As parents, we are cautious of our children's activities and interactions. When they are upset we jump into action to eliminate their problems or at least attempt to help them cope with the stress. Because of the physical and emotional nature of Taekwon-do, children are confronted with many unique obstacles and challenges. As a Taekwon-do instructor for the past 26 years I have dealt with many tough situations. These are 5 ‘Hard Truths’ about learning Taekwon-do.
You WILL get kicked and punched.
Tae, literally means to jump, fly and kick with the foot. Kwon, means to smash or destroy with the hand or fist. As beginners, we first learn to kick and punch the air. As our control and balance improves, we work with a partner. No matter how cautious the students are, contact will be made. Whether accidental or intentional, contact is a jolting experience. A 'fight' or 'flight' response is triggered and a child will typically cry or react with aggression. A good instructor will stop the exchange, calm the situation and communicate safety and appropriate behaviour. Contact happens because we are still learning. Children will learn that they need to control their emotions just as much as their technique. Accidents will happen, especially in a flurry of fists and feet. Self-Control is one of five important Tenets of Taekwon-do that is constantly communicated to students, especially young children.
You WILL lose.
A game of dodgeball, a failed board break or even a grading, your child will eventually fall short. If properly cultivated, failure can be an experience that motivates a student’s inner potential. Through proper instruction and hard training, a student can learn from their mistakes and improve upon them. The same goes for harvesting a positive and winning attitude. Rather than fix the problem for them, ask them what they think went wrong and how they can fix the problem. A good instructor will guide a student to the answer. This direction will create a sense of accomplishment for everyone.
You WILL be disciplined.
Being told to be quiet, work harder or to apologize to a fellow student, your child will be disciplined. The consequence could be a verbal reprimand or physical work such as pushups. This may cause embarrassment as fellow students may be witness to the lesson, however it is important to understand that breaking rules, acting inappropriately or disrupting instruction for the rest of the class will not be tolerated. A good instructor will stop the behaviour, ask them why they are being disciplined and then explain why there is a consequence for their action. It is also important to let children be children. Let them know that there is a time for play and a time for learning. If student's see their instructor having fun, smiling and enjoying time with them, the dojang is now a fun place to learn.
You WILL want to quit.
Children will want to quit an activity for different reasons. The most common is boredom. A good instructor will always try to engage students in fun activities to make learning enjoyable. However, there will be times when the fundamental techniques of Taekwon-do become repetitive. As with any rank-based activity, repetition is a key to learning. These repetitive lessons may lead to boredom. Parents are advised to encourage their children to continue their training and alert the instructor about the issue. The instructor may then take alternative steps to help re-engage student's. Taekwon-do training is important in child development as it cultivates strong moral character. The parents and instructors should work closely together to create a successful path for their child rather than succumbing to a child's demands solely because they are bored.
You will not get along with everyone.
Whether at school or in Taekwon-do class, children will always cross paths with someone whom they are conflicted. An observant instructor will recognize this. Rather than avoiding the situation, children are encouraged to work with everyone. Supervision and communication by a competent instructor can lead to common ground, understanding personalities and ultimately building a strong foundation for long lasting friendships. Especially with the physical nature of Taekwon-do, a new student may see kicks and punches as aggressive and associate them with a student's personality. This close relationship between the physical and emotional pushes boundaries, forcing students to engage in uncomfortable situations, albeit under the guidance of a competent instructor.