Many martial arts
practitioners have the idea that "a student" is a person who pays to
take classes in a gymnasium. They think that "a student" is a person
who performs all that the teacher instructs him/her, through the
ranks of white, orange, green or red belts.
When students become Cho Dan, often times something begins to
change, especially if the new Dan member begins to teach classes.
Little changes may occur (sometimes not so little), maybe in his
personal behavior during classes or in interactions with other
students. Their responsibilities begin to shift from being a student
to teaching others. Mistakenly, the idea of re-focusing their
commitment from training to teaching often occurs, with little
emphasis placed upon the first. Time between testing eligibility
becomes a formality that is more connected to their time as
instructors rather than time spent to develop as practitioner.
Inside their confused minds, the only thing that they must do now is
train a little, teach and wait until the time to be eligible for
testing to 2nd, 3rd or 4th Dan has elapsed.
This is a serious misconception among practitioners. All
practitioners, from white belt to 9th Dan are students!. No one
leaves from this status. This is closely tied to the spirit of Moo
Do and Kyum Son. The one that forgets this is moving himself away
from the behavior of a serious Martial Artist. It's the discipline
which must be demonstrated while one is walking on the Moo Do path.
Also the Kwan Jang Nims of any organization will continue learning
from another senior Kwan Jang Nim and investigating the art by
himself. All Dans are and will continue being students. The Master
7th Dan is a student of the Kwan Jhang Nim, the Master 5th Dan is
student of the Master 7th Dan and the Kwan Jang Nim, and all Dans of
each organization are students of their actual Masters and the
Instructor from whom they learned the first time (they do not have
to forget who initiated them in this way).
"Nobody stops being student". When we talk about mental and
spiritual development of the practitioners (Neh Gung and Shim Gung),
we must give the example. Senior students have the responsibility to
lead juniors by example, and their responsibility entails the actual
action of daily, disciplined behavior during their Tang Soo Do
training. In this way, our actions, our Kyum Son, are communicated
by example. Humility is demonstrated, first by our acceptance that
we do not possess all knowledge, that our skills will decrease if we
do not train, and also that we can learn from others.
If any Dan member begins to teach, he/she takes an obligation that
is added to obligations that he/she already has, but this cannot be
used as an excuse to neglect their other ones. Teaching is an added
responsibility that increases the level of commitment necessary for
the Dan level student, as they are now required to be both
practitioners and examples. To neglect ones training is to suffer
the risk of losing acquired knowledge through a steady decline of
skills which are not continuously trained in their everyday
"Who does not train goes backward". If any Dan says "I'm training
while I'm teaching to my students", he is deceiving himself, because
his/her students will not demand of him or her to perform at the
same level as other Dans. Also, there will not be anyone who can
point out to him the errors "that we all have", neither teaching him
new things nor explaining to him how to improve any technique.
In summary, being a student is our first experience in martial arts.
It is the door by which we receive the knowledge of our art. This
door remains open only as long as we maintain our humility and
continue training with respect on all levels. Respect for our
seniors, respect for our art, and respect for ourselves. Sometimes
we all commit errors without realizing it. We are all human beings.
Each Dan member would benefit from this by analyzing their
commitment to training and renewing that commitment in the spirit of
the art and by the examples of those before us.