Know Your Motivation for Studying Taekwondo
After years of Taekwondo study, Taekwondo practitioners begin to view Taekwondo as a "way" of life, but this is not what motivates a beginner. People usually begin to study Taekwondo as a way to get in shape, as a method of self-defense, out of curiosity, or as something that may enhance their lives. No matter what your motivation is for studying Taekwondo, stick with it until "the way" takes over. If your only motivation is to get in shape, at some point you will get bored and look for another method. If your only motivation is self-defense, your studies will probably be a waste of time since most people will never have to defend themselves. If you stay with Taekwondo for any reason, at some point, you will achieve "the way" and your motivation will be merely your love of the practice of Taekwondo.
Bring an open mind and an empty cup to training. When presented with new thoughts, philosophies, and techniques, keep an open mind, absorb the information, process it, and determine if it is useful to you. If it is useful to you, use it. If it not useful to you, remember it, but do not use it except when instructed to use it in class. Bringing an empty cup to class means you come with no preconceived ideas. For example, if you come to class with thoughts of another martial art style in your mind, you will be constantly comparing techniques learned in that style to those you are learning in Taekwondo. You may end up with a blend of the two styles, instead of one clear style. Blending styles is undesirable for a beginner. Store the previous style in your memory and, after years of training in Taekwondo, you may find that the techniques are interchangeable.
Courtesy may be especially difficult for a beginner student. Many times, on the streets, in schools, and in the workplace, assertiveness is considered a personality strength, and courtesy is considered a weakness—no one what to be considered weak. Oriental traditions, such as bowing, seem subservient to most Americans. However, if one considers the bow as a greeting and sign of respect, similar to a handshake, it will seem more natural. If you are respectful and courteous toward Taekwondo, the dojang, the instructor, and fellow students of all ranks, it will lead to your demonstrating more respect and courtesy at home, on the streets, in school, and in the workplace. This in turn will make you more respectful and courteous in class—forming a circle of courtesy. As you become more confident in your Taekwondo abilities, you will find it easier to be courteous. When you do not have a personal need to "prove yourself," you will be more courteous, and less assertive.