To be a subject matter expert, a student needs to learn from many different sources, including different instructors, not just ones that have been trained by a central “master.” Students are loyal to their instructor and try to please the instructor by doing things the way the instructor does them, as well as the way the instructor teaches them. Although an instructor may have the best of intentions and may honestly believe that what he or she is teaching is the truth, in fact, what the instructor is teaching may be completely wrong. If students do not seek information from other sources and question unreasonable assertions made by instructors, they may become clones of their instructor, which may or may not be a good thing. Clones are not an improvement; they are merely copies of the original.
Some instructors want their students to be clones of themselves; they are clones of their master and they simply pass along the tradition. In our Taekwondo organization, most of the founding school owners had the same master, so they teach the way they learned from that master and they pass along what they learned, right or wrong, to their students.
Won-hyo pattern has 28 movements. In our organization, the pattern has 27 movements; the preparatory movement to set up for the final side kick is missing. There is no logical reason for the movement to be missing, since the preparatory movement of the first side kick is still used. It appears that at some point the original master of all the instructors left out the step when teaching them the pattern and the mistake has been passed along through the apprentice training system. Other patterns have similar mistakes; they are not changes made for some particular reason, they are just mistakes. These mistakes then are passed on from instructor to apprentice and are seldom questioned since to correct them would upset the status quo of the organization.
The apprentice system has its good points; it teaches humility and it allows trainees to gain experience gradually. However, the system limits the student’s knowledge and experience to that which the head instructor possesses. An instructor training program should address all the aforementioned problems to break the cycle of passing along outdated, improper, unsafe, or wrong information.