My name is Ben Zaroukian, I am 32 years old, and I am a 4th degree black belt, Assistant Regional Head Instructor. My first experience with Oom Yung Doe came in college. I was playing football at the time, and one day while at practice, my teammates and I saw someone on the next field over going through exquisite and powerful martial arts movements both with a sword and open-handed. We were quite interested at the unique combination of grace and strength that the practitioner was demonstrating. As fortune would have it I came to make this practitioner’s acquaintance a few months later. When I recognized him I had to ask about the movements I had seen him practicing previously. He explained that he was studying Oom Yung Doe, and he started to explain some of the ways that his training had helped him to improve. He listed many benefits, but what struck me most from our conversation was how confident he was, how positive, optimistic, and motivated he was. I remember thinking at the time that I wanted to embody these qualities as well and I resolved to go learn more about Oom Yung Doe training. This resolution could not have come at a better time.
At this time I was studying Physics at Carnegie Mellon University. Growing up I struggled with discipline and focus. Through high school I was able to balance a busy athletic schedule while maintaining good grades. With the shift to the highly competitive physics program at CMU however, I quickly lost balance. By the end of my freshman year my grade point had dropped to around a 2.0. I was overstressed, overweight, and generally unhappy. So when my new friend offered to schedule me an appointment to learn more about Oom Yung Doe I was eager to try it and experience some of what he was talking about for myself.
Even in my first couple of lessons I could tell that the training was unique. I had always maintained a regular athletic training regimen for football, but the results I experienced from Oom Yung Doe practice were significantly greater. Physically, I felt my body developing strength and flexibility that I had never known before. Within a few months of beginning my training I was by a great measure, in the best physical condition of my life. The mental changes I was experiencing were even greater. My discipline and focus improved to the point I was able to wean myself off my prescription for an attention deficit medication. I was more confident, happier, and healthier. My grade point jumped to a 4.0, even while I was taking a much heavier course load, and I was able to secure a grant to fund a research position working on partial wave analysis for the GlueX Experiment taking place at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.
While every aspect of my life was changing for the better, from my relationships, to my academics, to my daily quality of life and happiness, the most profound changes did not come until I had the opportunity to start teaching Oom Yung Doe lessons in the school. I learned more about myself, more about how to help others, and more about life in those first few months teaching than I had in years. While I was very committed to my college studies I started to envision a new future for myself. Previously I planned on an academic career focused on researching and teaching physics, now, because of how much I was gaining through Oom Yung Doe, I started to consider a career teaching Traditional Martial Arts.
After much deliberation I decided to pursue a career teaching Oom Yung Doe. The benefits I was experiencing personally combined with the feeling I had from working with others every day to help them improve their lives felt too right to pass up. How many other careers would allow me an opportunity to help a surgeon relieve stress, a grandfather recover from arthritis, a college student build focus, and a child build discipline, all in the same day? I talked to my family about my decision and, my father being a doctor and my mother a nurse, they understood my desire to pursue a career helping others. After seeing the way my life changed for the better they could see why I would want to share these benefits with others. Additionally, because of the way training helped me improve my concentration, discipline, and focus, I finished my physics curriculum by my junior year saving a full year’s tuition. When I spoke to my family about teaching Oom Yung Doe full time, they commented that since training saved a full year of tuition, it made sense to reinvest that savings into getting myself a school and beginning my career. In the end, for the same cost of 4 years of college, I found myself with a physics degree, an Oom Yung Doe School, and an opportunity to start building a future for myself that was not only very mentally and physically beneficial for me, but also put me in a position where every day I was helping people improve their lives.
12 years later, I am part of a team that owns and operates six schools in Massachusetts. While I have time now, to spend with my family, travel, and pursue other interests, there is still much I hope to accomplish in the schools. Though I would have difficulty counting the number of children and adults who have come through our schools over the years, and changed their lives for the better, for me the real opportunity to make a difference with my life still lies ahead. My goal is to open schools up and down the east coast, through the rest of the country, and even internationally. I envision a future where there is an Oom Yung Doe School in every town, so people of all ages, conditions, and backgrounds who are looking for a way to improve their lives, can experience the same extraordinary benefits that training has brought me.
During this unique time, when many are struggling to find success in careers they do not enjoy or find meaningful, I am especially grateful for the path I am on. This same opportunity is available for others who are of a like mind. Men or women, of any age, background, or career, looking for a change, looking for a road leading to self growth, meaning, happiness, and security, can take their future into their own hands. For anyone considering such a path, I can only encourage you to do what I did, to try it and see what benefits you can experience for yourself. Even if I had felt like it was not for me and had stopped after a year or two, all the lessons I learned about myself, how to help and work with others, and life, would have been well worth the investment in time and money.
When I look around in today’s society I see people living life with one of three main focuses. I see some people just struggling to survive, other people living mainly to enjoy themselves, and still others living with a focus on helping others. When I look at my own life I recognize that if I work just to survive, I will be stuck in a cycle where all my energy will be used just to keep me afloat, never leaving me an opportunity to rest, relax, or build for the future. I also know that if my energy is primarily directed towards having fun or enjoying myself, I may put myself in a position where I do not have enough time or energy to build a meaningful legacy of helping others.
I have always believed that the best way I can bring more good into this world and live a good life is to make my main focus helping others. Not just by giving material things but by teaching others to live better, healthier, more principled and meaningful lives. By teaching someone how to improve their mind and body I am able to help them find a path by which they can totally change the quality of their life, for the rest of their life. In this way, one person after the next, I can work toward making this world a better, more positive place. Living in this way allows me to have material success and enjoy my life, and I am proud of myself and my life’s work. In truth, what could be more fulfilling than that?