From Okinawa to Korea

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Michele123, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Ive competed in open and closed (is that what it’s called when it’s only our organization?) tournaments. I’ve honestly had such a better time at the closed tournaments. I’ve found the people at the open tournaments take themselves a bit too seriously at times. There’s too many people walking around thinking they’re something they’re definitely not. At the closed tournaments, we take it seriously when we’re on the floor, but once we walk off we get along great. Walking off the floor after my kata, people who I was competing against were bumping me and telling me how good I did. And I was doing the same for them. Well watch each others’ kata and quietly comment in a positive way while we’re waiting. That doesn’t happen at the open tournaments I’ve been to. I’ve met a lot of very good people at Seido’s annual tournament. People from dojos around the world.
     
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  2. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Black Belt

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    Ah nice, yeah at the open tournaments there's been a mixed bag really, there are a few who are incredibly serious and won't even look at you, and others who were so very open and warm and complimentary. Hung around with a fellow who was from a Seido offshoot, really nice guy and we talked all things karate, and supported each other during the tournament. Met some really great people there too :)
     
  3. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    No, it's not. The word "Sabum" means "teacher" not Master. Nim is an honorific signifying respect. So "sabumnim" mean, roughly, 'respected teacher.'
    Using the honorific nim when referring to yourself is... tacky... to put it mildly.
    I do not think there is a word that translates directly as "master" in this context. The other commonly mis-used term for a master instructor is "kwanjang" (or kwanjangnim) but that is closer to "headmaster" an old term for the head of a school, or 'chief instructor' perhaps.
     
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  4. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    Thank you all for your input! I think I’ll try it out. It isn’t for a while yet so I have time. It’s a small tournament. From what I understand, it’s just our association in this region. 5 schools I think.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    That sounds like a great way to ease into it and see if it’s something you like. There should be enough people to make it interesting, yet not so many that it’s overwhelming.

    Put in as much training as you can. It’ll be worth it regardless of how the tournament goes.
     
  6. TrueJim

    TrueJim Master Black Belt

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    I've always assumed that the word master is being used in the sense of "master craftsman" -- somebody who is supremely skilled in their craft -- as opposed to the word being used in the master/controller sense. Like how we call a great musician maestro. So I'm going to go with either 장인 jang-in (craftsman) or 거장 geo-jang (virtuoso). :)
     
  7. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    My guess that the English use of "master"/"grandmaster" to refer to high-ranking martial artists comes from chess, where those titles have been used for a long time to refer to highly skilled players. But that's just a guess.

    The title "master" might also come from the more archaic use of the word to mean "teacher" (which I think is more common in the UK), though in that case, the top master is "headmaster", not "grandmaster".
     
  8. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    The old usage of maestro was, like sabum, to indicate a teacher. During the medieval and renaissance period, those who taught swordsmanship were referred to as maestro. The leader of a fencing salle is still referred to as maestro. I think the whole "master" thing is entirely a western thing, to be honest.

    The literal meaning of 'kwanjang' is ' head of the school' or 'head of the gym' so headmaster is probably the closest English translation. It can be (and is, by some) argued that if you own your own school, that makes you kwanjang regardless of rank. I know one local school that is run by a KKW 5th Dan who uses that term for himself. His instructor (a KKW 8th Dan about 2 hours from here) endorses the practice.
    The 'nim' in sabumnim or kwanjangnim is, as I mentioned, an honorific, not part of the title.

    Ultimately, I think that while it would be nice if the words were used correctly, it's not going to happen.
    In our own school, the tradition is that the head of our branch of the Moo Duk Kwan is "Kwanjangnim" and the chief instructor in our program is "Sabumnim" while other instructors are referred to as "Sabum." This always makes me cringe just a little. Since adding the "nim" suffix implies respect, using the title for someone else without the "nim" implies a lack of respect. The "nim" is left off when referring to oneself, but never when referring to another (unless you're being intentionally rude).
    I don't know that it's worth the struggle to correct the usage. Everybody knows how it's MEANT, even if it's incorrect.
    If anybody cares, the correct term for assistant instructors would be either kyosa(nim) or busabum(nim).
     
  9. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    I disagree with this. I think Kukkiwon considers Sabum to be the closest word to master they have. The Kukkiwon calls their course for educating foreign masters the "International Taekwondo Master Course" and the certification part in Korean uses 사범 as the equivalent word.

    [​IMG]

    Teacher is generally Sonsaeng(nim) (선생님) and is used for school teachers (and as a general polite term meaning mr/mrs/miss).

    Or "school owner". It felt weird to me when I went to Korea and my friends students were all calling him Kwanjangnim, as I (mistakenly) thought that was reserved for the heads of the kwans (original schools). He explained the term just means "school owner" so it's quite normal for the owner/head instructor to be called Kwanjangnim and the other masters that he hires to teach the classes are Sabumnim.
     
  10. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't the slightest doubt that it may be the closest equivalent, but that still isn't what it means. As with so many things, there is no direct literal translation between the Korean and English terms.
    I get my translations from our Kwanjangnim, who was born and raised in Korea. He's been in the US since 1969, so his English is also quite fluent. As he puts it, we're not actually translating, we trying to convey concepts.

    This word he says is closest to "Sir/Mam" in English. As you say, it's sort of a general term of respect.

    We're in agreement here. As a title, the closest English cognate seems to be headmaster, but the literal translation is 'head of the gym" which is also pretty darn close to 'owner of the gym.' Originally, yes, it meant the head of the kwans, but at that time the head of the kwan and the head of an individual school tended to be the same person.
     
  11. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    Absolutely, but that's also the same throughout most of Korean. It doesn't change the fact that when Koreans use the title Master in English they use Sabumnim in Korean, so as close as they can get they are equivalent. It's often also translated (in general Korean) to 교사 (kyosa) which means more like instructor, but again in some contexts we would use master (I studied painting under a strict master - "나는 엄격한 교사 밑에서 그림을 배웠다"). In Taekwondo and Korean martial arts specifically though, Kyosa is used to mean an instructor/helper that isn't a master.

    Still, no offence, but I'll go with the Kukkiwon's use of the term Master and Sabum as being equivalent over your instructor that I've never met ;-)

    As an interesting side note though, the Korean movie "Master" was written as 마스터 (Ma-seu-teo).
     
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  12. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Well sure. Because you're a Kukkiwon Fanboy and I'm not. :)
     
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  13. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

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    Though he does not mention the org by name I think Forrest Morgan in "Living the Martial Way" addresses an org who reduced the rank for the title "Master" to 4th Degree.

    Any KKW aficionados recall when tit was before it was reduced to 4th Degree?
     
  14. granfire

    granfire Sr. Grandmaster

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    well, when you refer to a teacher in Japanese, you say Sensei.
    If you refer to yourself as teacher, you use Kyoshi. Same thing.
    We just lack the nuances of humbleness....
     
  15. Rough Rider

    Rough Rider Green Belt

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    I've noticed that when my instructor signs things like promotion certificated, typed under his signature is:

    Jon Doe
    Master Instructor

    I think that falls in line with what you're saying. When speaking to or about him, we just say "Master Doe." We only use "Sabumnim" when bowing in and out. Example- the senior student will say "Everybody face Master Doe. Cha-ryeut. Sabumnim kke. Gyeong-nye."
     
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  16. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    No, it's been 4th Degree for Master for all my Taekwondo career (start 1986). The Kukkiwon master instructor course (used to be called the FIC - Foreign Instructor Course) was always open to qualifying from 4th Degree upwards.

    The funny thing is that it seems quite common (at least in the UK) for when someone reaches 5th Dan they suddenly change their tune and say "well, 4th Dan is more like a junior master, a true master is at 5th Dan". Hahahaha. Never doing that!
     
  17. TrueJim

    TrueJim Master Black Belt

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    The 4th dans I've met have all had such good technique that I don't feel as though I'm seeing "improved" technique at higher dan. In other words, the 4th dans that I've met have already "mastered" the techniques of taekwondo. I wonder what characteristics (other than years of service to the art) would make somebody think that a 5th dan is more wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, mastery-blastery than a 4th dan. Like: are the punches punchier? The kicks are kickier?
     
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  18. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that gets into the debate about whether mastery is about pretty technique, or depth of understanding (personally I think it's some of both).
    I am sure we've all known people who have really excellent technique, but don't really understand application. Or who can do gorgeous forms, but can't generate enough power to punch their way out of a paper bag.
    From my point of view, if mastery is about pretty technique, I'm screwed. Because there is no way in the world I will EVER have kicks as pretty as I did 30 years ago. But I think I'm much better at teaching those techniques than I used to be, and I think my understanding of the underlying principles behind the techniques is light years ahead of where it was 30 years ago.
     
  19. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

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    At 4th Dan have they learned the entire syllabus for your system or is there more in the syllabus for 4th Dan and above. As pointed out in Living the Martial Way, how are you a "Master" in a system if you haven't learned the entire syllabus?
     
  20. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    I’m not talking about the difference between 4th and 5th, 5th and 6th etc. (most karate organizations I know use the master title in one or another at 6th dan); I’m talking about the difference between “master” and non-master...

    It seems up to the master rank, it’s about what you’ve taken from the art. At master and above, it seems like it’s about what you’ve contributed to it. IMO there’s a big difference between the two.
     

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