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Taekwon-Do Etiquette by eyes of master Knighton 20 years ago

Etiquette in Paul Knighton´s point of view
Martin Svitek, 14.2.2018 – TaeKwon-Do Etiquette for Instructors – Inside & Outside the Dojang

It has been few years now when I had the honour to teach with master Paul Knigton on summer camp in Switzerland. We got to speak about Taekwon-Do etiquette during friendly conversation and I have found out that Paul wrote essay about this topic for his IV. Dan. We agreed that I will translate it for czech taekwondoists, but as life goes it took few years to manage to do it. Essay is bit improved by master Knighton, but I still enjoy the fact that it was written in 1998 – in year I started to practice. I don´t want to be nostalgic, but to speak about etiquette. We got pretty friendly with master Knighton and I consider him being my distant friend, but despite few very realaxaed occassions I deeply respect him both inside and outside dojang. And one of the reasons is that I believe he is deeply training and trying to understand Taekwon-Do for all these years and that he was trying also as IV. Dan applicant writing this essay when I was working on my four direction punch in small dance hall at Prague suburb.
Essay starts with specialized topic (organizing seminar with instructor with master status) but later gets more general. I believe that everyone may get interesting point of view from it. Especially image of Taekwon-do family is important for me as I believe in nowadays Taekwon-Do focused strongly on sport and innovation it may create fine mood that allows to practice whole DO, so having Taekwon-Do as part of really all and whole life.

I hope to interview master Knighton in following months so look forward to it if you want to :o)
Martin Svitek, V. Dan, Sonkal Prague

Instructors in TaeKwon-Do should all be aware of the Etiquette incorporated within TaeKwon-Do. There are many levels of Etiquette which needs to be taught to students and practiced by Instructors. When dealing with Examiners of Master Status, there are many rules which need to be applied inside and outside of the Dojang. In particular, an Instructor hosting a Masters' Seminar should be aware of their statutory duties to the Master. When hosting an event, Instructors must ensure that the mandatory requirements for the Master are correctly organised, ensuring;
i. The hall/venue is warm, equipped with basic training aids and if possible has a wooden sprung floor.
ii. The I.T.F. plaque is displayed at the front of the Dojang.
iii. Private changing facilities must be provided for the Master.
iv. Liquid refreshment should be available for the Master.
v. If the event is attended by a large number of students, a Public Address (P.A.) system should be available for the Master to conduct.
vi. A table with an official tablecloth (velvet if possible) should be at the front of the Dojang with the Fifteen Volume Encyclopaedia available for reference purposes. If there is a stage in the hall, the Examiners table should be located on the stage to provide a clear view of the students whilst conducting the exam.
vii. On the table should be a display of flowers (preferably in the colours of the belts).
viii. Reservations should be made for a meal at a local restaurant for the Master and visiting Instructors after the event.
ix. If an overnight stay is required, the hotel room should be checked by the host, to ensure the room is warm and that the facilities are adequate to make the Master comfortable throughout his stay.

There should be a meal after the seminar, organised by the host for the Master and special guests (Black Belts and Instructors). The restaurant should be checked by the host to ensure the food and service is of a high standard before making reservations. The restaurant staff should be made aware that the Master should always be served first. Instructors, Black Belts and guests should be made aware of basic social Etiquette when attending a social event in the presence of a Master. No-one should commence eating before the Master, unless they are personally invited to by the Master. This applies to all courses. If the host or guests wish to remove their jackets, it is only courteous to either ask for permission before doing so. This rule also applies to the removal of ties. If someone is asked to pass or receive any dish or item, this should be done with two hands, not one. Social etiquette is quite complex. When at the table, the host should always ensure that the Masters drinking glass is never allowed to be completely empty. When pouring a beverage from a bottle or teapot, the liquid should never be poured pointing in the direction directly towards the Master, it should be pointing to the side. Any glass, cup, bottle or teapot should always be held with two hands. If the Master fills or refills your cup or glass, two hands should always be placed on the glass/cup. When making a toast with glasses, the Masters (or most Senior ranking of the two persons) glass will always be higher for the toast than the junior persons glass which will always lower when the two glasses touch. If the Master stands, everyone should stand as a mark of Courtesy. This applies whenever the Master leaves the table and upon his return. After the meal, it should not be assumed by Black Belts or special guests that they can automatically smoke, as this may offend the Master. They should wait to be invited to smoke by the Master

Instructors should lead by example and the students will emulate. If an Instructor gets aggressive, physically or verbally abusive when they have had too much alcohol at a post tournament celebration, the students will think this to be acceptable and will emulate this behaviour. An Instructor with a problem such as becoming abusive or aggressive when intoxicated should recognise drink to be a problem. In this instance, the Instructor should consider the responsibility towards the students and choose not to drink in the presence of students. Instructors have a responsibility to be able to conduct themselves correctly and practice our teaching methods. A bad Instructor would be one who tells people to have Morals that they are not practicing themselves. If lower ranking Instructors witness a Senior Instructor acting incorrectly, they should feel obliged to lead by example. Holding a Senior Rank does not make bad behaviour correct. An Instructor should always practice what he instructs and advises i.e. do as I do. They should never dictate to "do as I say" and not adhere to their own advice.

A student of TaeKwon-Do should feel part of a large family. The immediate family i.e. brothers and sisters are the class students and the Father figure should be the Instructor. This would make the Instructors Master the equivalent of a Grandfather or someone with a vast amount of experience and knowledge. Other national students are the equivalent of cousins, which would make other Instructors the equivalent of Uncles. Students should feel proud that they are being taught a true Martial Art, not just physical movements to help defend themselves.

Today the enormous popularity of TaeKwon-Do has created imitators, and whilst at times imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in the case of TaeKwon-Do this is definitely not true. To imitate without full knowledge of the original is dangerous, it is like allowing a child to play with a toy gun, giving him a real one and expecting him to understand the difference without giving him the knowledge of the effects of a real gun (Student Handbook. U.K.T.A. 1993).

A good Instructor will socialise with his students and lead by example. However, just because an Instructor socialises in a relaxed atmosphere outside of the Dojang, it should not take away the respect and Courtesy inside the Dojang. It is common knowledge that students should bow 15˚. Everyone should remain at 15˚ and not return to the vertical upright position until after the Instructor has returned to the vertical position. This should be common practice but it seems that western students seem to think that "Kyong-ye" means bow and return immediately to an upright position. It should be emphasised that bow means "salute/bow 15˚ and do not return until after your Instructor or Master has returned to the vertical/upright posture" as a gesture of respect. Inside the Dojang students should always half-turn and not face the Instructor when adjusting their Dobok or belt. This should be done at the end of the activity or pattern, not during the performance. Also when answering questions to the Instructor, students must stand to attention and answer in the correct manner. They should address the Instructor as a Senior equivalent to a Tutor and not as a friend or colleague. Students should see themselves as part of the class. Without students, an Instructor cannot instruct and without an Instructor students cannot be taught and guided in the correct methods of TaeKwon-Do. Therefore one cannot exist without the other. A student’s role should include being part of the TaeKwon-Do family. Everything should not be left to the head of the family. To ensure that the class is well advertised and continues to grow, students should feel it part of their duty to help out, to volunteer for tasks to help their Instructor. If a demonstration is planned for the future, the students should be willing to participate. The Instructor knows his own students strong points and will only ask the student to demonstrate something they are confident that the student can perform. An Instructor can only do a limited amount of tasks that are needed to keep the school running smoothly. The Instructor also needs time to train with other Black Belts and Instructors. An Instructor can be a very good teacher but be slow at administration. In this situation, a student who excels at administration should either volunteer to help the Instructor, or the Instructor should ask if anyone is would like to help with administrative tasks such as paperwork. Students should be willing to volunteer at tasks to save the Instructor time and effort by offering to post leaflets on the way home or putting posters up at Schools, Colleges and places of work.

Having exchanged business cards and designed business cards for Senior Ranking Instructors including Grand Master Rhee Ki-Ha, I became intrigued by the way that some Black Belts write their Rank. It would be incorrect to write "1st Dan" as, a winner or fastest is always ranked 1st, the runner up is 2nd etc... As more ‘Dan Grades’ are attained, Black Belts become higher ranking; therefore, as a 3rd Dan, people will think 3rd, behind 2nd and 1st. The correct way to write a Dan grade is I Dan, II Dan, III Dan in Roman Numerals. It is written on a Black Belt in Roman Numerals which is the correct way. Pride in appearance is an important aspect of TaeKwon-Do. It is important that an Instructor looks neat and composed at all times. All students should get into the habit of checking their appearance once they have changed into their Dobok. All collars should be straight, the belt tied in a square knot and equal at both ends with the Rank displayed on the left side. If a student is taught to take pride in his appearance inside the training hall, it is only a matter of time before the student carries this habit into everyday life.

Although an Instructor may have more knowledge in TaeKwon-Do than the older student, outside the Dojang, the Instructor should acknowledge the life experience and knowledge that the elder student has attained. Respect, in this situation, applies both ways. If the elder person wishes to learn TaeKwon-Do, he must accept that the Instructor has greater knowledge in TaeKwon-Do and show respect in the Dojang. However, the Instructor has to acknowledge the older students experience in life and show respect outside of the Dojang.

If students have good tutors and are given encouragement when conducting themselves correctly or praised when performing to a high standard, they will grow into and become model students. Discipline is part of the TaeKwon-Do system. If people treated others as they wanted to be treated themselves, Etiquette would be more widespread throughout society. Etiquette should be practiced by Senior Instructors, Instructors, Black Belts and Students. Civilians will accept the military way of conduct as long as everyone is treated as equals i.e. no favourite students who are allowed to do what they want, when they want. All Military personnel start life of Civilians; therefore they have to be taught the Military way of life.

Eastern and Western societies are a total contrast and the same can be said about Military and Civilian lifestyles. Military procedure has to be taught, as does the Art and Way of Life of TaeKwon-Do. This is the responsibility of the Instructor and should be taught to their students. If students are allowed to be discourteous or treat Seniors with contempt, they will continue to adopt this behaviour as acceptable. An Instructor should never be afraid of losing their students through telling them about their poor conduct. An Instructor should lead by example. For example, in the presence of Seniors an Instructor should always show Respect and Courtesy. Not only in the training hall should this Etiquette exist. To create a better society and in an attempt to educate by example rather than a dictatorship, all students should be aware of Etiquette inside and outside of the Dojang.

© Paul Knighton III Dan (I.T.F./U.K.T.A.) 1998
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