I began my training at the Maplewood, MN School of Oom Yung Doe about four months ago, at the age of 31. I started training for many reasons which will be explained shortly, but I never imagined; even after reading the testimonies of many others, that it would have such an enormous effect on my life as well as on the people and the natural world that surrounds me! Before expounding on how the movements and principles of Moo Doe have helped to forage such a positive pathway, I find it necessary to explain in some detail, the course of my life prior to my training. I do this not because I am wanting pity or sympathy followed by congratulations that I have found a better way, but to emphasize that anyone, indeed all things can benefit from the teachings that have been so graciously passed down by Grandmaster “Iron” Kim, and by writing this testimony I can share what I am learning with as many people as possible.
I have been very active all of my life, swimming, diving, biking, hiking, climbing, etc... sometimes a little too active. I am a working Artist with a college education. I have been many places and have had many experiences, usually very good or very bad, including marriage and divorce. Eventually, these highs and lows became extreme and increasingly frequent. I would have so much energy that I would be up for several days and nights working on projects, baking cookies and running up and down the giant hill outside my apartment at 3 a. m. in the snow, just for fun. Other times I would have to call into work sick because I was so agitated that there was lint on the floor and I could not go anywhere until it was all picked up. This would then be followed by spending sprees in which I would purchase several different colors and flavors of lip gloss because I thought they were pretty, even though I don’t really wear make-up. Then I would crash and not get out of bed for days, or hide from my friends and cry for no real reason. I was diagnosed with Rapid-Cycling Mixed Manic Depressive Disorder. Unfortunately the problems did not stop there. I also had severe emotional trauma which manifest itself in much more serious ways.
For many years I suffered from Bulimia, an eating disorder which is generally thought to come about because of an issue with weight or appearance. I sought treatment, but it was not successful because purging myself was not an issue with food, but rather a way to try to get out feeling and emotions that I did not know how to release in a healthy way. Cutting was also another way I tried to understand the emotions I was feeling. Although I did not understand it at the time, I did not know how to deal with or feel emotional pain properly, but physical pain and blood I understood. Shallow cuts on my arms, legs and torso I knew would not kill me, and I certainly never thought that I would do such a thing. Eventually however, I did try. Three times I tried to kill myself. The first time I stabbed myself with a shard of glass, the second I tried to strangle myself with an electrical cord and the third I tried to drown myself. I am alive because the first two times a very good friend who happened to come home at the right time was able to get me help, and the third time because my body reacted so violently to the idea that I gave up.
My diagnoses eventually included Borderline Personality Disorder and treatment for both have been medication, therapy and stays in mental health facilities. At one point I had to be tied face down to a solitary confinement bed where I chewed and wiggled my way out of the straps twice, until eight people held me down and I was sedated. The first two types of medication I was given to sustain stabilization I had horrible allergic reactions to, and many others that are usually given to such patients I am not able take because of a blood disorder in which my white blood cells hyper-actively react to external stimuli causing excessive bleeding or clotting and numbness in the extremities. I am, however, able to take Lithium to help maintain some of the chemical imbalances, but medication can only go so far. I unfortunately have not had much support from my family, but through the Grace of God, a few amazing friends and my fortunate encounter with Oom Yung Doe, I am beginning to understand a sense of peace that I never thought could be attained.
I have always been interested in Martial Arts and my roommate had begun training several months before myself. As I watched the improvement in his disposition, physical ability and attitude toward challenges, we both thought that this might be a great form of “therapy” for my condition, and so I began. I soon understood that Moo Doe was much more that just personal therapy and although it was very difficult to make the necessary financial sacrifices, I was able to enroll in the Degree Training Program. The physical challenges are rewarding in a way that is completely compatible to my body. As stated previously I have always been very active, but lacked strength and total body coordination. I am only beginning to understand the concepts if internal and external energy but, it is unbelievable to start to feel a sort of positive power within me and even more incredible that I am gaining the ability to control that power. At the onset of my training I found it entertaining that I was supposed to let my mind take over when my physical body could not hold a particular position. My mind was so busy racing around from thought to thought that it had no time to think about the fact that my legs where hurting. I am now finding that I am able to focus my mind on that internal strength so that I can hold mental positions with a sense of calm and therefore much more stability.
The varieties of skills that have been taught to me already are helping me to develop in a complete, well rounded manner which for me includes the idea of having fun. Personally, weapon training not only helps me develop important mental skills such as focus, timing and accuracy, but it is very exhilarating, a quality I feel is equally important. Udo training is much the same in that it gives me confidence in understanding how my body can move in many different situations, but it also reminds me of being a little kid again playing in the lawn, and that makes me smile. The greatest satisfaction however, comes from the knowledge that the movements and principles I am learning as a student are being shared with others both like, and very unlike myself.
Traditional Moo Doe training has helped me in many ways to truly remember what it is like to be human. I still have good days and bad days that are slightly more extreme than normal, and I still struggle with much emotional trauma, but my ability to cope and find healthy ways of dealing with anger, pain, stress and even euphoria is dramatically more successful. Although I still have difficulty in unorganized social situations, public interactions have become much less fearful, and I am able to hold consistent hours at a volunteer position, which has recently turned into a part time job. These small steps seem to be almost miraculous to me as I had been unable to work at all in almost a year, even though I had been taking my medication and going to therapy. I am just beginning on this path of learning and understanding, the end of which I hope not to see soon, but along the way I do hope to find a sense of peace through harmony of mind, body and spirit which I too can share with others. Another of my personal struggles with both mental and physical illness is that I would never be able to fulfill my career goals. Since the age of six I wanted to be an Art Teacher and a Veterinarian. I was well on my way in graduate school with both a Graduate Teaching Assistantship in the Art Department and a foot in the door of the Veterinary Medical School, but because of the afore mentioned medical conditions, my world eventually came crashing down. I have since come to realize that the important elements of my career choices where the desire to teach a discipline that had some intrinsic reciprocal value and the need to heal. The idea of becoming an Oom Yung Doe instructor has given me the possibility of fulfilling these personal goals. More importantly it would give me the ability to pass on the knowledge and wisdom of Moo Doe so that as many people as possible can be given the chance to live a more peaceful existence.
My experience with The School of Oom Yung Doe has far exceeded any expectations that I may have had. It is not only a School of Martial Arts instruction, but a community of individuals who have embraced the Moo Doe principles of compassion, strength, dedication, determination, patience and understanding, and are willing to communicate these principles with a sense of respect, kindness and humanity to their students. I am very thankful that I have become a part of this community and hope that my testimony might inspire others to seek the path of positive possibilities that training at a school of Oom Yung Doe can provide.
Emmamarie S. Atilgan