Transferring from one club to another

Ivan

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I have been doing Taekwondo for 2-3 years now. I am currently a blue belt and now that I am going off to university soon I have been looking at new clubs to join. I got into contact with someone from the UKTC branch in Glasgow, and asked all the questions I could think of.

Both the clubs are of the same federation, ITF, however from what I have gathered, it seems the Glasgow club is considerably more hard-core and serious. This is perfect for me as I have always known my club was lack-lustre and been embarrassed about it, but it was the only choice I had at the time. I am posting this to ask for some advice on the transition.

To give some background, my club never trains in Korean. It is always in English, and the only thing we are asked to know in Korean is the numbers 1-10. Gradings take place every two months, and you are evaluated on sparring and forms, as well as sometimes some drills. However, your sparring isn't evaluated by points, or the dominance you show in the fight, but by the variety of techniques you employ. The forms are evaluated by the whether you have remembered the sequence of moves correctly, regardless of how good your technique is.

If I had wanted to, I could have gone up to black belt by now, but I purposely held myself back from multiple gradings to perfect the forms and techniques I had learnt as best as I could. We only trained for 4 hours weekly, two sessions of two hours each week. In contrasts, I was in contact with someone my age, who had been training for over 13 years, and worked for 9 years to achieve their black belt. They have almost 5 sessions weekly, each 2 hours. Needless to say, I don't want to be the one new guy who joins the club with the belt he earned from another club, and have everyone around me wondering how I got my current belt.

  • For starters, I wish to know what is some Korean I should definitely know by this stage so I could study it before I move to my university?
  • What tips can you provide to concentrate on the perfections of my forms? I am attempting to practice each form I have learnt so far (5 forms), 100 times each before I move. I am basically asking how you would differentiate a good kata/poomsae practitioner from a bad one.
  • Should I keep or renounce my belt?
  • Anything else I should know? What tips do you have from moving to a new club?
 

Flying Crane

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Go to the club, talk with the instructor and do what he recommends. Acknowledge what you feel are shortcomings in your training. I think the new instructor will respect that.

I don’t know where blue belt is in your sequence. But I think the issues that raise eyebrows most are when people are wearing brown or black belt and show poor technique and poor ability. Colored belts often get more leeway.

If you want to begin building your ability to survive a more intense workout, do your own training between classes.

Just embrace the opportunity to raise your training to a new level. Don’t overthink this. You will be fine.
 

skribs

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Keep in mind, I'm a KKW/WT guy, not an ITF guy. I imagine a lot of my experience will be true for your style, however. Someone with more experience in ITF might be able to point out where my experience does not line up with theirs.

What Korean should you know?
This is up to the school itself. Some schools may not even count in Korean. Others may do virtually everything in Korean. For example, in this video series, it is titled "English speaking." Yet 75% of the instructions are in Korean. That may be "English speaking" by their definition, but it certainly isn't by mine. (The best part is that some of the comments appear to be in Spanish).

Tips for improving the forms.
Without knowing how you do forms, I can't provide specific advice. What I can say is you should focus on the proper stance, chamber, timing, and end position of the technique. Your technique should not have any extra movement. You should never rush a form to the point that it gets sloppy - technique over speed 100% of the time in your forms. You definitely don't want your forms to look like this! Think of each movement in the form like a picture in a comic book. Your chamber should replicate the chamber your instructor has, and then you should snap into the position of the technique. A lot of the bad habits I see, which you may want to avoid:
  • Undefined or sloppy stances
  • Not controlling both hands
  • Loose fists or loose knife-hands
  • Step into the stance and then "bounce" into a poor stance. Some students get their good stance and then straighten their legs. Some get their good stance and then their back leg slides up into a walking stance.
  • Do the technique, and then sink into the stance (opposite of the last issue)
  • No chamber, or short chamber (TKD forms should have a big motion)
  • Overswing (i.e. you punch and your punch curves or wobbles at the end)
  • Extra movement between techniques. For example, instead of going straight from one technique to the next chamber, you drop your hands and then bring them into the chamber.
  • Slow techniques instead of using snap power
  • Stuttering through a technique, for example starting slow and then snapping, or stopping multiple times on the way to the final technique
  • Lack of aim - you should know where all strikes and blocks are supposed to be.
  • Quiet kiyhap
  • Inconsistency. You may start strong and rush the end, or you may have different lengths for your stances at different points in the form
  • Lack of eye contact with your target
Your belt. That's going to be up to the new Master. Since you're a hot transfer (i.e. you're going straight from one school to another, instead of a cold transfer like me where I had a 14-year break in between), I recommend telling him that you are a blue belt at your old school. He may do any of the following:
  • Bring you in at blue belt, or the school's equivalent
  • Test you in to find a class suitable for your skill level
  • Bring you in at white belt
Tips to know:
  • Don't go in with any prejudices on techniques. There are often multiple ways of doing a technique, and in general they are not more or less correct than each other. There may be subtle differences in your new school. Don't argue with the new instructors about techniques that are different than you learned before. Also don't judge your old school - it may not be that they are wrong, just that they do things a different way.
  • Be humble
  • Don't worry too much about not knowing school-specific things. For example, my school has tons and tons of rote memorized content in the curriculum, which is not found in other schools. We expect that if a higher belt transfers in, they are capable of following along with us, but we know it takes time to memorize everything. There may be drills or combinations, or even forms that you need to learn. Don't be frustrated. Develop a plan to learn them, and execute that plan.
 

dvcochran

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I have been doing Taekwondo for 2-3 years now. I am currently a blue belt and now that I am going off to university soon I have been looking at new clubs to join. I got into contact with someone from the UKTC branch in Glasgow, and asked all the questions I could think of.

Both the clubs are of the same federation, ITF, however from what I have gathered, it seems the Glasgow club is considerably more hard-core and serious. This is perfect for me as I have always known my club was lack-lustre and been embarrassed about it, but it was the only choice I had at the time. I am posting this to ask for some advice on the transition.

To give some background, my club never trains in Korean. It is always in English, and the only thing we are asked to know in Korean is the numbers 1-10. Gradings take place every two months, and you are evaluated on sparring and forms, as well as sometimes some drills. However, your sparring isn't evaluated by points, or the dominance you show in the fight, but by the variety of techniques you employ. The forms are evaluated by the whether you have remembered the sequence of moves correctly, regardless of how good your technique is.

If I had wanted to, I could have gone up to black belt by now, but I purposely held myself back from multiple gradings to perfect the forms and techniques I had learnt as best as I could. We only trained for 4 hours weekly, two sessions of two hours each week. In contrasts, I was in contact with someone my age, who had been training for over 13 years, and worked for 9 years to achieve their black belt. They have almost 5 sessions weekly, each 2 hours. Needless to say, I don't want to be the one new guy who joins the club with the belt he earned from another club, and have everyone around me wondering how I got my current belt.

  • For starters, I wish to know what is some Korean I should definitely know by this stage so I could study it before I move to my university?
  • What tips can you provide to concentrate on the perfections of my forms? I am attempting to practice each form I have learnt so far (5 forms), 100 times each before I move. I am basically asking how you would differentiate a good kata/poomsae practitioner from a bad one.
  • Should I keep or renounce my belt?
  • Anything else I should know? What tips do you have from moving to a new club?
You quickest and most direct way to learn what you need for a specific school is the find out if they give you a handbook when you sign up (this may be virtual). You can go to just about any Korean related MA site and find the terms in Korean. The most important are the anatomical, technical and technique terms. Such hand/foot, left/right, and kick/punch, etc...

Forms are relative to you rank. Do Not try to get ahead, especially if you are changing styles. ITF forms are their own animal and may by quite different from what you are used to. Frankly, I would not get too hung up if they wanted you to start back at white belt given the investment in rank you have right now. Better to be a really good white belt than a mediocre blue belt.
You are not renouncing anything and that is a mental hang up way to look at it that may hold you back. Do the work and don't worry about the rank. It is much better to fit in and work with the situation(s) you have instead of simmering over 'losing' your rank. It is very possibly better/easier for school/instructor for you to go back to white, especially if that is the curriculum level you will be starting with.
You sound like a perfectionist; not a bad thing. You are young enough that I will say Enjoy the ride and grasp all you can. Even if that means a belt color change. Either way, do not be in a rush to get back to a color.
Let us know how it goes.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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@Ivan Quick disclaimer: I haven't trained any KMA. However, training JMA with some schools that focus on names and some that don't, my advice is below. I'm also going to answer this in parts.

First: regarding the names, and what you should know in the language. It doesn't matter as much as you'd think. If you tell them your club taught everything in english, most people won't give you any hassle. They'll say the names in the native language (for me japanese, for you korean), and you'll be expected to learn it-but if they say for instance do a seoi nage, and you don't know what that means but when they show you a shoulder throw you know it, that's perfectly fine. No ones going to complain in 95% of places.

Now as for sparring and forms, you may be in for a surprise. Just accept that, and know there's not much you can do about that before joining. But your boxing experience may help you adapt. If you do get surprised and creamed-AWESOME! I love going somewhere new and getting creamed. It happens every time I go to a grappling place, and lets me know they're legit-if I'm the best person there (striking or grappling) I'm not going to gain nearly as much from training there as I would if I was the worst person there.

Now regarding the belt-I was similar to you. I was at a 'junior black belt' level (basically brown belt) for about 9 years. Not quite because I didn't think I was ready for black, but because I had more than enough material to focus on and perfect, rather than moving forwards. But when I went to a new club they basically forced me to test for black because they felt I was sandbagging-I was fine with that since they let me continue working on pre-black belt stuff. But I've been in multiple schools, and in a couple of them there would be black belts from other schools who clearly deserved their bbs, and some who clearly did not. From my experience, no one would say anything either way, since whatever ranking systems another school uses isn't our business. If it's a different enough style they may tell you to wear a different rank until you 'prove yourself' (from my experience that's the people who upon first visit it's clear they wouldn't earn the rank at that gym), but no one makes any comments or judgments about the loss of rank, and even if that doesn't happen no ones going to look differently at you. They may judge the school that graded you, but they won't judge you for it.

So now to your bullet points.
1. I think i addressed this already, but I wouldn't go crazy learning korean. Ask your friend there if you want what they say in korean vs. english and start working on the basics, but honestly doing any work for school's probably more important. You'll learn the kma lingo real quick once you join.

2. I have a couple things I'd focus on. First is-do you understand each move? Do you know what it's purpose is? Do each move in a vacuum and quiz yourself to make sure you know why you're doing it. If you don't, ask your sensei, or ask here. Second-do them backwards. Take a form and do the last move. Then do the last 2 moves. Then do the last 3 moves. Continue until you finish. It forces you to think a lot more, and helps with active memorization of moves. Third thing would be to limit your space. Practice with certain areas cut off, or limit yourself to one square, and adapt your form to work within it. The last thing is to do it with your eyes closed (I need to use a blindfold because I open them out of habit). This is something I recommend for forms, and 1/2/3 step sparring, and anything else solo you want to work on. Your balance and y our concentration both matter a lot more when you take away site.
Feel free to experiment with the above ideas as you want. Those are what I find helpful, but if you don't; discard them-if you do, keep them.

3. Regarding your belt, ask when you get there. If it's in the same style, especially if you're not a black belt, they'll probably tell you to keep it. But find out who's in charge, and either in person or through text/email/message, just say basically 'hey I'm an ITF blue belt, I know pinyans 1, 2, 3 and x other stuff, and am planning to go to your club next week. Are you okay with me wearing my blue belt, or would you rather I wear a different rank/go beltless until you have the chance to evaluate me?" That message would be different depending on the school, but if it's the same style pretty much exactly that in your own diction.

4. Don't worry too much about it. Any growing pains that happen at the beginning will go away. The only thing I'd be concerned about is if you show up and you're leagues ahead of everyone else. If that happens you'll end up teaching a lot, so you should try to find somewhere else to learn. But even if everyone else is way ahead of you, that's a good thing. Good luck, and remember that this is something to enjoy, not something you're required to 'win' at.
 

granfire

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Be prepared to empty your cup:
Assume that everything you have learned so far is wrong.
This way you keep an open mind toward the new school.

The former ITA (see the link in my sig) tried hard to streamline the curriculum, to norm it and get all the schools under their banner on the same page.
Let me tell you, the quality still depends on the head instructor.
The grading sessions we held with 2 other schools were always eye opening. We had the same forms, we all looked very different from school to school. At the big tournaments, the discrepancy was even more obvious.
They had a few schools overseas, but they broke off - oh - 15 years or so. but the gradings every 2 months sounds like our organization, down to getting a BB in 2 years.

you can look up some basic Korean. but don't sweat it. They will tell you what you need to learn.
Don't practice your forms overly before you get there. You don't want to ingrain possible mistakes.
Let them tell you how to do the form, then practice (BTW, there are mirrors in gyms for a reason!)

Keep an open mind.
Bluebelt is middle school in terms of belt rank. You no longer trip over your feet, but you are still learning how to walk.
Most schools acknowledge rank from other schools, even other organizations.
But don't be that guy who 'knows it all' Which is never a good look.
 

Earl Weiss

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Both the clubs are of the same federation, ITF, however from what I have gathered,

I don't think you should make choice based on "what you have gathered" I think you should watch 2-3 classes at each and then decide. I recommend 2-13 classes because at any given class a school my be emphasizing something that doesn't reflect the entire spectrum of what they teach and what your experience will be like especially if there is more than one instructor.
 
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Ivan

Ivan

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I don't think you should make choice based on "what you have gathered" I think you should watch 2-3 classes at each and then decide. I recommend 2-13 classes because at any given class a school my be emphasizing something that doesn't reflect the entire spectrum of what they teach and what your experience will be like especially if there is more than one instructor.
It was a figure of speech, she specifically stated they're ITF. Sorry if I confused anyone.
 

Earl Weiss

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It was a figure of speech, she specifically stated they're ITF. Sorry if I confused anyone.
Sir,

I was referring more to the "More hard Core" or not. In any event, my advice still holds. See for yourself what is going on and what you want to do before committing.
 

Flying Crane

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I don't think you should make choice based on "what you have gathered" I think you should watch 2-3 classes at each and then decide. I recommend 2-13 classes because at any given class a school my be emphasizing something that doesn't reflect the entire spectrum of what they teach and what your experience will be like especially if there is more than one instructor.
13 seems like a very specific number. Any significance in that?
 

skribs

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Yes, the significance is a typo. The second prt of the sentence should have been in line with the first part "2-3."

13 classes, because if the student drops out after 13 classes, you can chalk it up to bad luck.
 

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