Grandmaster Kim Soo and Darlene Saunders with her book/ thesis: The Lifetime Journey of Grandmaster Kim Soo: Fulfillment of a Korean American Dream
ChaYon-Ryu Is My Best Friend
By Darlene Vaughan Saunders, 3rd Dan

  Grandmaster Kim Soo tells us that ChaYon-Ryu is our best friend, and for me this is true. My martial arts training has always been my loyal companion, even when I failed to make time for it. Like a true friend, ChaYon-Ryu has remained steadfast and forgiving through good times and bad. No matter how far I traveled, or how long I stayed away, ChaYon-Ryu and Grandmaster Kim Soo were always there waiting to welcome me back whenever I was ready.

As a young teenager, ChaYon-Ryu empowered me to recover from traumatic experiences in my childhood. As a young woman, my hours in the dojang instilled me with confidence to stand up for myself out in the world. Mental and physical training strengthened my mind and body and taught me to face my fears, reminding me that I am strong and capable of making intelligent choices regarding my health, safety, and well being. Making a friend out of fear, Grandmaster Kim teaches us to train in the dojang as though we were in a life-threatening situation; then, if we ever face danger in real life, we will react instinctively, as though we are in the safety of the dojang.

Later on, ChaYon-Ryu introduced me to my husband Jason, and we have been happily married now for ten years. As I grow older, regular training becomes even more therapeutic, helping me overcome the aches and pains of aging, and feel younger and more energetic. Regular training gives me the mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude to accept many challenges I may otherwise find too intimidating or difficult to achieve.

In ChaYon-Ryu, we are encouraged to be independent and follow our dreams, whatever they are. No goal is too difficult to reach, if we are willing to do the work. In the not so distant past, ChaYon-Ryu motivated me to go back to school and complete my undergraduate studies, despite the fact that I was older than most of the other students. I incorporated martial arts into my classes, for example, with an oral report in Spanish, a major project in psychology, and eventually by choosing Grandmaster Kim Soo as the subject of my Senior Honors Thesis.

The Lifetime Journey of Grandmaster Kim Soo: Fulfillment of a Korean American Dream is primarily a personal narrative through oral history interview. Grandmaster Kim candidly shares some of his most intimate lifetime experiences in his own words and photographs. With the aid of his generous contributions and encouragement, I graduated from University of Houston last year Suma Cum Laude with Honors in History. Thank you Grandmaster Kim Soo!

ChaYon-Ryu helps me keep balance in my life personally and professionally, and to better focus on the task at hand, whether at work or at home. Like a best friend, ChaYon-Ryu offers unconditional support. The more you give, the more you get back. Sincere and dedicated practice is the only requirement. Enhancing our strength, rather than indulging our weakness, ChaYon-Ryu offers a way of life and path to travel toward personal enlightenment, with many hidden treasures along the way.


Grandmaster Kim teaches basic principles based on natural laws of the universe, which can be applied to every area of life. With so many principles to apply, the possibilities are infinite! With so many forms to keep me company, how could I ever be lonely or bored?

The spirit of friendship in ChaYon-Ryu extends through each individual member of its international family. As a member of this family, I am grateful to have friends all over the world who share the benefits and strive to preserve the legacy of this gift so generously offered to us by its founder, Grandmaster Kim Soo.

Note: Paperback copies of the thesis, The Life of Grandmaster Kim Soo: Fulfillment of a Korean American Dream, will be available soon.