Grandmaster Olaf Simon, Founder of Moh Pai & Pai Hu Shih *
Grand Master Olaf Emil Simon was one of the early pioneers of martial arts in North America, especially in Western Canada. Born in East Prussia in 1929, he began learning Kung-Fu at age six. In the final months of WWII, young Simon briefly served in the German army when he was barely sixteen. Captured by the Soviets, he was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Siberia, from which he eventually escaped, making his way through Mongolia.
In 1960 Olaf Simon immigrated to Canada, where he began teaching martial arts, opening his first studio in Calgary in 1961, and expanding shortly thereafter to Edmonton and other cities in Canada and the U.S. In the 60’s and early 70’s, Simon gained an international reputation through his unparalleled breaking, sparring, and non-choreographed self-defense demonstrations (often involving multiple attackers, real knives, and other live weapons). Grand Master Simon gave unique and devastating performances in competitions, served as an international referee at world championships, and worked and exchanged knowledge with other great martial artists of his time, including Grand Masters Ed Parker, Frank Lee, and Stan Lee. In 1970, Olaf Simon appeared live on national television, breaking 1270 lbs of solid ice with a single, bare-arm blow, and setting the (still unbeaten) world record for the greatest ice break without spacers.
Grand Master Simon is internationally known as the founder of the Temple Kung-Fu studios, which had taught his Moh Pai and Pai Hu Shih (White Tiger Style) systems to countless thousands throughout North America. He is currently living in retirement and seclusion in British Columbia, Canada. His legacy lives on through Seattle White Tiger Kung Fu (as well as other, affiliated and non-affiliated clubs), set up by Masters and senior practitioners committed to training and promoting his unique style of martial arts.
On May 15, 2010, in recognition of his immense contribution to the development of martial arts in North America, Grand Master Olaf Simon was inducted into the Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame
Moh Pai & Pai Hu Shih Kung Fu – Our connection to the style…
As students of Moh Pai as well as Pai Hu Shih we continue the traditions put forth by Grandmaster Simon as well as his techniques. We are fortunate to have a connection with many of the Masters of the style and are always reaching out to continue our training as Teachers of the art. As it is frequently put by our Teacher(s); “The art has no life without us, it is always there, but it is the practitioners that bring life to it. Without students and practitioners it is nothing and is lost.”
We are always open to discussing our style with any practitioner who is interested as we don’t view our style better than any other in particular. It is the practitioner that makes the style what it is and since there are so many styles that are connected. Rather, as students of Kung Fu we see the similarities in many styles of martial arts that exist today. Our time searching for answers and studying have (for our conscience) convinced us not only of the validity of our style but its origin.
Our style, and our founder, have produced many great martial artists and that cannot happen by chance. The depth of knowledge in our system that spans/connects many different styles of martial arts (not just those designated as “Kung Fu” styles) has created an open and ever changing perception of those techniques. Both from how we learned them but also how other styles apply similar techniques. As with any style of martial art it is a constantly evolving process with many different influences.
Moh Pai & Pai Hu Shih Kung Fu – Understanding what our founder created
Over the years of our training we have taken time to reflect on what we train. Our Grand Master was given instruction at a very young age in Fujian (aka Fukien) and Henan (aka Honan) styles of Kung Fu. Over the years our teacher blended the skills of these eras integrated them into his MOH (temple) style as well as streamlined his PAI HU SHIH (White Tiger) system. This is not a “family” style or a traditional “Shaolin” martial art as we see them today. Many of which have been pushed to the limits of reality with their wushu/sport applications in modern society. The art has been passed to us as it was intended. Exercises to increase one’s health and lengthen quality of life while providing a military art with realistic self defense. Created and honed by a Master no different than Bruce Lee with his Jeet Kune Do or Master Masutatsu Oyama founder of Kyokushin Karate. Both of whom have had scholars draw their lineage to the teachings of mainland China. Just as our style draws our kung fu from those same origins today.