I need help turning my Dojang around. (LONG POST)

Discussion in 'Korean Martial Arts - General' started by Choistic, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    And that's good. Some folks still benefit from external structure. I think that structure is one of the reasons some folks prefer the formality and etiquette of traditional arts. Adhering to rules - by choice - is one way to develop self-discipline. Remember that it's not like the military. This student could have left at any time if they chose - choosing to stay and follow those stricter rules is an exercise of discipline.
     
  2. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    He doesn't want to adhere to the rules. He wants his own rules that are different and (in his eyes) stricter. That can only come from himself.
     
  3. dvcochran

    dvcochran Master Black Belt

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    What rank will your next test be? Can you detail the old and new curriculum so we can better understand? I get the feeling that at least some of you concerns are subjective and emotional. If we can see the physical differences it will help give informed advise.
     
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  4. Bruce7

    Bruce7 Orange Belt

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    Thank you for bringing up this excellent question.It is very hard to leave your dojang, but the advice given is correct. It is not up to you to fix the dojang.
    You need to find a new master. It does not matter what Martial Art you learn so long as the master is dedicated to excellence of his Art. I thought there was nothing else but Jack Hwangs Taekwondo. I had to quit his school when I join the navy.While station in Guam I found a Kung Fu long fist master who open my eyes to new things. You are not losing your art, your situation has given you the chance to develop into a better Martial Arts. it may not be easy, but you need to find a new master.
     
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  5. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    A lot of these are your opinion on what makes for a good class based on the way your master raised you. Some of the things that seem important to you seem to be elective to me, and some of the ways in which you talk about the test are actually disturbing to me. For example, while I don't see a problem with teaching the Korean terminology, it seems superfluous to me. Knowing whether it's a "front kick" or an "ahp chaki" is less important than knowing how to properly use it, for example.

    (Don't get me wrong, the way you describe classes now, with most of the curriculum removed or not done correctly, is more concerning. I think somewhere in the middle is probably best).

    One thing I've been thinking of a lot lately is the idea of objective vs. subjective test requirements. For example, what is written in stone as "it must be exactly like this or you fail", and what is "the students must demonstrate the best of their ability and show improvement." Another way of looking at it - do you need to perfect the white belt curriculum before moving on to yellow belt, or do you need to have a yellow belt understanding of the white belt curriculum before moving on?

    Poomsae
    You mention Poomsae, and how they must be exact. The stances must be perfect, toes in the proper place, and everything else in the right spot. We have some students that this would pretty much be a breeze for, and other students that this would mean they would be stuck at white belt for years. The first poomsae we teach kids is at the yellow belt, and it's the basic Kibon Il Jang (all front stances, down blocks, and punches, in a simple I-shape). It takes some of the kids 6-8 months just to get the directions right, let alone any of the details. And even then they screw it up half the time.

    On their purple belt test, quite often a kid will still struggle with the form. But even though they never even did the basic motions perfect (let alone had the right stances), after they get their purple belt and have to learn more forms, they quickly catch up on how to do this one right. As a judge and an instructor, I look at the kid who's been making a dozen mistakes in the form every day in class for the last 4 months, and I see him make 3 mistakes in the form during the test, and I give him a passing grade (not an Outstanding grade, but a passing grade). Because what I see is a kid that has shown a tremendous amount of growth, and I've seen the history of students who did a similar performance on their purple belt test, and then how they continue to grow as a purple belt.

    Now, another student that's gotten a good grasp of the form really quick, I will instead look at with a different lens. These students I will expect they make no mistakes on the gross movements, and I will expect to see some semblance of the proper stance and hand position.

    This is what I mean when I talk about subjective test requirements. I have different standards for what I expect in each student, because I know what each student is capable of, and I want to see them grow. I can understand having objective requirements (and sometimes wish we had more of them at my school), but I have seen students thrive in this environment. Once you get up to the black belt level, those students that started off taking 8 months to do Kibon Il Jang will have forms on par with the others. They catch up over time.

    As to making a single mistake and failing? That seems a bit harsh. Between Taekwondo and Hapkido, I've taken 23 tests at my school, and I've messed things up on 22 of them. But I fixed my mistakes and that's how I passed.

    Sparring
    I don't have a problem with non-contact sparring, if it's done right. It's a nice way to get people into sparring before they've learned how to kick properly (so they don't kick with their toes, kick someone else in the knee, etc). It's also good for learning timing and reading people. However, it must eventually grow into contact sparring. Many students at my school will opt for non-contact sparring if we're dealing with an injury, because the other option is just to sit out entirely.

    As to the test requirement to win your sparring match...does this mean that potentially only half of the students move on? Does this mean if you're not good at sparring, you can't progress? I'm personally not very good at sparring. But I have a very good detailed memory of the poomsae, and I have a lot of understanding of the physics behind the art. At your school, I would have been held back on virtue of my physical skills.

    How exactly did this work in practice? Because it seems to me a way to just arbitrarily make half the class fail their test automatically.

    Self Defense
    I actually like what you said about your master taking the form and applying self defense from it. We do self defense at my school, but they are separate from the poomsae we do. It sucks that you're losing it.

    Board Breaking
    This is where I wish we had more standards at my school, and like that your school did it this way. My old school was definitely this way. Sometimes at my school we have the blue belts use a back kick to break their board, other times we have them use a hammerfist (which we use for lower belts as well). I have not quite figured out how my Master determines whether we will do the back kick or the hammerfist. But I wish that we would stick to it and get the technique correct, instead of switching to the easier technique.

    However, with that said, it does go back to what I said before about objective vs. subjective requirements. He may be looking at kids that have really struggled with the back kick and not want them to get discouraged in the progress they've made. And just like I said with the poomsae, even if some of our blue belts don't have that great of a back kick, by the time they get to be black belt it's usually pretty good.

    The Changes
    Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying your school is better off with the changes. Instructors messing up the forms is bad. People getting promoted too easily is bad. I may make it seem like everyone who tests passes at my school, but really the "test" is the time leading up to the actual test, where we check who is ready to test or not. If someone would fail, we simply don't let them test. The test itself is more of a formality at that point.

    I merely wanted to play Devil's Advocate and point out that just because standards seem lower, doesn't mean the quality of instruction is gone. It may shift when people gain certain skills, and it may change the atmosphere of the dojang, but even if people are given slack at the lower belts, it doesn't mean they're going to turn out worse.

    Do I wish we were a bit more objective at my school? Yes. However, we also have several students that I realize a pure objective approach means they would never move on. And sometimes it's moving on that pushes you through the barriers that were holding you back before. Like when our kids move from yellow belt (where we spend maybe 5 minutes a week on their form) to purple belt (where we spend maybe 20 minutes on forms each week), and suddenly they're better at Kibon Il Jang.
     
  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    A slight swerve (what? on MT??) on this. I've come to the conclusion that the best testing is a bit of each (subjective and objective). I don't think the test is (usually) actually the point. I could test 10 different people entirely differently, and still test for the same things, if the "things" I'm testing for are more conceptual. In my case, it's part conceptual, part technical. I'm training for fighting ability, primarily through the NGA art. So, like most folks, I've set "requirements" for promotion to each rank. But those "requirements" are not there really primarily to test those specific things. If someone for some reason cannot physically do a Jacket Grab classical form - a real physical limitation - then I'll find some other way to test that they're learning the principles needed. That might just mean they have to be a bit better at everything else to make up for that lack. If someone has severe asthma, so they can't reasonably do the sparring required for each rank, I'll find something else they have to do that others do not. The same goes for individual kicks, punches, etc.

    Because what I'm really testing for is their understanding of and ability to apply NGA and the rest of the curriculum they've learned. The easiest way for me to do that with consistency is to use the requirements as I've written them. But it's not the only way.

    So, getting back to my opening statement. When I review Classical techniques for yellow belt (about a year in), I'm not expecting anything like perfection. I'm expecting correct execution of the primary principles. What I'm looking for changes at each rank (those first 10 Classical techniques will be re-tested each time), and there are objective and subjective components.
     
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  7. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    I agree completely. The question isn't so much A or B, but rather where you put the balance? It sounds like this guy's old master put the needle very far towards objective testing.
     
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