Chung Moo Doe Association
of New England
5th Degree Black Belt
The Chung Moo Doe Associations are proud to present personal testimonials from instructors and students, in the hope that others may better understand the benefits of training in the Chung Moo martial arts.
There are three things that have helped to bring me to the point of writing this testimonial: the love of my family; the support of my friends; and the tremendous test of my willpower that I have experienced over the past years.
I am president and shareholder of a cooperating that owns and operates the Chung Moo Doe School, the Chong Su Nim "Iron" Kim™ style in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. I believe very strongly in the power of the human spirit and believe that each one of us can reach a potential far beyond our expectations. I have see it. I have lived it.
I have been training in Chung Moo Doe since 1978. Having read extensively about Asian culture and martial arts throughout high school and college, I was greatly interested in the abilities and wisdom attributed to the practitioners of the martial arts.
I was looking to gain in confidence and learn self-defense, as well as looking to challenge myself to the fullest. However, I eventually came to Chung Moo Doe only through a process of elimination.
I say that I came to Chung Moo Doe by the process of elimination, because I first tried many other activities to improve myself. I lifted weights regularly. I trained in gymnastics. I read hundreds of books on all types of subjects. I played and lettered in soccer and diving in high school, and found it all enjoyable but somehow unfulfilling. I then tried Korean Tae Kwon Do, Chinese Kenpo, and Japanese Judo and Aikido, all with the same result. Along the way I went to college, graduated and started a career.
All this time, I was aware of something missing in my life. I had a constant feeling of looking for something more, and had a constant question that could best be phrased as "Is this all there is to life?" I had been raised a Catholic and believe in God and the principles of Christianity, so I dont think that the question I was struggling with was a religious or spiritual one. What I was looking for was more immediate, than cryptic interpretations of scripture. I was looking for something that to me was more real. So, being young, I tried skydiving, rock-climbing and motorcycling to test the limits of my reality. I even traveled as far as India and Nepal in search of something that I felt was missing.
Finally, not being overly impressed with anything I had run across, I had pretty well decided that what you see is what you get and was living accordingly. I worked long hours to build a financial future, and played hard, convincing myself that I was happy. I decided to take up martial arts again, needing to keep my body in condition and wanting to learn strong self-defense. I was small, and didnt like feeling intimidated. I picked Chung Moo Doe because it taught "8 martial arts as 1" and "18 weapons" and because I was impressed by the pictures on the flyer- Chong Su Nim "Iron" Kim and the instructors looked like they knew what they were doing.
In person, the instructors were even more impressive. They were very capable, much more capable than any instructor I had ever trained under. What impressed me the most was not just their physical ability, but the way they carried themselves, and their depth of understanding. In a very short time I decided that this was something that I wanted to spend some time learning. This was worthwhile. This to me, was true martial arts. About a month and a half after starting, I had a chance to meet Chong Su Nim "Iron" Kim. I immediately understood where the strength, ability, and understanding of the instructors came from -- here was the most powerful and knowledgeable man I had ever met -- backed by 1500 years of martial arts knowledge, and best of all, willing to pass on this knowledge to those who were serious about learning. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity of training under Chong Su Nim "Iron" Kim several times during my early training and I learned more about what it meant to be a human being, and what a human beings potential is, than I thought possible. To me, martial arts was a method of winning through applying technique and skill. I soon learned that Chung Moo Doe was much more, that it stands for the development of self, mentally and physically, and the application of that strength to the traditional values of self respect, respect for others, right communication, compassion, and care. I had learned in my life to be competitive, to win as the ultimate goal. It took Chung Moo training to make me realize that this makes you more alone; that winning also means losing for someone else, and that it is much better to create situations where everyone wins. In Chung Moo training there are no losers, for everyone gains from their training. Training also has given me a lifelong challenge, one where I can use all of my energies to great advantage, to improve myself and to apply this to my life. What better prize could I win?
Chung Moo training is founded on the firm belief that human beings can change, grow, and develop themselves; and improve themselves and their situation, their entire lives. This means much more than a better kick or a faster punch. When I first started, my goal was to learn self-defense. After a few months, I realized that was the easy part. Here were people taking on a much greater challenge, and succeeding. Here were people gaining better, happier, more fulfilling lives by developing their own capabilities. Here were people, who through their training, were becoming more patient, more determined, sharper, more confident, and understanding themselves more completely. Granted it took a lot of work, but at least here was a method! Here was strength, too! The one thing I believe attracted me the most, and kept my interest is that the instructors always stood as an example of what was being taught, and I could see how through training, their lives were more comfortable, happier, and more fulfilling.
As the months went by, the special Chung Moo forms began to strengthen my mind and body, and the daily lessons began to have their effect. I no longer had to wonder if the training would work for me -- I could feel the difference. Others, too, could see the change in me. I went home for Christmas after about 9 months of training, and my mother (who is a very perceptive woman) said, "I dont know what you are doing, but keep doing it. You look great!" She also said that it was the happiest she had seen me in some time. I knew that I was going to continue. My main concern, however, was being able to absorb all that was being taught. For the first time in my life I felt like a slow learner. I now had not only more purpose in my life, but also a very positive direction. My goal was to learn all that I could.
Reaching Black Belt and beyond in Chung Moo Doe was my proudest achievement, but only because of what it stood for: meeting the greatest challenge of all, that of bettering not only myself but through that, being an example to those around me. I learned to apply the knowledge passed on to me to my daily life and as time went on I became more comfortable and felt that I achieved some measure of balance.
The gratitude and happiness I felt for having the opportunity to learn translated itself into great respect for Chong Su Nim "Iron" Kim and al the Chung Moo instructors, without exception. I respect not only their individual accomplishments but also their dedication to helping others. I respect and appreciate their taking the time to pass on what they have learned. In my previous experiences, I have not found any martial art school or other organization for that matter that can provide the training, confidence and motivation to an individual to the extent that I have found in Chung Moo Doe.
When given the opportunity to instruct, and also start passing on what I understood, I didnt have to think twice. What better way to spend my time! By this time I had realized what had been missing, what I had been looking for. Even though I had a career, and what most people would consider success, there was nothing to give meaning to my life -- even though I was doing a lot.
At first I didnt feel ready, after all, what did I know? I still had so much to learn. I resolved just to do the best that I could, reassured by the fact that part of being a Chung Moo instructor is continuing my own training and that I could always ask for help from the instructors above me. So now I approached lifes second great challenge -- to help other people improve their lives in the ways that I had benefited, and most importantly, stand up as an example of how training could improve ones life through methods that have been proven through centuries of example.
One of the most obvious benefits of Chung Moo training is the level of health that is attainable. There is no substitute for the self-defense skills that are taught, but in a balanced life, it is a skill best used with great discretion. Good health, increased energy, and an alert mind can very directly improve anyones daily life. In training there are forms that can permanently develop all areas of the mind and body when practiced correctly. There are ways to improve joint strength and flexibility, strengthen the nervous system, improve all internal functions, increase circulation, and improve breathing. The forms can directly improve a students concentration, increase willpower, add patience and self-awareness. Once developed, these strengths improve a persons self-respect and attitude toward others, resulting in better communication. Because you care about yourself, you begin to see that all human beings are worth caring about, and ultimately gain a deep respect for the value of life.
This may seem contrary to how most people perceive martial arts (as a fighting style), until you realize that people learn self defense because they do value life very much.
Most people in the United States do not die from violence, they die from sickness and disease, and the debilitating effects of age. Hidden invisible killers that will first take your health and energy, and then deplete your body and mind. If you develop and maintain your health and inner strength; and increase your energy you can successfully combat the effects of lifes pressures and stress. This is the most important aspect of self-defense, and why forms practice for health is an integral part of Chung Moo training. This is why people train in martial arts as a long-term commitment. It is because they value their lives.
This point was driven home to me over the past year very directly. About three years ago, I started experiencing some severe back and neck pain. I ignored it for over two years before getting it checked. Well, it turned out to be a tumor in the center of my spinal cord. My first reaction of course was, "How could that happen?" -- especially when I had been training all this time. Well, it turned out that this type of tumor is very slow growing and that I had it a very long time, long before I ever started training. The doctors also said that with the size of the tumor I should be paralyzed from the neck down by now, while I was only experiencing relatively minor effects. I immediately began to appreciate the strength of the forms I had learned and practiced.
The medical diagnosis and recommendation was for radiation treatment with a life expectancy of 5 to 10 more years of deteriorating health. Unwilling to accept that, I went to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. I found a surgeon willing to go in and cut through the spinal cord to remove the tumor. This also meant a high risk of immediate and permanent paralysis from the neck down, or death. I decided on the surgery. In the back of my mind was the constant thought: Lets see if Ive really learned something from my training, from life. It was time for a real test.
For the first two weeks after surgery I experienced almost total paralysis, and total lack of coordination. I thought to myself, that this is a small taste of what hell is like, and I waited for things to improve. It felt as though every part of my body had been amputated, with the accompanying pain. Things did not improve, and I felt my condition worsening, and energy level dropping. I realized there would be no help or improvement unless it comes from within. I was not afraid to die, but definitely did not want to. I thought: "God only helps those who help themselves. If I want this life, I have to earn it."
The doctors for their part were well pleased with the surgical results -- at least I was breathing, and my internal functions were stable. They had expected that I would not have any lung function, and at most would only have limited internal functions, as the tumor was at the level in my spine where these nerves connected. This was something they considered success, but I wanted more than that. I wanted to return to life, to accomplish what I had set out to do. As I went through the various therapies required for rehabilitation, I quickly realized that while what I was doing was beneficial, it was definitely not going to be enough to bring me back.
Using all the strength I had, it took me two weeks to stand again, and from that moment I began to force my nervous system back to life, through every means I had learned, practicing and retraining my body to function again. I had the desire. My family and friends gave me the support and Chung Moo gave me the way and the strength. Without all three, I would still be lying on that bed instead of standing here today. Every waking moment I felt more pain than I ever could imagine, but I was not willing to consider any alternative. It took as much effort to raise my arm as it used to take to lift a 200 pound opponent. Every spare moment, I practiced the forms I knew would most benefit me. The movements were there in my mind; I just had to put them back into my body. It took six weeks to relearn to feed myself, and eight weeks to learn how to get dressed. My doctors were very happy with the extent of my unusually rapid improvement, and I was allowed to go home, to continue rehabilitation on an outpatient basis at a hospital closer to home.
My first visit to my new rehab center again made me realize how much positive effect serious training could have. I drove to the therapy myself, and I walked up to the check in. There was some confusion when I spoke to the therapist. It took a while to convince her that I was me and not a friend or attendant. Having read my case history in preparation for treatment, they were expecting a patient on a gurney, or at least in a wheelchair.
After an additional 3 months of therapy, I again transferred to a third, smaller hospital even closer to home, with the same effect on the staff. Evidently the extent of recovery I achieved is unheard of in their experience. My instructors, however, expected no less, and now continue to challenge me to continue my improvement. The last time I saw the doctor supervising my recovery was ten months after surgery. She said that there was no more need for me to come back any more. She was learning more from me than I was from her. We are now exploring the possibility of applying Chung Moo form to other patients recovering from nervous system trauma or dysfunction. Now, one year after surgery, I am back to instructing part time and with my other responsibilities, I am putting in a full 40-hour week.
The doctors consider my recovery incredible. I do not. It is something any human being could do. Every human being has the potential there to be tapped. Chung Moo training can tap that potential. I do not know if the tumor will return, or if some other health problem may arise. This is why any human being should train. There are forms and self-development methods in Chung Moo Doe for all ages. No matter who you are and what you do, you need a strong mind and strong body to meet lifes challenges successfully. Build yourself now, and you will not regret it later. If you think you are strong enough, check yourself again. You have more potential than you realize.