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THE ROLE OF THE ASSISTANT INSTRUCTOR

A thesis presented for the 4 th Degree Black Belt at the International Taekwon-Do Federation

by

Anastasi (Taso) Kollis

White Eagle Taekwon-Do ITF Dojang of Champions, Adelaide, South Australia

Federation by Anastasi (Taso) Kollis White Eagle Taekwon-Do ITF Dojang of Champions, Adelaide, South Australia May

May 2006

Introduction The definition of an Assistant Instructor (AI) is manifest in the function that this individual carries. This position is not an “official” title that is recognised at an inter-club level, rather it is designated by the head instructor of a given club go a student. Thus, the assistant instructor functions at two levels as both a student and teacher. While the teaching role is of minimal amount and quality at this stage, it is through development of the assistant instructor that a student may grow and develop into the final “fruits” of a head instructors expertise, a full- fledged senior instructor. The process is not a rapid one with learning achieved primarily through practice as opposed to intense “theoretical” learning (not implicating that theoretical knowledge regarding TKD ITF is of secondary significance). Thus, the completely appreciate and recognise the significance of an AI, one must consider what general functions they perform, their authority and skill level, the knowledge they possess and finally and most importantly, the relationship an AI must have with their head instructor.

What is an AI? As stated above, the „qualification‟ of an AI is club-instigated, and thus functions at a club level. Thus it isn‟t a global classification whereby one can transfer between clubs and retain this title. Consequently, much of the pre-requisites or selection criteria are formulated by a given head instructor of the potential candidate. However some general guidelines suggest that:

The AI should be a minimum of a 2 Gup This would indicate that the individual has had (X) number of years experience and an almost thorough understanding of the initial twelve TKD patterns. Black belt AI‟s would have been thoroughly tested on all twelve TKD patterns (in order to attain their belt rank) thus having quite a developed understanding of the fundamentals of TKD and, in most circumstances, would have strong supporting theoretical knowledge. Considering the duration of training required to attain a red-belt level, the AI would have had significant enough class exposure to understand the concept of how to co-ordinate and “plan” a training session or at least a component of it (i.e. warm up, some basic drills, patterns, cool down) and thus be confident in co-ordinating at least one training aspect. Furthermore, they would have had enough time to learn about and develop a rapport with other class members (recognising names, strengths and weaknesses of the students etc.). This, together with all above-mentioned factors is dependent on the belt-level and

age/maturity of the AI. A more mature AI (in both belt and age aspects) would be able to conceptualise class need more competently, and therefore assist/monitor students at a more effective level.

The AI should possess a first aid certificate or be aware of first aid procedures Legal standards worldwide have incorporated the requirement that to teach a group or body of people in such a way as one takes an authoritive role, awareness of emergency procedure is required. Taekwon-Do in particular is a high-risk sport, particularly where musculoskeletal injuries are concerned. Therefore, the AI must recognise student‟s limits and appropriate class structure (ie. warm up before performing an intense session) to reduce the probability of injury. Furthermore, they should also understand the basic principles of acute injury management (ie. ice, compression and elevation), in case of students becoming injured while under the care of the AI.

The AI should be at least 16 years of age Much controversy arises with regards to the appropriate age of senior students, the authority they carry, and the conflict between age and rank. For example, a blue belt 50 year old man may need to bow and pay respects to a 14 year old black belt female who would carry more authority in a TKD class, however must pay respects to the older figure in a traditional perspective. The maturity levels of an individually vary substantially and are affected by factors such as gender, nationality, culture, previous life experiences etc. Therefore, determining whether a student is „mature‟ enough to teach a class is under the discression of the head instructor. This is also dependent on how much control is issued to the AI. For example, a minor is legally not permitted to conduct a class without the presence of a senior. Thus a sixteen-year-old AI would be a good candidate conducting partial aspects of class (ie. Warm up) and not an entire training session. It must be noted that regardless of rank, the AI must maintain the appropriate conduct procedure when addressing older students and pay respects as would be expected in a social circumstance.

Qualities of the AI The guidelines above encompass the „formal‟ aspects of AI recruitment, however there are a myriad of personal qualities that a student must develop before they carry the AI title. These

qualities transcend three leves, the physical, psychological and spiritual. Considering the physical level, the AI must be fit or apt enough to conduct a portion or an entire training session. Thus, they shouldn‟t have major physical limitations such as lack of fitness and a resultant inability to communicate while training. An AI should also be an effective communicator. This includes addressing all students while instructing, explaining exercises and drills concisely, allowing questioning regarding any instructions they give, talking in a clear, audible voice and other similar aspects. The AI must also be able to demonstrate what they teach. Although it is not necessary for them to be the most skilful practitioner (particularly if of advanced age or physically limited), however they must be able to demonstrate what they teach, or identify someone in the class who displays the correct technique and recruit them for a demonstration. This is entwined with the minimal rank requirement an AI must carry (2 nd Gup). Most second Gup individuals are aware of the general principles to TKD movements etc. and thus would be able to demonstrate many of the exercises they may ask students to perform.

Mental strength and ethics must be maintained in all of an AI‟s conduct. Of greatest detriment to

a TKD class is an AI who believes him/her self to be the leader or a superior individual to the

students. Rather, the AI is simply a student themselves who has gained the privilege of having a greater role of helping others of his/her calibre to attain the milestones that the AI has already

achieved. Thus, maintaining a strong ethical stance and conducting oneself with dignity is essential for an AI. This includes not discussing Dojang business with other students, particularly

if the AI has been given information regarding another students personal conditions (ie. medical

etc.) as a precaution to teaching, never correcting the head instructor in front of the class, doesn‟t

become a „drill-seargent‟ basking in the high power embedded in him/her and barking orders to satisfy their ego and nurturing a constant attainment of knowledge, never believing that they have learn all that they can and now they have authority beyond that of their head instructor. Many of the negative examples indicated above represent natural human tendency to become corrupt when issued with power. Thus it must be the role of the head instructor to strictly monitor the conduct of the AI too.

Duties of AI The role of the AI is greater than simply teaching. As indicated by the name, an AI is, in one respect, an instructor, however at a much more diluted level. Thus they must perform some or most of the duties of the head instructor. Again, this level of involvement is up to the discretion of the head instructor. However, general duties may include aspects such as keeping attendance records, leading simple exercises or aiding with correcting students techniques while the instructor is instructing, assisting to demonstrate technique to the class, ensuring that equipment is cared for and stored correctly, assists in grading duties (holding boards, asking theoretical questions etc.), ensures other students don‟t interrupt training with tomfoolery, and ultimately is an example for other students and a „friend‟ that they can rely on when in need. However, it must be stated that the role of „friend‟ cannot overshadow the AI‟s official duties and cannot compromise his/her assistance to the head instructor.

The term Assistant Instructor is much more involved that initially considered. Essentially, an AI is an apprentice version of an instructor. It is through their role as an AI that one learns the immense responsibility associated with teaching a class and running a club, while simultaneously learning about factors that require improvement before considering become a full-instructor. For many students, the opportunity to instruct becomes an „eye-opening‟ experience, bringing to full light the trials and tribulations, as well as the joy and satisfaction associated with teaching and organising. Undoubtedly however, from hearing opinions of many AI‟s and being an AI myself, there seems to be a bountiful supply of anecdotal evidence to support that although intense, being an AI is a very rewarding experience.

Acknowledgements I would like to thank my instructor Dr Zibby Kruk for his guidance during my 12 years of involvement in Taekown-Do ITF, my colleague Joanna Kruk for her supervision in preparation of my thesis and my wife Rebecca for her support and encouragement as my life and Taekwon- Do partner.