What it means to be an Instructor

Tuesday, August 15, 2023
I have been a second dan for quite some time now. Having earned my second degree black belt in 2016, I’ve had the unique experience to learn a great deal about myself, and about what it means to be an instructor. If my memory serves me correctly, I have been teaching and helping as an instructor since 2017 - almost six years now. And in that time, I can easily say that I’ve learned more about myself through helping others, than I have through any other lesson prior. 
When I first became a black belt, I recall Grand Master Park saying that earning the black belt represents the mastery of the basics, and that one never stops learning. I never doubted that advice. However, I also never knew the extent of what he meant until I started instructing. I never knew how to utilize my voice in a way other than my kihap until mine was overshadowed by an entire class. I never knew what to do when a student got hurt until I had to take care of it first-hand in the middle of a sparring match. I never knew just how much I didn’t know until I became an instructor. 
Anyone who’s spent some time doing it will tell you that teaching something is the most effective way to learn it. And, it’s easy to understand why - being able to teach something requires an understanding of it first. You don’t know how much or how little you know about something until the gaps in your knowledge are laid bare as you try to spell it out for someone else. It forces you to ask questions, or come to some sort of conclusion at that moment. To connect dots that, while you always knew were there, never realized that they were correlated. 
Now, some time has passed, and I find myself in the same position as the instructors I looked up to. I see students in the same positions I was once in, and I watch them grow every day. I can answer questions with a degree of certainty and nuance that otherwise, I wouldn’t have, had it not been for the amount of time I’ve spent answering the same question, and teaching the same lesson. But, my understanding is
still far and away from complete. I still find myself unable to answer some questions. Questions I had never thought about, questions I never thought to ask myself. But, I will always make a mental note of that question, and make sure to ask my master about it. I’m still learning just how to be a leader, finding myself a bit too soft towards students who are misbehaving. I still struggle with understanding when I should change the tone of my voice, and knowing when a student crosses the line from healthy interaction to being disruptive. 
But unlike before, now I know these flaws. I know how to ask more questions, and what questions I should be asking. I’ve found that being an instructor has taught me to better find, and come to know just what it is I don’t know. And I can work to better understand these concepts that where otherwise, I would be completely oblivious. Being an instructor has given me the opportunity to self-examine myself to a degree far more in depth than anything else before. I am grateful for the opportunity to come in every day, and earn a living from something I deeply cherish, and I make it my goal to live up to the same image in others that I saw in my prior instructors.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023
I started Taekwondo when I was four years
old, because I wanted to learn how to protect my
family and myself and because I wanted to try
something new. I also wanted to make new
friends and relationships.
There are a lot of things about Taekwondo
that I like. For example, Taekwondo teaches you
self-discipline, self-defense, speed, stamina
control, and other mental and physical
endurance. Another thing I like about
Taekwondo is all the games that make it fun and
exciting. For example, some of the games we
play include Dodgeball, Steal the Bacon, Obstacle
Course, Grab the Gelts, Sword Fighting,
Weapons, and Reverse Dodgeball, Ninja, Monkey
in the Middle, and more.
To summarize, Taekwondo helped me
protect people, make new friends, improved my
well being, made me better in school mentally
and physically, and has fun games for me to
improve with certain abilities.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Eleven years ago, I would have never thought to do taekwondo. I had already tried it for
a year but didn’t particularly enjoy it. I adored the appeal of basketball, where it was a team
game with flashy moves and the satisfying sound of the ball going through the hoop. There was
always a big celebration when our team won, and you could always depend on a big crowd
cheering you on in the game. I put so much of my time into it: going to team practice 3 times a
week, practicing at school and home when I got the chance, and playing games at the park with
others on the weekends. But in 6th grade, I made the decision to quit.
Even I don’t really know why. I just stopped enjoying the sound of the crowd and the
attention you would get just from knowing how to play. It felt like it was too much, and I wanted
to take a step away from it all. However, leaving basketball left a feeling of idleness in me. I had
given up on my main source of activity, and it didn’t feel right.
Then in seventh grade, I decided to act on a whim. I wanted to try taekwondo again. At
first, it was just something to fill my urge to not sit in a chair all day. But quickly, this became my
new passion. Surprisingly, it didn’t even start with wanting to get good at taekwondo. It was
more of not wanting to disappoint Master Daniel and the other instructors, such as Instructor
Steven and Instructor Chris, as they were very big role models for me. I still remember during
my first belt test, Master Daniel told me that my parents said that I focused too much on playing
video games. My parents were never able to persuade me to focus more on studying, but
following that belt test, my grades rose very fast and stayed there. At this studio, there was so
much more than just learning taekwondo. It was learning how to become a better person for my
own benefit.
As time flew by, I continued to work hard to get better at taekwondo and to continue to
improve myself to get ready for college. Ever since starting taekwondo, I had become much
better at knowing my body’s physical limits, how to move it efficiently, and to maintain balance.
More importantly, however, I learned how to work hard and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment
in what I set myself to do.
After becoming a first-degree black belt, I realized my role has now been reversed.
Instead of only looking up to my role models, I now have the responsibility to be a role model for
others, and that required self-confidence that I didn’t have. I initially lacked self-confidence
because I didn’t really do anything that I was proud of doing. Good grades and video games
weren’t things that I was particularly proud of, since good grades were more of a necessity for
my plans to attend college, and video games were more of a pastime. But when I started to
commit myself more and more to taekwondo, I gained pride as a practitioner. It wasn’t arrogant
pride, but more being proud of myself for improving as much as I did. So when I became an
instructor, I wanted to give the students the same fun and rewarding experience of improvement
that I experienced.
Looking back on my taekwondo journey, there are many people’s kindness that I have
taken for granted, and I wouldn’t be doing them justice without thanking them. So thank you to
my parents for supporting me for these last 6 years, letting me stay in the place I call home, and
making the time to drive me to the studio for so long. Thank you to Master Daniel, Master
Brandon, Instructor Steven, and Instructor Chris for being role models that have shaped who I
am today. Thank you to Mrs. Paula for always being so flexible and kind. Thank you to my fellow
instructors for making instructing even more fun than it already is. Lastly, thank you to my sister
for always keeping an ear open for her brother’s long rants whenever I needed to

This "End" is just the beginning

Vy-An Nguyen
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
In 2018, my scrawny little 8th grade self walked through the giant glass walls of this dojo
and thought, "Wow, that's a lot of feet." The first day I walked into this building wasn't as a
student. My mom wanted to find an activity to keep my little brother active and saw that Mudo
had a pretty good reputation on Google reviews. I went in to watch my brother’s first class and
surprisingly, our cousins were already doing classes here. Out of a sort of fear of missing out and
a fear of getting beat up by three elementary school kids, I enrolled too.
I never saw myself doing a sport, especially not one where you punch each other in the
face occasionally. But for the next four years of my life, taekwondo was how I kept myself busy.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next two years, I'd step through those same glass
doors and kick butt. Well not really. While learning taekwondo, I never saw myself as someone
who excelled. I've never been the most coordinated person, and I really just did not have a great
reputation with anything involving physical activity. But no matter what, I always seemed to
enjoy showing up. I found that there's always something new to learn or some skill I can try to
perfect in this sport. There’s no consequence to getting something wrong. With help from the
instructors and Master Daniel one-on-one, I was constantly learning.
When I actually became an instructor myself, a whole new world of taekwondo opened
up. I was involved with taekwondo more than ever and teaching the new students was almost
nostalgic. On top of that, teaching helped me open up. I made close bonds that I never could’ve
expected and that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
I want to thank Master Daniel for leading this whole school, and believing in every single
one of us. It still amazes me how he’s able to remember each student and their individual
strengths and weaknesses. Self-doubt has probably been my biggest obstacle in this whole
journey, and his encouragement has gotten me all the way to this test. I also want to thank Miss
Paula as I know she always wants the best for us. Lastly, I want to thank my mom for letting me
keep practicing Taekwondo, even though I come home with a new injury practically every week.
I used to think taekwondo was an intimidating sport. I thought it required excessive
discipline and that it’d probably be less enjoyable than it was worth. And while I do see the
obvious amount of respect and effort necessary to practice this martial art, taekwondo is fun. I
like playing games with the kids, I like occasionally messing around with my friends, I like
sparring--despite getting beat up very often--and I like learning all that I’m capable of.
As of right now, I’m a senior graduating high school in about a week, standing on the
same foam tiles where my whole taekwondo journey began. Just like graduating high school, this
"end" is just the beginning.

Started Taekwondo in Kindergarten

Francis Situ
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Hi my name is Francis Situ and I started Taekwondo when I was in kindergarten and I was there because me and my brother would usually fight and our parents wanted us to learn how to fight and defend each other but first me and Andy thought it was a waste of time but then as we grew up we realized that you could get many friends from Taekwondo and many other things and soon we started to like Taekwondo.The things I like about Taekwondo is that it helps us defend each other and the people there are funny,nice,friendly, and over all great people and you can use weapons and the instructors  teach you how to use them ,sparing because you can know how strong you are and how much you`ve grown in strength.Through out all our years doing Tae Kwon Do we have learned how to punch and kick correctly and we have also learned how to do certain techniques depending on the situation, how to box, forms, self defence, one step sparring,respect, discipline, perseverance, behavior, and much much more.We now know how to do many thing to do many things because you guys have spent your time to teach all of us and help us.All of us doing Tae Kwon Do have learned much from the instructors and might use these helpful skills in the future.I have learned so many things since the beginning and so have many of us have also to and in the future I might use the things everyone has taught me.I have learned many things from my years in Taekwondo.I like Tae Kwon Do and I think lots of other people should try it to.I think that later in the future I should try to practice more because I will be a black belt and I might teach people later on.We all thank  you for teaching us how to defend us.These past weeks I have hoped that I can remember everything and get the black belt.Me and Andy have always wanted to be a black belt and the day is getting closer and closer and on that day we will try our hardest to get a black belt.Once I get my black belt I will feel more achieved then I've ever felt and I will feel great.I really want a black belt but I am nervous that I might forget parts of the forms,one step sparring,or self defense but I will try very hard to remember everything I need to know for the test and I think everyone will do fine on the black belt test.I will always remember the day I get a black belt.