Whether it be Kung-Fu, Wing Chun, Karate, ITF Tae Kwon-Do, WTF Tae Kwon-Do, Ju-Jitsu, Judo, or any of the many martial arts out there, most clubs instill the base tenets of their martial art into their students. Martial arts all carry a value and ethos, and those that take up martial arts show the characteristics of the art they choose. However, each club I've seen always shows one thing above all others- comradeship.
Tae Kwon-Do was developed in the Korean Army by Major General Choi Hong Hi. Like many other martial arts, it arose from the need to teach people the art of war, and how to defend themselves, hence the word "martial" in martial arts, as it is a fighting discipline. That is why I believe that when you see martial arts, you always see one thing in a club. Unity. Comradeship. Family.
If you ever talk to a soldier in the army, they'll often talk about their regiment as their brothers and sisters, like they are family. Fighting side by side, the teamwork required to succeed builds bonds of strength between people, and although training at your local martial arts club isn't exactly being shot at in a bunker, the same principles apply to the students.
When I first joined Tae Kwon-Do, I never believed that I would have made the friends or bonds with people that I have. In a club, you are united by a passion of doing something that you all love, and that brings you together. I have trained in many club venues in TSX Tae Kwon-Do over the years, and every club has shown the same values of family.
People look after one another, socialise together, work together to achieve their goals whether it be the next belt or a competition trophy, and I've never seen someone in ten years refuse to help teach another. Even if a student has grievances or a disagreement with another student, when they are in the training hall, they will happily assist one another and work together.
That to me is like family. In family life, whether you disagree or fall out with someone, you will always make amends or stick together. That is the bond you have. This is seen in martial arts all the time. The bond I have with people in Tae Kwon-Do, my "comrades", is stronger than many I have forged in the outside world. It just means more. Whether you realise it, you are part of a larger family in your club and organisation.
I started Tae Kwon-Do at the age of 12. I began teaching as an assistant aged 15, helping out at the junior classes whenever I could after I was moved into the senior class. Many people have done the same, and give up their time freely, not because they feel they have to, but because they want to. In Tae Kwon-Do, we look after our own. I knew I was part of a real 'family' when I opened up my own clubs, and the support I had from people I had known for years, and from those I barely knew who had just started, was overwhelming, and I am still thankful every day for the support I continue to get. Even now, if we hold an open day, there are always students willing and more than eager to volunteer to help.
Not only do you form a bond of family with your fellow students, but Tae Kwon-Do also brings families closer together too. My mother used to train with me in my club, and so did my step-dad. Tae Kwon-Do undoubtedly made us closer. In our clubs, we have mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters and full family units that train together. I bet if you ask them, they would say that Tae Kwon-Do strengthens their relationship with one another, and in class you often see them working together side by side.
Martial arts is a way of teaching people to defend themselves, but it is so much more. It teaches people teamwork, self-belief, confidence and communication. But maybe the most important thing of all that it does is bring people together as a unit that will look after one another through any trials that they will face, whether it be a personal matter or help in learning the next pattern. There will always be a hand to pick you up no matter what life throws your way, even if that hand is somebody outside the walls of the hall you may not normally get on with.
I'm sure every instructor would agree with me that the ethos of working as a unit creates that special bond with and between students in their clubs. Friendships are strong, but the bond shared in martial arts is almost unbreakable. To emphasise this point, I would like to mention something I said that is arguably the most embarrassing thing I've said to someone in Tae Kwon-Do, although it was influenced by the "Christmas cheer" of the end of year party.
"I'd take a bullet for you".
If that isn't companionship forged in the fires of martial arts, then I don't know what is.