Ask A Master
by Master Chae Song Mun
“Master Mun, I was wondering, what is the difference between the different martial arts (i.e. Taekwondo, Karate, etc.)?” – tt_frog, Ashland
Master Mun (MM): Great question, Frog! Each of the original martial arts came as a result of necessity and geography. Taekwondo, for example, comes from Korea and is considered one of the oldest martial arts at over 2,000 years old! Karate comes from Japan. In addition, techniques and philosophies vary greatly between the arts. Taekwondo focuses primarily on foot techniques designed to keep opponents at a greater distance, whereas other arts like Hapkido and Judo focus on close-in engagements.
“Why should I take Taekwondo over another martial art?” – Bill H., Medford
MM: Taekwondo is very effective for combat situations using both hands and feet and is actually incorporated into military training in armies all over the world. Over 184 countries presently train in Taekwondo and it is one of only two martial arts in the Olympics. (The other is Judo).
“Why are there so many different colored belts?”— Mike D., Medford
MM: Belt color signifies rank, or proficiency. Beginners wear a white belt, symbolizing purity and no knowledge of the art. Then graduate to yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, red, brown and then black; each belt representing new knolwedge. Students have to pass practical and theory tests to progress to the next rank. A serious student can reach black belt in three or four years. It all depends on the commitment, age and skill level of the student and each school’s promotion policies.
“I’m being bullied at school, what should I do?”—Anthony R., Talent
MM: Follow the “3 Strike Rule.” 1. Talk to your teacher, then your principal right away. Go home and tell your parents what happened. 2. If it happens again, have your parents contact the principal and teacher. 3. If the school does not resolve the problem and it happens again, protect yourself. If you don’t, the bully will continue to bother you. Typically, bullies pick on the students they consider the weakest and tend to consider students who fight back as “not being worth the trouble.” Make sure your parents are aware of the problem from the first time it happens and give the school an opportunity to resolve the issue first.
“I’ve noticed a big discrepancy in teaching styles and philosophies amongst schools claiming to teach the same martial art. How do you know if a Master or Instructor is certified?”—Concerned Mother, Medford
MM: It is the parent’s responsibility to conduct due diligence when choosing a school. Talk to parents of current students. Do research on the internet about the art and about potential schools. Check to see if the school offers trial lessons. Are belt testings knowledge-based or time-based? Or both? Do Not Hesitate to ask to see the Instructor’s certificate. In Taekwondo, only Kukkiwon (WTF) certified black belts are internationally recognized and respected. In other words, without a Kukkiwon certificate, there is no way to guarantee that your child is learning or benefiting from the high standards of traditional Taekwondo training. Regardless of the art, the same rules should be followed when choosing a martial arts program for your child or yourself. One final thought: Parents—trust your intuition. It is almost always right.
Master Chae Song Mun is a 6th Degree Certified Master Instructor with over 28 years of training. As the Founder of ATC Taekwondo, he operates 3 school locations in California and recently opened a 4th location right here in Medford. Submit your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org … you may just make it into next month’s column!