American Buddhist Shim Gum Do Association

This data was last updated on 3 July 2018.

Address: 203 Chestnut Hill Avenue, Brighton, MA 02135
Phone: 617-787-1506

History: Shim Gum Do Founding Master Zen Master Chang Sik Kim was first introduced to Buddhist teachings at a young age when recognized by Zen Master Seung Sahn Lee (founder of the Kwan Um School of Zen in the Chogye Order) in South Korea. Zen Master Kim soon after began formal training under Zen Master Seung Sahn Lee at the Hwa Gye Sa Temple in Seoul, Korea in 1957 at the age of 13. In 1965 at the age of 21, Master Kim undertook an intensive one hundred day retreat. During this retreat, the Master attained Mind Sword Enlightenment, through which the practice and forms of Shim Gum Do were revealed to him. Zen Master Kim began to teach Shim Gum Do in 1970 in Korea and formally introduced the practice with the Proclamation of Shim Gum Do, its formal doctrine, on October 9, 1971. Zen Master Seung Sahn Lee, hoping to bring Korean Buddhism to the West, founded the Providence Zen Center in 1972. In 1974, he invited Master Kim to the United States where Master Kim was the first to teach Shim Gum Do. Master Kim’s first independent Shim Gum Do center was located on Boylston Street in Boston, and he officially established the American Buddhist Shim Gum Do Association in 1978. The Association bought its current location of Shim Gwang Sa, The Mind Light Temple, on Chestnut Hill Avenue in Brighton in 1981. Since then, thousands of residents of Massachusetts and beyond have participated in classes led by Master Kim and Abbot Mary J. Stackhouse Kim. In 1984 Zen Master Kim undertook a second solitary one hundred day retreat. During this retreat, he attained a second enlightenment of Universal Energy. In 1991, he established the World Shim Gum Do Association in Brighton—this international organization includes the American, Korean, Italian and Polish Shim Gum Do Associations. Great Master Zen Master Chang Sik Kim is the 79th patriarch in his lineage in the Chogye Order of Zen.

The Practice: The American Buddhist Shim Gum Do Association uniquely combines Zen ‘non-action’ with action meditation and forms of martial arts. Shim Gum Do or ‘Mind Sword Path’ includes six basic arts—Sword, Shin Boep or ‘Body Dharma’(a weaponless art form similar to ‘karate’), Ho Shin Sul or self-defense (involving breaking grabs and offenses, throwing, rolling and pressure points), Long Stick, Short Stick and Two Swords. Within these six basic arts, there are approximately 1,000 forms. Students follow the Shim Gum Do path with bi-monthly tests, marking their progress through the thirty-three black belt levels. Students of Shim Gum Do begin studying either Sword or Shin Boep, and may study one of the other forms after their first year of training. Students first learn the basic forms to develop strength and flexibility. Through the Shim Gum Do forms, practitioners develop their internal energy and balance body and mind. Ultimately Shim Gum Do action and non-action clarify the mind and seek to transform the practitioner.

Description of Shim Gwang Sa- The Mind Light Temple: Located on Chestnut Hill Avenue in Brighton, Mass., the central temple of the American Buddhist Shim Gum Do Association is housed in the former First Unitarian Parish of Brighton. As a historic landmark of Brighton, the temple participated in the 2007 200th anniversary celebrations of Brighton. The stone steeple and impressive stained glass windows evoke the former function of the structure. Now, large signs and images of Shim Gum Do forms grace the outside walls, welcoming the public to participate in the martial arts classes offered. When the Association bought the building in 1981, it was out of use and in disrepair. Zen Master Kim worked for a number of years to make the space suitable for Shim Gum Do practice. The Master also designed and planted gardens in front of the temple. In recent years, the temple’s garden has been on Allston and Brighton’s annual garden tours. The first floor of the temple features a large main hall used for daily services, practice of Shim Gum Do, meditation and monthly public gatherings. There are bedrooms and living quarters on the second floor available for those interested in the residential training program. Local residents recognize The Mind Light Temple as a beacon for positive change and development in the neighborhood.

Temple Leadership: Shim Gum Do Founding Master Zen Master Chang Sik Kim and his wife, Head Master Mary J. Stackhouse Kim reside in the temple and lead all classes and activities. Leadership is based on advancement through the levels of black belt.

Demographics: There are approximately 150 active members including ten live-in residents. Daily classes usually have between 5 and 15 students, and workshops will have about 50. Approximately 50% of the regular members are Euro-Americans, about 65% are men and 5-10% of the members are children. The remaining members represent the ethnic and religious diversity of the Boston area. In addition to the central temple in Brighton, there is a Shim Gum Do school in Pennsylvania, a club in New Jersey, teaching centers in Korea and an Italian group based in Milan.

Activities and Schedule: Daily, weekly and monthly classes are offered to men and women with a separate course available for children ages 5 and up. Zen Master Chang Sik Kim hosts a free public meditation class and Dharma talk on the fist Friday of each month. All classes at the Mind Light Temple include warm ups, training in the different forms, meditation and readings from Zen Master Kim’s Dharma talks. The classes are taught in English in an organized format based on one’s progression along the Shim Gum Do Path. Students first learn the basic forms-- standing, moving one’s energy and stepping. From this point, students learn forms or whole sequences of moves. Classes are directly taught and supervised by Zen Master Chang Sik Kim or Shim Gum Do Head Master Mary J. Stackhouse Kim, who is the highest student in Shim Gum Do and began training with Zen Master Kim in 1979. The Temple also offers a residential training program focusing on the deeper incorporation of Shim Gum Do into daily life. Residents at Mind Light Temple do not practice a monastic lifestyle and may continue to participate in worldly activities and maintain an outside job. The residents wake each morning to bow, practice meditation and Shim Gum Do martial arts. Upon returning in the evening, classes are held for the public and taught by Zen Master Kim and Headmaster Mary Stackhouse Kim. Residents also practice Shim Gum Do during the day on the weekends. For further information on class schedules, residential training programs and fees click here or contact Head Master Mary J. Stackhouse Kim at 617-787-1506.