Go to contents

Martial Artist Fights Disability and Wins

Posted November. 03, 2005 07:19,   


Park Hyun-sung (37) is the coach of Team Phoenix, a team that has adopted a type of combative arts training based on boxing.

“What do you think is the most beautiful word in the world? I think it is ‘me.’ There is family and happiness when there is a ‘me.’ I can shine and become stronger because of ‘me.’ I came to think of this since my injury,” Park said as he clenched his left hand, a hand that cannot grip. Next to the ring where placards containing phrases such as “The Ring is the World” and “Certain Victory, Complete Victory, Overwhelming Victory” are hung, directors from other martial arts gymnasiums who have come to learn from Park are training hard.

With first degree disability status due to a full-body burn, Park retired from being a middleweight martial artist, but recently upgraded his weight and entered the KOMA-GP (King of Martial Arts-Grand Prix), a standing fighting competition, in the heavyweight division. Currently weighing 79kg, he brought down an opponent 20kg heavier than he is to advance to the quarterfinals.

Park, who is looking forward to the upcoming December quarterfinal tournament, says, “Even though I am old already, I want to become a champion.”

Once a member of the national team in amateur boxing, he was severely burnt in an unfortunate accident in 1992, and only after 27 surgeries and four years of rehabilitation was he able to walk again.

He says it was in these times of desperation that he came to the realization that “I am the one who leads me to glorious moments and also to the worst.” The will to make a brilliant achievement led to a determination to strengthen himself. But in order for him to become stronger, he had to seek a path he could excel on. Ever since he ended his rehabilitation in 1997, Park has been working as a boxing trainer and has entered various competitions since combative arts competitions started sweeping the nation in 2003.

He has devised various techniques where he could make use of his left hand, which is unable to grip, and based on these, he fused boxing and combative arts techniques to invent and patent his own unique fighting style: “Kwondo.”

Park’s lower body, which was badly burned, still hurts and festers when he is hit there. In order to overcome such trials and the hardships one faces in the ring, he emphasizes the “boxer spirit.” He said, “I am burning my energy in the ring in order to create a branch in combative sports in Japan or Brazil based on ‘Kwondo.’”

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com