Master Mitchell introducing martial arts to the Rio Grande Valley, 1970 (age 20)
Master Mitchell performing flying sidekick in demonstration for the new class in Brownsville, Texas. (age 20)
Understand "Do" and "Sul"
By David Mitchell
Around 15 years ago there was a brand new Martial Arts school which opened in a very good location here in Salisbury, N.C. At that time I had fifty students and a waiting list, just in case somebody needed to drop out.
The man in charge of this school was not Korean, Japanese or any other Asian affiliation. But he claimed to be a very high rank. Someone jokingly said," He must have been a Black Belt in his mothers’ womb." And, indeed, there was no way he could have been the rank he claimed to be. However, the public thought that he was great. They also enjoyed the concept that he brought to the table. He taught his students to take a punch or a kick. He told them if they could not take it in the DoJang, then how in the world did they expect to survive it in the "real world."
One of my students, at that time, was a Doctor. One day he called me and was saddened to share with me that he had just set the arm of an eight year old little girl. She belonged to a school such as this and they broke her arm during a sparring session. Is this the proper way to teach? Should we have to learn how to get hit like this by our peer students in order to survive? Is this the correct path or "Do" we should be following? Not at all, this is "Ju Hha Ip Ma" or, "Sul".
It never stops to amaze me as to how many very educated parents let their child off at a Karate School just to receive bruises and to "buy into" the idea of teaching their child how to hit another.
I once had a conversation with a friend of mine...very good, well educated man...actually is a self-made millionaire today. He was sharing with me the fact that his son had joined the Karate School I described above. I quickly asked him why he had not joined my class."Well we liked it but there is no truth to what you teach. You send children out into the world with a false sense of security." I remained calm and continued to listen. As it turned out he was so very proud of his son when he was watching him spar the teacher. His son took many blows and was suddenly kicked in the rib cage, knocked down and slid for a small distance on the floor." “But you know?" he said “I was really proud of him because he got right back up and continued fighting his instructor." Eventually his son stopped training because he received a broken nose on two separate occasions. Later my friend wanted his son to be in my class...but it was too late...his son wanted nothing more to do with it.
On another occasion, I had a purple belt student who came to me one day and said "I want to do full contact martial arts." He was actually a little shy to even say this to me because he knew I was against this. He left the school and found what he wanted. The Instructor of the Full Contact school was a friend of mine...we grew up together, trained in Chang Moo Kwan together. When I left for Texas...he opted to find a different style. So we differed in that aspect. He called me and told me one of my students wanted to join his Mas Oyama style and I said, "Yes, he spoke with me so it is alright." The following evening my friend called me and said that my purple belt was a very impressive fighter. He said, "This guy is better that my Black Belts." So the instructor fought him hard." When the instructor got in touch with me he said that he had broken my students' nose. He said that he had also broken his own toe while doing this." The question here is...”Is this the WAY for you?" For me, it makes little or no sense at all. This is not correct,"DO" for anyone who does not wish to hurt others. Let's go back to that school I was mentioning earlier...the one that taught students to hit and be hit. The one that told students..."Hey, if somebody hits you ...it is time to start swinging and don't you dare stop until your opponent is down." This sort of mentality went with students to school and if anyone hit them, there was an all out fight. Principals of various schools were calling me and asking me why I had taught these kids to fight at school. I very calmly gave the phone number of that school to them and told them I do not teach students that trash. Self defense...yes. But you cannot use self defense and, when the problem is under control...continue to "teach that guy a lesson."
Eventually, the school folded up but not before it had left its mark on the minds of many people here in Salisbury. It has been difficult, for me, to teach and demonstrate to the public that you DO NOT need to hit others while training. I, personally, have not had to hit anybody in years but I know I can if need be to protect myself and others. Think this over, if you will... The MMA which is so popular these days, and it is here to stay...how many of those fighters do you feel would attack an ordinary person? None, these are professional fighters...they were at one time in the streets fighting, by choice. But now, these guys are law abiding fighters. They only fight each other. You do not have a thing to worry about as far as one of these guys coming for you. The problem arises when we, as Martial Artists think, "Wow, I wonder if somebody can take me down in a fight?' "I must be ready for this." I got to tell you, friends...I have had the opportunity to fight many, many times in Brownsville Texas, when they knew I was there to introduce Karate to the Rio Grande Valley, I had people coming at me to fight all the time for months. This was in 1969 and 1972. I did not have proper guidance from Grandmaster because I had not met him at that time. But not once was I taken to the ground. I have never been taken to the ground in combat. I was only 19 years old when this started and I must say I really enjoyed the fighting. But as I look back...it was so wrong. A few of these I know I could have walked away. I could have been knifed or someone could have pulled a gun and shot me. I was stupid and I was lucky. But I do know what combat is...it is kill or be killed. Hopefully, the average person in Kim Soo Karate will never have a need to kill...but should train to always be ready. However, do I think that I cannot be taken down to the ground? Of course not...I can be taken down in the right circumstances...but I try to avoid these types of circumstances and so far...it has worked.
The real problem with being the right kind of Martial Artist is waiting in your soul to be recognized. The ChaYon-Ryu in which DoSa Nim brought to us is the greatest form of protection anybody could possibly have while un-armed. Perhaps even better still. The "Do" in which we train is the WAY for us. We must stay, always true to our art. Looking to the MMA....is like the purple belt I told you about. Honestly he was a superb fighter. But he finally ended up at the "Battle of Atlanta" barely lost but was injured. He was told by his doctor that if he received one more blow to his right eye...his retina would be so damaged that he would lose sight in that eye forever. So he quit. Never really wanted any form of martial arts training at all, after that. However, it was his decision to try to "find his WAY." He just went about it the wrong way. We do not need to do this. Listen to the wisdom of the form you study. Listen to the wisdom of the Ancients while studying. Be a more spiritual Martial Artist than ever before. Listen and I mean listen well, to the wisdom of Grandmaster Kim. He is the one who helped you find your “Do" and now it is up to you to stay on this correct path. He can help you if you listen. One day...Grandmaster will be taken from us. Then will it be your time to say...oh, he was right...I must do now what he said was the right way. That is seriously, nonsense. Do it now so he can enjoy the fruits of his labor. Do it now, so you can have a stronger, more meaningful life. Stop looking here and there for the answer....it is here, in Grandmaster's wisdom...waiting for us all to listen and discover the true, "Do" the true "WAY" for us all.
Master David Mitchell