather informal and I was actually shocked at the rigorous training methods. The class lasted three hours, and though I pride myself on being in top physical shape, I doubt if I would have been able to last the class out.
The free sparring included kicks and punches with full power focused inches from contact, jump kicks, side kicks, and back kicks, all face-high and in perfect control.
I introduced myself to Mr. Shim after class and was impressed with his quiet manner and humility. He answered my questions patiently.
I also asked why I had never seen him in Black Belt or his students in competition. He only smiled and said “Too busy training.” His students had absolutely no desire to compete or give exhibitions. They trained three and four times a week and that was all.
After 12 - 15 hours a week of constant training, a person might receive a Black Belt in four years - if he trained at home as well. His students had never competed and taught only at Mr. Shim’s request. One black belt I talked to turned over his salary to a Korean orphanage in Seoul, believing it a sacrilege to make money from his art.
I also learned that Mr. Shim was once responsible for teaching all the American soldiers in Korea a few years ago. Chuck Norris, in fact, may have been one of his students.
Incidently I also discovered that students had been suspended for up to three month for whispering in class, not bowing to a higher belt when approaching him and having a dirty uniform...yet they all came back.
Gary Schroen, East St. Louis, IL
COMMENT: Many complaints have been heard from the students who have started recently about the disciplined and strenuous classes they have encountered this year. Instead of complaining, perhaps they should take a lesson from this article and practice positive thinking in order to improve themselves to be able to keep up with classes. It’s not the classes that are hard - it’s the students who are mentally and physically lazy.
The above article was taken from “Black Belt” magazine August, 1967.
Everything above (including the “COMMENT”) was reprinted in “So Shik,” the official newsletter of Master Sang Kyu Shim’s “United Tae Kwon Do” Korean Karate clubs, Vol. 1 - Issue 2 (circa 1980)