I had a great chance to get some more training at our American Taekwondo Association (ATA) Spring Nationals last week. If you’re not familiar with it, Taekwondo means “kicking, punching way”, and began as an ancient Korean martial art, more than a millennium ago.
Spring Nationals happened to be in Las Vegas, as it is almost every year. While Vegas is obviously an entertainment destination, the draw for me was the chance to get some more education about contemporary martial arts training, particularly the new ATA Leadership Program.
Over 300 instructors from around the U.S. and Canada gathered for training from some of the most successful school owners and ATA headquarters staff. After these great clinics, I can tell you unequivocally that what happens in Vegas isn’t going to stay in Vegas. It’s coming home to Paris.
The first seminar was all day Wednesday, and about the new ATA Leadership program for kids and adults. To help us quickly learn the material, they presented a segment at a time, and then we broke up into groups of 5-6 people so we could practice teaching it in front of each other.
This can be quite intimidating, even for a Master with over 30 years experience. But it’s also a chance to “let your ego go” and try new things, like teaching the theme “Communication” throughout the entire class: “Communication is?” “The link between the world and me.”
Then we covered different ways we communicate. For example, “People make decisions about you from the moment they meet you. So start with a smile and a strong handshake.” The goal is to integrate leadership qualities into our students’ Taekwondo training so they learn more than just kicking and punches.
We were there to learn how to make leaders. Because everyone really has two possible choices. We’re going to lead, or we’re going to follow. Both are good, and both are necessary. Which one we do depends on the situation or setting.
In Vegas, I was a follower, learning from the seniors. I also practiced leading in the groups. Here at home, I’m usually a leader, setting the curriculum, tone, and agenda. But even leaders learn things while they’re leading, and following other leaders too.
Still, leadership alone isn’t the only goal. Some leaders lead others into trouble. We want to create leaders that will lead people into good things. So it’s not just about making leaders, it’s about making good leaders, too.
Another feature of the new Leadership curriculum was the addition of ATA XTreme Weapons and Forms. These are some awesome new training tools that are very dynamic to watch and perform. They’ll also give students a real understanding of presentation that will further develop their leadership ability.
The second day was all about the new ATA Tigers program and curriculum, and I’ll tell you about that next week. For now, I’ve got to go get ready for classes. We’re making leaders here!