Austin, Texas
January 2000

Grandmaster Kim Soo and Master Kim Geary demonstrate at the opening of the Kim Soo Martial Arts' new location.

by Yolanda Horace, 5th Gup, Houston, Texas

I was on a quest to find an African American female martial artists who were black belts and maybe teaching. After talking to many people on the Internet, several martial arts groups, and even talking to masters of various arts in different countries, I finally found several women with whom I thought I could develop long lasting relationships. What I wanted was to exchange knowledge.

Several women were introduced to me; they were in their 40's and were black belts. One in particular was a 5th dan that dedicated her youth and most of her adult life to Tae Kwon Do. The conversation with these women was enlightening at first, but as time went on, I realized their motivations were terribly dissapointing.

Several of the women told me that they wanted to be like Bruce Lee; to be able to fight men, make money, and be stars. I asked them what made them want to be like Li Xiao Long? (Bruce's Chinese name). I also wanted to know if they realized that martial arts is about hard work and dedication not only to themselves but also to teaching the skills that they have acquired through their training. Did they think all martial arts was about jumping high, yelling, making money, or being "one of the beautiful people?" I was given the answer of "Yes", that was what it was for them. I even asked if they had given back to their masters or Grandmasters by assisting or becoming alumni to their schools. I was asked, "What for???"

I started to introduce the art of Cha Yon Ryu to these ladies and the question that was given to me was; "what are you getting out of it?" I told them inner strength, courage, responsibility, peace, and happiness. I advised them that when I am old and no longer able to teach one day, I want other little girls to carry on the history of Cha Yon Ryu. These ladies advised me I was not very bright for not thinking about profit and fame. Our conversations died as fast as they started.

The 5th dan I spoke with was very arrogant in her conversation with me. She bragged about her trophies, travel, and how no one in any country could defeat her. I told her of my trophies, which consisted of better conditioning, confidence, and dedication; this elicited only laughter. I was going to ask her to come and speak with Grandmaster and maybe practice with one of our classes. After talking to her for many nights I realized that she was not a martial artist, but an entertainer. I did not want to insult Grandmaster, the instructors, or classmates with an "entertainer" instead of a martial artist. This (so called) "dan" does not contact me anymore; I believe my talking about Cha Yon Ryu was not an interest to her.

I realize now, that I see many strong and committed black belts who are women every time I walk into the Dojang. This is enough for me. A lesson was learned from the black belt women I spoke to; not to be arrogant, rude, and selfish. A lesson is being taught to me by the black belt women of Cha Yon Ryu; patience, commitment, and inner strength.