Taekwondo is a sport that’s steeped in culture and tradition, as well as being incredibly deep.
Many people train for most of their lives and this is because of the enormous depth and variety that comes with Taekwondo, and to guide you through all of the different things to learn in Taekwondo is your teacher, but what are they called?
In this article we’ll be answering what a teacher of Taekwondo is called, and their significance in the sport.
We’ll be answering what the role of the teacher is, and how they teach their students. So without further ado let’s get started.
The Role Of A Teacher
As you might imagine, the role of a taekwondo teacher is that of a guide. You’re there to uphold the values of taekwondo, and teach your students everything that you know in the most effective way.
This includes teaching them the relevant physical moves, but also the mindset that Taekwondo upholds.
A teacher should teach, but more importantly they should guide their students so that they reach their peak level of ability in their own time.
The Taekwondo Teacher
In Taekwondo, the teacher isn’t referred to with their direct honorific title, but instead are called sabom, which directly translates to teacher. However, a taekwondo student would not simply call his instructor sabom.
There needs to be an honorific suffix added to the word if it is directly used for an instructor charged with teaching a student.
The suffix is nim (neem).So, a taekwondo student wanting to get the attention of an instructor would say, ‘Sabomnim.’ Which is a title that’s used more in schools and classes elsewhere, but is the appropriate title to use for a teacher of taekwondo.
Interestingly, most Korean styles will generally use sabomnim for instructors and master instructors alike. This is because a full instructor in most Korean styles is considered a 4th degree black belt or above.
In general though, you will find that most Korean styles will use the English word ‘master’ for 4th degree black belts and above.
Any teacher below the rank of 4th degree is designated with the title boosabeom (pronounced boo-sah-bum) or is addressed as boosabeomnim.
The term means assistant instructor. Also, a master instructor that owns his or her own dojang (training hall) is called kwanjangnim (pronounced kwan-chang-neem).
What About Sensei?
You might be thinking that sensei was the word used to describe a teacher in martial arts, but actually each form of martial arts has their own word for their teacher, instead of them all being called sensei.
A teacher of karate is instead called Sensei, which is a japanese martial art.
The Japanese word sensei does have a cognate in Korean- sonsaeng (pronounced sohn-seng).
However, the way the word is used is different. Sonsaeng means ‘teacher’ in Korean, and is normally used to refer to a teacher only in an academic setting.
It’s also used as a general word to refer to other people – particularly people you’ve never met before or don’t know well.
You can use the word sonsaeng in Taekwondo, but generally only to refer to other students who are at a similar or higher level than you, rather than your instructor, calling your taekwondo instructor sensei would otherwise be considered offensive and ignorant.
What Do Teachers Wear?
For most levels of taekwondo, white uniforms are the norm for students. But there’s loads of other colors available for different roles in taekwondo.
Teachers are given black uniforms with trims on them in order for you to immediately identify your teacher, and understand the respect that they deserve.
Different roles such as demo teams can be given orange or red uniforms. Typically if you see people wearing a color other than white, it’ll mean that they hold some sort of authority in the sport.
In taekwondo, belts are just as important, as they show the level of expertise that a person has in their martial arts studies.
These ranks are called kup, and most teachers will have at least 1st dan black belt in order to begin teaching students. Even then, these teachers will still have masters that guide them.
The title ‘master’ is reserved for higher levels of black belt in Taekwondo.
Fourth degree black belts and below are still an enormous amount of dedication and work, and are never given the title of ‘master’ as the title normally starts at fifth, sixth, or seventh degree black belt.
This is why the title of master is one that’s extremely well respected and sought after in Taekwondo.
Dan ranks increase from 1st all the way to 10th, and this is generally signified with a golden stripe that runs through the black belt.
This is considered the highest possible rank for Taekwondo, and as you could imagine takes an enormous amount of dedication and hard work to reach, but you will be rewarded with the title of master.
Being a teacher of taekwondo is a role that’s of utmost importance, and that’s for the deep rooted tradition with the sport, and also the practicality of performing martial arts.
There’s an enormous amount of pride associated with being a teacher, and even more for becoming a master.
So hopefully you can now understand the dedication and hard work that goes into being a teacher of taekwondo.
Be sure to respect your teacher, and help them do their job by being the best student that you can be.