I’ve been practicing the martial arts for about 18 years in total now and that probably makes me just experienced and knowledgeable enough to get myself into trouble.  But I figured, “what the heck”.  My teachers have always told me that explaining something to a person will help me to understand that which I’m explaining even more.  So I put this site together to share my observations, discoveries, and epiphanies as I continue to practice the martial arts.  And who knows, may be this will actually be useful for someone else, too.

So who am I?  Well, I was born in Seoul, South Korea, but I grew up in NYC.  In college at Columbia University I started to practice Wing Chun before I discovered the first art that became what I’d call my “major”.

This was Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu (Jook Lum Gee Tong Long Pai) under Sifu Norman Chin.  I became a disciple under him and trained this style exclusively until I graduated school and had to move out of NY and down to Atlanta.

In Atlanta, I started to train in WHF-style Hapkido at a club at Georgia Tech ) where I attended graduate school and trained under Professor Thom Abelew (an actual professor of biomechanics at Emory U.  This became the first or my many “minors” – a most serious minor at that.

It wasn’t long before I found a school teaching a Taiwanese version of Hung Gar, the Chien Hong School of Kung Fu under the direction of Sifu Gary Mitchell.  This style, became my second “major”.  I also started a small club to teach and continue to train Southern Mantis and through it met a number of other people who shared their experiences and knowledge with me.  This cross pollination was an eye opening experience – both because I was exposed to different styles, but also because this was my first foray into teaching martial arts.

I continued to explore other arts while in Atlanta, “auditing” styles like Aikido and Kali/Escrima.  In 2003 I moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles after getting hired at a startup company and a new chapter in my practice began.  Here I started to train with Sifu Jason Tsou of the WuTan lineage and began my training in Baguazhang, my third “major”.

Under Sifu Tsou, I also “minored” in Taijiquan, Northern (7 star) Mantis, Xingyiquan, and Longfist.  Being a single guy (at the time) with way too much time on my hands, I continued to practice Aikido at the Pasadena Aikikai, and took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Joe Camacho for a time.  I later switched to minoring in Bujinkan Taijutsu under Tim Brown of Muzosa-LA, before also training in Judo at the San Fernando JACC.

All in all, I’ve “majored” in 3 main arts – Southern Praying Mantis, Hung Gar, and Baguazhang.  I’ve seriously “minored” in Hapkido, Aikido, and Bujinkan Taijutsu.  I’ve “audited” Wing Chun, Kali, Judo, BJJ, Northern Mantis kung fu, Long Fist, and Taijiquan.  Currently, I’m focusing on my practice of Xingyiquan, as well as my three main majors.  I’ve also started to practice Pilates and got into road biking and running (thanks to my wife).

I’m a physicist by training, and an engineer by profession, so I look at everything I do with an eye for internal consistency and scientific thoroughness.  I’m also a major history buff, so I appreciate and historical and cultural context from which the various arts, training methods, and idiosyncrasies originated and think that keep that in mind is important to fully understanding what we are practicing.  I hope this blog will be of use to you, and will help you in whatever art or system you practice.  And, I’m always open for comments and critiques, and love a lively debate.

— Kieun