One of the distinct advantages of training in Traditional Martial Arts is developing Self Reliance. In order to achieve rank and perfect technique, each student must take individual responsibility and put in the time and effort.
As an instructor, I want all my students to reach their goals and use Taekwondo to improve every aspect of their life. It is my goal that every student is healthy, confident, and becomes a better version of themselves through the training they receive at our Do-Jang. However (as with anything with value) there must be a price to pay. My father used to tell me, “ there is no free lunch - if you want something, YOU must work to get it “.
Over the years, one of the mottos for our Do-Jang has been that "the standard is the standard". When that saying is broken down, it can simply be interpreted that each student must rise to that standards that have been established and those standards cannot and will not be lower to accommodate the students.
How Traditional Tae Kwon Do Training Re-Enforces Self-Reliance
Setting Defined Goals: The belt system is set up for students to reach both short and long term goals. In order to to achieve those goals, students must take ownership of their own development. Often times, this requires people to take an honest assessment of themselves in order to do what is necessary to reach their goal. This may mean getting up earlier or going to bed later to train. Other students may have to squeeze in a workout during their lunch breaks at work. Traditional Tae Kwon Do forces students to not make excuses, improvise, and improve.
Teaching Perseverance: Life changes - in good times and bad, everyone has both high and lows (physically/mentally/socially) that can make training either easy or difficult. By elevating the level of expectation in your students and encouraging them to work through obstacles - good instructors are teaching perseverance. This non-quitting spirit is essential to students to get over the hump in perfecting their techniques on the mat and offers carry over into every day life by establishing a baseline of success in tackling obstacles. Always remember, its ultimately the tough times when people grow.
Encouraging Consistency: As Grandmaster Hee Il Cho often says "even a small drop of water will penetrate rock over time". There is no quick fix in learning Taekwondo. There have been dozens of students that have walked on the mats with less physical ability than some of their fellow classmates. And many of those same students, who were simply consistent in their training, eventually passed up their more "gifted" classmates by regularly outworking them. Consistent hard work beats lazy talent on nearly every occasion. Your training should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint.
Requiring Personal Pride: Often times outsiders confuse Traditional Martial Arts requirements as dogmatic - that should not be the case. At our Do-Jang, we require students to have clean uniforms and equipment. The reasoning is 2-fold. First, it's a matter of hygiene and sanitation. Secondly (and equally as important), it requires students to take pride in their appearance. This not only shows respect and discipline for their Do-Jang, Instructors, fellow classmates, but also - respect for themselves. To quote NFL Hall of Fame Defensive Back Dion Sanders, "when you look good, you feel good - when you feel good, you play good!"
Creating a Positive Learning Environment: As part of our advanced curriculum, students are encrouraged to read a book and write a brief essay on how it relates to their training. This encourages students to keep an open mind. Students should be encouraged to ask questions and realize that their perceived "mistakes" are simply learning opportunities. Think about the first time you practiced a Front Kick, you only did it "wrong" until you knew how to perform the technique correctly.
Ways Parents Can Re-Inforce Self Reliance Training at Home
Let your child make mistakes, we will be there when they need help.
Let your child tie their own belt, they won’t learn if you're always doing it for them.
Let your child put their own sparring equipment on. Show them how to do it and ensure it fits at home but when they arrive at class, let them do it by themselves
To further encourage individual responsibility, make sure your child packs, carries, and takes home their own bag to every class.
Remember the motto, “the one who works the hardest will be the best".
If your child does not want to come to class, explain to them that without commitment they will not be able to reach their goals.
If they do not test , please reinforce our teaching that they have to earn everything and work hard
Do not compare your child to other students, everyone is judged individually
Author: Grand Master Philip Ameris (8th Degree Black Belt, AIMAA Technical Director)