Chayon Ryu Training for the High School and Middle School Student

by Emile Etheridge
3rd Gup Arlington Branch Chayon Ryu

Some of our high school and middle school Chayon Ryu students may feel that several of the articles seem to focus mainly on adult training only.  Some of our younger readers may have even asked, “How does this philosophical stuff apply to me in the hallways and classrooms of my school today?” 

Well, High School and Middle School students of Chayon Ryu this article is dedicated to you.

As an Assistant Principal in a high school, I witness many of the day-to-day dramatic situations that affect our younger CYR students.  Many times, you will not discuss those situations with friends, let alone an adult.    More than likely, you lock away those feelings or fears internally hoping that you never will have to face them directly.  It’s similar to thinking “if I don’t acknowledge the feelings then, I don’t need to deal with them.”  This belief system is an extension of the “don’t tell” honor code seen in some of the groups in your school.   Let’s face it; the battleground is more complicated in the high school setting today as opposed to twenty years ago.  Worrying about peer pressure, status, respect, bullying, cliques, reputation, and don’t forget about that little item called TAKS testing takes center stage these days.  (If you are an old fogey no longer in high school reading this article and have no idea what TAKS testing is, ask the nearest high school student.  They will graciously educate you.) 

Students, as homework, I will ask you to reread two articles from Grandmaster Kim.   The first article is Mu Nyom, Mu Sang – “Empty Your Mind, Empty Your Thoughts” and the second is “My Path to Nam. “ These two articles provide a foundation for what I will discuss in this article and you can use the teachings to help you negotiate difficult middle school and high school years. 

I would like to focus briefly on three areas of concern that I have noticed more and more often targeting the mental balance of our high school students.  The first involves “Finding Peace Within Yourself.”  The second highlights “Recognizing and Not Destroying Your Available Options.” Finally, the third examines “Effectively Battling Enemies: Peer Pressure, Status, and Bullying.”

Finding Peace Within Yourself - How does someone do that? 

Do not feel bad students, many adults have not mastered this either.  However, I will refer you back to “Mu Nyom Mu Sang” for more clarification.  In order to find peace, you must be able to gain clarity of thought.  In order to gain clarity of thought, you must be able to slow events down in order to address each item one issue at a time.  Once you embrace this, you can have a positive and powerful influence on those areas in your life that seem to be moving faster than you are.  You can still find peace within yourself even though you will unfortunately encounter events that are outside of your control. 

I witness students who forfeit their own internal peace by attempting to influence areas or events that are outside of their control.  These events include hearsay (he/she is talking about me), who likes and dislikes me, or third parties that insist on drawing you into their self-destructive drama.  Instead of getting involved in this “mess”, why not focus on the areas that you can influence?  Areas like your attitude, preparation, sincerity, generosity, or honesty are often overlooked and undervalued.  Do you remember the meaning of the bamboo of your system patch?  Honesty, Humility, Sincerity, Purity, and Loyalty are not ideals that depict weakness or open up opportunities for you to get “punk’d” or ridiculed.  Rather, these ideals overwhelmingly embody strength and nourish inner peace.

Recognizing and Not Destroying Available Options - Why is this so important? 

As we train, Grandmaster Kim talks about the importance of continued practice of basic fundamentals.  Our branch instructors also reinforce these fundamentals daily within their respective dojangs. 
In sparring or a real fighting situation, you must possess the fundamentals to move naturally based on the constraints within your environment or by what your opponent offers you.  You should not have to think about or plan your offensive or defensive movements.  You can simply exist in that moment.  Your fundamentals allow this type of flexibility and provide infinite options available to you. 

So then, why can’t this type of thinking be applied to the challenges of everyday life and school? 

Do you take time to listen to everything before doing anything? 

Instead of relying on second hand information, do you talk to the person who has problems with you privately to find out the facts?

Do you expand your vision to find alternatives to address potential drama before any conflicts take place?
Do you ask for help when you are struggling?

Do you seek out multiple sources if one does not have the answer?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, remember that your Chayon Ryu basic fundamentals of breathing, natural movement, and observation can assist in your problem solving.  Do not eliminate your available options based on perceived mental roadblocks.  Your training has placed you on a path to enlightenment.  Honor your Chayon Ryu lineage by applying your training productively.

Effectively Battling Enemies: Peer Pressure, Status, and BullyingWho do you want to be?

This area has a dominant hold on many of you during your daily travels through high school.  In some cases, the fear of what other kids think or say about you can consume every moment of the day.  I am more than aware that humility can be misinterpreted as submissiveness and in the jungle of high school, reputation is everything.   Every day you must live by the unwritten laws of high school to survive.   “Never let someone mess with you without consequences.”  “Friends are supposed to protect your back, find the best parties, and defend you against both known and unknown associates.”  “Never snitch on a friend.”  “Relationships are forever.”  “The group is more powerful than the individual.”

These are very dangerous ways of thinking.  Some students believe that by adopting this way of thinking it will ensure personal status, prevent bullying, or enable them to make their own decisions.  That is a myth, a cancer of the mind called Ju Hwa Ip Ma. Once again, I encourage you to review Grand Master Kim’s article “My Path to Nam” to remind yourself how to effectively battle these enemies. 

It is unfortunate to watch so many of you voluntarily give up your own self worth in order to impress or fit someone else’s expectations.  As a Chayon Ryu student, you receive instruction that you can apply now to help you find balance and serve as an example to the students that you encounter.  What we study transcends the simple daily physical exercises of adults and children.  We study a natural art that allows us to work towards a state of mind that achieves complete balance even in the unbalanced teenage years.