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ITF Union Student Instructor Relationship

There are many instructors of Tae Kwon Do and other Martial Arts. Some are excellent and some are truly incompetent. Most are probably on middle ground. Teaching should be a journey of continuous improvement and learning on the part of the instructor, as well as for the student. When we decide to become teachers, we are volunteering to take on some serious responsibilities.

Many instructors do not seem to realize the full extent of their impact on the student, for good or bad. On the other hand there are students who do not understand where the teacher’s responsibilities end and their own begin. In hopes of maximizing the positives in both the teaching and learning process, this article is a discussion of some basic principles concerning the student/instructor relationship as it pertains to teaching in general.

ITF INSTRUCTORS OWE THEIR STUDENTS EVERYTHING THEY HAVE TO GIVE. When a student comes to a specific instructor, she/he might be there to learn what some teachers call “secret” or “signature” techniques. An instructor should not hold back any information their art. If anyone does not want to share their experience and knowledge, then they should not take on the task of teaching, because sharing is what teaching is on its most fundamental level.


In the process of teaching, we must strive to maintain the integrity of the ART that we are passing on to our students. It is our job to teach right movement , give cultural definition to concepts of essence . We should also pass on historical and cultural information to the best of our knowledge.

ITF STUDENTS SHOULD FOCUS THEIR LOYALTIES ON BECOMING THE BEST PRACTITIONER THAT THEY CAN BE. Students owe no loyalty to an instructor, except to uphold the integrity of what they have been taught. Students pay for their classes with money and not undivided loyalty to a specific instructor. Students have the right to study with whomever they choose without fear of hostility from any other instructor.

GOOD ITF STUDENTS DO NOT INTERRUPT THE FLOW OF CLASS, on the other hand, to show what they have learned from another instructor. A teacher has the right to expect that students are in the class in order to learn the material that she/he is presenting.

A STUDENT OF ITF IS A SINGLE ENTITY. Students pay for and have the right to expect some individual attention in classes and workshops. It is the instructor’s job to correct mistakes when they are noticed and to acknowledge good movement when it is executed. We are not there simply to show how it is done, but to help others to learn how to do it! In some workshop situations, it is not possible to give individual attention to every student, but reach the ones that seem to require it most and others can learn from what is said to a nearby student as well.

A STUDENT HAS THE RIGHT TO ASK QUESTIONS and to have them answered respectfully. Some things seem very obvious to us when we have a lot of experience, but they may not be as clear to others. Part of the instructor’s job is to take questions seriously and answer them if we can. Sometimes this means that we have to say those three little words, “I Don’t Know”!

STUDENTS MAY WANT TO PERFORM SOME DAY, or perhaps are already doing so. It is the instructor’s job to encourage them to compete in tournaments that are appropriate to skill level and take part in seminars under higher ranking instructors and masters. There are many seminars that are geared towards honeing technical and stage skills.

When students are ready to perform for a general audience at competition, it is time to encourage them to do so. Instructors have to guard against feeling competitive with their students or holding them back when they have reached a level of competence for public performance. Students should have respect enough for the opinion of their instructors, and the art itself, to be willing to wait until they can do a creditable job before performing for the general audience.


These precepts can be helpful for both students and instructors, concerning what can be expected in a healthy relationship. Points are emphasized which bring about mutual respect, promote an atmosphere of dedication to the Art and leave less room for confusion on the political level.

Article by A’isha Azar, 1989


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