Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Loyalty to your teacher

This subject has been on my mind for some time now. This relates more to students with higher Dan levels; those that have achieved assistant instructor and above, certainly not colour belts. And is in relation to scenarios where people have said the opposite to what they have eventually done. It seems simple to me: say what you mean, and do what you say you are going to do.

I don’t always think Western culture mixes well with the Eastern culture of Martial Arts. Historically, the arts were passed on from teacher to student – the student became a teacher and passed on the art ... that is the Eastern culture.

In our Western culture, the art comes at a cost to the student. Our students are paying for the right to learn the art. Some students do not the desire or ambition to become a teacher and are simply paying for services rendered and they have a right to not teach in my (sometimes unpopular) view. However, if they do make the commitment to become a teacher I believe there are strict guidelines that should be followed.

From a personal perspective, I wish I was able to teach without having to charge my students fees, but unfortunately running a club comes with added costs.

As instructors, if we are asking people to pay for our services, why do we feel we can then ask that person to work for us as an instructor? Firstly, they can always decline this request or offer. If they do commit, then as instructors they are still learning; they are learning how to teach. Once qualified and experienced, they have the ability to open their own branch under their teacher and association, with the confidence of being able to do the job, protect and grow the art, and have a support network when needed. When their dojang begins to grow they will recoup their training fees. In my opinion that is how it should be.

I understand people and circumstances will change over time, however it is the way that you change that shows your true colours. I would prefer a face to face conversation, with a student giving their teacher an honest reason as to why they have decided to leave and only after every possible attempt to fix the underlying issue/s has been exhausted.

Sometimes instructors think they have the right to leave their teacher and join another association, with some even believing that taking students with them is okay. If you take your teacher’s syllabus and open your own dojang under a new association, what happens when you need assistance with a technique or a question from a student you are unsure of? You no longer have the support of you teacher to ask for help. This will often lead to the answer being made up and techniques being performed incorrectly. Or what happens when you hold gradings? Having the opportunity to have your teacher sit in on gradings and give you feedback where needed is the best way for your club to grow from a technical standard perspective.

One of the values of our club is integrity. Where is your integrity if you can leave your teacher and open your own dojang using your former teacher’s syllabus? I liken this to a gym membership: If you join a gym, you pay your monthly fees. If you stop paying your fees, you stop using the equipment. You can’t take the equipment to start your own gym. To me. The syllabus is the gym equipment? However, if you became a qualified trainer in that gym, you might be able to buy the rights to open your own branch.

Students join Hapkido for a number of different reasons and some journeys last longer than others. I guide them the best that I can while they are with me and I have no problem if they get what they came for and then move on. What is important to me is that students are honest with me about what their intentions are, however Hapkido is not suited to short term membership. There are some students that I form a more traditional and formal student / teacher bond with, but not every student is looking for that and that’s not a problem for me. Some would prefer to just train and not grade, but I am unable to agree to that training style. Students must grade so they can move on to the next level, and to train with other students at a higher-grade level.

Sometimes, after students become a black belt, they might be expected to help more or to run class while I am dealing with a potential new member (as you know, I have an open-door policy for free trials), or whatever else keeps me from the front of class. This should not be a problem if you have allowed the right people to become black belts in your club, they will be happy to help ensure the smooth running of the class. They will also understand that helping others with their techniques is an important learning method for themselves. Loyalty to your instructor and association are crucial to the development of the student as the teacher to student transmission of knowledge is a lifelong journey.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Terms of rank explained

Jokyo nim = 1st Dan black belt
Jokyo nim is helper. Help out in class, sweeping, cleaning, partnering colour belts, help instructor demonstrate techniques. Practicing 1st Dan techniques and learning 2nd Dan techniques.

Kyosa nim = 2nd Dan black belt
Kyosa nim helps out in class. Organising the cleaning etc and taking attendance, collecting fees. Teaching some colour belt techniques. Practicing 1st and 2nd Dan techniques and learning 3rd Dan techniques.

Kyobum nim = 3rd Dan black belt
Kyobum nim is learning to teach. Taking class, solving problems with the guidance of their teacher.
Can grade students up to 1st Dan with supervision.

Sabum nim = 4th Dan black belt
Sabum nim is teacher. Sabum nim has passed teacher exam and proven they want to do all they can for Hapkido.

Can grade up to 3rd Dan.

Note: Nim = sir when following rank/level

Time required between grades.
Colour belts: minimum 12 hours training.
1st Dan to 2nd Dan: 1 year training
2nd Dan to 3rd Dan: 2 years training
3rd Dan to 4th Dan: 3 years training

Sunday, 30 April 2017

My Teacher - Grand Master Bermas Kim


I am, and will continue to be a student of Grand Master Kim. I teach the techniques and principle he taught me many years ago. I will not deviate from that straight line.
Above all else I continue to follow him because I believe he is the very best I have ever seen, in both Hapkido and Kumdo.
His techniques are amazing and his ability to teach difficult and complex techniques is second to none.
The syllabus he teaches is extremely well structured. Giving students the ability to easily build on their skills from one level to the next.
In all my time as one of his instructors I have never had a question that can not be answered using the principles he has taught me.

Moo Sool

Respect and Manner

  • Respect comes from yourself and from your heart
  • Your teacher is yours for your entire life.
  • If you want to be respected by your students then you have to respect your teacher first.
  • Respect all teachers like your teacher.
  • Always be mindful of your Teacher’s feeling.
  • If your feeling is not good then you can’t teach properly.
  • If you don’t respect your Teacher and Founder then your students will not respect them or
  • you.
  • A good teacher doesn’t give respect only to themselves, they give it to everyone.
  • A teacher should always be the example their students should aspire to be in all things.

Respect in Hapkido

The Hapkido that I teach was not designed to be conducted like an aerobics class. Hapkido, generally speaking is military in its origins. The formalities, and by this I mean all the bowing, showing respect to higher ranking students and instructors and anything else a lay person might view as not furthering the study of Hapkido, are in place for a reason.

Some people have felt that bowing interferes with some religious beliefs. Hapkido is not religious. Bowing in Asia is like shaking hands in the West, there is nothing religious about bowing. It is simply a sign of respect. Bowing before entering the dojang to train is to show respect for the training hall. It also shows respect for all those coming before you. It is also checking your ego at the door. Understanding that you do not already know all there is to know is very important in Hapkido. If you feel that you know all there is to know, it would be impossible to learn anything new. Or as the old adage goes, a cup that is already full can hold no more.

Where else do formalities come into play? There is a general level of respect that should be transmitted between those that we train with. We have to trust each other; this is absolutely vital. I can’t say this strongly enough, it is VITAL that we TRUST. We are striking, throwing, and doing other techniques of supreme unpleasantness to each other. We have to trust that our partners will use control and precision in their techniques. If they don’t we will be seriously injured at minimum. If we do not have the proper respect for each other we might not take our endeavour with the seriousness required. Mutual respect is so important in Hapkido and it cannot be understated. You can’t play with death and serious injury in a haphazard method. Formalities are used to foster this mutual respect.

What about rank? As one moves through the belt system of Hapkido expectations on that student increases. The more advanced the student the more they are looked at to be not just examples of excellent form and technique but also to be models of humility and respect within the Dojang. A black belt or high ranking colour belt is an example to the lower students. The high ranking students set the tone for the lower students. This is in terms of how people are addressed and how formalities are conducted in the school.

In short, formalities is about respect. The building of respect is necessary in military organizations and it should be no surprise that it exists in Hapkido. Respect for the training area and each other is necessary due to the serious material that is covered in traditional Hapkido. A lot of what happens inside the training hall may look strange to the lay person but there is a reason and it has nothing to do with people trying to feel self important or superior to others