Saturday, July 15, 2006

Returning Black Belt

I haven't yet written about Mr. Carter.

He's a black belt from our school who moved out of town (I think) a while ago. Recently, he's returned, and has been working out with us in class this week.

After spending the last 6 months or so watching black belts leave our school, it's encouraging to have someone come back. I realize that some attrition is natural. Many people consider themselves "done" with TKD when they receive the Black belt. They move on to something new.

But right now, the only adult black belts we have are Ms. Pryor and Master Hughes. Justin is in France, and will be away at university next year.

So it's nice to know there's someone else here who really knows what he's doing.

I don't know much about Mr. Carter except that he knows and has taught Kum Do, Korean sword. I asked him today if he'd be teaching it again.

"My son Robbie took it for a while and loved it," I told him.

"If I do, it'll have to be different from the way most people teach it," he said. He wants his classes to include forms, not just sparring. And he doesn't want the children to work with foam swords. "They need to get the feel of bamboo."

I don't know what it would be like to come back to TKD after being gone 9 months. Mr. Carter seems to have stepped right back into a leadership role. He readily critiqued and made suggestions to students.

I'm not sure if I would do that in his place. I think coming back somewhere it would be more courteous to hold back for a while, to watch and take suggestions until I'd been there and established who I am.

I remember being at TKD once when an older guy came in to work out with us. He worked out in jeans and a shirt, and stood back with the lower belts. He wasn't very good. But when we worked on kicks, he offered many critiques of the others. I was puzzled, even a bit miffed. But I bowed, etc. and didn't say anything.

Someone told me later that he's been a brown belt long ago and he was thinking of coming back to TKD. OK. So maybe at one time he'd been my senior. But now? Is it right to come back and immediately start "teaching?"

This is an extreme case, not like Mr. Carter's--he seems to know TKD and have worked with some of us. Still, I wonder what the etiquette is for "coming back."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let me add my 2 cents . . . If a black belt, who received the belt through study at your own dojang, returns after a hiatus, he or she should be afforded the respect of an instructor by other students. However, I also think that it is the responsibility of the returning black belt to not take on the role of "instructor" unless he has maintained his TKD skills during his time away.

In my school, in addition to black belt attrition, we also have a different problem. We have several teens and young adults who earned their black belts at other schools before coming to my school. As a courtesy, they are given provisional black belt status (black belt w/white stripe down the middle), until they can demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the items that are proprietary to our school, e.g. self-defense, combination kicking, etc. I know many other schools that would require them to start over as white belts. Unfortunately, several of these provisional black belts feel that they should not have to prove their knowledge of new material to be afforded full black belt status. As a result, they often act like the junior black belts you've written about -- rude and condescending to lower belts.

A mature black belt should realize that although their belt color gives them a certain status, they still need to earn trust and respect.
Kicker Chick