TaeKwonDo Mental Education

by Blake Lakewood, 10/07/2014

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Being a parent of an impressionable young TaeKwonDo student, you may have mixed feelings about TaeKwonDo Mental Education.  What is TKD Mental Education and does your child need it?  This article will detail my opinion on the subject and include several examples.  It is your job, as a parent, to decide if the information included here warrants careful consideration or investigation of your child’s TKD Mental Education at their present or future TaeKwonDo school. 

As a parent you will always be concerned for the protection and safety of your child. You don’t want your child to be “picked on” or become the target of a bully. You MentalEducation_2would like your child to possess the knowledge to handle a challenging situation without a violent outcome. You would hope they have the intelligence to diffuse a threatening situation without any violence. However, if your child is placed in a life-threatening situation, I am pretty sure that you agree that having the minimum skills to evade unnecessary violence by using defensive TaeKwonDo techniques would not be bad! Using enough defensive TaeKwonDo to allow your child an avenue for escape would be an ideal situation. If the encounter is with several individuals, then your child may be required to use offensive TaeKwonDo techniques to temporarily disable one or more of his / her attackers while creating that avenue of escape. Once free, their training would have them seek a trusted adult to report the situation.

Do the above scenarios sound far-fetched? Well hopefully these situations are imaginary and actually never occur. But if they did, where would a child obtain such knowledge? The answer is in the Mental Education portion of a traditional TaeKwonDo school.

Many non-traditional TaeKwonDo schools may only teach forms, some board breaking, and sparring. These schools have no structure and are basically training only the physical part of TaeKwonDo to your child. I fear that without the mental education, they might be training weapons with no conscious, but this is my opinion.

Although a student may find the mental education part of their training boring, by repeating this information at each training session will, hopefully, unconsciously imprint this information into their long term memory. The ideals that the mental education represents are positive reinforcements to the physical training. They teach the student to view taekwondo as a defensive martial art, but if needed you may tap some of the physical training techniques you have been practicing to get yourself out of a difficult situation.

MentalEducation_9How can you determine if the school your child is going to has mental education in its training? This may be easier then you think. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does the school have a mission statement and are the students required to know it?
2. Does the school teach the student the basic five-finger rule for bullying or the equivalent?

i. Nicely Ask them to Stop
ii. Ask an Adult for Help
iii. Talk to Your Parents if You Still Have a Problem
iv. Try Again to Talk Nicely to the Person
v. Discuss the Situation with your Parents or the Master

3. Is the student supposed to memorize certain phrases for testing? Does the master quiz the student about the meaning of the phrases? Memorize phrases similar to the following:

a. Be Loyal to Your Country
b. Be Loving and Respectful to Your Parents
c. Be Loving Between Husband and wife
d. Be Cooperative Between Brothers and Sisters
e. Be True and Kind to Your Friends
f. Be Respectful to Your Elders
g. Establish Trust Between Teacher and Student
h. Always Choose the Best Direction in Life
i. Think Before Hurting Any Living Thing
j. Always Finish What you Start

4. Is respect taught not only for the master, but for the parents and all adults also?
5. When testing for a colored belt or a black belt tape, is there a portion of the test where the student has to recite some memorized phrases or quotes (see item 3) specifically geared toward that belt level?

If you answer yes to a few of these questions, at least the school has some sort of mental education. If you answer yes to all of the above, you are pretty well assured that your school is on the right path and the taekwondo mental education is in place.

So what do you do if your child’s school has no mental education and you feel it is important? Well I believe you have a few options:

1. Discuss your concern with the head master or master of the school telling him your concern.MentalEducation_4
2. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the head master or master of the school, then you could discuss this concern with other parents and see if any of the other parents are concerned about taekwondo mental education being part of your child’s training. You could then approach the head master or master as a group relaying your concern to him / her. [see note 1]
3. I know this is easier said than done, but you could always find a new school that teaches the mental education that you are missing and transfer your child to that school. There may be some catch-up training to get your child up to their curriculum.
What if you don’t care if your child receives the mental education portion of taekwondo? Well as a parent you must make that decision. But ask yourself this: if my child is not receiving the mental education portion of taekwondo, what else are they not being taught?

Note 1: Some of the older Korean head masters / masters still visualize women as not their equal. If this is the situation, it may be advisable to have a concerned father of a student be present at such a meeting. Obviously this is not necessary, but if the father has the same concerns as the mother, then having a male in your caucus will be advantageous. Even if the male just nods in agreement with what is said may be enough. Believe me, if you are a student’s mother, you will know if your head master / master falls into this category by the way he interacts with you.