Martial Arts


To Be A Student

By Master Ricardo Longinotti, 7th Dan
Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Many martial arts practitioners have the idea that "a student" is a person who pays to take classes in a gymnasium. They think that "a student" is a person who performs all that the teacher instructs him/her, through the ranks of white, orange, green or red belts.

When students become Cho Dan, often times something begins to change, especially if the new Dan member begins to teach classes. Little changes may occur (sometimes not so little), maybe in his personal behavior during classes or in interactions with other students. Their responsibilities begin to shift from being a student to teaching others. Mistakenly, the idea of re-focusing their commitment from training to teaching often occurs, with little emphasis placed upon the first. Time between testing eligibility becomes a formality that is more connected to their time as instructors rather than time spent to develop as practitioner. Inside their confused minds, the only thing that they must do now is train a little, teach and wait until the time to be eligible for testing to 2nd, 3rd or 4th Dan has elapsed.

This is a serious misconception among practitioners. All practitioners, from white belt to 9th Dan are students!. No one leaves from this status. This is closely tied to the spirit of Moo Do and Kyum Son. The one that forgets this is moving himself away from the behavior of a serious Martial Artist. It's the discipline which must be demonstrated while one is walking on the Moo Do path. Also the Kwan Jang Nims of any organization will continue learning from another senior Kwan Jang Nim and investigating the art by himself. All Dans are and will continue being students. The Master 7th Dan is a student of the Kwan Jhang Nim, the Master 5th Dan is student of the Master 7th Dan and the Kwan Jang Nim, and all Dans of each organization are students of their actual Masters and the Instructor from whom they learned the first time (they do not have to forget who initiated them in this way).

"Nobody stops being student". When we talk about mental and spiritual development of the practitioners (Neh Gung and Shim Gung), we must give the example. Senior students have the responsibility to lead juniors by example, and their responsibility entails the actual action of daily, disciplined behavior during their Tang Soo Do training. In this way, our actions, our Kyum Son, are communicated by example. Humility is demonstrated, first by our acceptance that we do not possess all knowledge, that our skills will decrease if we do not train, and also that we can learn from others.

If any Dan member begins to teach, he/she takes an obligation that is added to obligations that he/she already has, but this cannot be used as an excuse to neglect their other ones. Teaching is an added responsibility that increases the level of commitment necessary for the Dan level student, as they are now required to be both practitioners and examples. To neglect ones training is to suffer the risk of losing acquired knowledge through a steady decline of skills which are not continuously trained in their everyday practice.

"Who does not train goes backward". If any Dan says "I'm training while I'm teaching to my students", he is deceiving himself, because his/her students will not demand of him or her to perform at the same level as other Dans. Also, there will not be anyone who can point out to him the errors "that we all have", neither teaching him new things nor explaining to him how to improve any technique.

In summary, being a student is our first experience in martial arts. It is the door by which we receive the knowledge of our art. This door remains open only as long as we maintain our humility and continue training with respect on all levels. Respect for our seniors, respect for our art, and respect for ourselves. Sometimes we all commit errors without realizing it. We are all human beings. Each Dan member would benefit from this by analyzing their commitment to training and renewing that commitment in the spirit of the art and by the examples of those before us.


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