Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The following letter is published with permission from its recipient, Grandmaster Kim Soo. It was written to him by a black belt in the system, recently promoted to 1st Dan. It speaks of the underlying true lessons contained within the Chayon-Ryu method of training, and the deeper philosophical meanings inside Chayon-Ryu.

Grand Master,
Hope all well with you and yours.

A few days ago, I was thinking about you. I was thinking about how I had come to know you.
Fifteen or sixteen years ago I set out on a mission to learn martial arts.
I wanted to learn self defense and improve my chronic back trouble. At least that's what I thought I wanted.

True, I learned martial arts and self defense, and I am grateful and proud of these accomplishments.
But, the real treasure came in the most unexpected way.

From you I learned patience and humility. I learned to be graceful and contemplative; I learned the true meaning of respect and so much more.
It is undeniable that you are a great martial artist. But your true greatness is that you are a great teacher of life. Martial arts are incidental, merely the vehicle, the medium for the divine teaching the deeper lessons through you. 

The remarkable aspect of this is that you never specifically told me that these were the true lessons for me to learn. You simply continued to teach me forms and
regardless of how much I practiced a particular form, regardless of how accomplished I became at executing a particular movement, I remained humbled by the pursuit of that perfection -- a priceless and timeless lesson. In time I came to understand that learning the lessons I "needed" to learn was far more important than learning the lessons I "wanted" to learn. Of course one was the inexorable pathway to the other.

Thinking of it now reminds me of the story you told me of the hungry man who posed as a famous calligrapher to gain entry to the rich man's house.
The hungry man thought that he went to the rich man's house because he was hungry, but his journey taught him patience and perseverance. Without intending to,  the hungry man indeed became the great calligrapher.

Your teaching was (and remains) an Aristotelian exercise in the infinite  approximation of what Aristotle described as the perfection of the forms, the perfect
circle, the perfect triangle and so on. And all of it taught by a man from the East. What extraordinary intellectual and spiritual elegance to experience the perfect circle of East meeting and becoming West becoming East -- Eastern Zen and Western Existentialism melding, transcending the the limitations of definition and simply becoming itself.

It's interesting how the road of life leads us, and it is important to remain receptive to learning and spiritual enlightenment

In the end  Gracias, Grazie, Merci... its all Thank You
Your humble student, and forever your friend,
Michael Testa, Kyosanim, 1st Dan, Chayon-Ryu

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