This 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?
After 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.
I 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.