Your journey to Black Belt - An Instructor's Perspective
This blog is written from the perspective of an instructor. The thoughts, feelings and efforts that get passed between an instructor and their student to get them to black belt. Some Instructors look at this as their job, they are merely getting paid every lesson to help students achieve this goal. However, genuine instructors do not look at the money, they care and nurture the individual over many years to get them where they need to be. This is their story.
When you first walk through that door, especially for adults this is the hardest part. Actually finding the confidence to take those shoes off and open yourself up to hard physical work and vulnerabilities takes a lot of spirit. If you have a good instructor they will make you feel welcome and try and make those irrational insecurities disappear so that you can enjoy your training and progress.
Every single student that comes through the door regardless of age, ability, gender or race gets treated equally. Taekwondo is a universal language. In my lesson the other day I stood at the front and looked around the class. There were children, teenagers and adults, there were men and women, we had black students, asian students and white students, staring back at me were Muslims, Christians and Gypsies and I counted a total of nine different nationalities on the floor. Did anyone except me even notice these differences? No. They were all students, all there to learn and simply get better in Taekwondo. This is the way it should be. As instructors we teach human values for the inner soul, the outside makes no difference to us. What matters is that someone is caring, loyal, kind, respectful, humble, dignified, honourable and honest. An instructors job is to make a person find their inner spirit and then better it to become a better human being. The transition from white belt to black belt is exactly that. 50% physical but more importantly 50% spiritual. Having the correct spirit and attitude is vital to becoming an excellent role model and black belt. An instructor job is to create excellent black belts. So how is it done?
An experienced instructor knows how to get the best out of every single person. They understand that not everyone learns the same way, has the same abilities or the same temperament. In fact every single student is different. The larger the class the harder it is to teach to a high standard as almost certainly every single student has different needs. Do not think for one second that an instructor only thinks about their students in the Dojang. I guarantee that huge amounts of effort go in behind the scenes. Thinking about how to correct either bad technique or a bad attitude can be a real headache for instructors. Trying different methods to see which which work for that particular individual can really test the patience and skill of the instructor but try they will until they get it right.
The further up the ladder you climb, the more effort your instructor puts in to get you to that next level. Think about what you knew when you first started martial arts and what you know now. Who is responsible for that learning? Your instructor. You will have put the physical effort into getting your black belt but the mental effort and the dedication comes equally, if not more, from your instructor. When they teach they teach from their heart. With every black belt they create they give a piece of their heart away in the hope that the student will do the same and carry on true martial arts legacy. This is why the bond between an instructor and a black belt can never be broken. This is why true martial artists do not get their black belts and walk away. To do this breaks an instructor's heart. Students who get their black belt and walk away have not been taught correctly.
An instructors job is not to teach someone how to kick and punch to achieve their black belt. It is to inspire them to become better people and to work hard physically and mentally to achieve their goals. If someone works hard to achieve a goal they are less likely to throw the towel in as it means that much to them. Teaching students to kick and punch is easy and worthless. Teaching them how to help and care for others, have respect, be humble, be kind and to persevere are life skills they can take with them for the rest of their lives and that is the job of an instructor.
So the next time you see your Instructor treat them with the respect they deserve. Look after them, ask about them, keep in contact with them, help them and try to repay them by teaching this philosophy onto others. Never take for granted what they have done for you. They are one of the major influences you are the way you are.