In a traditional martial art, the student/instructor relationship is a special one. It is formed over time and at the heart of it, I believe, are trust and loyalty.

What many instructors and students forget is that it is a two-way street. Trust and loyalty must flow in both directions. When integrity is lacking on one side or the other, the relationship is bound to fall apart. I often reflect on the guidelines for the student/instructor relationship from the Taekwon-Do encyclopedia, by Gen. Choi Hong Hi, and evaluate if I am doing my part to the best of my capability.

As an instructor, though, it is not as simple as following these basic instructor guidelines. I believe that even as an instructor, I am still a student, and always will be. Therefore, the instructor must follow both sets of guidelines. Many become instructors and feel that they can discard the guidelines that apply to students. This is incorrect! To be a great instructor, you must also be an eager student – no matter what your rank.

As an instructor, you can’t expect the student to take the initiative towards creating a healthy relationship. This is the instructor’s role, initially. It can be likened to the relationship between a parent and a child. You cannot expect a child to behave appropriately without guidance. This is leadership, an important attribute of being an instructor.

It is inevitable that there may be hiccups along the way. Students and instructors are all human and, therefore, flawed. There will be times when there are slips and slides but these slips and slides should be like bumper bashings in a parking lot that can easily be repaired, not train wrecks where scores of people are left dead or clinging to life.

Be the best student you can be! Be the best instructor you can be!