Looking for a Taekwondo mentor

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skribs

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I'd like to start my own unaffiliated Taekwondo school. One prerequisite that I have for myself is that I have a Taekwondo Master in mentorship over me, at least 5th degree, preferably at least 6th degree. I'm starting to put feelers out to look for a mentor. If anyone knows of any groups I should look into, I'd appreciate it. Or if it's something you're interested in helping me out with, please reach out to me. I'd really appreciate it.
 

JowGaWolf

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I'd like to start my own unaffiliated Taekwondo school. One prerequisite that I have for myself is that I have a Taekwondo Master in mentorship over me, at least 5th degree, preferably at least 6th degree. I'm starting to put feelers out to look for a mentor. If anyone knows of any groups I should look into, I'd appreciate it. Or if it's something you're interested in helping me out with, please reach out to me. I'd really appreciate it.
Sounds like a good story. What happened? What changed?
 

JowGaWolf

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It's straight forward question. I thought you were giving TKD a break.
 
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It's straight forward question. I thought you were giving TKD a break.
A break yes, but not a permanent departure. I'm having similar problems in my day job as I was having in TKD: office politics above me. Hence wanting to go unaffiliated.
 

Earl Weiss

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Sir, your question leads to questions. You want to be "Unaffiliated" yet you want a mentor which means you want to affiliate with someone. Since many might view a Mentor / Mentee relationship as a 2 way street, as opposed to a warm fuzzy feeling what is in it for the Mentor?
 

bluepanther

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I had started a thread about my Tang Soo Do journey under an independent school. For many years I trained there never really thinking about starting my own school. When I recently considered starting a small club then affiliation with a larger organization became important to me. Unfortunately no larger organization will acknowledge my rank. Last year I had a sit down with my instructor and asked him his background. He formally was trained to 3rd degree with a larger organization but then left and started his own school at which time he automatically jumped himself to an 8th degree. Hopefully you have good credentials from a TaeKwonDo organization. I also currently have Kukkiwon rank so even though it isn't perfect, it shows some legitimacy.

If you teach a Traditional Taekwondo then as long as you know a lot of traditional Poomsae, similar to the ones used in Tang Soo Do then you really wouldn't need a mentor or organization. But if you plan on teaching I.T.F. Tul or Kukkiwon material then it would probably be best to have a higher rank than you in either I.T.F. or WT that can maybe be a guest at your belt tests so that you have more than just yourself handing out belts. I am interested to hear more about the curriculum you would plan to teach.
 

HighKick

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I'd like to start my own unaffiliated Taekwondo school. One prerequisite that I have for myself is that I have a Taekwondo Master in mentorship over me, at least 5th degree, preferably at least 6th degree. I'm starting to put feelers out to look for a mentor. If anyone knows of any groups I should look into, I'd appreciate it. Or if it's something you're interested in helping me out with, please reach out to me. I'd really appreciate it.
That is a baby step in the right direction, but I think you know it just doesn't work that way.
 
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Sir, your question leads to questions.
I did leave it a little bit open on purpose. This is a very unique situation and I didn't want to turn away anyone by starting with a bunch of specifics, which may or may not match their vision for what they want in a mentee.
You want to be "Unaffiliated" yet you want a mentor which means you want to affiliate with someone.
I want to affiliate with someone, but I want my school to be unaffiliated. Or at least, I want the freedom of being unaffiliated. If I can get that while being affiliated, that's okay.

To boil it down to its core: I want to teach what I want to teach in the way I want to teach it, and not have it dictated to me from higher ups. I want to do my forms, teach techniques the way I best connect with them, and teach self-defense based on what I've learned in many different martial arts. I also want to have higher belts come in from other schools and easily assimilate to my class, and to bring what they know to class.

In my experience in Taekwondo, it's very much been, "I'm the Master, here's the curriculum, you teach my curriculum only." In other martial arts, instructors have been much more open to someone with outside knowledge bringing it in, in order to enrich their students. My BJJ professor has brought in more people for seminars in 14 months of BJJ than I've seen in 14 years of TKD. They've asked me to coach the Muay Thai class so I can teach spinning kicks. I want to build this kind of culture in a school. I don't think it would be easy to do if I'm also worried about meeting the requirements from someone else, especially if those requirements could grow at any time.
Since many might view a Mentor / Mentee relationship as a 2 way street, as opposed to a warm fuzzy feeling what is in it for the Mentor?
You mean warm fuzzies aren't a form of currency?

I understand that most mentees are going to be an employee or coworker, someone who is helping out your own organization. Which is part of why I understand this is a very unique case. If nothing else, it's a service I would be willing to pay for. Although at that point, maybe it's not a "mentor" and is instead a consultant.

Similarly, I believe that any rank tests I take in this type of arrangement would be less of a belt test and more of a third-party audit.
 
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He formally was trained to 3rd degree with a larger organization but then left and started his own school at which time he automatically jumped himself to an 8th degree. Hopefully you have good credentials from a TaeKwonDo organization. I also currently have Kukkiwon rank so even though it isn't perfect, it shows some legitimacy.
This is something I definitely will not do. I would like to get 4th degree in some way before I open my own school. My plan (if someone will agree to it) would be to test using the curriculum I have developed, as a sort of 3rd-party audit of both my abilities and my curriculum. For them to say something along the lines of "I, as a 5th degree black belt in Taekwondo, certify this individual as possessing the skills and knowledge of a 4th degree black belt, and a curriculum capable of teaching martial arts up to the 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo." Obviously this isn't perfect, but something to that effect.

Worst case scenario, if my job situation does not improve and I am unable to find a mentor, I can either start teaching at 3rd degree and figure something else out from there, or I can self-promote to 4th degree. I don't feel that's a big jump. I've taken 4 out of 4 intermediate tests. My Master even said, "Any other school you'd already be 4th degree." I was teaching 20 hours per week for 4 years, and helped develop our COVID remote training program. I am currently still active in martial arts (even if not TKD), and I'm coaching multiple martial arts. I don't want to self-promote. But if I do, it will be a sliver of a degree, and not jump 5 degrees.
If you teach a Traditional Taekwondo then as long as you know a lot of traditional Poomsae, similar to the ones used in Tang Soo Do then you really wouldn't need a mentor or organization.
I have created my own forms. I'm not super happy with the official Taegeuk forms that I learned or the unofficial versions of the Palgwes. I keep it simple at 8 forms (most schools I think have added Kibon or other forms) and no extra rote memorization. I want to focus more on building a foundation through repetition at the beginner level, and then an understanding through a more dynamic approach to training at the advanced level.
I am interested to hear more about the curriculum you would plan to teach.
Probably a topic for another thread. The general concept is that beginners are going to focus on basic punches, kicks, and blocks; and do them all over and over and over again to build muscle memory. Intermediate level will add in elbow strikes and intermediate kicks, there is still a lot of repetition, but some variety from class to class. Advanced level starts to focus on application - different types of footwork, differences in doing things in forms/sparring/fighting, mix in more of my other martial arts trainings (Hapkido and Muay Thai, I know it's an odd mix).

The beginner and intermediate levels are built mainly on the Taekwondo class that I trained in for most of my time (where I nearly got 4th degree). The approach I plan to take in the advanced level is more a "move-of-the-week" like we do in my BJJ and Muay Thai classes.

One of the reasons I want to avoid memorization as much as I can is based on a few different folks I remember from my old school:
  • Guy who just practices the memorization and not technique. Knows enough to pass the test but doesn't do any moves well.
  • Girl who is technically sound but struggles with memorization. Gets very frustrated when she does the wrong foot (or something) and gets in her own way. Quit to do wrestling and is constantly winning golds there, so she is an excellent martial artist.
  • Girl who was a red belt and quit, then came back a few years later. Technically sound, but couldn't remember any of the forms or combos, so she felt like she knew nothing and was useless, and quit.
  • Guy who comes in from another school as a black belt, and it takes him years to catch up on our curriculum.
  • When I went to a new school, and there are a half dozen different rote memorized rituals, including the stretching and warmup routine, closing ceremony in full Korean, three separate student creeds, a school cheer, and a few other things. I spent more time practicing and learning these rituals than I did on Taekwondo.
Instead, I want people to be able to come to my school and assimilate quickly, so they can start learning what matters - the application of technique.

To that end, instead of having students memorize self-defense one-steps for testing, I instead plan to have them pick one from class or even modify it or create their own, which will be their own self-defense. (This will be an upper belt thing). It's still something they memorize, but it's something they connect with and they can feel proud of. And someone coming in from another school can show off something they know from where they were before. It's a way to celebrate creativity and diversity, instead of just have everyone do the same combo.
 

JowGaWolf

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They've asked me to coach the Muay Thai class so I can teach spinning kicks. I want to build this kind of culture in a school. I don't think it would be easy to do if I'm also worried about meeting the requirements from someone else, especially if those requirements could grow at any time.
You should be ok if you have a good spinning kick and you are able to teach people in a way that allows them to improve and become effective with their spinning back kicks. I don't know the requirements, but if that's the end result then students will be happy that they joined and paid for the classes. Maybe this will help so that you are a little more on the positive side. I give tips at my gym. nothing serious, just little thing that make it easier for them to do round house kicks and punches without getting injured. They take the tips and train on their own. I don't do more than that. A few months later they see me and thank me for the tips because it helped them and their kicks are really good now. Did they get tips from other people? Probably. I only know the role that I played in their improvement when they personally thank me for helping them out and that it helped them. One guy I asked if he was taking TKD because his kicks were nice. He told me no and that the tips that I gave him really helped him out. I had actually forgotten that I even gave him a tip on kicking.

If people have the desire to be better then they will put in the work, you just will just have to make it easier and safer than learning on their own. Did they get tips from other people? The only thing that would concern me with you is perfection. Sometimes perfection sends you in the opposite way. A little more function and a little bit less perfection will make most people happy.


To boil it down to its core: I want to teach what I want to teach in the way I want to teach it, and not have it dictated to me from higher ups. I want to do my forms, teach techniques the way I best connect with them, and teach self-defense based on what I've learned in many different martial arts. I also want to have higher belts come in from other schools and easily assimilate to my class, and to bring what they know to class.
I like the sound of this. Especially bring people in from other schools to share their knowledge.. This helps so much. The little bit that @Tony Dismukes shared with me gives me another perspective of things that Jow Ga needs to take into consideration, that I need to take into consideration when training my techniques. To be honest I was probably a little too greedy with experiencing what Tony had to share that I probably should have really shared more in terms of the long fist strikes. I'll have to make up for that if he's still interested in using the strikes. I learn so much more about Jow Ga when I talk to people outside of the Jow Ga school. It's not that they are teaching me Jow Ga, but sometimes they recognize a movement that I have not recognized yet. I wish more schools would do what you are thinkign about doing.

I'm actually curious if you will be seeking to do more with TKDs hand strikes.

I have created my own forms. I'm not super happy with the official Taegeuk forms that I learned or the unofficial versions of the Palgwes. I keep it simple at 8 forms (most schools I think have added Kibon or other forms) and no extra rote memorization. I want to focus more on building a foundation through repetition at the beginner level, and then an understanding through a more dynamic approach to training at the advanced level.
Congrats on this.

See I thought there was an interesting story behind your post. I know I may seem like a butt and I know sometimes I am, but I'm not a bad guy. I always like seeing people grow.
 

HighKick

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Why can't it?
I will use the analogy of a cold call salesman. A total stranger coming up and trying to sell you on themselves or their product. You are asking a stranger (the Master or GM) to risk their credentials, which took them a Long time to establish, on a complete stranger based on what they say alone.

Relationships take time. Especially in the martial arts, it takes time to learn and establish a level of competency and trust between a black belt and their instructor. This is a Good thing and has helped maintain a high(er) level of competency in the arts versus most other recreational sports.
It also should be assumed that things just don't 'transfer' like a college degree all too often does. Yes, you earned your black belt and that should never be taken away (unless it is your choice and yes, it happens) but when making a major move or taking time off from training, a period of time to re-establish yourself is warranted and should be expected, especially if the curriculum is changing.

Since there is a very high level of mental acuity taught/learned from a quality program, it goes without saying this should transfer with a person to every other part of life. In your case, moving across country. But establishing this connection is never automatic. And it is very, very, important to grasp that 'your' way is not the only way. Just the differences in moving from region to region will change the way communication and relationships are conveyed. Not to mention how different this can be in a for profit commercial training environment or more importantly I think, in a non-profit environment. The scope of differences is very long indeed. Maybe you were in a more casual, purely profit environment in your original school (I have no idea). Then, let's say after you moved, you trained at a smaller, more traditional and harder contact school where it is not a numbers game. The differences would be great, but neither explicitly wrong, given each ones intended purpose. Realizing this and navigating the differences is on you as an assumed mature black belt.
You are wanting to skip major steps and jump to the end, something of a 'I want it and I want it now' mentality. That is why I said it doesn't work that way.
 

bluepanther

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You had mentioned you developed your own forms and will not have standard one-steps to memorize and will pull from some other martial arts. At that point it really is your own style, so a balck belt with a higher rank can not possibly judge your froms as at that point they are yours and you would be KJN. Sort of like General Choi being critiqued since he developed the ITF Tul or GM Hwang Kee being critiqued on the Chil Sung hyung, they are theirs.

So if you plan on teaching an existing form of Taekwondo, I would think you need people above you to make sure the artis pure to their standards. If you have a new version of Taekwondo then just make 4th degree the highest belt in your art and self promote to 4th and you will be the master and creator of your version of Taekwondo. Just promote all others to 3rd degree. Most non Korean styles usually only have new material to 4th or 5th anyhow and the rest is honorary.

I think being honest with potential sudents about you making up your own system is much better than duping people like I was with my Tang Soo Do school.
 

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You had mentioned you developed your own forms and will not have standard one-steps to memorize and will pull from some other martial arts. At that point it really is your own style, so a balck belt with a higher rank can not possibly judge your froms
That is not at all true. Forms are nothing more than a series of movements. I may not know the order of movement in his forms, but I don't need to; it's reasonable to assume that he does, since he developed them. But if his form does a backfist, reverse punch, and then a spinning hook kick, I can absolutely tell if those movements are done properly. So can pretty much any experienced martial artist.
as at that point they are yours and you would be KJN.
What do you think kwanjangnim means?

Sort of like General Choi being critiqued since he developed the ITF Tul
No he didn't. They were developed by Choi Hong Hi, Nam Tae Hi, Han Cha Kyo, Kong Young Il, Choi Chang Keun, Kim Bok Man and Park Jung Tae, primarily, and it's almost certain that there was some degree of input from many, many others.
 
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That is not at all true. Forms are nothing more than a series of movements. I may not know the order of movement in his forms, but I don't need to; it's reasonable to assume that he does, since he developed them. But if his form does a backfist, reverse punch, and then a spinning hook kick, I can absolutely tell if those movements are done properly. So can pretty much any experienced martial artist.
A lot of folks fall into the trap of whether the move is done properly or "properly". For example, there are slight differences in the way I choose to do my stances and techniques than the way Kukkiwon does. Someone with a KKW background may look at my front stance down block and find all sorts of critiques about my stance being too wide or the way I chamber my block, but that's a stylistic choice and not an error.

I'm not saying there aren't things I can't improve about the way I do my forms (I recently got a full size mirror in my home dojo and that's really helping my self study). And I'm not saying my forms are perfect. But I don't think any of the forms I've learned are perfect, either.

What do you think kwanjangnim means?
What do you think it means?

I'm being genuine. I don't speak much Korean, and you have a lot more experience in this culture than I do. I know the Google translate version or the testing cheat-sheet version, but other than that I really couldn't tell you.
 

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What do you think it means?

I'm being genuine. I don't speak much Korean, and you have a lot more experience in this culture than I do. I know the Google translate version or the testing cheat-sheet version, but other than that I really couldn't tell you.
It means you own the school. It doesn't actually have anything to do with rank. The -nim suffix is a sign of respect. The more familiar sabumnim means 'respected teacher', again with no relationship to any rank. Calling someone 'sabum' means teacher, but without the suffix it could even be seen as an insult.
 
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You should be ok if you have a good spinning kick and you are able to teach people in a way that allows them to improve and become effective with their spinning back kicks. ...

If people have the desire to be better then they will put in the work, you just will just have to make it easier and safer than learning on their own. Did they get tips from other people? The only thing that would concern me with you is perfection. Sometimes perfection sends you in the opposite way. A little more function and a little bit less perfection will make most people happy.

I will expect a high degree of attention-to-detail for the forms. But otherwise, I'm focused on practical application. Of course, if someone wants to focus on that degree of attention-to-detail as part of their black belt studies, that is their prerogative. I want to be a teacher to the beginners, and a facilitator of learning to the black belts, and something in between for the colored belts.

I learned (the hard way) early on in my career as an instructor that you can't demand perfection of a white belt. My goal is to make classes fun and engaging, so people stick around for a long time and get closer and closer to perfection.

I like the sound of this. Especially bring people in from other schools to share their knowledge.. This helps so much. The little bit that @Tony Dismukes shared with me gives me another perspective of things that Jow Ga needs to take into consideration, that I need to take into consideration when training my techniques. To be honest I was probably a little too greedy with experiencing what Tony had to share that I probably should have really shared more in terms of the long fist strikes. I'll have to make up for that if he's still interested in using the strikes. I learn so much more about Jow Ga when I talk to people outside of the Jow Ga school. It's not that they are teaching me Jow Ga, but sometimes they recognize a movement that I have not recognized yet. I wish more schools would do what you are thinkign about doing.
To clarify, what you seem to be talking about is seminars. I'm not against seminars, but it's currently not something I've put much thought into.

What I mean instead is let's say someone like @bluepanther moves to my town, and joins my school. He's got a TSD background and KKW background. Which means he probably knows a lot of what I know (in terms of techniques and concepts) but also knows nothing of my school's curriculum.

In the TKD schools I've been a part of, he would have tons of stuff to "learn". By "learn", I mean he would need to memorize combinations of techniques he probably already knows. To @Dirty Dog 's point about the forms, I'm sure Dirty Dog has done every single move I've got in my forms. If not, he's done at least 99% of them. But he doesn't know my forms at all, because he's never done those techniques in the same order as my forms.

In order to teach at these other TKD schools, you would need to learn a bunch of forms, combos, one-steps, and other school culture items in order to be an effective teacher. My philosophy is that if someone like either of them moved to my town and joined my school, they could very quickly get up to speed on how we do things and become an active instructor.

Seminars are an interesting idea, but so far I have very little experience with them.
I'm actually curious if you will be seeking to do more with TKDs hand strikes.
In what way?
 
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It means you own the school. It doesn't actually have anything to do with rank. The -nim suffix is a sign of respect. The more familiar sabumnim means 'respected teacher', again with no relationship to any rank. Calling someone 'sabum' means teacher, but without the suffix it could even be seen as an insult.
When I was at the school under an 8th degree, he got upset when I called him kwanjangnim, because he said that means he's old and lazy.
 

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Sir, your question leads to questions. You want to be "Unaffiliated" yet you want a mentor which means you want to affiliate with someone. Since many might view a Mentor / Mentee relationship as a 2 way street, as opposed to a warm fuzzy feeling what is in it for the Mentor?
There are mentors who will do that for the warm fuzzy feeling.

Bjj is moving in that direction in opposition to the pyramid scheme that is sort of being created by the need to be affiliated.
 
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