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Changing Tae Kwon Do Schools - Preparing Yourself

Reasons For Changing Dojangs

You and/or your children could currently be enrolled in Tae Kwon Do classes at a community program or a privately owned martial arts school. Unfortunately, things happen in which we cannot continue our training at where we're currently at right now; but, we still want to continue our training in Tae Kwon Do. If you have any aspirations of training to compete in Olympic Tae Kwon Do, then you want to continue your TKD training. There are many reasons, whether usual or unusual, that you may feel it necessary to change dojangs.

Here's a list of reasons for changing dojangs:

  • The monthly tuition is too high. In today's economy, many businesses have suffered. That includes martial arts schools. This is perhaps one of the most understandable reasons for changing dojangs. You could join a dojang that charges a lower tuition; but, you need to do your research first. TKD schools that are associated with the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) can have high tuition rates. It's not uncommon for WTF TKD schools to charge $200-$300 a month. Normally, that comes into questions. However, many TKD schools can succeed charging that much provided they find a very good location. You'd be lucky to find a TKD school that charges under $100.
  • You could get ejected from the school for something that has severe repercussions; but, it could be on amicable terms. It's best that you do not intently do something that will get you kicked out. Hopefully, you don't have to start from white belt again. My main TKD teacher, when it was just the two of us in the dojang, told me a story of him having to expel a few of his black belts. This was seemingly one of the hardest things to do; but, they were using the dojang's computer to view porn while they were supposed to be teaching class. My teacher entrusted them to teach the class while he was out. The students broke his trust in a very bad way and he had to eject them from the school.
  • There could be disagreements between you and the master instructor. This is a very common reason that people change dojangs. Unfortunately, this is usually caused by parents who try to interfere with how the class is run. Since many WTF schools have focused on the sport aspect of Tae Kwon Do along with marketing to children, arguments between parents and instructors happen a lot.
  • Something comes up in which you have no choice but to move. Your parents could be moving because of a new job or something else. You could be moving because of a new job, school, military service, etc.
  • The dojang could close down for a number of reasons such as: master instructor moving somewhere else, decided to stop teaching, etc. This is a very common reason to change martial arts schools let alone dojangs. Martial arts schools, in business practice, can be as risky as running a restaurant. In the case of restaurants, you need a steady flow of customers. If you don't have enough customers, you can't operate anymore. In the case of martial art schools, you need to retain current students while get new students at the same time. If you don't have enough students, you can't pay the bills and so forth.

Steps To Take

In most cases, your current instructor won't let you get shafted. There are steps to take before you transition from one dojang to another:

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  • It's imperative that you talk to the master instructor first. This will determine if you can keep your rank or not. If you have a history of being disruptive in class and having an attitude, the instructor might tell the master instructor of the other school to make you start at white belt again. Keep in mind, that's only if you have a history of being very disrespectful. Other than that, you need to talk to the master instructor of your current school. This is because the school is the determinant of your rank. When you join another TKD school, the instructor is going to check with the school you trained with. Don't just leave and join another school without talking to your master instructor first. If you do, then, you probably won't keep your rank. Only exception is if you hold Dan (black belt) ranks because you have all your certifications.
  • Talk extensively with your master instructor. If your school is associated with the WTF, then the master can refer you to another WTF program. The same goes if your school is associated with the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF). In terms of organizations, the WTF has a pretty good network. Wherever you go, provided there are WTF TKD schools, you should be in good shape.
  • Look around for TKD schools that can cater to your training needs. If you are moving because of school, think about taking advantage of the college TKD programs. Collegiate TKD programs, usually going under the WTF curriculum, tend to charge lower admission fees. Depending on how long you are staying at the school for, you can continue training and go up a Dan rank or two. If you're moving because of military service, check to see if there are military programs available. Military TKD programs also go by the WTF curriculum in most cases as well. Then, it's a matter of talking with those instructors.

What To Expect

When changing schools or programs, you need to know that you're still a new student. That's regardless of what rank you are. You could be a 3rd Dan in Tae Kwon Do and still feel like a fish out of water. Leave your ego at the door of the new school or program.

No two instructors are the same. The instructor of the new school you're training at could be teaching much differently than what you're used to. It doesn't mean your TKD is terrible; it's just that the TKD curriculum is going to be taught differently from one school/program to another.

I can recall going to the city complex for European Fencing class after doing Tae Kwon Do class earlier. The complex offers TKD; but, it's associated with a different school which is under a different WTF-affiliated organization. I watched the class and saw that the instructor of that program taught palm strikes which aren't taught where I train at. Again, schools will teach the general curriculum differently.

Most WTF schools teach Taeguk forms instead of Palgwe forms. However, there are schools that may teach only Palgwe forms or both forms. If you originally train at a school that teaches Taeguks and join a school that teaches Palgwe forms first, you got a lot to catch up on; vice versa, it's the same thing. In this respect, the instructor will not let you promote to the next rank until you learn either all the Palgwe or the Taeguk forms. There are a handful of schools that teach both the Palgwe and the Taeguk forms.

While you have rank, there's one part of you where you have to think like a white belt going into a school for the first time. When joining a new TKD school, you are going into a school for the first time.

Changing TKD schools shouldn't be a hassle. Just make sure to talk to your master instructor first before doing anything else. If you do hold a Dan rank, make sure you have all your certifications present.

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