Fearing for my students keeps my martial arts alive

It started many years ago when I was developing my women self defence program. The realisation hit me all at once - that after a short course I was sending these participants back into the world armed with what? A few techniques, new awareness of the risks they faced, and some words of wisdom.

What are you waiting for?

It's more intimate for my martial arts program. I see their strengths, but I also see many of their weaknesses. No, I'm not talking about the crap internet warriors spew about taekwondo and its sport-oriented nature. That's not even something that bothers me much anymore. I'm talking about knowing what each individual is capable of - what they can use to 'win' an encounter, and how they might set themselves up to fail miserably.

There are many many times when I plan for a class, where I would run through the syllabus in my head, figure out what I want to teach, and then ask myself what the students actually need to make them tougher, a more difficult target. My hope is that I am using each class session to make them a better fighter - a better survivor.

When I was growing up, I used to put at least an hour's worth of my time every day training. This was in addition to the two classes a week, and the stuff I was doing with my friends in school. This increased when I was in college where I would put in regularly 2-3 hours of training six days a week.

The point I'm making is not so much how I got to where I got. The point I'm making, and this is something which compounds my fear and my responsibility, is that I don't see the majority of students putting in the same effort. And yet I think that the time I spent is the bare minimum someone needs to put in to learn some good martial arts. To make their traditional taekwondo more than just what it is.

At some point in time, this martial art and self defence instructor has to realise that the burden of responsibility will ultimately fall onto the individual. A martial art has never been a silver bullet. It is simply training which helps you become stronger, more effective, and more resilient - when you decide to use it. But it doesn't make you bulletproof. So being realistic about what you know of yourself and what you should know of the environment you face, what would you do in your situation?



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Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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