Building Leaders: Taekwondo’s Positive Impact on Children’s Leadership Skills

Infinity’s Beginnings

My hand was shaking. Fear and anxiety had crept into every fiber of my being. I had put off this conversation for nearly a month, but my schedule had become too overwhelming. There just weren’t enough hours in the week.

I walked into my boss’s office. “Sir, do you have a minute?” I asked. I can’t remember being more nervous.

Months prior I had begun developing the outline for what would become Infinity Taekwondo. Now, we were close to launching. I was there to put in my two weeks at a stable, well-paying job, with an excellent manager for a startup business that had no guarantee of success.

This would turn out to be the best decision I have ever made.

The irony is that if it were not for the martial art itself, I would not have developed the skills and fortitude needed to structure, study, and develop my business. Of course, practicing and teaching Taekwondo allowed me to understand the art itself, but everything else about owning a business was new.

From the first time I met Master Joseph Barnard Jr., through the years I spent training under Grand Master Michael J. Pejo II, I have never worked under an Olympic Taekwondo coach who did not believe that Taekwondo positively changes lives.

I am no exception to this rule.

I would not be here today if it were not for this art. Every coach I have had the pleasure of working with has always used their Taekwondo program to make a positive impact on the community. This mentality is weaved into the fabric that is the culture of our beloved Martial Art.

The 5 Tenets of Taekwondo and Their Impact on Students

Opening the doors to Infinity has tested every tenet that Taekwondo has taught me. If  not for the lessons that training in Taekwondo had instilled, I would not own a successful business today.

In Taekwondo, we have five tenets that we expect every student to act out in their daily lives. When one of our students submits their application to test for their black belt, part of our process is a discussion about how they use the tenets outside of Taekwondo practice. Undoubtedly, this is why Olympic Style Taekwondo black belts consistently become leaders in their everyday lives and community.

      The five tenets are:

  1. Courtesy

  2. Integrity

  3. Perseverance

  4. Self-Control

  5. Indomitable Spirit

Courtesy

Merriam-Webster defines courtesy as:

1a a behavior marked by polished manners or respect for others: courteous behavior

b:  a courteous and respectful act or expression

In every Taekwondo class, all students must be courteous and respectful to their peers and instructors at all times. We do this by bowing, saying yes sir or yes ma’am, referring to each other as mister, miss, or misses, and trying to positively encourage each other. Taekwondo practice can get tough and physically exhausting, but in a quality Taekwondo program, you will only hear motivational cheers.

I expect each of my students to carry courtesy into their daily lives; at school, work, or whatever their day holds. The benefits of positively motivating and encouraging the people around them is profound. Having a courteous and positive approach causes our peers’ self-confidence to improve.

When we witness the positive impact that we have on the world around us, our sense of empathy is strengthened.

If I did not regularly practice and believe in the importance of courtesy in my own life, when it came time to open Infinity, then I would have had no support group. When stress gets high, it can be difficult to remain courteous and respectful. If it were not for the lessons I learned from Taekwondo, I would have lost my support group. There are countless individuals who stood by my side and helped me during one of the most stressful times in my life. I am forever indebted to these individuals for their kindness.

Integrity

Integrity is:

1: A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values:  incorruptibility

2:  an unimpaired condition:  soundness

3:  the quality or state of being complete or undivided:  completeness

At Infinity Taekwondo, we emphasize the importance of having integrity and honesty.

Infinity is not just a Martial Arts program, it’s a leadership program.

Our students own and accept responsibility for their failures. They recognize that owning their failures is the only way to improve and the importance of the example they set for their junior students. When a student deviates or make excuses for themselves, it is nearly impossible to develop the skills needed to progress and their juniors would not only do the same thing, but they would be less likely to follow them.

The tenet of integrity holds true in a student’s life outside of the Dojang (School).

If a student wants to be a respected leader, they must be someone whom is reliable to follow. If they want to progress in all aspects of their life, they must be honest with their superiors and themselves so they can learn.

When I opened Infinity, I could have hidden details in fine print and taken advantage of my clients to make a few extra bucks. Opening Infinity was one of the most financially straining things I have ever done, and making that extra money would have certainly relieved some stress. But then, who would follow me? How could I ask my students to be honest, truth-telling people who hold the tenet of integrity in such regard if I’m not willing to live by that same code? Having a strong sense of integrity is key to being a leader worth following. Without it, my students would forever question me and they would have every right to.

Perseverance

 Merriam-Webster defines Perseverance as:

  1. A continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition: the action or condition or an instance of persevering:  steadfastness

Perhaps the most obvious tenet of Taekwondo is Perseverance.

A quality Martial Arts program is not easy. It takes countless hours inside and outside the studio training and practicing to earn a black belt.

The workouts are tough, learning new techniques takes time, patience, and continual effort. Our practices are directly tied to developing patience and work ethic.

In a student’s everyday life, school gets hard, chores get tedious, and life is at times difficult. The “never-give-up”, continual drive mentality that Taekwondo instills in a student the importance and the reward of having perseverance. The challenges a student faces in Taekwondo practice, directly translate into an unrelenting approach to challenges in their daily lives.

When building Infinity, it would have been easier to quit early on and just continue with my secure job. The more work I put into structuring the organization, the harder and more stressful my life became. I knew from the countless hours I spent training and developing my skills in the Martial Arts that the reward of all my hard work, studying, and preparation would be worth it. Getting a black belt in a quality program is a huge achievement; it challenged my patience at times, it challenged me athletically, and it even challenged me academically. Having a vision for what Infinity could become, I used the determination and perseverance that I was so familiar with from the 20 years of Taekwondo practices to grind through the difficult times and not give up.

Self-Control

Self-Control is:

  1. restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.

When we define Self-Control at Infinity, we say it means to control one’s mind and body.

Our students practice self-control in class. No student is allowed to talk when an instructor is talking. They must remain at either an attention stance or an at-ease stance with their hands behind their backs. For their safety and the safety of their fellow students, they must be focused and pay attention to instructions always.

Students are expected to carry self-control into their daily lives by listening in school, when their parents are talking, doing and turning in their homework, keeping their rooms clean, and not speaking without thinking about what they are saying. I have had many parents complement our program on improving their children’s ability to think before they speak.

For me, when my anxiety is high, I find it easy and tempting to get distracted by things like TV and games on my phone, or social media. I instinctively want to avoid the things I’m anxious about. Unfortunately, this is no way to run a business. If Taekwondo had not taught me the importance of controlling my focus, then I would be truly lost, sitting on a couch somewhere clicking on another pointless blog about the next Star Wars movie while my business fails. Taekwondo has given me control over mind and body to achieve the hard tasks in front of me, instead of getting distracted by the easy things that surround me.

Indomitable Spirit

Merriam-Webster’s definition of indomitable:

  1. Incapable of being subdued: unconquerable <indomitable courage>

Definition of SPIRIT

  1. Temper or disposition of mind or outlook especially when vigorous or animated<in high spirits>
  2. A lively or brisk quality in a person or a person’s actions
  3. A person having a character or disposition of a specified nature

In Taekwondo, having an Indomitable-Spirit means the mentality a student has when dealing with a specific situation. Is the student easily defeated and quick to become negative about themselves or the situation? Do they maintain a positive outlook, approach, believe in themselves and see every challenge as an opportunity to grow and a learn? There are countless quotes from hyper-successful individuals, from Richard Branson to Bruce Lee, about how maintaining a positive attitude through failure is the key to growth. From my own experience, I firmly believe this to be true.

Taekwondo is challenging. It’s hard to master a new technique, and once a student develops a quality kick, learning to apply it is equally as challenging. It would be easy for the student to become down on themselves and give up. But this is not the Taekwondo way.

We always stay positive in class. Students are always encouraged to believe in themselves and challenge themselves. Everyone is always attempting new techniques and growing.

In a student’s daily lives, having an indomitable-spirit is invaluable. With the lessons learned in class, a student will develop confidence in themselves, they won’t be afraid of failure or trying new things, and most importantly judgment of others when they do fail will be irrelevant to them because they know that they will eventually achieve their goals if they continue to practice the five tenets.

Negativity and fear could have easily closed Infinity as I was starting. I barely had enough money to keep the doors opened as we began to grow. I felt behind in the structure of the business after opening. There were moments where self-doubt and fear snuck into my thoughts, but because of this Martial Art, I knew how resilient I was, and realized that every challenge that Infinity would throw at me would give me another opportunity to grow and learn. I understood that these challenges would one day be lessons that I could teach someone else and help them on their journey.

Lessons to Build Leaders

These tenets work together to reinforce each other. A weakness in one causes a weakness in all of them. They complement and build a foundation for students to develop leadership and life skills. These tenets are practiced and developed in every Taekwondo class. These skills transcend a student’s training session and become part of who they are.

There is not an aspect of my personal life that these lessons have not impacted. I am a better, and more well-rounded person because of the lessons Taekwondo have taught me. If it wasn’t for my beloved Martial Art, there is no way I would have had the fortitude necessary to start a business of any sort. Taekwondo has truly changed my life for the better. I am simply honored and thrilled to have that opportunity to be able to teach these lessons and skills to the next generation as a career.

 

 

 

Brandan Rhoades

Infinity Taekwondo

Mobile: 979.587.5423

Site: www.Infinity-TKD.com

Address: 12815 FM 2154 Suite 110

College Station, TX, 77845

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By | 2016-12-21T22:21:50+00:00 December 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Building Leaders: Taekwondo’s Positive Impact on Children’s Leadership Skills