Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Grandmaster Yoon Byung-In Day May 18th

YOON BYUNG IN- Another Story
by Karen Hoffman (From a story told by Grandmaster Kim Soo)

Storytellers captivate us when their stories transport our imaginations to another time; we are no longer aware of our physical selves or of our surroundings. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the hot dojang, students of Chayon-Ryu forget the heat and their heavy breathing from training as Grandmaster Kim Soo begins to tell a story. We are not long in that dojang.

This time we are with Grandmaster Byung In Yoon in Japan, at Nihon University where he is a student. It is about 1937. We already know Grandmaster Byung In Yoon is a special man both to martial arts tradition and to our Chayon-Ryu family tree.

Grandmaster Kim digresses to bring him to life for us so we know who this young man is. He was born in Korea, but because of the Japanese occupation there, he and his family fled to Manchuria. He became fascinated with the art of Chu'an Fa (Kung Fu) at a nearby school and asked the instructor for permission to join. The instructor firmly refused, for in China, the teachings of martial arts were for Chinese natives only and kept secret from all outsiders.

Byung In Yoon could not stay away from the school. During the day, he would jump up and down in front of the school's windows glimpsing what he could of classes. The instructor would catch him and sent him away from the school.

Determined to somehow be a part of the school, Byung In Yoon returned. This time he cleaned the area around the dojang and in front of the dojang entrance where the shoes of the instructor and all of the students lay. He meticulously arranged the shoes in neat, orderly rows. He returned every day to this task.

The instructor came out of the dojang surprised to find this orderly and well kept area, day after day. He noticed that someone had also rearranged his shoes so that the toes pointed away from the entrance, ready for him to easily slip into and walk away. He was very intrigued and tried to find the student who was so dedicated.

He found that it was not his students, but the little Korean boy who was determined to show his sincerity. The instructor was so impressed with Byung In Yoon's tenacity and sincerity that he made an exception and allowed him to join the school. Never before had a Korean national been accepted to learn the Chinese martial art of Chu'an Fa.

Grandmaster Kanken Toyama
Grandmaster Kim Soo brings us back to Nihon University where Byung In Yoon was studying colonial rule. He was often seen during lunch, outside the student cafeteria punching a huge tree. Everyday he would kick and punch this tree for so long that eventually it started leaning!

Some of his Korean student friends belonged to a Shudokan karate club on campus taught by Grandmaster Kanken Toyama. One Korean student quit the club to spend more time with his girlfriend. This angered the club members and was one of the reasons gangs formed on campus. The Japanese student gang members beat up the Korean student. This student implored Byung In Yoon to help fight the Japanese gang members. Finally, he agreed.

At the next challenge, Grandmaster Byung In Yoon quickly fought off many students simultaneously, using the graceful methods of Chu'an Fa. The Japanese gang members were very impressed with this graceful art that so skillfully deflected their attacks. They returned to their Karate club to tell Grandmaster Toyama about Byung In Yoon and his expertise.

Grandmaster Toyama approached Byung In Yoon and implored him to come to his Club to teach this wonderful new art. After much discussion, Byung In Yoon agreed to teach Chuan Fa if Grandmaster Toyama taught him Shudokan karate. Byung In Yoon's skill level was so advanced that Grandmaster Toyama accepted Grandmaster Byung In Yoon into the club as a fourth degree Black Belt, rare for a Japanese student, let alone a Korean national.

Grandmaster Kim Soo returns our imaginations to the dojang and finishes this tale by assuring us that this latter story is indeed true. He knows this because three different people who did not know each other told him primarily the same story at three different times in his life.

These individuals were Grandmaster Park Chul Hee, a student of Byung in Yoon, Grandmaster Jong Pyo Hong presently living in Korea, and Grandmaster Ki Whang Kim (recently passed away), a junior friend who trained with Grandmaster Byung In Yoon in Japan.

This validation is important because Grandmaster Kim knows that by telling us these stories he makes us the guardians of the history and traditions that form our Chayon-Ryu system.

Why we should avoid egotism

Why We Should Avoid Egotism
by Kyosanim Melissa L. Nichols

Egotism is “characterized by an exaggerated estimate of one's intellect, ability, importance, appearance, wit, or other valued personal characteristics"[1] – the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself.

"In egotism we find the person filled with an overweening sense of the importance and qualities of his personality...the things of the 'Me.'"[2] Egotism means placing oneself at the center of one's world with no concern for others, including those loved or considered as "close," in any other terms except those set by the egotist. (Wikipedia)

In martial arts this can be a slippery slope.  In life, it is a recipe for disaster.  When we train, we develop more confidence as a result of attaining greater knowledge and greater skill; this increased confidence is a good thing, as long as it is kept in check with humility.  Without humility, the ego can inflate and this can lead the student down the wrong path, regardless of rank.  The high rank and low rank are susceptible to the influence of overabundant ego, or egotism. 

Egotism can manifest in small ways, such as throwing one’s weight around at junior ranking classmates, or larger ones, like second guessing an instructor, or even correcting them during class. Both of these behaviors are bad and lack humility.  As higher ranking students, we are obligated to help our juniors on their journey, and create a helpful and supportive environment.  To make them feel inferior, or to boss them around is not the Chayon-Ryu way. Likewise, as instructors, we must never overstep into the private lives of students, and assume authority to order students about outside the context of a student/teacher relationship.  It is our responsibility to prepare the young birds to fly from the nest and be able to stand on their own.

 As juniors, we must show our seniors and instructors respect at all times.  No matter what we were taught previously, we must respect the teacher who stands at the head of the class and not show disrespect, or insubordination.  Be humble, be serious.  We must never believe that we know more than the person standing to our right.

Outside the dojang, we must all remember to balance ego with humility as well, or we run the risk of becoming narcissistic and overblown with self-importance.  No one wants to deal with this kind of person, at work, at school, on a sports team, in traffic or even in line at the coffee shop.  The ego unchecked can create a monster within us. It is even possible for some individuals to develop into bullies, or abusers.  To avoid this pitfall, we must look to the lessons of Chayon-Ryu to direct us to a place of peace and enlightenment.   Grandmaster Kim Soo has given us the tools to navigate life without falling into the trap of egotism, and we must look to his teaching and example to be our compass.  These great gifts are his legacy to us all, if we are open to receiving them.

It is good to develop confidence and to feel good about our achievements. But we must never let our ego overrun our good sense, and basic principles of right and wrong.  Balance the ego with humility. Be humble and serious in training. Apply Chayon-Ryu principles to everyday living, and seek the path to enlightenment and self-awareness.  When we are self-aware, we are aware of how our words and actions affect those around us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Through Different Eyes

Written by Robert McLain, as told by Grandmaster Kim Soo

One day, a man was out on a walk when he encountered a suspension bridge along his
path. The bridge extended from one side of a valley to the other and served as a safe route
over a flowing river. The man walked to the center of the bridge, leaned over the railing and
paused to look down upon the river below.

 Upon inspection of the river, the man noticed
the river’s water level was high and slightly covered a fishing pier that extended from one
river bank into the flowing water. At the end of the slightly submerged pier sat a man,
seated in meditation. Standing nearby on the river bank was a large crowd, watching the
meditating man. They were in awe of the meditating man, exclaiming, “Wow, He’s a real
Dosa (Saint)!” “Look how he levitates on the water!” “We must follow him and his

The man looked down from the bridge and thought, “Oh, the crowd cannot see the submerged pier he sits upon and thinks the meditating man has magical powers.” Suddenly, he spotted a huge, grey catfish swimming through the river. The size of the catfish was enormous – as long as an automobile. The man on the bridge watched as the catfish gracefully and quietly swamtowards the meditating man. When the catfish reached the pier the catfish quickly sprang from the water and, in one big gulp, swallowed the meditating man before landing back in the river to continue slowly and gracefully swimming in the river.

There are many lessons to be found in this parable. Overall, this parable illustrates that following a proper path can enable people to see truth in life and avoid being deceived.

Many people study martial arts, but few study proper fundamental principles. These principles or “truth” exist in all things, including martial arts. An understanding of the principles enables people to see through false claims, whether in martial arts or another endeavor.

Nature doesn’t care about “flash” or trickery. It simply follows the “natural way.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


by Kyosanim Melissa L. Nichols

Today I practiced good Bo Shi. I was in the parking lot at Wal-mart and was approached by a tiny woman from another land. She didn't speak my language, and she was dressed in what looked like a sari, but she was from Asia, or possibly Indonesia. I had no idea what she was saying, but she was smiling and it made me smile too. And so I guessed and guessed until I realized she was asking me for a ride of a short distance, which I gladly gave. The whole way, we both smiled and laughed. She thanked me, but for the feeling I have inside me, I thank her.

What is Bo Shi?

Grandmaster first introduced the concept of Bo Shi in May of 2009 at a tuksu suryon class. Bo Shi applies to everyone, from white belt up. It can apply to anyone whether they practice martial arts or not, but most especially those of us who do.  It is about leaving our ego behind us, and finding lessons in everything, not simply those things which we find to be of personal interest. If we are true students of the way, even the wind can teach us.  We must always keep an open mind.

As the story by Grandmaster Kim Soo goes, one day a villager asked a wise man why he was always unlucky and never got a break.  The wise man told him to make an offering. The man replied he had nothing to offer. The wise man said that money or goods was not what he was talking about. Everyone has something to give that costs us nothing. This is the concept of Bo Shi.  We all have seven things that we can do to help others, and this helps us too. This follows the concept of what comes around goes around, cause and effect and the golden rule. Very universal teachings.

The seven things, or Bo Shi are:
  1. Hwa Ahn Shi- the friendly or peaceful face. Smile. Be at ease with our expression. Let the light in your eyes shine outward.
  2. Ohn Shi- friendly encouraging words, praise, or giving hope. These are important gifts we have to offer others in times of need, sorrow or celebration and joy.
  3. Ahn Shi- friendly look or eye contact. This is important for those who are uncertain, lost or unsure if someone is approachable.
  4. Shim Shi- open mind/ open heart-with no prejudice or preconcived notions. Do not judge others, take time to find out who/what they really are beneath the surface. Do not judge a book by its cover.
  5. Shin Shi- physically helping someone. Pick up a heavy load for them, open a door, assist and elder with sitting or standing, reach something on a high up shelf. These are gifts worth more than gold.
  6. Jua Shi- consideration or politeness. Offer a seat to someone who needs it more than you, respect your elders, remember your manners, behave appropriately for each occasion.
  7. Chal Shi- finding a need and offering it. This is an advanced awareness. This is not asking someone what they need, this is anticipating the need and serving it.
Think of these actions in a sincere way as you go about your day.
 Are you treating others as you would like to be treated? 

Are you giving off good karma? Are you building positive kong? 

What kind of environment are you presenting to those around you? 

When you teach class are you helping students, and making them feel better about themselves?
Or are you making them more nervous and unsure? Be self aware.  Be aware that our words and actions affect those around us, every moment of every day. Bo Shi.

for more about Bo Shi read "Bo Shi"