Student with Master PARK Sung Jae and Black Belt Lewis Hise

‚Äč   Lewis Hise and Rodney Hard Train in Korea

By:  Dr. Rodney T. Hard

In 1969, Lewis Hise found out that Master PARK's dojang (Hapkido school) was right outside of the military base on which he was stationed.   Lewis Hise  and Rodney Hard promptly signed up for lessons.  They received private lessons four days a week from Master PARK Sung Jae and trained three to four hours a day, four to five days a week for the next two years.

Hise and Hard were the first American students to train under Master PARK, and the first Americans to receive black belt certificates under Master MYUNG Jae Nam and Master PARK's Korea Hapki-Sool Association.

There was no air conditioning in the hot summers and training was hard.  A small pot bellied coal stove was the only heat in the non-insulated brick structure, so the training during the winter months was especially brutal.  

There were no makiwara boards to punch on for hand conditioning so they used the cement wall for a punching surface.   There was a big bloody stain on the wall where everyone practiced punching until their knuckles bled.

There was a target in the corner for knife throwing practice, but Hard and Hise also spent hours every week on the base practicing knife throwing.

The Tatami (straw mats) on the concrete floor covered with canvas was the not-so-forgiving training surface.  Techniques were learned by experiencing the pain and effectiveness of the technique over and over again from Master PARK.  

Techniques were practiced full bore with the attacker being thrown onto the hard mats by the defender.  If you did not practice proper falling techniques every day at the beginning of class, you would end up getting hurt during training.  Sometimes students would get hurt anyway. 

Hard was arguing with one of the Korean students once about the fact that there were some throws that were almost impossible to fall for without getting hurt.  The Korean student challenged Hard to try to throw him in a way that he could not fall safely.  He was totally confident that his falling techniques were superb and that he had mastered them.  Hard pulled a seldom seen Judo throw out of his bag of tricks and sent the Korean soaring over his head.  The student landed on his head and then lay there, lifeless.

Fear and remorse gripped him as Hard thought for sure he had killed, or at least paralyzed, the poor boy.  Fortunately, Master PARK was watching from the office and came right to the rescue.  He performed an  acupressure technique on the student and revived him in seconds.  Hapkido masters are also trained in healing techniques using Ki energy, breathing techniques, manipulation, and acupressure.

Master Park liked to learn and practice his English so he liked to hang out with Hise and Hard outside the Hapkido dojang.  He once told Hise, "When we go out together on our own time, we are friends.  In the dojang and in class, I am not your friend."  He did not have to tell that to Hise or Hard.  They knew that very well by experience.  Inside the school and in class, training was serious and PARK was the teacher, not the friend.  

One time, after formal class was officially over and during individual practice, Hard was  goofing off and not focused on practice for just a few minutes.  Master PARK came out of his office and poked Hard in the sternum with one finger.  This sent Hard flying across the room onto his back.  Hard took several minutes of gasping and holding his chest to finally get his air back.  He learned not to goof off at the dojang, whether in class or not.  

One time Master PARK got angry with the whole class, including Hise and Hard.  He put everyone in a knuckle push up position and beat everyone's back sides with a bamboo stick.

Now, over here in America, we would not dream of abusing students like that.  But this was a different culture.  Respect for teachers, elders, and especially for parents, was so strong that even adults were punished.  Master PARK was 34 years old at that time, and he took a severe beating with a cane from his father after saying something that was disrespectful to his father.

Rodney Hard and Lewis Hise in front of Hapkido dojang - 1970

What I Learned: 

I learned that good instruction, hard work, long hours of training, repetition, practical application, and perseverance were all important components in mastering the martial arts.
I learned that hardship and difficult training circumstances contributed to perfecting the martial arts rather than detracting from the learning process.

I learned that respect for your instructor and loyalty to your school and your art were absolutely imperative in order to develop into a true martial artist.

Rodney Hard jumping over sword attack from Master PARK Kyu Jae during training.

Master PARK Sung Jae with swords.

Dr. Rodney T. Hard