Recently one of my students had to move to the other side of Dallas for work. He felt that it was too long of a drive to train several times a week to Arlington so he looked for a new school to join that is closer to his new home.
Below is an E-mail essay he just sent to me about his experience looking for a school to substitute Chayon-Ryu training. I thought you would like to read it.
----- Original Message -----
From Joseph Slack:
Just thought you might be interested in this. It is a couple of experiences I had while shopping for a school.
How Good Is Cha Yon Ryu?
As you know, I have recently moved across the metroplex, making it very difficult to continue to train at Chayon-Ryu. Regrettably, I had to resign my membership. I still have a strong desire to continue my training so I began to seek out a new school.
I had basic idea of what I was looking for: Someplace where I would learn from someone who knew what he was doing, preferably a master or grand master, someplace that would enhance my current training, someplace that taught more than one style of Martial Art, someplace that was affordable like Chayon-Ryu, someplace with weekend classes, and someplace I could spar at my current rank.
I thought it would not be too difficult to find a school that met these simple requirements here in this metropolis. Was I ever wrong.
The first place I went was a health club close to my house. There was an instructor there teaching Kung Fu. The training was free with a membership. I found out here you get what you pay for. This guy tried to teach me a different style of fighting all together. He wanted you to fight like a boxer - only with kicking. It was very alien and somewhat dangerous because he didn't pivot correctly when he kicked. He also kept his hands close to his body to block, reducing the power of his kicks. I also couldn't spar at my current rank. I found out why. There sparring was full contact and in my opinion very dangerous. I moved on.
I had another interesting experience one Saturday. I passed a school near my office that caught my eye. They had a hand painted sign but a lot of trophies proudly displayed in the front window. Mr. McLain told me to be weary of these places because tournament fighting is not like real world fighting. I thought I would check it out anyway. They had no weekend hours but there were people training and the door was unlocked so I went in. When I entered, a man in his early 20's asked if he could help me. I explained that I was shopping around and wanted to get some info about their school.
It turned out to be a one of a chain of schools who used some 7-time world champion as its namesake. They gave a chuckling response to my question "he teaches here?" with a "no, He's retired." I asked this guy how he fit in around the school and he said he was the second highest ranked blackbelt at the school, his tone implying he was in charge today. I asked what type of martial arts they taught there and the guy responded "karate", his tone growing more arrogant and annoying. Thinking there is more than just shutokan karate, I asked what specific discipline. He responded "karate", this time his tone implying that it was the dumbest question he had ever heard. No attempt to educate, just sarcasm and hostility... from the second highest ranked person at this school. I immediately realized what they taught: self-gratification and domination.
I tried to explain about my training at Chayon-Ryu, Grand Master Kim Soo, and the system he developed. His response was "never heard of it" and treated it as insignificant and irrelevant. I thanked them for their time and walked out. They Lose.
I was feeling pretty discouraged about my search. I then remembered a girl telling me that Ji, Han Jae had recently taught a Hapkido class at a school near my current residence. In my mind, the school had instant creditability; something that was lacking everywhere else I had been. I decided to check it out.
The school is run by Master Kim. Master Kim holds a ranking of 5th degree blackbelt in both Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do (TKD). Master Kim also taught all of the classes. Not exactly Chayon-Ryu, but at least this guy knows his stuff and was passing it on. I sat in on a Hapkido class and I liked what I saw. Class was not quite as formal as Chayon-Ryu but the atmosphere was one of students helping each other, with respect given both ways, similar to Chayon-Ryu. They had been infinitely better than anywhere else I had been. Master Kim has a few trophies on display in his dojang, but when I inquired about them, Master Kim blew them off as being irrelevant - the right answer.
Thinking I wasn't going to find anything better, I signed up. I am happy with the Hapkido. Most of it being the same stuff I learned at Chayon-Ryu. Here's the down side. The TKD is the New American Tae Kwon Do Federation style. Nearly all kicking. He no longer teaches any formal steps or Palgue forms. Everything is taught to be an instant knockout-type strike. Lots of power. Attacks are limited to point scoring targets; no attack below the waist or to the center of the face. All of the students spar this way.
It's not the holistic approach Chayon-Ryu teaches nor does it appear it would be overly effective in a street fight. A big reason we train is to protect ourselves in real-world situations. Now Tae Kwon Do has turned into some type of sport with rules of engagement, a good way to get yourself hurt in the real world. There is also no attempt by Master Kim to have the students incorporate both Hapkido and TKD in some type of sparring.
I have temporarily found a home, but I still consider myself a Chayon-Ryu student. After all I had experienced, In my opinion Chayon-Ryu is the most effective martial art and I am looking forward to the day when I can train in Chayon-Ryu again.