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Student/Instructor Relationship (Sajeji Do) in Taekwon-Do

young boy bows to taekwondo instructor

Student/Instructor Relationship (Sajeji Do) in Taekwon-Do

young boy bows to taekwondo instructor

There is a unique, mutually respectful student/instructor relationship (Sajeji Do) in Taekwon-Do.

A practitioner of Taekwon-Do should respect the King, teacher and father equally. “An old Korean proverb states, ‘father and mother are the parents who bring me up while a teacher is the parent who educates me.’ This is the reason why a student was expected to pay as much respect to his teacher as he would to his parents.” -Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1. p.81)

Finding a good instructor is important for parents so that their child can become a peace-loving contributor in the society. “There is an old Korean adage, ‘parents may procreate children but not their purpose in life.’ The greatest challenge and reward for a parent is being able to provide the guidance that will make the child a useful and respected member of the society.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1. p.81)

Gen. Choi outlines the following points with respect to instructors and students.

Instructors (Sabum)

1. An instructor should teach anytime, anywhere, be forever willing to answer questions, and never get tired of teaching.

2. An instructor should never hold back any student. The aim should be to teach everything so that the student surpasses the instructor. If the student surpasses the instructor, then it would be the ultimate compliment for the instructor. If the instructor finds that the student has developed beyond what can be taught by him, then the instructor should send the student to a higher ranking instructor.

3. An instructor should set an example and never try to defraud the students.

4. An instructor should firstly focus on the development of the students and secondly on commercialism. If commercialism becomes the first reason then the instructor will lose all respect from the students.

5. An instructor should save time and energy by teaching in a scientific and a theoretical manner.

6. An instructor should see that students develop inside and outside the training hall.

7. An instructor should encourage students to visit other training halls and study other techniques also. By doing so, students would be able to learn new techniques and by comparing different techniques, they would understand which techniques are inferior and which are superior.

8. An instructor should have no favourites and treat all students equally. If a student needs scolding then it should be done in private and not in front of the others present in the class.

9. An instructor should not fabricate any answers to questions from students and inform that attempts will be made to find the answers. Illogical answers should not be given to students just because the instructor does not know the answer and is afraid of “losing face”.

10. An instructor should not ask any favours from students like performing repair works, cleaning the training hall, etc.

11. An instructor should understand that instruction is given only to make students excel technically and mentally. Exploitation of students should never be done by an instructor.

12. An instructor should always be honest with the students. Trust with the students should never be broken.

Students (Jeja)

1. A student should never get tired of learning. The secret of knowledge is to learn anytime and anywhere.

2. A student should never feel that training is a commodity that is bought after paying the training fees. For the art and for the instructor, the student should be willing to sacrifice and take part in demonstrations and teaching.

3. A student should always be a good example for lower-ranking students, as they will try to imitate senior students.

4. A student should never criticise Taekwon-Do, the instructor or the methods of teaching.

5. A student should practise and try to utilize the techniques taught by the instructor.

6. A student should behave appropriately outside the training hall also, since the student’s behaviour is a reflection of the art and the instructor.

7. A student may adopt a technique seen in another training hall. But if the instructor disapproves of the technique, then the student should either immediately discard the technique or train at the gym from where the technique was adopted.

8. A student must always follow the instructions of the instructor. If the student is in disagreement with the instructor, then the matter can be discussed later on; however, the student should never behave disrespectfully with the instructor.

9. A student must forever be eager to ask questions and to learn.

10. A student must never betray the instructor.

“The responsibility of teaching this art lies with the instructors, whose eventual mission will be to teach students to be physically and mentally strong and to help contribute to a more peaceful world. […] Accordingly, both instructor and student owe a debt of responsibility to teach each other that can never be paid.” -Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1. p.82)


1. Gen. Choi, H. H. (1985). Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do (Vols. 1–15). International Taekwon-Do Federation: Vienna.


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