What Makes A Good Martial Art Student
Every student initially studies the martial arts for many different reasons; fitness, self-control, discipline, self-defence or simply because it interests them. Every single student that steps into the Dojang is different as well, in gender, in physical build, in fitness, in concentration, in natural ability to name a few. Black belts in particular need to remember that at all times.
Everyone in the martial arts should be seen by the instructor as an individual, with different strengths and weaknesses.
The marking of a good instructor is someone who can identify a person’s strengths and weaknesses and through their teachings round that person into an overall better human being.
Martial Art Tenets:
Instructors should teach and students should learn the six Taekwondo tenets, for they are the foundation of any true martial artist.
“As a true martial artist you should try and live by these principles every single day of your life, not only whilst in the Dojang, so they become part of you as a person”
HUMILITY Having humility is one of the characteristics essential in the martial arts. Bigheadedness is not an attractive trait in human beings. No matter what your achievements and successes you should always look for improvement in your technique. Thinking you are the best or that you know everything breeds complacency which in turn breeds boredom.
The reason why you bow when entering and leaving the Dojang, even if it is empty, is purely a humility exercise. To acknowledge the fact that no matter how good you think you are or how many Dans you are, at the end of the day you are a student of the martial arts and should always continue to strive for knowledge.
“A Black Belt is only a white belt that never quit”
Having humility both inside and outside the Dojang is a must for any true martial artist. Your actions both inside and outside the Dojang, not your own mouth, will speak volumes.
“The more you say, the less people remember.”
INDOMITABLE SPIRIT Any martial art practice is extremely difficult and will involve practicing techniques that are complex to achieve. Your martial art indomitable spirit is your voice inside that tells you to practice continually until you are more at ease with the technique.
It also applies to your everyday life in which there will inevitably at some point be problems. Your indomitable spirit is to acknowledge problems, tackle them head on and never give up no matter how hard it may seem at the time.
A martial artist should never make a decision whilst in an extreme mood e.g. when experiencing extreme happiness, extreme anger or extreme depression. Your thoughts are constantly changing from minute to minute and what you feel one minute may change the next. Humans are dependant on their emotions but decisions, if possible, need to be made whilst in a level frame of mind.
PERSEVERANCE Every single martial art technique that you practice is extremely hard to get right. You must understand that as a martial artist you can never ever master a martial art fully. There is always something that can be improved or education that can be gained, no matter how technical or flexible you are. (See humility)
The title ‘Master’ nowadays is a very loose term in Taekwondo; there are very few true masters in the World. To call yourself ‘Master’ means that you must not only be confident in passing on your own technical ability to students but also have studied the martial art and have the correct mentality. How many of us can honestly assess ourselves and say that?
To have perseverance is to never give up no matter how hard things get whether it be physical or mental. This mentality will make you a stronger person if you can achieve it.
LOYALTY Being loyal to your instructor, as they have passed down their knowledge and kept you on the right path, is the foundation of martial art. The saying “The grass is always greener” applies well to this principle.
I have seen a lot of students be disloyal to their instructor by changing clubs for the wrong reasons, like more money, power or glory. If you are in the martial arts for any of these reasons you are destroying and diluting down the martial art spirit and have diverted from the correct path.
If you do not respect your instructor and believe that they teach and practice martial arts for the wrong reasons then you should change your club and find an instructor who is genuine.
However, remember a student can only ever have ONE instructor so once you find a genuine one, you must show loyalty and stay with them no matter what. That is why finding a good instructor to start with is so important. Take your time when picking a club and instructor, it’s an important decision.
Loyalty should be a two-way system; as a good instructor you should look out for their students’ wellbeing and interests and as a student you should try and help your instructor. As a result of trusting your instructor you should also be loyal and support your club as without your club and your fellow students you would not have learnt the martial art in the first place.
However, probably the most important type of loyalty is that to yourself. Being honest to yourself and standing by what you believe in is something that is very rare and difficult to do in today’s society.
Never let someone else’s standards and morals affect you unless you believe in them yourself. At the end of the day it is your life and your mind and you should be in control of it no-one else. The only way to make a true decision is by gaining as much information as you can and making your own mind up.
ETIQUETTE Without etiquette in the Dojang the whole martial art philosophy which is built on respect would collapse. It is vital that students are taught correct Dojang etiquette as that is the only way to have discipline and pass on teachings. Hopefully, by learning respect when training students will continue this practice outside of the Dojang and become more respectful as a person. (See chapter on Etiquette)
HONOUR Honour means respect. Martial arts students should honour their instructor, fellow students and also themselves. This is done by staying true to themselves and listening to their instructor’s teachings.
Physical martial art training is extremely difficult to practice. However, probably more difficult is the mental approach of trying to live your life by these six principles. Only by combining the two together will you get an overall true martial artist.
Martial Art Values
- To promote Taekwondo/chosen martial art worldwide.
- To cultivate relations with other countries through martial arts.
- To teach and learn the ancient martial art way.
- To strive for excellence of technique.
- To cultivate the spirit of Taekwondo in all students and understand human nature and the fact everyone is different and learn from that.
- To uphold the principles of Taekwondo both inside and outside of the Dojang.
- To join together mind, body and spirit through gaining knowledge.
- Most important should be your instructor and their wellbeing.
By striving to achieve these values I am sure that you will produce quality students with a well educated martial art philosophy which in turn will produce the same.