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Grand Master John Paoli

6th Dan Black Belt – Kum Saja Do

5th Dan Black Belt – Kyuki Do
1st Dan Black Belt – Hapki do
Brown Sash – Kung Fu

Chief of Instruction for the Golden Lion Academy
Head Instructor of The Hanover Park Park District
Instructing since 1979

Master John Paoli started Martial Arts at age 10 in Cat and Crane Shaolin Kung-Fu with Sifu Cody.  At age 12 Master Paoli started learning Tae-Kwon-Do through the Hoffman Estates Park District with the Moo Duk Kwon principles.  For the next couple years, Hapki-Do, Judo and Praying Mantis Kung-Fu were incorporated in his studies.

In 1979 Master Paoli started teaching Martial Arts at the Streamwood Park District.  The club quickly became a success due to the combination of all the principles of styles that Master Paoli has learned and thus was the start of the Golden Lion Academy (GLA).

In 1981 Master Paoli joined the American Kyuki-Do Federation under the instruction of Master Han Suk Lee in Hanover Park, Illinois. In 1982 he became a student under Grand Master OK Hyung Kim (AKF).

In 2002 Master Paoli introduced Kum Saja Do, The Way of the Golden Lion, the first to successfully combine both hard and soft style techniques using only practical and proven techniques and incorporating the Korean philosophy, history, and language.

Master Paoli continues to instruct and has taught many Police Departments Defensive Tactics,  has implemented a Martial Arts Merit Badge with the local Girl Scouts, has developed the S.A.F.E Program (Self Awareness for Everyone),  Women Self Defense Seminars and numerous Martial Arts seminars.

Throughout Master Paoli’s Martial Arts career he has won Grand Champion in Weapons, Free Fighting and Form competition.  Master Paoli also was undefeated as a Semi-Pro Full Contact Kick Boxer from 1989-1993.

Best time in Martial Arts – Being able to see the growth of my first two, first generation, Black Belts and watching them pass-on the GLA philosophy.

Notable awards:

  • Outstanding Judge Award AKF, 1987
  • Outstanding Associate Instructor AKF 1988
  • Personal Defense Award Police Academy 1989
  • Outstanding Referee Award AKF 1990, 1996
  • Outstanding Weapons Technician AKF 1992
  • Most Dedicated Instructor Award GLA 1992
  • GLA Founder’s Award 1998
  • Outstanding Demonstrator Award 2000


Mentionable Instructors:

  • Bill (Superfoot) Wallace – Kickboxing
  • Joe Lewis – Kickboxing
  • Renzo Gracie – Jujitsu
  • Master Wally Barber – Judo
  • Dr. Wong – Praying Mantis Kung-Fu
  • Grand Master Jack Moy – Cat and Crane Kung-Fu
  • Master Dan Inosanto – Escrima/Kali
  • Grand Master Yun Park – Judo
  • Grand Master Han Suk Lee – Judo and Tae Kwon-Do
  • Grand Master Yun Hyung Kim – Hapki-Do
  • Grand Master OK Hyung Kim – Tae Kwon Do and Judo