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Student / instructor relationship (Sajeji Do)

Even today in modern Korea, hidden Confucian values often appear through the veneer of twentieth century sophistication. The son that remained implicitly obedient throughout his life became an object of worshipful veneration when the parent died. This obedience and loyalty never wavered.

From the Confucian values the Korean learned a deep sense of respect for his teachers. This relationship has always been an important one. An old Korean proverb states, "father and mother are the parents who bring me up while a teacher is the parent who educates me ." This is the reason why a student was expected to pay as much respect to his teacher as he would to his parents.

Thus the personal bonds of loyalty and respect towards the teacher and parents formed a national and family structure.

Though a subject may owe fealty to his King, the King must show respect and loyalty to his teacher, as Alexander the Great did to Aristotle. Though a father may love his son, he can never become his teacher. The father/son relationship is emotional and all objectivity is lost. Without this objectivity, it is nearly impossible to institute and continue absolute control with the learning system.

There is an old Korean adage, "parents may procreate children but not their purpose in life." The greatest challenge and reward for a parent is being able to provide the guidance that will make the child a useful and respected member of the society.

Obviously, it is a parent´s responsibility to provide the proper education that will broaden the child´s knowledge and imbue him or her with a good sense of ethics and morality. It is often impossible for the parents themselves, however, to provide the correct education the child needs. This is because the parent hesitates to force discipline on their children in an objective manner. There is a subconscious fear that is will create a breach in their relationship. Confucius advised, "children should be exchanged and taught by concerned parents."

To teach another´s child to become a person of good character according to the wishes of his or her own parents is a great responsibility. In the eyes of the student, his teachers will occupy an equal position with his own parents. There is truth in the ancient maxim that King, teacher, and father are one and equal.

There must certainly be a degree of love and understanding in all the above relationships, but there must also be a degree of objectivity. This same relationship must also be present in TaeKwon-Do. The responsibility of teaching this art lies with the instructors, whose eventual mission will be to teach students to be physically and mentally strong and to help contribute to a more peaceful world.

Certainly a dedicated and sincere instructor is an absolute necessity for any dojang. The dojang cannot grow and mature without a cadre of equally dedicated and sincere students. Accordingly, both instructor and student owe a debt of responsibility to each other, that can never be paid.

Instructors and students should observe the following points:

  • Never tire of teaching. A good instructor can teach anywhere, any time, and always be ready to answer questions.
  • An instructor should be eager for his students to surpass him; it is the ultimate complement for an instructor. A student should never be held back. If the instructor realizes his student has developed beyond his teaching capabilities, the student should be sent to a higher ranking instructor.
  • An instructor must always set a good example for his students and never attempt to defraud them.
  • The development of students should take precedence over commercialism. Once an instructor becomes concerned with materialism, he will lose the respect of his students.
  • Instructors should teach scientifically and theoretically to save time and energy.
  • Instructors should help students develop good contacts outside the dojang (training hall). It is an instructor´s responsibility to develop students outside as well as inside the dojang.
  • Students should be encouraged to visit other dojangs and study other techniques. Students who are forbidden to visit other dojangs are likely to become rebellious. There are two advantages for allowing the students to visit other gyms: not only is there the possibility that a student may observe a technique that is ideally suited for him, but he may also have a chance to learn by comparing his techniques to inferior techniques.
  • All students should be treated equally, there should be no favorites. Students should always be scolded in private, never in front of the class.
  • If the instructor is not able to answer a student´s question, he should not fabricate an answer but admit he does not know and attempt to find the answer as soon as possible. All too often, a lower degree black belt will dispense illogical answers to his students merely because he is afraid of "losing face" because he does not know the answer.
  • An instructor should not seek any favors such as cleaning the studio, doing repair works, etc. from his students.
  • An instructor should not exploit his students. The only purpose of an instructor is to produce both technically and mentally excellent students.
  • Always be honest with the students, and never break a trust.


  • Never tire of learning. A good student can learn anywhere, any time. This is the secret of knowledge.
  • A good student must be willing to sacrifice for his art and instructor. Many students feel that their training is a commodity bought with monthly dues, and are unwilling to take part in demonstrations, teaching and working around the dojang. An instructor can afford to lose this type of student.
  • Always set a good example for lower ranking students. It is only natural they will attempt to emulate senior students.
  • Always be loyal and never criticize the instructor, TaeKwon-Do or the teaching methods.
  • If an instructor teaches a technique, practice it and attempt to utilize it.
  • Remember that a student´s conduct outside the dojang reflects on the art and instructor.
  • If a student adopts a technique from another dojang and the instructor disapproves of it, the student must discard it immediately or train at the gym where the technique was learned.
  • Never be disrespectful to the instructor. Though a student is allowed to disagree with the instructor, the student must first follow the instruction and then discuss the matter later.
  • A student must always be eager to learn and ask questions.
  • Never betray the instructor.