Thoughts on my curriculum plan

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I've been working on my own personal curriculum for several years now. I'm currently in major revision #4, minor revision #3 of the design, and I think I've got it mostly where I want it. I've gotten advice from a fellow classmate of mine (3rd Dan in my organization, 4th Dan in another, and with 20+ years of martial arts training in different arts during his military service), from my parents (2nd and 3rd Dans from my school), and from a friend who has no experience at all (which is the demographic that most of my students will fall into). I'm not going to go into all of the specifics here. What I will do is cover a high-level view, and maybe a medium-level view of my curriculum.

Belt System - While there is no standard in KKW for belts, it seems that the closest we have to a standard is what you see in KKW promotional material and in a lot of local tournaments. This is a ten keub system of White, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Red (before Black). Each color comes with two belts: a solid and a stripe.

Each belt color has a shared curriculum that includes punches, kicks, blocks, sparring, and a few miscellaneous items. Each individual belt has unique forms and self-defense concepts. In this way, a "white belt class" can work together as a whole class for 75% of the time, and in smaller groups for the other 25%. Black Belts will mostly follow suit, with 2nd and 3rd Dan being treated somewhat the same as stripes on a colored belt. There are new forms and self-defense ideas, but most of the basic techniques will be done by all black belts.

Colored belt requirement is 3 months time-in-grade before the next test. Tests will be held every month (either replacing a single class day, or in addition to classes, I'll figure that out when I get the schedule up and running). Tests would be the 3rd week of the month, as this will avoid the major holidays of Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the 4th of July. This brings us to a minimum of 2.5 years to get your black belt, which I feel is enough time that it's not a McDojo, but also not so long that I'm sandbagging my students.

Techniques - The main concept of my design is that I am not doing rote memorized combinations. The only rote material in my curriculum is the forms. What I'm presenting here is an abridged version. Especially the self-defense, I'll be covering the themes, not the entire strategy at each belt
Belt ColorHand TechniquesKicksSolid Self-DefenseStriped Self-DefenseSparringWeapons
WhiteHorse Stance Punches
Basic Punches
Basic Blocks
Basic Hand Strikes
(Hammerfist, Chop, Palm)
Front Kick
Roundhouse Kick
Side Kick
Stretch Kick
Basic Strike Defense
Wrist Escapes
Basic Sweep
Basic Strike Defense part 2
Hip/Shoulder Throw
"Setting Anchors" for throws
Throw footwork
Non-Contact sparringN/A
YellowElbow Strikes
Spinning Strikes
Intermediate Blocks
Outside Axe Kick
Back Kick
Basic Jump Kicks
Basic Footwork
(Steps, Slides, Switches)
Punch Defense - Block & Catch
Arm Locks
Punch Defense - Take-Downs
Finishing Strike
Get Sparring Gear
Intro to Contact Sparring
N/A
GreenAdvanced Hand Strikes
Two-Hand Elbow Strikes
X-Blocks
Combination Theory
Hook Kick
Turning Roundhouse Kick
Basic Kick Variants
Intermediate Footwork
Jump Back Kick
Double Front/Round Kick
Intermediate Footwork
(Laterals, Kick while moving, finding rhythm)
Kick Defense: Sweeps
Grab Defense: Intermediate Sweeps
Wrist Locks
"Tap Out"
Kick Defense Finishing Strikes
Intermediate Throws
Hand Locks
Standing Armbars
Point-Break Sparring
Scoring Rules
Punching in WT
Basic Theory: Height & Reach
Basic Nunchaku
BlueBoxing Style Punches
Two-Hand Blocks
Crescent Kick
Spin Hook Kick
Tornado Kick
Check Side Kick
When to Lean In/Back
Strength vs. Speed
Advanced Footwork
360 Back Kick
Consecutive Kicks (Triple+)
Flowing Punch Defense
Grab Defense: Apply to new grab positions (arm, shoulder, lapel, grabbed from behind)
Goosenecks
Punch Defense: Evasion
Grab Defense: Rear Double Grabs
Advanced Details for Yellow/Green Techniques
2-on-1 Sparring
Age 14+: Headshots
Intermediate Theory: Stances, Feints, ?-Chamber, Push Kicks/Defense
Basic Bo Staff
RedAdvanced Boxing
Efficient Blocks
Advanced Crescent Kicks
"Whip Kicks" (point-sparring variants)
Swing Kicks (footwork on recoil)
Flick Kicks (multiple kicks without putting foot down)
Double Back Kick
Jump Spin Hook Kick
Kick Defense: Leg Locks
Ground Sweeps
Arm Ties
Body Grab Defense
Escrima Defense

Awareness/Avoidance/De-Escalation
Kick Defense: Ankle Locks
Rolling Toss
Armbar Take-Downs
Seated Armbars
Scenario Sparring (self-defense sparring situations)
3-on-1 Sparring
WT Clinch Basics
Advanced Theory: Setups, Beating Blocks, Advanced Range Management
Basic Escrima
Advanced Nunchaku

This chart doesn't cover the Black Belt curriculum, but the idea is the same. The general concept for self-defense is that techniques that are more difficult or more dangerous go later in the curriculum. I also tried to keep a theme for each belt color, so quite often striped belts will do very similar techniques to solid, but with the addition of a finishing move.

Forms - Compared with some schools that like to have a lot of forms, I want to focus on what students are likely to need to know when interacting with other schools, whether it's going to another KKW school, or going to a WT tournament. The only forms colored belts will do are Taegeuk forms. This will simplify the memorization requirements, and make it less confusing than learning two different styles of forms. Solid white belts will not have a form requirement. They will practice Taegeuk 1 with the striped white belts for familiarity. Striped white through solid red will do Taegeuk 1-8. Striped Red will be a review belt, to polish all of the Taegeuks before black belt.

I realize that Taegeuk 1 is a bit complex for the first form. But I also know that some other schools only do the Taegeuks with no Kibon form. I think it will be easier on the solid white belts to NOT have a form than to have a Kibon form (since they already have so much thrown at them), and it will be easier for striped white belts to learn a form they've already spent a few months dabbling with, than to transition from a Kibon form to a new form.

Black Belts will do the Yudanja form (Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek) for their level. I may create some of my own forms using the styles I grew up with. I feel black belts have plenty of time to learn additional forms, and plenty of experience in the Taegeuks to not be too confused by a new style. Thus far, I have made 0 progress on creating these. It's on my to-do list.

Leadership - One of my goals is to create future leaders. Starting with green belts, they will learn how to hold a different target in each belt color. Starting with blue belts, there will be leadership skills built.
  • Green - Kick Shields
  • Blue - Elbow Pads, Lead Stretching
  • Red - Paper Targets, Assistant Instructor (hold targets, help keep kids on-task, setup and breakdown for drills)
  • 1st Dan - Paddle Targets, small groups w/ supervision
  • 2nd Dan - Class w/ supervision, small group solo
  • 3rd Dan - Class solo
Specific levels of responsibility may change depending on availability. For example, early on in my school's lifespan, mid-level colored belts may have more responsibility than I have written out. When the school is mature, I plan to follow this more closely.

Testing - There are two major phases to the test. The first is done in class. It's the "are you ready to test" test. The second is a formal test, which is held in front of a panel of judges. The informal test covers the entire curriculum, including self-defense, weapon skills, and a lot of the concepts and footwork that aren't going to be on the formal test. A student may be capable of passing the formal test, but if they are still working on some of the other material, they will wait to test until they are completely ready. I don't want students to be promoted if they aren't ready for the next level.

The formal test is a 14-step affair:
  1. Judge introduction and opening remarks
  2. Stretching
  3. Punches
  4. Kicks
  5. Blocks
  6. Breakfalls
  7. Combinations (rapid-fire round)
  8. Forms
  9. Line Drills
  10. Self-Defense
  11. Sparring
  12. Breaking
  13. Black Belt essays
  14. Closing remarks
Punches, kicks, blocks, breakfalls, and forms will be done in formation. Emphasis will be placed on individual techniques, not on combinations or footwork. White belts will only do single punches or kicks, where higher belts may do up to 3-4 punches in a combination, or 2 kicks in a combination. After white belt techniques are done, they will take a short break while yellow and up continue, and so on.

Combinations are a rapid-fire round of combining block + punch, kick + punch, or punch + kick. These will be called out rapid-fire, and students will be expected to do the correct technique right away. This is more a test of vocabulary and focus, as well as how to combine techniques together, than a test of the individual techniques.

Line Drills are drills moving across the mat. These will include freestyle combinations (show the student's confidence and expression), as well as jump kicks for yellow and up.

Self-defense - starting with blue, I will have students create their own one-steps to perform. Starting with black belt, students will also be tested on situational self-defense (i.e. their partner will be given an instruction on a grab or attack, and they will have to defend). This will take longer than rote memorized defenses if there are a large number of high-level students, but I also only plan to have them do 2, 3, or 5 (at blue, red, and black) instead of potentially 50-100 one-steps like you have in some curriculums, so it will balance out.

Sparring - sparring will be done at the level of the student. Non-contact for white belt, contact warmups for yellow and up, scored round for green and up, and 2-on-1, 3-on-1, etc. for blue and up. Scored round will be a motivation to do well, you're not graded on whether you win or lose.

Breaking - each belt has a specific break, as well as possibly some "review breaks" that come from previous belts. I haven't decided 100% if I want to do review breaks, as review breaks means more time and lumber. Breaks are chosen similar to self-defense - to be an increase in technical difficulty, based on my experience with various breaks. With the exception of white belt, I plan to not do "new" techniques for breaking. For example, yellow belts just learned back kick, so they won't break with back kick.

Black Belt essays - At my current school, black belts read their essays at the end of their testing. This takes a considerable amount of time. I'm 50/50 on whether I want to require essays. If I do, it will take less time, because black belt testings will be held more frequently, so there will be less students reading essays at each test.

This is the third or fourth version of my test, which has changed wildly. My original plan was to try to cover every technique and concept, but that just got confusing. Then I was just going to do forms, breaks, and sparring, but I wanted to emphasize the foundations of the techniques. I think I've struck a happy medium, where my test subjects are challenged, but not overwhelmed.

Conclusion - Thanks to anyone who made it this far. Some of my ideas and sanity checks came from this site.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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I've been working on my own personal curriculum for several years now. I'm currently in major revision #4, minor revision #3 of the design, and I think I've got it mostly where I want it. I've gotten advice from a fellow classmate of mine (3rd Dan in my organization, 4th Dan in another, and with 20+ years of martial arts training in different arts during his military service), from my parents (2nd and 3rd Dans from my school), and from a friend who has no experience at all (which is the demographic that most of my students will fall into). I'm not going to go into all of the specifics here. What I will do is cover a high-level view, and maybe a medium-level view of my curriculum.

Belt System - While there is no standard in KKW for belts, it seems that the closest we have to a standard is what you see in KKW promotional material and in a lot of local tournaments. This is a ten keub system of White, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Red (before Black). Each color comes with two belts: a solid and a stripe.

Each belt color has a shared curriculum that includes punches, kicks, blocks, sparring, and a few miscellaneous items. Each individual belt has unique forms and self-defense concepts. In this way, a "white belt class" can work together as a whole class for 75% of the time, and in smaller groups for the other 25%. Black Belts will mostly follow suit, with 2nd and 3rd Dan being treated somewhat the same as stripes on a colored belt. There are new forms and self-defense ideas, but most of the basic techniques will be done by all black belts.

Colored belt requirement is 3 months time-in-grade before the next test. Tests will be held every month (either replacing a single class day, or in addition to classes, I'll figure that out when I get the schedule up and running). Tests would be the 3rd week of the month, as this will avoid the major holidays of Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the 4th of July. This brings us to a minimum of 2.5 years to get your black belt, which I feel is enough time that it's not a McDojo, but also not so long that I'm sandbagging my students.

Techniques - The main concept of my design is that I am not doing rote memorized combinations. The only rote material in my curriculum is the forms. What I'm presenting here is an abridged version. Especially the self-defense, I'll be covering the themes, not the entire strategy at each belt
Belt ColorHand TechniquesKicksSolid Self-DefenseStriped Self-DefenseSparringWeapons
WhiteHorse Stance Punches
Basic Punches
Basic Blocks
Basic Hand Strikes
(Hammerfist, Chop, Palm)
Front Kick
Roundhouse Kick
Side Kick
Stretch Kick
Basic Strike Defense
Wrist Escapes
Basic Sweep
Basic Strike Defense part 2
Hip/Shoulder Throw
"Setting Anchors" for throws
Throw footwork
Non-Contact sparringN/A
YellowElbow Strikes
Spinning Strikes
Intermediate Blocks
Outside Axe Kick
Back Kick
Basic Jump Kicks
Basic Footwork
(Steps, Slides, Switches)
Punch Defense - Block & Catch
Arm Locks
Punch Defense - Take-Downs
Finishing Strike
Get Sparring Gear
Intro to Contact Sparring
N/A
GreenAdvanced Hand Strikes
Two-Hand Elbow Strikes
X-Blocks
Combination Theory
Hook Kick
Turning Roundhouse Kick
Basic Kick Variants
Intermediate Footwork
Jump Back Kick
Double Front/Round Kick
Intermediate Footwork
(Laterals, Kick while moving, finding rhythm)
Kick Defense: Sweeps
Grab Defense: Intermediate Sweeps
Wrist Locks
"Tap Out"
Kick Defense Finishing Strikes
Intermediate Throws
Hand Locks
Standing Armbars
Point-Break Sparring
Scoring Rules
Punching in WT
Basic Theory: Height & Reach
Basic Nunchaku
BlueBoxing Style Punches
Two-Hand Blocks
Crescent Kick
Spin Hook Kick
Tornado Kick
Check Side Kick
When to Lean In/Back
Strength vs. Speed
Advanced Footwork
360 Back Kick
Consecutive Kicks (Triple+)
Flowing Punch Defense
Grab Defense: Apply to new grab positions (arm, shoulder, lapel, grabbed from behind)
Goosenecks
Punch Defense: Evasion
Grab Defense: Rear Double Grabs
Advanced Details for Yellow/Green Techniques
2-on-1 Sparring
Age 14+: Headshots
Intermediate Theory: Stances, Feints, ?-Chamber, Push Kicks/Defense
Basic Bo Staff
RedAdvanced Boxing
Efficient Blocks
Advanced Crescent Kicks
"Whip Kicks" (point-sparring variants)
Swing Kicks (footwork on recoil)
Flick Kicks (multiple kicks without putting foot down)
Double Back Kick
Jump Spin Hook Kick
Kick Defense: Leg Locks
Ground Sweeps
Arm Ties
Body Grab Defense
Escrima Defense

Awareness/Avoidance/De-Escalation
Kick Defense: Ankle Locks
Rolling Toss
Armbar Take-Downs
Seated Armbars
Scenario Sparring (self-defense sparring situations)
3-on-1 Sparring
WT Clinch Basics
Advanced Theory: Setups, Beating Blocks, Advanced Range Management
Basic Escrima
Advanced Nunchaku

This chart doesn't cover the Black Belt curriculum, but the idea is the same. The general concept for self-defense is that techniques that are more difficult or more dangerous go later in the curriculum. I also tried to keep a theme for each belt color, so quite often striped belts will do very similar techniques to solid, but with the addition of a finishing move.

Forms - Compared with some schools that like to have a lot of forms, I want to focus on what students are likely to need to know when interacting with other schools, whether it's going to another KKW school, or going to a WT tournament. The only forms colored belts will do are Taegeuk forms. This will simplify the memorization requirements, and make it less confusing than learning two different styles of forms. Solid white belts will not have a form requirement. They will practice Taegeuk 1 with the striped white belts for familiarity. Striped white through solid red will do Taegeuk 1-8. Striped Red will be a review belt, to polish all of the Taegeuks before black belt.

I realize that Taegeuk 1 is a bit complex for the first form. But I also know that some other schools only do the Taegeuks with no Kibon form. I think it will be easier on the solid white belts to NOT have a form than to have a Kibon form (since they already have so much thrown at them), and it will be easier for striped white belts to learn a form they've already spent a few months dabbling with, than to transition from a Kibon form to a new form.

Black Belts will do the Yudanja form (Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek) for their level. I may create some of my own forms using the styles I grew up with. I feel black belts have plenty of time to learn additional forms, and plenty of experience in the Taegeuks to not be too confused by a new style. Thus far, I have made 0 progress on creating these. It's on my to-do list.

Leadership - One of my goals is to create future leaders. Starting with green belts, they will learn how to hold a different target in each belt color. Starting with blue belts, there will be leadership skills built.
  • Green - Kick Shields
  • Blue - Elbow Pads, Lead Stretching
  • Red - Paper Targets, Assistant Instructor (hold targets, help keep kids on-task, setup and breakdown for drills)
  • 1st Dan - Paddle Targets, small groups w/ supervision
  • 2nd Dan - Class w/ supervision, small group solo
  • 3rd Dan - Class solo
Specific levels of responsibility may change depending on availability. For example, early on in my school's lifespan, mid-level colored belts may have more responsibility than I have written out. When the school is mature, I plan to follow this more closely.

Testing - There are two major phases to the test. The first is done in class. It's the "are you ready to test" test. The second is a formal test, which is held in front of a panel of judges. The informal test covers the entire curriculum, including self-defense, weapon skills, and a lot of the concepts and footwork that aren't going to be on the formal test. A student may be capable of passing the formal test, but if they are still working on some of the other material, they will wait to test until they are completely ready. I don't want students to be promoted if they aren't ready for the next level.

The formal test is a 14-step affair:
  1. Judge introduction and opening remarks
  2. Stretching
  3. Punches
  4. Kicks
  5. Blocks
  6. Breakfalls
  7. Combinations (rapid-fire round)
  8. Forms
  9. Line Drills
  10. Self-Defense
  11. Sparring
  12. Breaking
  13. Black Belt essays
  14. Closing remarks
Punches, kicks, blocks, breakfalls, and forms will be done in formation. Emphasis will be placed on individual techniques, not on combinations or footwork. White belts will only do single punches or kicks, where higher belts may do up to 3-4 punches in a combination, or 2 kicks in a combination. After white belt techniques are done, they will take a short break while yellow and up continue, and so on.

Combinations are a rapid-fire round of combining block + punch, kick + punch, or punch + kick. These will be called out rapid-fire, and students will be expected to do the correct technique right away. This is more a test of vocabulary and focus, as well as how to combine techniques together, than a test of the individual techniques.

Line Drills are drills moving across the mat. These will include freestyle combinations (show the student's confidence and expression), as well as jump kicks for yellow and up.

Self-defense - starting with blue, I will have students create their own one-steps to perform. Starting with black belt, students will also be tested on situational self-defense (i.e. their partner will be given an instruction on a grab or attack, and they will have to defend). This will take longer than rote memorized defenses if there are a large number of high-level students, but I also only plan to have them do 2, 3, or 5 (at blue, red, and black) instead of potentially 50-100 one-steps like you have in some curriculums, so it will balance out.

Sparring - sparring will be done at the level of the student. Non-contact for white belt, contact warmups for yellow and up, scored round for green and up, and 2-on-1, 3-on-1, etc. for blue and up. Scored round will be a motivation to do well, you're not graded on whether you win or lose.

Breaking - each belt has a specific break, as well as possibly some "review breaks" that come from previous belts. I haven't decided 100% if I want to do review breaks, as review breaks means more time and lumber. Breaks are chosen similar to self-defense - to be an increase in technical difficulty, based on my experience with various breaks. With the exception of white belt, I plan to not do "new" techniques for breaking. For example, yellow belts just learned back kick, so they won't break with back kick.

Black Belt essays - At my current school, black belts read their essays at the end of their testing. This takes a considerable amount of time. I'm 50/50 on whether I want to require essays. If I do, it will take less time, because black belt testings will be held more frequently, so there will be less students reading essays at each test.

This is the third or fourth version of my test, which has changed wildly. My original plan was to try to cover every technique and concept, but that just got confusing. Then I was just going to do forms, breaks, and sparring, but I wanted to emphasize the foundations of the techniques. I think I've struck a happy medium, where my test subjects are challenged, but not overwhelmed.

Conclusion - Thanks to anyone who made it this far. Some of my ideas and sanity checks came from this site.
Wow, thats very well thought out and organized. I dont practice tkd so I dont know a lick about your style requirements but I do like the presentation.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Can't say to much about specifically TKD, but there are two points that I dislike. Everything else sounds good to me.
1. In the 'leadership' section they start learning to hold pads at greenbelt, which is 1 (technically 2) belts after they start contact sparring. In general I'm a fan of teen/adult beginners being taught to learn how to hold pads as soon as possible, and for kids to learn it once you think they have the coordination to safely do so.

I can see holding back on that a bit, but really feel like pad-holding should start before contact. It's important to be able to understand how contact feels through a pad before sparring, for self-control purposes. Not necessarily any big injuries but it helps with unneeded bruises on beginners and the like.

2. I really am not a fan of essays. I know some people like them, and they do help with introspection aspects of it. But some people, whether it's from a language standpoint, or simply not having strong writing skills, are not good with them. And, IMO, strong language/writing skills aren't needed for martial arts. It particularly sucks for some that know they're bad at that, who then have to read/have read their essays in front of the class; they get enough of that in school. And even in school they'd just have to do presentations in the class, and teachers grading them separately, not having their writing skills on display for everyone.

My preference, when I've seen something like that included, has been to include a semi-formal discussion before formally inviting them to test for black belt, where you ask the same type of things that the essay would be encouraging them to introspect on. Admittedly, that does take up more time on your end/the other's instructors, so depending on how big the school is, and how many instructors there are it might not be feasible. In which case, my preference is to leave it out entirely.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Can't say to much about specifically TKD, but there are two points that I dislike. Everything else sounds good to me.
1. In the 'leadership' section they start learning to hold pads at greenbelt, which is 1 (technically 2) belts after they start contact sparring. In general I'm a fan of teen/adult beginners being taught to learn how to hold pads as soon as possible, and for kids to learn it once you think they have the coordination to safely do so.

I can see holding back on that a bit, but really feel like pad-holding should start before contact. It's important to be able to understand how contact feels through a pad before sparring, for self-control purposes. Not necessarily any big injuries but it helps with unneeded bruises on beginners and the like.

2. I really am not a fan of essays. I know some people like them, and they do help with introspection aspects of it. But some people, whether it's from a language standpoint, or simply not having strong writing skills, are not good with them. And, IMO, strong language/writing skills aren't needed for martial arts. It particularly sucks for some that know they're bad at that, who then have to read/have read their essays in front of the class; they get enough of that in school. And even in school they'd just have to do presentations in the class, and teachers grading them separately, not having their writing skills on display for everyone.

My preference, when I've seen something like that included, has been to include a semi-formal discussion before formally inviting them to test for black belt, where you ask the same type of things that the essay would be encouraging them to introspect on. Admittedly, that does take up more time on your end/the other's instructors, so depending on how big the school is, and how many instructors there are it might not be feasible. In which case, my preference is to leave it out entirely.
As I pressed reply, I remembered something the school I went to as a kid did. It was called "sensei's corner", where the first 15 minutes of class every once in a while (it felt like once a week, but I was a kid so might have been once a month), we went over the rules of the style, what things like self-discipline, self-control and respect mean, different contexts of them, and other parts of the "do" philosophy of martial arts. As someone who went through that, and definitely did not start out as a good student, I can say that helped me a lot more as a student, and helped me with my anger/control issues as well a lot more, than an essay ever would have.

In terms of curriculum, it would be something that takes place at each stage, though the content would change as you progress through the kyu's. So white belts/yellow belts would just be learning the general ideas, green and blue/red learning context, discussion, and methods to introspect or improve oneself in those subjects, and by red with stripe (or maybe start at 1st dan) having in depth discussions/debates and the ability to lead the white/yellow belt discussions on the subject.
 
OP
skribs

skribs

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Can't say to much about specifically TKD, but there are two points that I dislike. Everything else sounds good to me.
1. In the 'leadership' section they start learning to hold pads at greenbelt, which is 1 (technically 2) belts after they start contact sparring. In general I'm a fan of teen/adult beginners being taught to learn how to hold pads as soon as possible, and for kids to learn it once you think they have the coordination to safely do so.

I can see holding back on that a bit, but really feel like pad-holding should start before contact. It's important to be able to understand how contact feels through a pad before sparring, for self-control purposes. Not necessarily any big injuries but it helps with unneeded bruises on beginners and the like.

2. I really am not a fan of essays. I know some people like them, and they do help with introspection aspects of it. But some people, whether it's from a language standpoint, or simply not having strong writing skills, are not good with them. And, IMO, strong language/writing skills aren't needed for martial arts. It particularly sucks for some that know they're bad at that, who then have to read/have read their essays in front of the class; they get enough of that in school. And even in school they'd just have to do presentations in the class, and teachers grading them separately, not having their writing skills on display for everyone.

My preference, when I've seen something like that included, has been to include a semi-formal discussion before formally inviting them to test for black belt, where you ask the same type of things that the essay would be encouraging them to introspect on. Admittedly, that does take up more time on your end/the other's instructors, so depending on how big the school is, and how many instructors there are it might not be feasible. In which case, my preference is to leave it out entirely.
1. Contact sparring in TKD is with enough pads to look like you're on the bomb squad. (Not quite, but close). You have pads anywhere you will get hit, and pads on anything that will be doing the hitting. Pad-holding is something a lot of people find confusing at first, so I want to wait until they're further in.

2. I agree. It's something that is most likely at least 2.5 years after I open my school, so it's something I can think about before then. For now, I have it on my list, but it's one I could easily take off. With that said, everyone (kids, ESL, etc) have done good essays at my current school.
 
OP
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skribs

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As I pressed reply, I remembered something the school I went to as a kid did. It was called "sensei's corner", where the first 15 minutes of class every once in a while (it felt like once a week, but I was a kid so might have been once a month), we went over the rules of the style, what things like self-discipline, self-control and respect mean, different contexts of them, and other parts of the "do" philosophy of martial arts. As someone who went through that, and definitely did not start out as a good student, I can say that helped me a lot more as a student, and helped me with my anger/control issues as well a lot more, than an essay ever would have.

In terms of curriculum, it would be something that takes place at each stage, though the content would change as you progress through the kyu's. So white belts/yellow belts would just be learning the general ideas, green and blue/red learning context, discussion, and methods to introspect or improve oneself in those subjects, and by red with stripe (or maybe start at 1st dan) having in depth discussions/debates and the ability to lead the white/yellow belt discussions on the subject.
This is in the full version, just not the abridged version I mentioned. Not exactly the same way as you put it, but the general idea of taking some time to go over it.

In my school, I believe my Master goes over this with prospective students, and then does so in class when it's needed.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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1. Contact sparring in TKD is with enough pads to look like you're on the bomb squad. (Not quite, but close). You have pads anywhere you will get hit, and pads on anything that will be doing the hitting. Pad-holding is something a lot of people find confusing at first, so I want to wait until they're further in.

2. I agree. It's something that is most likely at least 2.5 years after I open my school, so it's something I can think about before then. For now, I have it on my list, but it's one I could easily take off. With that said, everyone (kids, ESL, etc) have done good essays at my current school.
I forget how padded up TKD can get. I definitely would look into alternatives for the essay. But like you said, you've got plenty of time to do that.

Regarding you including the time to go over the philosophy/moral aspects, I'd recommend including it in the high-level overview, and have it formalized how it works (if it's not already, in the long one). For two reasons. The first is that (IMO) if you're doing an art with "Do" in the name, that should be something prevalent to people looking at it. The second is that if you ever have an occasion to share this, or a mroe basic overview, with prospective students parents, a lot of the parents I've talked to sign up their kids in part because they want them to learn that stuff, so having it hardcoded in there could be a good selling point.

Outside of that though, looks like you've got a good curriculum set up there!
 
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I forget how padded up TKD can get. I definitely would look into alternatives for the essay. But like you said, you've got plenty of time to do that.

Regarding you including the time to go over the philosophy/moral aspects, I'd recommend including it in the high-level overview, and have it formalized how it works (if it's not already, in the long one). For two reasons. The first is that (IMO) if you're doing an art with "Do" in the name, that should be something prevalent to people looking at it. The second is that if you ever have an occasion to share this, or a mroe basic overview, with prospective students parents, a lot of the parents I've talked to sign up their kids in part because they want them to learn that stuff, so having it hardcoded in there could be a good selling point.

Outside of that though, looks like you've got a good curriculum set up there!
Let me rephrase - the high-level overview I provided on this site is the abridged version. I left out a little bit to save space on here.
 

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Can't say to much about specifically TKD, but there are two points that I dislike. Everything else sounds good to me.
1. In the 'leadership' section they start learning to hold pads at greenbelt, which is 1 (technically 2) belts after they start contact sparring. In general I'm a fan of teen/adult beginners being taught to learn how to hold pads as soon as possible, and for kids to learn it once you think they have the coordination to safely do so.

I can see holding back on that a bit, but really feel like pad-holding should start before contact. It's important to be able to understand how contact feels through a pad before sparring, for self-control purposes. Not necessarily any big injuries but it helps with unneeded bruises on beginners and the like.

2. I really am not a fan of essays. I know some people like them, and they do help with introspection aspects of it. But some people, whether it's from a language standpoint, or simply not having strong writing skills, are not good with them. And, IMO, strong language/writing skills aren't needed for martial arts. It particularly sucks for some that know they're bad at that, who then have to read/have read their essays in front of the class; they get enough of that in school. And even in school they'd just have to do presentations in the class, and teachers grading them separately, not having their writing skills on display for everyone.

My preference, when I've seen something like that included, has been to include a semi-formal discussion before formally inviting them to test for black belt, where you ask the same type of things that the essay would be encouraging them to introspect on. Admittedly, that does take up more time on your end/the other's instructors, so depending on how big the school is, and how many instructors there are it might not be feasible. In which case, my preference is to leave it out entirely.
I'm in agreement; pad holding should start early on. It teaches how to absorb impact, and helps condition the body.

And I really don't get the whoe essay thing for martial arts... what are you trying to do with that?
 

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I'm in agreement; pad holding should start early on. It teaches how to absorb impact, and helps condition the body.

And I really don't get the whoe essay thing for martial arts... what are you trying to do with that?
The essay part sounds a little intimidating since I dont write well. I wonder what topics and what is a passing grade?
 

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1. Contact sparring in TKD is with enough pads to look like you're on the bomb squad.
No. This may be true of your branch (I assume it is) but certainly not all. There are still those who believe that hogu are for kumdo.
 
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One thing I like to do is sanity checks on the TKD subreddit (r/Taekwondo). It seemed as if my school was the only school with intermediate tests between dan ranks, so I posted over there to see. 25% of respondants said they do intermediate dan ranks. I'm still not going to include them in mine, but it was interesting to see. Similarly, I've done polls for the number of forms pre-black belt, and it seems 9-12 was the most common group (other options being <8, 8, 9-12, 13-20, and 21+).

After this thread, I decided to go and ask about essays. It's a very fresh poll, so we'll see what happens, but so far almost 75% replied that they do have essays on their black belt tests.

Now, this doesn't immediately make me say, "My essays are staying." I'm still on the fence, leaning more towards taking them off. But it at least makes me feel not bad about leaving them as an option to decide later.
 

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Looks great @skribs , and for what it's worth I've always loved the essay idea. I think it addresses other important aspects of your martial art, and actually gets you to reflect and think upon your art, outside of the physicality. That being said, like it was highlighted, not everyone is able to communicate well, so other means apart from writing may be needed.

Great that it's all coming together, clearly have put alot of work into. Has been great you sharing your journey to this throughout the years, and have enjoyed seeing it come to this point :)
 

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One thing I like to do is sanity checks on the TKD subreddit (r/Taekwondo). It seemed as if my school was the only school with intermediate tests between dan ranks, so I posted over there to see. 25% of respondants said they do intermediate dan ranks. I'm still not going to include them in mine, but it was interesting to see. Similarly, I've done polls for the number of forms pre-black belt, and it seems 9-12 was the most common group (other options being <8, 8, 9-12, 13-20, and 21+).

After this thread, I decided to go and ask about essays. It's a very fresh poll, so we'll see what happens, but so far almost 75% replied that they do have essays on their black belt tests.

Now, this doesn't immediately make me say, "My essays are staying." I'm still on the fence, leaning more towards taking them off. But it at least makes me feel not bad about leaving them as an option to decide later.
I was surprised at the number of schools doing intermediate tests between Dan ranks. It seemed like some had no understanding of what Gup means. And clearly some were just stop gaps as money makers.
Just not the way it was ever intended or is supposed to be done IMHO. Dan ranks have moved beyond the need for incremental recognition.
And that come from a guy who often reminds people of the fallacy in subscribing to "that's how we always did it".
 
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One thing I like to do is sanity checks on the TKD subreddit (r/Taekwondo). It seemed as if my school was the only school with intermediate tests between dan ranks, so I posted over there to see. 25% of respondants said they do intermediate dan ranks. I'm still not going to include them in mine, but it was interesting to see. Similarly, I've done polls for the number of forms pre-black belt, and it seems 9-12 was the most common group (other options being <8, 8, 9-12, 13-20, and 21+).

After this thread, I decided to go and ask about essays. It's a very fresh poll, so we'll see what happens, but so far almost 75% replied that they do have essays on their black belt tests.

Now, this doesn't immediately make me say, "My essays are staying." I'm still on the fence, leaning more towards taking them off. But it at least makes me feel not bad about leaving them as an option to decide later.
Now it's sitting closer to 50%, with a slight majority towards "no essay".
 

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After this thread, I decided to go and ask about essays. It's a very fresh poll, so we'll see what happens, but so far almost 75% replied that they do have essays on their black belt tests.
.
You might need to define "essay"... we have a written portion for every promotion, including essay questions. The lower rank students will be writing a short paragraph. Dan ranks will be writing more. But for the most part, these don't have a right or wrong answer. They're not graded in the school sense.
 

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You might need to define "essay"... we have a written portion for every promotion, including essay questions. The lower rank students will be writing a short paragraph. Dan ranks will be writing more. But for the most part, these don't have a right or wrong answer. They're not graded in the school sense.
None of my business, but what type of essay questions are posed? Im just curious.
 

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None of my business, but what type of essay questions are posed? Im just curious.
It's not exactly Top Secret. My books include pretty much our entire curriculum.
Things like "How have you benefited from TKD training" or "How has TKD affected your daily life" or "What are your TKD goals" or "Give examples of someone following the Tenets of TKD" and so on.
They're about perception, about seeing what real impact we're having.
 

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It's not exactly Top Secret. My books include pretty much our entire curriculum.
Things like "How have you benefited from TKD training" or "How has TKD affected your daily life" or "What are your TKD goals" or "Give examples of someone following the Tenets of TKD" and so on.
They're about perception, about seeing what real impact we're having.
I just dont know much about tkd but Im curious as i am about any MA. So more about how your training is affecting the whole person? I mean, that makes sense to me on multiple levels. A gauge if you will. How many students do you have? How many in say, the average adult class at one time?
 
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