On Choosing a Taekwondo Instructor.
Choosing a Taekwondo instructor is just like choosing any instructor.
The two most important components of your search should revolve around
the instructor and other students. If you choose a poor instructor,
regardless of the art you pursue, you will never reach your fullest potential,
will probably waste a lot of money and perhaps even put your health and
well-being at considerable risk. Likewise, if you find an excellent
instructor with poorly disciplined or skilled students, then you should
realize that there is a serious problem somewhere in the transmission from
master to student. Your instructor might be very good at the martial
art he or she practices, but unable to teach that same technique and discipline
Choosing an instructor is a common sense endeavor. You do not
need any special training or knowledge in order to spot a winner.
You should use the same reasoning you use when you choose anything of value
-- a car dealer, a realtor, a stock broker, your poker buddies, your baby-sitter.
Here are some questions that you should be asking yourself about the
instructor. (I'll use the pronoun "he" hereafter.)
As I said before, the students are probably the best indicator of
an instructor's ability. Here are some questions you should be considering
as you observe them?
Is this person down to earth? Or does he seem like a flake?
Is he making any extraordinary claims about himself? Things that
seem just too impressive to be true?
Is he more concerned with getting me to sign a contract than he is in finding
out more about what I'm after and what my needs as a student are?
Does he shy away from questions about his credentials or their authenticity?
When asked about his previous experience and his own training, are his
answers vague? Do they lack specifics?
Is he talking down to me?
Does he seem interested in getting to know me?
Is he excited about what he's doing? Excited about my prospective
Does he answer my questions fully and completely?
Does he let me watch his students freely?
How does he handle questions about competing schools? Does he bad-mouth
other styles, arts or instructors? Or does he offer constructive
advice? Does he want me to make the best decision for me as a
student or for him as a business man?
As you can see, these are the same kind of questions (albeit usually subconscious)
that you're asking yourself every time you make a decision where other
people are involved. This is how you choose your friends and anyone
else with whom you have a significant interaction. You need no additional
skills for choosing a good instructor than you need for deciding which
grocery store will get your patronage.
Are they from a broad range of backgrounds (considering the general population
of the area)?
Do they seem fit and healthy?
Are they disciplined? Do they show respect to their instructors and
to one another?
Do they look sharp and maintained, or do they look sloppy?
Are there plenty of students around your age?
Are they doing stuff that you wish you could do? Do they look "cool"?
Do they motivate you to study their art?
Beware of the following. These are a few things that should NOT
impress you. In fact, if you notice these or (worse yet) the instructor
brings these up, it should set off more than a few warning lights.
I hope that this information will help you choose a quality instructor
-- one that will give you the fullest for your hard earned money and help
you grow as a martial artist. If you have any specific questions
that I did not address here, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.
How many tournaments/championships/fights he or she has won.
A good instructor will always be showing off his students or nothing
Offering you too much for too little effort. If you're promised
a black belt in a year, guess what... you're dealing with someone
who has no idea of the level of work that obtaining a black belt requires.
"Magical" stories -- anything that even comes close to being supernatural
or above human ability. Outrageous claims include being able to knock
someone out by gently touching their elbow/wrist/belly-button/etc; being
able to harness magical/spiritual energy and perform physical acts with
Cult of Personality. If students regard their instructor with
an unusually severe amount of reverence, awe or obedience it might
indicate a problem. I'm not talking about the discipline and respectful
manner that all martial artists should have for their masters. Instead,
I'm talking about situations where the students are nearly religious
in their devotion to one or more instructors.