Lee's School of Judo, Karate & Hapkido

128 Post Road, Darien, CT.  06820      Call us  (203) 655-8518

Masters Statement
Kids and Family



Every day of my martial arts training at Young-In University, year after year, I had to repeat these two sentences. Every student was drilled daily on their meaning and application, not just to the practice of the martial arts, but to life. The philosophy they embody is central to the successful application of martial arts techniques in sparring, and to the successful development and maintenance of relationships in one’s personal and business life.

What do they mean? The words are easy to translate, but to fully comprehend their meaning, a person must reflect and think deeply. The concept must be grasped at the intellectual level and felt at the physical level. Otherwise, application will be impossible.

유능제강  U nung cheh gung: Soft power overcomes hard power.
태산무언  Teh sun mooun: The big mountain is silent.

In sparring, “soft power” means your body is relaxed, your facial expression is both neutral and open, and your mind is clear. When the opening comes, you attack suddenly with a flash of strength—and your opponent is taken by surprise. His body tenses and his mind becomes confused; he cannot reconcile this devastating attack with his first impression of you. You now have the advantage. Soft power conserves strength, confuses your opponent, and keeps your mind agile.

Think of the Yin and Yang symbol, a circle half black and half white, with a contrasting-color smaller circle in each half. The white half is soft power, with the smaller black dot of hard power ready to spring into action and ascendancy. The black half is hard power, with the smaller white dot of soft power ready to overtake the black and regain ascendancy. There is balance; there is flow.

To practice soft power in class, your warm-up kicks should be very fluid until just the imagined point of impact, when you release your hard power in a snap. Then return immediately to soft power. In the forms, relax your body until the end of each motion, when hard power ascends. Then return immediately to soft power.


In your personal and business life, “soft power” means that you do not present a threat to your family or associates. Your body is relaxed, you facial expression is neutral or welcoming, there is no anger, and your mind is clear. The result is that the people you deal with will not feel defensive or fearful, but trustful. They will tend to be open and frank.

But here, a critical difference occurs. In sparring, you would use the person’s openness to you to attack; in your personal and business life, you MUST use it to help. You must use the physical and mental strength and confidence that comes from your training to assist in any way you can—even if that means just listening with an open heart. There are two reasons for this: First, it is the honorable way, the way of the warrior. To behave otherwise would mean that you lose your honor and your standing as a martial artist. Second, if you use your soft power to hurt or betray the person who trusted you, the hurt will return to you many times over.

To achieve soft power, both your body and your soul must change. The change in the body is seen in the body; the change in the soul is seen in the eyes. To change your body, you must change your mind; to change your soul, you must develop your heart. To achieve these things, meditate on this: Teh sun mooun: The big mountain is silent.

Grand Master Yong-Man Lee