How martial arts can be compared to a tree.
In this day and age many Taekwondo Instructors decide to go it alone and open up their own association. The increasing number of barely qualified instructors opening up clubs with no Master of their own to guide them is quite alarming. The decision to go it alone more than likely stems from an inflated ego or the wish to make more money and have more power. What this tends to do however is dilute martial arts massively and goes against many Taekwondo tenets, loyalty, respect and humility. To explain the correct way to think of martial arts I'm going to use a tree as an example.
The most important part of any tree is the roots, without roots the tree will not survive. From a martial art point of view the roots are the wealth of knowledge left behind by our elders and original Masters of our Kwan. Many clubs nowadays are that diluted they have no idea what original Kwan style they are learning from. This proves the lack of knowledge. Without knowledge everything else is a waste of time, we are simply getting a sweat on at training.
"A tree without roots is simply a bit of wood."
The trunk of the tree is your Grand Master. To clarify, a lot of people call themselves Grand Master and want others to address them by this title, but you can only have 1 Grand Master and this is your Master's Master. Exactly the same as a grandparent relationship. The Grand Master has all of the wisdom from the elders and they pass this onto your Master, to pass onto you. The Grand Master is the strong trunk of the tree. The deeper the roots the more likely you are to weather any storms.
At the top of the tree is your Master. The relationship with your Master, is similar to that of parents. In some cases even stronger. It is built on mutual respect, loyalty, confidence and trust and is one of the strongest relationships you can have. Your Master is your World and you need to look after them. It's important to liken the relationship to family as that is what you are. There may be times you don't agree with them however you need to trust them and trust they can see the bigger picture. Following someone is not done easily. If you walk away, like many do, at the first disagreement you will be splitting away from people for the rest of your life. Lifelong relationships are about compromise, trust and believing in the other person. By cutting ties with your Master you cut ties with the rest of the tree and future knowledge is lost forever.
Sometimes your Instructor and your Master are the same thing but sometimes they are different. A Master Grade is an Instructor who is 4th Dan or above. Instructors 3rd Dan and below are classed as assistant Instructors until they become a Master grade themselves.
Lastly we have the leaves of the tree, the students themselves. Leaves ensure that the tree grows and remains healthy and has plenty of energy.
It is only as a whole when you have elders, a Grand Master, Master, Instructors and students that you have a healthy tree and a healthy club. As a martial artist you have to think like a tree and see the bigger picture and understand that it's only with all the elements working together you have a true martial arts club.
"Be Like a Tree. Stand tall and proud. Don't forget your roots. Be content with your natural beauty. Go out on a limb. Drink plenty of water. Enjoy the view."