Seniors as opposed to elders.

chrispillertkd

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Most I interact with mean well, occasionally someone is patronizing which does irritate me. I dismiss it as innocent and unintentional in a social context.

It most likely is. If there are students who are either patronizing of people who are younger than they are or discourteous to people who are senior in rank to them then they should have it pointed out to them quietly and privately. There's no need to make a scene of do it publically. And it should, if at all possible, be done by someone other than the person who has been "slighted." If you're the head instructor at your own dojang having senior students point out these (probably unintentional) breaches of etiquette is best. There's also nothing wrong with taking the last 5 minutes or so of class and doing a little etiquette lesson if several students need work on this area. That way no one is singled out and everybody gets a refresher, which never hurts.

Lots of instructors like to return to an egalitarian view of things when they're out of the dojang. That's the way they run their school. Others prefer things more formal. They set the standard for their school. If you're the head instructor you get to choose. But someone who is senior never needs to lord it over others, or wear their rank on their sleeve. Doing so, or getting a reaction when there is a breach of etiquette like the person in question isn't a good student or is somehow different, is just an example of their own insecurity. It's funny on one level, but sad on another. I've seen people with pretty stratospheric rank brush off disrespectful and discourteous behavior as if it were nothing. There's one VIII dan I know that is incredibly humble even when I've seen junior members not give him the respect he's deserved. It's an example of keeping things in persepctive. Frankly, it's more important to me that people treat my instructors with the proper respect and follow etiquette when around them than it is for them.

Most times it's just a case of the junior in question not knowing any better. It's not going to kill the senior and most likely it's unintentional. If anything, it's just an opportunity to teach them more about Taekwon-Do, not have palpatations about how they didn't support their elbow with their other hand when shaking hands or something.

I also try not to compensate for my age by being a hardass as I think that'd be counterproductive. In a class situation like I said above I approach things fairly firmly and formally so that helps a bit too, by taking a distinct "black belt"/"instructor" role within the gym.

Formality does tend to create "space" between people so it's easier to fulfill the role of instructor, I've found. It doesn't mean one shouldn't, or can't, develop close relationships with one's students or a student with his instructor. But it does make it easier to take constructive criticism and instruction.

Admittedly I have a high opinion of myself sometimes and tend to come across as either very confident or cocky, depending on how charitable the observer wants to be ;). I am also very sure my skill confirms me as where I should be with regards to rank, I don't think I'm exceptional or anything but I absolutely consider myself a "good" black belt. Maybe I shouldn't, who knows. ;)

Part of being a good black belt is humility ;) I'm not saying you're not, of course. But the people I know who are exceptionally awesome technicians fall into two basic categories. One is the category that knows they are very good and likes other people to know it, too. The other is the category that may or may not know they are awesome (depending on the yardstick they use to measure their own ability) but don't need to let people know how good they are. Their training speaks for them. These are the people I've met that aren't only great technicians but great people. Many of them would give the shirt off their backs if you needed it.

The same holds true for people who have moved primarily into the teaching venue. They might have great students who wins tons of tournaments but if they like to brag a lot about it they really have very little to teach about being a good Taekwon-Doin. I know a few instructors who have taken their students to the ITF WC's where they won multiple events. They never brag about it. In fact, they hardly bring it up. But I train with them whenever I get the chance because they not only know a ton about Taekwon-Do training they exhibit what it means to be a Taekwon-Doin.

Seniors who aren't insecure about their own rank don't worry about slights, or spend time complaining aout them. They also can educate people on etiquette without making a big deal out of things. Most times, you barely even notice when they do because they don't make a public scene.

Pax,

Chris
 

mastercole

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Interesting discussion. I believe a person participating in a unique cultural activity should strive to understand that culture, the best they can.

Inside my dojang, Dan rank holds a sort of ranked meaning among those who earned Dan rank from me, among those in my dojang.

Outside of my dojang, Dan ranking means very little to me, next to nothing, as far as who is junior or senior to me. I know who my seniors are, I treat them with great courtesy and I am treated with great courtesy, my seniors and juniors mostly exist among Korean Taekwondoin, I have only a handful of juniors and seniors that are non-Korean, the reason is there are only a handful of non-Korean Taekwondoin that I am aware of who actually understand the whole junior senior thing, and in addition to understanding it, follow it.

Just like if I am hanging out with my Italian-American family and friends in our neighborhood hangouts. The only people there are usually Italian-American, and one or two people that get along with them and understand them very well, and won't be shocked or appalled by the things they might say or do. It's not a comfortable atmosphere for those that don't function well within it. Same for Korean culture, which is Taekwondo culture.

Over the years I have had several pompous American practitioners whom I did not know, or know very well, foolishly try to explain to me how they are my senior because they have a higher dan in this or that, or some profound experience. Kind of sad, kind of goofy.

So for me, if someone does not understand it, don't pretend to and don't make stuff up and act like I or anyone else should follow. Just simply function as typical American Joe's and not worry about it. I tell them I am not going to be able to explain it to them if they have not learned it by now and I am going to say that no one is junior and no one is senior. Why? Because if they don't understand it, they are not part of it.

That said :) Generally treat everyone courteous and give them the best chance to do the same. But some people will say that I myself have been discourteous to some people in public at Taekwondo events and there fore don't practice what I claim to believe. Wrong. Give everyone the chance to be courteous by displaying it yourself to them first. If they are not courteous back or started off a discourteous person, then let them have it. In Taekwondo, or Korean culture, there is no rule that says you have to be kind to morons. Actually it is the opposite, you have the responsibility to straighten them out, but, you should be right in doing so yourself :)
 

WC_lun

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What is the down side to treating him as the elder in a social situation? Is your ego so wrapped up in the difference in rank that this would be a problem? In the school, your experience makes you the elder. In life (sicial situations) his experience and age make him the elder. Use him as you would an elder in your school by showing respect and learning things he has to teach. Not all learning is done in school.
 
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ETinCYQX

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What is the down side to treating him as the elder in a social situation? Is your ego so wrapped up in the difference in rank that this would be a problem? In the school, your experience makes you the elder. In life (sicial situations) his experience and age make him the elder. Use him as you would an elder in your school by showing respect and learning things he has to teach. Not all learning is done in school.

None, I'm just curious and thought I'd join in on the recent etiquette threads. Our fourty two year old red belt friend doesn't exist :)

I'm referring too to something relevant to Taekwondo, say an informal meeting. For example if a bunch of coaches or committee members or whatever gather at a restaurant for discussion related to developing Taekwondo, or an upcoming tournament, or whatever. We do it pretty often.
 

WC_lun

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None, I'm just curious and thought I'd join in on the recent etiquette threads. Our fourty two year old red belt friend doesn't exist :)

I'm referring too to something relevant to Taekwondo, say an informal meeting. For example if a bunch of coaches or committee members or whatever gather at a restaurant for discussion related to developing Taekwondo, or an upcoming tournament, or whatever. We do it pretty often.

Well in that case, treat everyone with respect like they were your elders and you're covered anyway. Your rank is not meaningless, but it does not put you on a pedestal either. I have seen this quite a bit with new and younger black belts. In some ways it is quite natural. Young guys want to know where they are in the pecking order and sometimes even want to be at the head of the line. My advice is don't worry about those things. They don't really matter. Treat everyone with the same respect you would want them to treat you with, even the white belts when you are in your school. You will find that respect will be reciprocated, causing no issues.
 
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ETinCYQX

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It most likely is. If there are students who are either patronizing of people who are younger than they are or discourteous to people who are senior in rank to them then they should have it pointed out to them quietly and privately. There's no need to make a scene of do it publically. And it should, if at all possible, be done by someone other than the person who has been "slighted." If you're the head instructor at your own dojang having senior students point out these (probably unintentional) breaches of etiquette is best. There's also nothing wrong with taking the last 5 minutes or so of class and doing a little etiquette lesson if several students need work on this area. That way no one is singled out and everybody gets a refresher, which never hurts.

I don't feel the need to point it out, it doesn't bother me that much or cause me to lose face. It can be annoying in a meeting situation, but the seniors know the difference anyway.

I generally only need to go over etiquette when a senior member is about to visit, and then only the little things. My students understand it well already, thankfully.

Lots of instructors like to return to an egalitarian view of things when they're out of the dojang. That's the way they run their school. Others prefer things more formal. They set the standard for their school. If you're the head instructor you get to choose. But someone who is senior never needs to lord it over others, or wear their rank on their sleeve. Doing so, or getting a reaction when there is a breach of etiquette like the person in question isn't a good student or is somehow different, is just an example of their own insecurity. It's funny on one level, but sad on another. I've seen people with pretty stratospheric rank brush off disrespectful and discourteous behavior as if it were nothing. There's one VIII dan I know that is incredibly humble even when I've seen junior members not give him the respect he's deserved. It's an example of keeping things in persepctive. Frankly, it's more important to me that people treat my instructors with the proper respect and follow etiquette when around them than it is for them.

Most times it's just a case of the junior in question not knowing any better. It's not going to kill the senior and most likely it's unintentional. If anything, it's just an opportunity to teach them more about Taekwon-Do, not have palpatations about how they didn't support their elbow with their other hand when shaking hands or something.

Usually it gives me a stroke when my students make an obvious blunder with one of my seniors, the seniors don't usually think anything of it except to show them the proper way. I make it a point to practice etiquette like the handshake with my students, they usually remember to reciprocate with me and their classmates.

I'm very informal around my students when completely removed from a Taekwondo setting for the most part, I've known most of them long before Taekwondo.

Formality does tend to create "space" between people so it's easier to fulfill the role of instructor, I've found. It doesn't mean one shouldn't, or can't, develop close relationships with one's students or a student with his instructor. But it does make it easier to take constructive criticism and instruction.

My immediate junior is my sister, I find that I have to create space within the dojang. Same with my parents. I think that's about as close as I can be to students ;) I also have a student who I've invested a lot in emotionally speaking, I keep the same distance in class.

Part of being a good black belt is humility ;) I'm not saying you're not, of course. But the people I know who are exceptionally awesome technicians fall into two basic categories. One is the category that knows they are very good and likes other people to know it, too. The other is the category that may or may not know they are awesome (depending on the yardstick they use to measure their own ability) but don't need to let people know how good they are. Their training speaks for them. These are the people I've met that aren't only great technicians but great people. Many of them would give the shirt off their backs if you needed it.

The same holds true for people who have moved primarily into the teaching venue. They might have great students who wins tons of tournaments but if they like to brag a lot about it they really have very little to teach about being a good Taekwon-Doin. I know a few instructors who have taken their students to the ITF WC's where they won multiple events. They never brag about it. In fact, they hardly bring it up. But I train with them whenever I get the chance because they not only know a ton about Taekwon-Do training they exhibit what it means to be a Taekwon-Doin.

Seniors who aren't insecure about their own rank don't worry about slights, or spend time complaining aout them. They also can educate people on etiquette without making a big deal out of things. Most times, you barely even notice when they do because they don't make a public scene.

Pax,

Chris

I wasn't intending to brag, I've never been one to boast about myself or show off or anything like that. I am however very confident in my own ability and very sure of myself; I am not easily made nervous and I don't generally worry about impressing anyone, if that makes sense. I hope I didn't come across as building myself up or anything with that post, I think I expressed it poorly. There are more than enough excellent Taekwondoin around to keep me very humble :)

Thanks for your insight, Chris.
 

puunui

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I'm referring too to something relevant to Taekwondo, say an informal meeting. For example if a bunch of coaches or committee members or whatever gather at a restaurant for discussion related to developing Taekwondo, or an upcoming tournament, or whatever. We do it pretty often.

I would consider that a taekwondo situation. In fact, whenever I am with primarily taekwondo practitioners, it is a taekwondo situation.
 
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ETinCYQX

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I would consider that a taekwondo situation. In fact, whenever I am with primarily taekwondo practitioners, it is a taekwondo situation.

I agree, which is why I was curious as to how this works in a taekwondo situation outside of a dojang as opposed to how it would work martial arts notwithstanding.

It may only be my experience, but Judo players don't seem to consider these things at all. I've observed almost no Japanese culture in my Judo training. Same with the limited amount of brazilian jiu jitsu I've been exposed to.
 

chrispillertkd

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Usually it gives me a stroke when my students make an obvious blunder with one of my seniors, the seniors don't usually think anything of it except to show them the proper way.

Heh, I know what you mean about the stroke, as well as the reaction from seniors.

My immediate junior is my sister, I find that I have to create space within the dojang. Same with my parents. I think that's about as close as I can be to students ;) I also have a student who I've invested a lot in emotionally speaking, I keep the same distance in class.

My instructors' children both trained in the school back in the day (their son still does, and they are both pretty awesome). Both of them always referred to their parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am" and showed proper respect and etiquette when training. It went a long way to pre-empting any perception of favoritism, I think. We've had some pretty interesting discussions on what it was like for them basically being in Taekwon-Do since they could walk.

I wasn't intending to brag, I've never been one to boast about myself or show off or anything like that.

Not at all. That's why I used a winky emoticon :)

Pax,

Chris
 
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ETinCYQX

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I have to say I'm the only one I know of who has the situation reversed; my parents are my students. Works just fine :)
 

mastercole

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I have had students over the years who were also teaching classes as teenagers. Most started out helping warm up classes since they were in elementary school, so they are very comfortable in front of a crowd of any age. Even today, other children, even as young as 5 help do the basic warm up. Of course they don't teach class, and everyone knows the basic warm up. It fosters leadership skills in the children and really builds their confidence. Of course children never teach at my school.

I always made if very clear that if young instructors give directions, they are to be followed, without question, regardless of age. I also demanded that my instructors treat all students with courtesy and to call every parent Sir, or Mam'm. I had a situation or two over the decades where I encountered someone who did not want to learn from the younger teacher. In one instance I craftily arranged it so they ended up sparring each other in a rotation full contact sparring. The young champ cleaned the floor with Mr. attitude, Mr. attitude has his attitude adjusted and never came back :) Another I explained that once their knowledge and skill level passed that of my instructor, they were free not to follow. They never made an issue of it again.

In the dojang if someone is not going to follow my Sabum's it will take second's for me to show them the door, and very publicly and very rudely. It sets a good example for anyone else thinking that way.

As far as out side Taekwondo settings, I always tell all my dan holders act like you are the most junior black belt in the room and see how people treat you. It will tell you a lot about them.

As far as in social settings between my Sabum's and students, I highly discourage that and tell the Sabum's and the students that what happens outside the dojang between them can and will effect their relationships inside the dojang.
 

Steve

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Its about credibility. Really age is just one factor. That's what I was driving at. The question is about whether you are credible, and it sounds like you do okay.

There also something in management that a lot of young supervisors forget, and that's to respect the wisdom in the room. In other words, you might be the best at TKD, but those older guys have a wealth of life experience. In order for them to respect your expertise, you have to respect theirs.
 

Gwai Lo Dan

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I'm 42 colour belt (and a bit of a joker). I asked an 11 year old who just got his black belt this question: "So now that you are a black belt, do you want me to call you sir or just your first name?". The kid said "uhm...my first name - I'm a cool black belt!".
 

Gnarlie

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I'm 42 colour belt (and a bit of a joker). I asked an 11 year old who just got his black belt this question: "So now that you are a black belt, do you want me to call you sir or just your first name?". The kid said "uhm...my first name - I'm a cool black belt!".

Sounds like a good kid.
 

Tenchi

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I tend to treat people older than me with respect, regardless of age, even when I'm teaching. Doesn't mean I don't treat the kids right, I just tend to goof off a bit more with them and play harder than what I am just to keep them on their toes. Don't have to do it with older ones though, they treat me respectfully enough at all circumstances and I understand that, inside or outside the dojang, we both can learn a lot from each other. I may be their instructor in Taekwondo but they can instruct me regarding of life in general. That is something worth being respectful.
 

Kong Soo Do

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We seem do things differently in a lot of ways from what I can gather reading these threads, BUT, in a social setting we consider it "belts are off" and all are even. We go out for korean food regularly as a club and once belts are off everyone is even, no one is senior. Actually, if anything it goes more on age than tkd rank. That changes in the dojang obviously where anyone of a higher rank is your senior. Its often easier said than done though. One of my employees is a 3rd dan (grading for 4th next month), and in class he is clearly my senior and has been my instructor at times, then the next day we are at work and Im his boss. That has had a wierd feel to it at times.

Good post. Although a martial art can be a big part of someone's life, it is only a part. Total life experience has to be factored into a social/personal relationship. A 19 year old may have more TKD experience than a 40 year old, but more than likely the 40 year old has more life experience overall. He/she may have served in a war. They may be a professional or business owner. They may have extensive experience in a technical area. And likely they have more time in the work place than the 19 year old has in the bathroom. So outside the school it is, and indeed should be 'belts off'.
 
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ETinCYQX

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Good post. Although a martial art can be a big part of someone's life, it is only a part. Total life experience has to be factored into a social/personal relationship. A 19 year old may have more TKD experience than a 40 year old, but more than likely the 40 year old has more life experience overall. He/she may have served in a war. They may be a professional or business owner. They may have extensive experience in a technical area. And likely they have more time in the work place than the 19 year old has in the bathroom. So outside the school it is, and indeed should be 'belts off'.

Not so cut and dried unfortunately. The situation I refer to is outside the dojang, but still in a martial arts context. The talk is all taekwondo, it's a completely taekwondo oriented group, maybe even an informal meeting. Say for example the coaches decide to hold a meeting at a bar/restaurant rather than at the event venue. My feeling on the matter is that as a black belt and a coach I should be referred to the same way our imaginary red belt refers to his own coach/instructor. I believe that's the protocol as well. Like I said I've never had an issue and it isn't a big deal to me either way but I do think I deserve the same recognition as other school owners, right? :)
 
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ETinCYQX

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I'm 42 colour belt (and a bit of a joker). I asked an 11 year old who just got his black belt this question: "So now that you are a black belt, do you want me to call you sir or just your first name?". The kid said "uhm...my first name - I'm a cool black belt!".

:D. I go by my first name all the time, with one exception. Last name for the youngest kids class, 6-10. I haven't found the first name to be a good idea there.

Once they're 12-13 they don't need an arbitrary title to understand the dynamic.
 
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