Re: Paul Kang Sensei Passes Away
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.