Masters Corner

        Master Paul H. Borisoff: "Going Back To Basics"

From an interview with Pete Robert Duenas conducted on 6/20/97

 In July of 1975 I began studying the art of Kung Fu San Soo with Master Chuck Cory. During my training we moved several times into different studios but I remained with my instructor for 14 years and probably studied with him as long or longer than any of his students. I was also fortunate enough to run his classes on the days he went over to train at Grand Master Jimmy H. Woo's studio. I started teaching Kung Fu San Soo at the YMCA. I was already a teacher of music and photography although I had a degree in radio-television and film. By the time I had reached my black belt, I was regularly teaching at Master Chuck Cory's studio. I opened my school in 1978. At that time I was actively involved in the art every single day. Because my school duties became so involved, it became difficult so it went to two to three times a week. In addition, I attended the El Monte black belt classes until I reached my Masters in 1986 which was awarded by Master Chuck Cory in the presence of Grand Master Jimmy H. Woo.

    My first studio was located in Northridge and we stayed at that location for roughly 8 or 9 years before moving to our second location. We had some problems with the building so we moved to our current location in Reseda. All in all I have been open now for about 19 years and have had thousands of people come through the studio.

    I started with a thorough teaching from Master Chuck Cory doing the techniques and I found the techniques very interesting. But I  was  even  more  interested  in Jimmy not only as an instructor but as a person. During the classes with Jimmy I was able to pick up more technique and more form, but was interested in the man. I learned a lot by watching him. I watched the way he moved and his attitude towards people, which I feel was important. We are entrusted with a devastating art and it is a lot of responsibility. There is a real world out there which we are accountable to . It is not just an imaginary world of  beating people up. We hold a responsibility to ourselves and to others. We have to learn to use this power that we are given. What a better example than the man who did it for so long, Grand Master Jimmy H. Woo.

    The thing that drew me to the art was just by looking at the technique and how it works together and how it utilizes the principles of the body. This is not a robot system but instead we really know what we are doing. We know how to position, we know how to take what we want to take and we are working towards helping our limitations and strengthening ourselves.  We do the best job that we can which is all we can really expect of ourselves in a difficult situation.

    From an instructors viewpoint, one of the most important factors that need to be stressed is basics, basics, basics. You must always work your basics. You have to know your balance. You have to know your technique. You have to know how to put the basic pieces together to make those combinations. They are so important. If you try to execute techniques that are too fancy, this can lead to confusion and lack of control by the operator. Going too fast in your workout ends up hurting people. It hurts you physically and mentally. It makes people intimidated and tense which can cause a chip on your shoulder because anger starts to creep into the workout. This can also lead to competition which is detrimental to the workout. By doing the art in an artistic way, which is by exploring and helping each other out, we learn a lot about ourselves under pressure and we learn how to apply it. That is the building of character.

   To keep this art as it has been taught we have to start with the basics and we have to do them well. That is the job of the instructor which is to guide you as you move up. As long as the instructors do thus the art will evolve and it will move ahead. This art will not limit us. We also have to remember our roots and that is the respect. You can't just look at another art and say "Oh, that looks a lot like San Soo. It must have come from San Soo.", therefore you do it. If you know your basics and you know the structure of the art you will understand what is this art and what is not. To help emphasize these basics   I   think   it   would   benefit us to get together as instructors and as masters. We have been an association of strangers too long. We need to get together and know each other to help each other.

    We need to understand the system we are doing. You have to be careful and methodical. It is not just a system that you make up things. You work right from the basics and its important that the teacher and student be groomed. That is why it is important to have standards and to really rely on those people who know. It is also important to have honesty and truth in the system so that it remains   what   it   has    been,   an effective system. When people walk into a studio they know what they are seeing. They know that it is an important contribution to the martial arts and that this system is a cut above. I give my students their lessons in written form so that they are not changed and there are no interpretation problems. This will assure the technique is correct and the basics are passed on the same. Training done properly is time consuming, energy consuming, and at times frustrating but the rewards are worth the struggle, therefore the job may be difficult but the job must be done.


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