1st Chayon-Ryu National Tournament , 1970. Grandmaster is third from left. Click here for a larger version with more details.

The dojang is not a Health Club. You are part of the Chayon-Ryu family and everyone has to share in the responsibilities and chores. Dojang-Bee is the same. All students are required to pay their dues. Even if you train only once a year, it is still your responsibility. Nobody is a special guest; all students are the same in my eyes.


By Grandmaster Kim Soo, 10th. Dan & Founder, Chayon-Ryu Martial Arts
Written by Sabomnim Graeme Cox

During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), judo and kendo were compulsory physical education courses in high school and university, aimed at establishing a strong nation ready to fight for Japan. Traditional Korean martial arts such as Tak Kyon vanished as the people worked to survive, having no time to teach martial arts.

When Japanese occupation ended after World War II, Korean nationals returned from China and Japan, gradually reestablishing martial arts in Korea. Our original founder, Grandmaster Yoon, Byung-In, was one of the first teachers of the five initial Kwans (schools). Unfortunately, Grandmaster Yoon taught for only five years before his disappearance at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. In his limited time he produced many Black Belts, although most failed to carry on his legacy.

Three of his students, Grandmasters Lee, Nam-Suk; Park, Chul-Hee; and Hong, Jong-Pyo were my teachers. Initially I trained under Grandmaster Lee, but later transferred to Grandmaster Park's school. Grandmaster Park never had his own dojang, preferring to move around where he could get training space at no cost. He taught all over Seoul going from gym to barn to office building, north, south, east and west. Grandmaster Park was an excellent teacher and martial artist, but he rarely had more than 10 students in class because of this transient dojang.

In those days, martial art teachers could only survive if they were financially well off, not needing compensation for their time. Some leaders used martial arts as a doorway to draw people into religious cults. However, most teachers could not keep their schools open because they had no way of paying their bills. The problem was that not all students paid their Dojang-Bee: dojang dues.

Eventually, this was the downfall of the major Kwans. This also explains why martial arts came under government control in Korea. The teachers themselves could not keep their schools open. The government stepped in and supported the schools and instructors for a price. That price was to standardize the Kwans to one art - taekwondo. Individual instructors lost the right to teach their own heritage as passed down by their founding Grandmasters. The government took over and wiped out all traces of history and tradition.

With a great desire to preserve our roots, I left Korea and carne to America, where free speech allowed me to continue teaching Grandmaster Yoon's legacy.

I arrived in Houston 33 years ago. During that time I have waited patiently for you to come to the dojang. Whenever you were ready, I was here. The only way I could survive was through the Dojang-Bee of previous students. Dojang-Bee is also a contract with your self to continue training. It shows you feel there is value and worth in coming to class. Even if you were not an active student, it would be a respectful gesture to pay Dojang-Bee, similar to University alumni This ensures the survival of Chayon-Ryu for your children and grandchildren.

Dojang-Bee is an investment in your future. Wisdom, health, prosperity, confidence, happiness, and peacefulness are worth much more than a few hundred dollars each year. With a positive and sincere attitude your return is 100 or 1,000 times more. If you only see a dollar for dollar value from your training, I would say your attitude is wrong or you don't realize how Chayon-Ryu helps your life. Furthermore, understand the Principle of Um-Yung - "balance." You can't just "take" from the dojang - there is no balance. You need to return something to the dojang. The very least is Dojang-Bee. But you get more than just a dollar for dollar return on your investment. As a result you should also contribute some of your time, effort and/or professional skills to balance the equation. This is Chayon-Ryu: the natural way.

Your dues are also the bare minimum you need to come to class. Once here, you need to train with a sincere attitude, foster goodwill among your fellow students, and set a positive example. The dojang is not a Health Club. You are part of the Chayon-Ryu family and everyone has to share in the responsibilities and chores. Dojang-Bee is the same. All students are required to pay their dues. Even if you train only once a year, it is still your responsibility. Nobody is a special guest; all students are the same in my eyes. If you cannot afford to pay Dojang-Bee, you have bigger concerns in your life than training. I suggest you focus your mind on correcting this situation before you even consider coming back to class. If you genuinely cannot pay Dojang-Bee, you could offer to perform a regular assignment around the dojang.

Black Belts, above all others, should understand the importance of Dojang-Bee.

A "true" Black Belt understands that Mu-Sul (martial technique) is the path to enlightenment, not the destination. Black Belts must lead by example because junior students see their behavior as appropriate. Chayon-Ryu develops leadership, compassion, confidence, self-esteem, and many other qualities. But, without Dojang-Bee how can you possibly understand your responsibilities? This is the most fundamental of values. It seems so simple to me. When you buy a car you make payments every month. You pay for rent and utilities where you live. If you don't, your car is repossessed or you get kicked out. Likewise, my expenses include rent, utilities, taxes, equipment and advertising for 3 dojangs in the Houston area. No one waives my bills because I have helped the community for 33 years.

After training for a number of years, do you think you are the same person that started? Many changes have occurred through Chayon-Ryu. Perhaps they are too subtle for you to see, but I notice them. I see all students as my children, and I see you grow, learn and mature as you train. Unfortunately, I see some who never grow. Or think they are enlightened, but still don't understand that rank carries responsibility, not privilege. And others who think because they are skilful fighters, they have achieved some special status that exempts them from the rules of junior students. It saddens me to see this type of behavior.

All students need to understand their responsibilities to ensure the future of Chayon-Ryu. Chayon-Ryu is Sang Hwal Mu Do a "lifestyle" martial arts system. It teaches values as originally intended by the father of martial arts, Daruma Daishi. He understood the importance of mental and physical balance, and the necessity of humility and sincerity in one's life.

Chayon-Ryu is a path to enlightenment that can only be achieved through these fundamentals. Dojang-Bee, another fundamental value, is also necessary for Chayon-Ryu to survive for generations to come.