IIC Group shotThis past weekend I had the great opportunity and privilege of training under the instruction of Grand Master Choi Jung Hwa, son of the founder of Taekwon-Do (Gen. Choi Hong Hi) and President of the ITF. He was assisted by other Grand Masters and Masters of the highest caliber. Since I was a white belt it has been a dream (and goal) of mine to train under him and I am pleased to say it was everything, and more, than what I ever could have expected.

The highlight of my training experience was volunteering to perform a pattern (along with my brother) and have it scrutinized by GM Choi, his assistants and the entire crowd in attendance (about 230 people, I think). Needless to say, it was nerve racking – especially since I don’t really consider myself to be very good at patterns (although I do love them) and it was a pattern that I have not given the necessary attention as of late. The nerves kicked in and a few noticeable screw-ups later I finally finished. It was now time to go through it move by move and have analyzed where and what could be better. There was a lot, of course! While being corrected my mind kept fleeting to how awesome this was. Being told what to change and correct by the leading authority on Taekwon-Do in the world today. It was like having a private lesson by the best in the world. How awesome is that?

IIC GM Choi talkAfter the seminar, so many people came to me and said how brave it was to go up for that pattern and how they would never have volunteered to have it torn apart by GM Choi himself. I couldn’t, and after much thought, still don’t understand their thinking. In brief, my view is this:

How could anybody NOT want to have themselves under the gun like that? The more that is corrected, the better. More correction means more learning and with practice more improvement. If there is no correction on technique at a course or seminar, then what is the point of attending? If you already know everything, then you don’t need to be there.

I think, often, pride is a contributor. As a martial arts student pride needs to be set aside at times. Pride is probably the biggest contributor to stopping the learning process. People are too concerned with what others around them may think of them. They are afraid of being judged and thought of in a negative light. But in my opinion, if you are hiding in the shadows, you are already in a negative light, only it is you that have put yourself there.

Pics to followI am an Instructor AND Student of martial arts. I am still learning, and through learning and making mistakes I will be able to make my students better. Traveling all the way from South Africa to Canada would have been a sad undertaking if I had not learned something. I have now picked up many tips to improve myself and my students – and that’s what it is all about. Training is a journey in which you should constantly be learning and improving. We can’t hide in a bubble and think or pretend that we know it all – we don’t. We should strive to get as close to our perfection as possible. There needs to be improvement every day and that comes through learning and implementation.

The lesson here is, don’t think of critique as a negative. Most often it is pride in the situation that can make or break a person. You will either take insult or humble yourself to learn a lesson – the choice is yours. I prefer to learn the lesson.

GM Choi meeting11 April 2015 marked an important date for Taekwon-Do. The martial art that is practiced by so many around the world celebrated its 60th birthday. I was fortunate enough to attend the 60th Birthday celebration in Toronto, Canada this past weekend along with the founder of Taekwon-Do’s (Gen. Choi Hong Hi) son, Grand Master Choi Jung Hwa, and many other esteemed Grand Masters, Masters, Instructors and Students from around the globe.

TKD birthday cakeFor me the weekend consisted of various meetings, a celebration banquet and an International Instructors Course led by Grand Master Choi Jung Hwa, who is the living embodiment of Taekwon-Do today.

I had so many memorable moments and learned so many lessons on all fronts. Over the next few weeks (starting today) I would like to share my experiences and views on some of them. I hope you will all enjoy what I have learned.

misbehaving_kidOver the years of instructing, I have heard it hundreds of times – “My child was misbehaving so I didn’t allow him/her to come to class”. Strangely, after not hearing it for a while I have heard this, or something similar, from three sets of parents in the past two weeks. Most often, parents expect me to approve of this as a punishment. When my reaction is the opposite, some are quite surprised.

I always say that martial arts class should never be taken away as a punishment. It is totally counter-productive and will do more harm than good.

bowing kid Initially, why do many parents send their kids to martial arts classes? Discipline, focus, structure, anger management, countless physical benefits… the list can go on and on. So you send kids to class to learn these things, but then take them away from the very thing that is teaching them to instill these practices when they act up? If anything, a parent should send them to more classes if they misbehave.Something that is a benefit to the child AND the parents should not be taken away as a punishment. Who is it that is actually being punished at the end of the day? The parents themselves? I think so!

If you are going to take something away, take away things that have no real benefit or aren’t going to improve the child. Often a parent will take away what the child loves as a punishment, but not everything that a child loves is bad for them. Martial arts are a good example of this.

Do you take a child out of school because they did something wrong at home? I doubt it. It should be the same with martial arts. Like school, it should be a priority for parents. There are many lessons and skills that a child will learn in class that are directly applicable to life.

A child misses a class, and like in school, misses something crucial to the syllabus. Is it expected that everyone should be held back and repeat what was done for the benefit of the one? It is, maybe unknowingly to them, the parent who is being inconsiderate.Master and students Children learn by example – does this mean that the parent is unwittingly teaching their child how to be inconsiderate?

The benefits of sending your child to class far outweighs the cons. Please, keep this in mind the next time you want to punish your child by keeping them away from class.

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