Martial arts teacher in 27th year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Catawba College News Service
September will mark the 27th year of biweekly Chayon Ryu martial arts classed offered at Catawba College by Master David Mitchell of Salisbury.
Over those 27 years, dozens of students, from both the college and the area community, have participated in the biweekly Chayon Ryu martial arts classes offered on campus each Monday and Wednesday by Mitchell.
Mitchell, who traveled to Korea in May, took his rank test at an ancient school in Pusan, and was awarded an eighth-degree black belt. Mitchell and his teacher, Grandmaster Kim Soo, a 10th-degree black belt, traveled throughout Pusan and Seoul for 11 days, demonstrating their martial arts skills.
Now retired from teaching in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools System, Mitchell concentrates on his martial arts. He is an adjunct professor at Catawba, teaching day classes on Mondays and Wednesdays to college students, and in the evenings on Mondays and Wednesdays, classes that are open to the public.
Former Catawba College President Robert Knott originally helped establish the Chayon Ryu martial arts classes on campus when he was provost at the college in 1984. He felt the Chayon Ryu system’s art and philosophy would be a good fit with the educational mission of the institution.
Mitchell notes that the focus of the martial arts is higher learning and says training helps its students become better people. “We’re always trying to attain self-awareness and self-knowledge, so we can reach enlightenment,” he says. “We’re not a substitute for religion, and religion is not taught in class, nor is politics. You can travel at your own level of fitness and this will help strengthen you, mentally as well as physically.”
About 80 percent of the students in his classes are adults “who are growing into, instead of, out of martial arts,” Mitchell notes. “The forms and techniques taught are very old, but the way we practice has been modified so people are able to do them for a lifetime. Our self-defense techniques have been tried and proven in battle over the centuries.”
Mitchell, who grew up in Salisbury, also grew into being a martial arts master. He discovered Chayon Ryu and its founder Grandmaster Kim Soo in 1973 at Kim’s martial arts school in Houston, Texas. He says he had the mistaken idea early on that martial arts were all about fighting.
During his first appearance in Kim Soo’s class, Mitchell was “ready to fight and win,” which seemed to disappoint his teacher. However, Mitchell became a worthy student after he was trained by Grandmaster Kim Soo “how not to fight.”
“I came to realize that I was only in competition with myself and that my true enemy was inside. Grandmaster Kim Soo taught me that it was easy to fight, but very difficult to avoid a fight. To fight another simply because you have lost patience with this individual is frowned upon. To fight when you absolutely must is the better idea.”
To date, Mitchell, through the classes he has taught at Catawba, is responsible for the training of 26 black belts, ranging from first-degree to fifth-degree. His two adult sons, Josh and Matt, are among these, with both holding third-degree black belts.
Mitchell says the classes he teaches are very well organized and include students who are good people. He hopes to enroll more students this fall.
For more information about enrolling in the Chayon Ryu martial arts class at Catawba, contact David Mitchell at 704-636-8809 or by e-mail at