View Full Version : Paul Kang Sensei Passes Away

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05-31-2007, 07:29 PM
Posted 2007-05-31 18:24:12 by Jun Akiyama
News URL: http://www.bondstreet.org

Bond Street Dojo is sad to announce the passing of Paul Kang sensei, a Chief Instructor and long-time member. Paul suffered a stroke on May 20, and passed away peacefully early this morning surrounded by family and close friends. He is survived by his wife, Debra Hyndman-Kang and two step-children.

Bond Street Dojo members appreciate your concern and ask that you please not phone the dojo.

I personally had the chance to meet Kang sensei on many occasions over the years and will miss his quiet, strong presence. My condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones.

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05-31-2007, 11:58 PM
I can offer no words only Love. I was looking forward to seeing him this weekend at the dojo.

06-01-2007, 07:46 AM
Deepest compassion and condolences personally extended and from the Tenshinkai Westminster (CA) Aikikai and the Roswell (GA) Budokan.

George S. Ledyard
06-01-2007, 09:31 AM
What do you say when one of your friends passes on? I have known Paul Kang Sensei my entire Aikido career, over thirty years now. This was a highly intelligent and thoughtful man who brought that talent to his Aikido. If one took a class from him, one could see that everything he did had undergone a whole process of analysis. He didn't do anything "just because".

I remember, back in the early days when we as the senior students, took all the ukemi on the Dan tests. Paul was always the tanto dori uke. He was the uke from hell, I must say. I remember him attacking one of my friends on his nidan test. My friend had been stuck twice and Paul was gone while my friend was still thinking he could grab the first thrust. Paul was that fast. In the end, after having been stabbed several more times, my friend went straight in and knocked Paul flat, not even trying for the knife. At that point Paul calmly started attacking at normal speed so he could show some technique.

Even though I know that there are folks coming along behind, the loss of someone with Paul's depth of experience is something that effects us all. Aikido is changing and no one will exactly match his experience. I know that, when I go to our summer camps this year, there will be a hole there created by his absence. Just one less take on the art that I could benefit from. There will be others, of course, but it's as if you've seen something really rare disappear.

Anyway, I am going to miss him. I wish I had known him better, paid more attention when I had the chance. We cruised along for over thirty years on a path that intersected regularly but was individual in the end. It's going to be sad to look over and not see him moving up the mountain, blazing his own trail as I do mine.

Fred Little
06-01-2007, 10:36 AM
Thank you George.

By the time I met Paul Kang, he had taken on a very different role than you describe, with a correspondingly different approach that remained remarkably consistent for as long as I knew him.

When I think back over 20 years of training with Paul, I very rarely saw him offer anyone on the mat a specific correction. But there are a few things that were at the core of what he taught, and when teaching at Bond Street, he very rarely strayed from these:

1. Keep your back straight.

2. Keep training with a comparatively long stance to build solidity for your first ten or twenty years. Later, you can shorten it.

3. Keep good form at the conclusion of throws and between throws.

4. Keep training basics.

5. Keep training.

But what I always found most consistently instructive was what he would often do in-between classes: simply take a single basic movement and attentively practice it over and over, while continually changing the angles and directions through which he worked.

Beyond that, there is a single phrase that I only heard him speak once, which has resonated for me ever since. In a class devoted to ukemi, while working on ukemi for ikkyo omote, he almost imperceptibly indicated an opening for uke to perform a double-leg takedown yet allowed nage to complete the technique without any resistance. Someone asked him about it immediately afterward and he said: "If you can't take ukemi while looking for openings in which reversals might occur without always taking the opening, maybe aikido isn't the martial art for you."

Now there's a thought worth mulling for a few years.

Kim S.
06-03-2007, 11:24 PM
My heart cries out for the family and friends of Paul Kang.

Matt Fisher
06-04-2007, 12:31 PM
My thanks to both George and Fred for sharing some of their experiences with Paul Kang; I particularly appreciated Fred's sharing of what he saw as the core of Paul's teaching.

I met Paul Kang at the 1987 Boulder Summer Camp, when I was 4th kyu. In one of the classes that week, he randomly bowed to me to practice a technique at one point. I had no idea who Paul was…all I knew was that suddenly I was training with an EXTREMELY talented yudansha. And whoever this yudansha was, he seemed quite happy to train at a pace that I could follow. When the teacher called us together to demonstrate something else, I fully expected that Paul would move on and train with another partner. I was wrong…he and I trained together for 15 to 20 minutes. Most of that time there wasn't space to take ukemi, but there was one moment when enough space opened up and I suddenly found myself on the mat without ever really feeling the throw. Later that same week I had the opportunity to train with Paul in a weapons class for an entire hour….it was absolutely wonderful and one of the high points of that camp for me.

Over the next 20 years I would see Paul at seminars and camps and occasionally have the pleasure of training with him. Every practice with Paul was an opportunity to focus on precision and trying to get "everything" to work in relaxed and connected manner. Push-hands practice with him was a particularly unique training opportunity. While I saw Paul briefly at Cherry Blossom seminar this year, my last opportunity to train with him was during the 2005 DC Summer Camp…an hour spent working on Saotome Sensei's kumi iai forms.

Paul Kang was not only a tremendously gifted aikidoka, he was also a superb role model of how to interact and train with junior and beginning students. When I told one of the members of my dojo about Paul's death, his immediate response was to recall how gracious Paul had been when training with him. It didn't seem to matter who his training partner was…Paul Kang took each person seriously and treated all of his partners with the same seriousness and respect.

We have lost someone special with his passing.

jennifer paige smith
06-08-2007, 10:33 AM
Please accept my offering of love.

When I first began my formal training it was three weeks after the passing of Terry Dobson Sensei, another beautiful and influential teacher from the Bond St. Tradition. I had no relative experience in a dojo against which to measure my expereince at the time. I simply knew what I felt when I got there. The dojo was screaming with life, yet people seemed to be sad. Teachers talked aout the eternal thread of musubi, yet felt deep disconnection. The physical practice was vigorous, yet weighed down with the gravity of death. All I could do was absorb the moment and hear the newness in the environment. What I felt and heard was incredible. While the mourning was correct and heartfelt, there was a spirit lingering in the dojo; waiting for someone to say 'hello' and to hold it's 'hand'. There was a call from the distant voice of ancient tradition that demanded to be carried by the freshest and cleanest of the next generation. There was a will present that demanded to continue on it's path. Those spirits found their home in me and in other 'doka', and we have carefully held and carried these teachings of musubi, as if our own children, for all of our years.
While Terry Dobson never physically touched my hand, I have benefited from his presence everyday. While I never met O'Sensei, he comes to me in my dreams and teaches me.
While I never met Paul Kang, his heart and practice will live on in spirit through all who he touched in life and those he continues to touch in musubi. I bow a deep bow of gratitude to Sensei Paul Kang. May his loved ones heal. May his spirit find it's home.

Choku Tsuki
06-10-2007, 02:27 PM
(I am going to ignore the political correctness of using non-gender specific nouns/pronouns in what follows for the sake of clarity and free expression).

Whenever I come across a notice of a teacher passing, I feel a pang of grief for his students and family. I know how much that teacher may have meant to those around him (from what my teachers mean/have meant to me) and feel something of their loss: it's impossible to know exactly the impact of his death. And for this, I also feel a little guilty, being lucky that my teachers are healthy and will be around forever.

In the thread I've read the kind words of friends, acquaintances, and strangers, sensing their thoughtfulness, admiring their tact, and wishing I had something to say, knowing at the same time there is nothing I could say to help make the hurt go away. You can guess, and empathize, but one can't really know what the grieving are feeling.

When tragedy hits someone close to me, I believe, and always try to convey, that somehow, someway, something good will come of it. I always try to look for a positive outcome and also, be aware of the harsh reality of life. This makes room for a positive thing to be realized.

But sometimes, there is nothing positive about it.

It's true that all of us at Bond Street feel our time with Paul Sensei was too brief. We're all kind of numb; no one can believe he's really gone and won't come back. We've heard from many people who shared the impact Paul has had in their lives; these words have been very comforting. It's a mix of familiarity, inspiration and sadness. Beyond that I can't broadly characterize we're feeling.

But on the mat, the classes have been well attended. Folks are practicing with a renewed interest, and an increase in focus and intensity is tangible. The moving mediation with members, and old friends, has given us solace. We have to continue practicing. This is what Paul Sensei would have wanted.

I am trying to practice in earnest and in spirit what I have learned from Paul Sensei, in the hope that the essence of what he meant to me will be around for a long long time.


06-20-2007, 04:02 PM
The last class I attended by Kang Sensei was during the 2006 ASU Winter Intensive. During that class he said that he had been thinking a lot about what he wanted to pass on. He said he knew his time was growing short, and he wanted to be sure and make the most of what he had left. He said after much thought, he decided that hanmi was the most important thing. He then taught the class with very specific emphasis on always maintaining hanmi.

10-20-2007, 09:11 AM
As a Bond St Dojo member for eleven months, I had very little time to work with Paul Sensei.

Sensei always stressed the importance of hanmi ( and correct posture in my case !) and vigorous training.

He said there was no substitute for serious training and to remain martial at all times on the mat.

As a rank beginner, I received a lot of personalized attention from sensei even though at the time, I felt most of it was lost on me.

The last time I worked with sensei on the mat was during Ken Nissen Sensei's seminar where he helped me with Kokyo Ho Kokyo Dosa, Irimi tenkan as it applied to what Ken Sensei was teaching.

I found Paul Sensei to be extremely patient with us ( beginners especially) and he always joined the beginners/basic classes to give that extra special attention that we klutzy beginners need.

I especially miss the noontime classes that Paul Sensei held twice a week when I joined the dojo end of last year. Usually only two or three people were able to attend which was perfect for anyone trying to get a handle on the fundamentals.

Paul Sensei made it clear to us that our new dojo ( under construction at the time of his passing) be ready for Saotome Shihan's visit June of this year and it was about 99.9% finished which would have made sensei happy.