"Immersed in their own cosmic commune"?

"My husband would joke with me that Dahn Hak was a 'cult' disguised as an exercise program"

July 2001
By a former participant of Dahn Hak

Previously I had earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do so I am familiar with martial arts training and philosophical teachings. But later in life I found Tae Kwon Do a bit too jarring, so some time ago I joined a local Dahn Hak center in California with the hope of getting into better shape.

Initially I enjoyed the stretching and even the meditation. What I found disturbing was the constant up-selling. I had already paid my $1,200.00 fee for a year and went on their $300.00 weekend retreat. And they wanted more money for testing to move up their levels. But this didn't strike me as too odd since I had paid small fees as I moved up within the ranks of Tae Kwon Do years earlier. What disturbed me was when Master Lee came to town everyone was asked to pay another $250.00 to see him for a couple of hours. Then there were suggestions that I pay to go to the Sedona retreat. I started to feel uneasy with the teachers.

I also found all the hugging and repeated "I love you(s)" a bit much. The teachers seemed almost too pleasant and happy.

When you join Dahn Hak the sales pitch is quite good. I joined because I liked a teacher that I met. I became concerned when I noticed what a revolving door the place was for teachers. They don't let any of the teachers stay at any one club too long. You go to class and the teacher you may have grown accustomed to is gone. No explanation, unless you ask. One teacher told me that he had family in Korea, but has little contact with them. He also said he lived with the other teachers. I thought how odd this was. He also constantly asked me about my relationship with my husband who was not a member. They ask about your past and personal life it seems in an effort to gain your trust.

It's not only the teachers that are odd. I began to find some of the students were often strange too. So many wanted to be believers that they would say whatever the instructor wanted to hear. I noticed that some students were much more easily influenced than others and that teachers would spend more time with them.

After about eight months, my husband would joke with me that Dahn Hak was a "cult" disguised as an exercise program. If I missed a week of classes they would call and say how they missed me. I am normally very suspicious of sales pitches, religious organizations or anything that "sounds too good to be true." This Dahn Hak organization is very good at selling and manipulation. And while I can understand people wanting to reduce their stress in this crazy world of ours, Dahn Hak isn't what it purports itself to be [sic]. I determined that the Dahn Hak method wasn't for me.

When I quit going, they called several times. I finally told them not to call anymore. I didn't give them any explanation. I didn't want to even discuss my reasoning with people that are so obviously immersed in their own cosmic commune.

Finally, I thought maybe I was imagining that the Dahn Hak organization is strange. I feel relieved that I am not the only one that thinks that Dahn Hak is "cultish."

Copyright © 2001 Rick Ross.

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