On February 10, 2010 I flew to Korea to visit my retired teacher Grandmaster Kim Soo. He has decided to relocate from Texas to Busan, in order to introduce Chayan Ryu to his home country. I applaud this endeavor, as I believe this move will not only be good for my teacher - but also for the people of Korea. As many of his students in the United States can testify, Grandmaster Kim's knowledge and wisdom can change and improve lives.
Grandmaster Kim Soo and his niece Ceci were wonderful hosts. They took great care of me and did everything they could to show me a good time during my visit. We ate fantastic meals, toured the city, sang karaoke, and just sat and talked over hot tea and coffee.
One of the most special moments for me was when my teacher took the time to introduce me to a new high-ranking form (called 54 steps). It is an honor to receive a private lesson like this from such a great teacher and martial artist. Few people in the world will ever experience this privilege.
Another great moment was when I was invited to come along as my teacher checked out several properties for his new martial arts school. As expected, property is expensive in such a large city so the decision must be made carefully. All of the properties we investigated were within walking distance of his new home, and they each looked like they would be convenient places for his new school. Having just started my own new karate-do school in Japan, my input was requested and I shared my thoughts with my teacher and his niece. It was another special honor to visit during this time, as I was witnessing the potential birth place of Chayon Ryu in Korea!
Although my trip to Korea was short, I shall remember it forever. Being so close geographically now, Grandmaster Kim extended an open invitation to me and all my students to come and visit him from time to time. It is his hope, and mine as well, that the people of Japan and Korea can benefit from learning martial arts, and that we can help build friendships and strengthen positive ties between the two East Asian countries.
My sincere thanks to both Ceci and Grandmaster Kim for allowing me the honor of this visit and for showing me such a good time during my first trip to Korea. I will treasure the memories from this trip for years to come.