But, some may ask, "how is this?" One of the first things that we teach is the importance of respect. A student quickly learns that they are to bow upon entering and leaving the dojang, (school). They also learn that they must bow onto the mat at the start of every class, and off the mat at the end of every class. These two simple traditions teach students the importance of taking a moment to show respect for the school and the sabumnim, (instructor). Another important aspect is that we recite an affirmation stating that we are "born to win", at these and many other times. This shows the student that they also need to respect themselves.
Of course, the training doesn't stop there. We focus on teaching courtesy during all aspects of the student's training. But with this learning, what should a parent expect to see, from their child? My belief is that a black belt is not something you simply earn. It is actually a full lifestyle that a student vows to uphold. A student should begin by being respectful to parents, family, teachers, and friends. The old belief of saying "yes sir" or "yes ma'am" should become second nature. Children should start learning to do things without being asked, and show a level of responsibility, that is well beyond their age.
Parents should feel encouraged to ask their children questions regarding courtesy, every day. Feel free to ask "is that the way a black belt should act," or "as a future black belt, how could that have been said differently?" I will often ask students, "what did you do for your mom or dad today?" Courtesy is not an option for Taekwondo students. At our school, I fully EXPECT positive behavior from every student. Parents and students are welcome to start a discussion regarding this subject. Until next time, I will see everyone in the Dojang.