Kim Gwang-suk (style name Haebeom) was born in 1936 in Hoengseong, Gangwondo province in South Korea. During World War II, Kim’s family took shelter in Mt. Jiri living at a small hamlet in the mountains, called "Munam", located on the border between Wichi-myeon of Jangheung County, Doam-myeon of Hwasun County and Dado-myeon of Naju County, South Jeolla Province. In Munam, Kim was taught martial arts by Yun Myeong-deok (style name Ogong).
During the Korean War in 1950-1953, Kim continued to study under Yun in Busan. Lessons were conducted during the night in the low mountain to the back of the Ami-dong neighborhood. Yun instructed Kim in detail the 18 essential martial arts, or Sibpalki, which are contained in the Joseon Dynasty military publication Muyedobotongji 1790 (Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts). This instruction was an oral and practical communication. Kim found the Muyedobotongji many years later. The methods contained therein matched the methods that Yun taught him.
After spending time in business and politics, Kim (in his late twenties) retreated to a small Buddhist temple for self cultivation for a period of 6 years. When he returned to the city he taught Sibpalki to others as he had a strong belief in its value to society and for the self-improvement of the practitioner. In Kim’s opinion the modern martial arts being practiced in Korea at the time did not contain the artistic culmination of body movements derived from ancient combat skills. He saw a need to re-introduce the nation’s traditional martial arts to the general public as opposed to the foreign arts (such as Judo, Kendo) or the recently assimilated ones (Taekwondo and Hapkido) that were falsifying their histories to garner nationalistic support. Kim opened the Korean Martial Arts Academy in 1970.
Many Koreans regarded Sibpalki wrongly as a branch of Chinese martial arts, as it was often used incorrectly as a term to refer to martial arts taught in Korea that were of Chinese origin, in addition to the belief that Korean martial arts were simply the barehanded fighting skills represented by arts such as Taekwondo or the folk game Taekkyeon. Chinese martial arts were newly imported and widely spread along the large groups of immigrants escaping the turmoil of Mao China.
Struggling to fight public misconceptions Kim seonsaengnim closed his academy. Some years later, folklorist Sim U-seong who had been looking for traces of Korean martial arts with the belief they were the sources of folk dances and other traditional stage actions had a meeting with Kim. In 1986 they started analyzing and comparing the techniques and methods of Sibpalki with the Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts. In the same year they had the first demonstration of Sibpalki at the Batanggol Small Theater in Seoul, the first public performance of traditional Korean martial arts for a modern audience.
The publication of Skill Analysis on Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts (Muyedobotongji Silgi Haeje) in 1987 stimulated interest in Sibpalki, especially among university students. Kim was encouraged by these efforts and became immersed in further describing the 18 arts from the perspective of theory and practice. His efforts resulted in a series of books, Essentials of Fist Methods (Gwonbeop Yogyeol, 1992); Korean Sword Methods (Bongukgeom, 1995), detailing skills with Korean sword, sharp sword, long sword and double swords; and Syllabus of Joseon Spears and Staffs (Joseon Changbong gyojeong, Dongmunseon, 2003), explaining theories and skills of long weapons such as long spears, staffs and tridents.
Kim is the president of the Korea Sibpalki Association, founded in 1981.
In 2001, Kim's students founded the Society for the Preservation of Sibpalki to revive the traditional Korean martial skills through public performances on historical sites. The ROK Army Traditional Honor Guards, trained by Kim’s students, now also perform the traditional martial arts Sibpalki as well.