There are three basic styles of instruction
- Traditional (usually based on repetition), the most prevalent
- Creative (which invents new exercises to perfect a skill or teach a principle)
- Intellectual (based on verbal explanation and rational understanding)
Since most students have only had one instructor during their Taekwondo training, most instructors use the same style of instruction as their instructors use. Some seek out or stumble upon different styles that more efficiently help them reach their goals. Each instructor should be aware of the different instruction styles and adopt the one that most fits their personality.
Traditionally, no one questioned the style of teaching. The style of instruction and the art of Taekwondo were considered synonymous. Since the Taekwondo was Korean based on warriors, the instruction style must be similarly Korean and warrior based. Classes consisted of long periods of exercises and drills were followed by even longer periods of step sparring and forms practice, long sparring sessions without benefit of modern sparring safety equipment, and culminated in a long period of meditation. The instructor would show how to do a technique and the class performed it. If someone did it completely wrong, the instructor would step in and demonstrate again with one of us with little talking. This was a military discipline meant to challenge the student’s will power. The instructor use techniques as an instrument of self-discipline. Power was gained by repetition, form by imitation.
Traditional instruction was perpetrated by a bloodline inheritance or by a non-genetically related one. It was usually attributed to divine guidance, which gave its founder a sudden insight during his years of arduous practice. Students learned through insight and hard practice, rather than through rational teaching. Learning was through imitation. Supposedly, imitation is "body-learning" rather than "mind-learning" and thus lasts longer.
However, what is lacking in the imitation learning style are those things which are needed for a combatively effective fighting art:
- It is is slow
- It requires the student to constantly re-learn techniques which were falsely imitated initially.
- Although it increases the powers of observation, it reduces the powers of analysis. The student perfects his or her own technique but cannot analyze what is wrong with someone else’s even though he or she may recognize the flaw.
- The practical purposes of patterns are gradually lost and, if retained, cannot be modified to take into account a different opponent, nor can they be changed to make them more effective.