Korean Kung Fu (Sip Pal Gi)
We teach a rare Traditional Northern Shaolin Longfist Mantis system that is very prevalent in South Korea (sometimes referred to as Sip Pal Gi).
Sip Pal Gi (short for Sip Pal Ban Byung Gi) can be translated as “The 18 Weapons System” or “The 18 Skills System.” The other name that most Koreans recognize is “So Rim Kwon Bup (Shaolin Quan Fa in Chinese)” which means Shaolin Fist Method in Korean.
The system is authentic traditional Northern Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu. When the Shaolin Temples in China were being burned many monks fled for refuge in other countries. Many of the monks from the Shantung Province fled to Korea. Shantung Province in China is famous for its Praying Mantis and this is why many Kung Fu systems taught in Korea claim to have a Northern Praying Mantis lineage.
Upon relocating to Korea, a few of the Chinese monks befriended some of the local Korean Masters and shared their Kung Fu with these masters. In the early 60’s and 70’s a few of the Korean masters relocated to the United States and began teaching this art to Americans.
This is why the art is usually taught by Korean Masters in America. The most notable living Korean Master is Grand Master Lee Duk Gang (Lee De Jiang in Chinese) who lives in Seoul, Korea.Grand Master Lee Duk Gang (pictured above to the right) was born in the city of Yantai, Shantung Province. He is still teaching daily in Seoul, Korea in his late 70's.
Two other Masters in Korea are Grand Master Seung Un Seung and Grand Master Doo Hak Jae. These 3 masters were the Masters of Grand Master Byong Yil Choi who came to the United States in 1971 and settled in Los Angeles. Grand Master Hi Seup Na also studied with Grand Master Choi in Korea before coming to the United States, as well as with two other Masters in Korea, One of which was a prominent Praying Mantis Master.
Grand Master Byong Yil Choi and Grand Master Hi Seup Na are my immediate Masters although I originally learned the art from Grand Master Young Pyo Choi before meeting Grand Masters Byong Yil Choi (no relation) and Hi Seup Na in California.
Sip Pal Gi is Traditional Northern Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu with a slight Praying Mantis influence. Some systems of Kung Fu taught in Korea tend to focus more on this element while others will focus more on the Long Fist elements of the art. Still others incorporate elements of Bagua Kung Fu.
There are small pockets of these schools spread out across the United States (many of them do not know of the existence of each other outside their own schools). It has been my mission since 1996 to unite these practitioners and to research and proliferate this art.
This Kung Fu system has been validated by some very high ranking Chinese masters in the United States and I have personally been told, through these masters (by viewing our forms and basics) that our system is Pure, Traditional Shaolin Longfist and that few changes or modifications have been made to the style by the Korean masters who learned the art.
Sip Pal Gi is considered an “external” style of Kung Fu. Most schools also teach Traditional Tae Geuk Kwon (Tai Chi Quan, an internal art) to help balance out the art. The majority of Sip Pal Gi schools teach the Yang style of Tai Chi and generally teach the 24-Step Yang form and/or the 48-Combined form.
Weapons training also plays a large part of Sip Pal Gi (hence the translation “18 weapons”) - Ban Byung in Korean is translated as “Weapons.” The full name of the system we teach is sometimes known as "Sip Pal Ban Byung Gi." Many American instructors mistakenly spell the word Sip as "Ship."
In Korean language “Si” is pronounced “SH.” Many American instructors are not aware of this and since the word is “pronounced” SHIP, it is commonly misspelled. Other spellings can include Shippalgi, Sib Pal Ki, Shippal Gi, Sippalki.
It should also be noted that there is another system of Sip Pal Gi that dates back to a book, written in Korea's Royal Palace days that refers to an art called Sip Pal Gi. There is a group in Korea that has attempted to recreate this art. This art is not the same art as the one discussed here. There are some similarities to many of the techniques and even some of he basics, but that's as far as it goes. There is also an art taught in Argentina by a famous Master known as Park Bok Nam. This particular style bears no resemblance to the art mentioned here.
Sip in Korean means “TEN.” Pal means “Eight.” Sip Pal then means “Eighteen.” Gi or Ki means “Energy or Power (the Chinese call it “Chi”) It can also be translated to mean "Technique," since the Korean Character for "Ki" is the same for both "Energy and Technique." The actual Chinese translation is "Technique."
Sip Pal Gi has very distinct basic stances such as Horse, Mountain, Small Mountain, Four-Six Stance, Crane (or single leg), Cat (or empty), Mantis (or stretching stance or drop stance) and scissor stance (or twisting stance).
Tan Tui (Tan Tei or Dam Doi in Korean) is also practiced in Sip Pal Gi. Tan Tui (Springy Legs) is the backbone of the system and contains all the basic elements of the entire system in 12 Roads (or Tangs) which are basically short forms consisting of 2 to 4 movements that are repeated in line drill fashion at the beginning of each class to help the practitioner develop his basic skills and endurance.
Most Sip Pal Gi systems have one particular empty hand form called “So Ho Yun Kwon (Xiao Hu Yan Quan in Chinese) which can be translated as “Little Flying Tiger.” This is probably the most popular form in the world in the Traditional Northern Shaolin Kung Fu World and versions of it can be found in Northern Praying Mantis systems as well as many Tang Soo Do and Traditional Tae Kwon Do systems as well. The form is known for its raw power and its signature blocking techniques.
When it comes to weapons nearly all Sip Pal Gi practitioners learn a special Broad Sword form called “O Ken Yang Do” which is loosely translated to mean “5 harmonies Broadsword.” Yang Do” in Korean means “Broad Sword” (Darn Dao in Chinese). “O” means “Five” in Korean. The word Ken (spelling may be incorrect although this is the spelling given to me by my Masters) is a word that all of my Masters were somewhat uncertain of but which is thought to mean something like “Harmony.” This particular Broadsword form is usually taught later in the curriculum after the Basic Broadsword form is taught (Kibon Yan Do, Chuji Darn Dao, in Chinese)). The form can be immediately recognized by a special “Chicken” walk in which the practitioner is cutting his opponent and then shaking the blood from the blade as he walks in a circle. It is a very beautiful form and is usually the staple Broadsword form for most students of Sip Pal Gi.
The art of Sip Pal Gi includes a total of 18 different Chinese weapons which include the 4 Core weapons of Long Staff, Broadsword, Spear and Straight Sword and also include all the flexible weapons such as the 9-Section Chain Whip, Rope Dart and 3-Section Staff as well as the Iron Fan, Kwan Dao and Pu Dao, along with several other weapons.
Sip Pal Gi is known for its powerful low stances and devastating strikes with the inner and outer wrist. Iron Body conditioning to both sides of the wrist is a staple part of the Sip Pal Gi practitioner’s training and these areas of the body are developed into deadly weapons by the time a student reaches Black Sash. Many of the forms highlight strikes with these two areas of the arm to help teach the student proper use in real self-defense.
Chin Na is also practiced in most Sip Pal Gi schools. Chin Na (Kum Na in Korean) is the art of Seizing and this is the art that gave birth to Hapkido and Aikido. It is a very complex art and takes many years to master it. Praying Mantis Kung Fu is closely related to Chin Na as well and is where you will see some of the influence in Sip Pal Gi through the practice of several traditional 2-Man sets.
The art of Sip Pal Gi is a very comprehensive Martial Art and also includes Dynamic Tension training (known in Korean as Dan Jun Hohup) which involves use of the famed “8 Section Brocade” as a warm up to most classes. In these exercises the student learns to cultivate his Chi (Ki in Korean) and learns how to direct his Chi into his movements to help improve health and strength through dynamic tension of muscles and breathing while executing very simple movements on either side of the body.
There are also many flashy jump kicks taught in Sip Pal Gi which are included in several of the upper ranking and Black Sash forms that are included to help the student develop explosiveness and stamina.
The art of Tae Kwon Do is a direct descendant of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu and all of the Kicks of Tae Kwon Do, along with many kicks not familiar to a Tae Kwon Do practitioner, in Sip Pal Gi.
Once a student of Tae Kwon Do has learned the art of Sip Pal Gi he will have a much deeper understanding of his kicking and his basic movements as performed in his forms.
The sparring aspect of Sip Pal Gi is more of a natural combat type of sparring in which a student will incorporate sweeps and take downs, strikes to the face, body and legs and will make use of open and closed hand strikes as well as multiple types of kicks.