How are Martial Arts instructors viewed?

Discussion in 'Korean Culture and History' started by IcemanSK, Sep 15, 2007.

  1. IcemanSK

    IcemanSK El Conquistador nim!

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    This is actually a question about how Koreans in the USA (or away from Korea) view Korean (or non-Korean) TKD etc. instructors.

    Yesterday I drove thru a neighborhood that had a lot of Korean businesses, Churches, etc. It made me wonder if instructors are as esteemed among Koreans here as they are in Korea. My experience is with Korean instructors & Korean ministers, but I've never asked either what their perception is of the other's work.
     
  2. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    I think that they are not held in any different regard here than in Korea. I believe it is the outside folks (non-Koreans) which hold them is such high regard. In Korea they are not that highly regarded. They are not looked down upon, but they don't have a high status in the society. In a place where they are pretty much a dime a dozen, they are looked at simply as another business owner, unless they make some sort of huge impact in the community or distinguish themselves frome the rest of the instructors.
     
  3. Kreth

    Kreth Grandmaster

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    I think any Asian martial art has an air of mystique about it here in the States. To the general public, a "black belt" should be able to defeat a dozen chainsaw-wielding attackers without a scratch.
     
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  4. MBuzzy

    MBuzzy Grandmaster

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    At least during my time in Korea, being a Martial Arts instructor was viewed just like any other job. There are so many of them and so many people are involved in Martial Arts, that the instructors are just like any other teacher.
     
  5. mastercole

    mastercole Master Black Belt

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    Old thread but what the heck, it deserves another answer.

    Depends. In Korea and among Korean people outside of Korea, a school owner could be looked up to if they are successful in business. Skill has nothing to do with it.

    But, a school owner is not always the teacher, and in many cases rarely teaches class. That job is left up to the "Sabum" whom the school owner hires to teach. It could be one of the owners own students, or a Sabum from another dojang.

    What many foreigner martial artist find out after staying in Korea for a while is that the Sabum job is generally viewed by the general Korean population as on the same level as head toilet washer/gopher/school owner car washer. Once they put in years of hard humiliating service, they might have the chance to open their own dojang. Then if they become successful, business wise, they will be more respected.

    In the old days martial artist were both respected and feared in Korea. Back then they were quick to kick someones butt for even some minor infraction. Today, that is not the case at all.
     
  6. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I used to work with some Koreans who came to the US for their advanced degrees and they stayed working in the US for a few years as this was seen as an asset before turning to South Korea permanently. I was very excited to discuss martial arts with them and was somewhat surprised and disillusioned to learn that martial arts didn't necessarily have a place of respect in Korean culture despite TKD being the national sport. I was told that TKD was something most people put aside once they became mature in order to pursue more serious things, and only the violent or the stupid (their words not mine) stayed in the art.

    Disappointing.
     
  7. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    But if they come to the United States, they end up making more money than they possibly could have staying in korea. But yes, in korea, martial arts is not looked upon as a high level activity, because of the confucian belief system.
     
  8. mastercole

    mastercole Master Black Belt

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    You would be hard pressed to find any adults practicing almost any kind of martial arts in a Korean dojang. The exception would be some specialized class for Grandma's, or Taekkyon, which is gaining great popularity in Korea among families and adults who want to get in touch with older Korean culture. I visited a number of Dojang in Korea and the classes are all kids.

    Serious hard core training takes place at universities.
     
  9. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    and the pro teams like samsung s1, LG, railroad team, army team.
     
  10. Kinghercules

    Kinghercules Blue Belt

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    I would think it depends on if they know of the person. When GM Ki Whang Kim was alive many non-MA Koreans greeted him and treated him with a lot of respect.
     
  11. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    He was probably much older than most koreans in the area. But in korea, martial arts instructors aren't afforded much respect or don't enjoy high social status. In korea, they are much more apt to be impressed with your college degrees, especially master level or higher, rather than martial arts rank certificates.
     
  12. 40th Alabama

    40th Alabama Yellow Belt

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    I only have one Korean to judge the question against, but my interpretation of what his feelings were is around the above answer. He was one of the early Koreans to come to the US to teach the Martial Arts and his take was that many that came over here were perceived as experts strictly because they were korean. One in particular in my area came in and was immediately crowned expert and he had received approximately a year of training. He had been in the military all of his life-not in martial arts training.
     

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