Matt Jurilla

Action 1/30/2014

From the summer up until now, I have been volunteering at a center that teaches people at any age how to do taekwondo. I had some background in doing it several years ago, only to come back as a volunteer. My volunteer work there consists of instructing the children (the younger class), and refereeing/supervising their sparring matches. The taekwondo center that I attend to volunteer is rather strict. There are various rules that one must abide to, similar to school. Any student, including myself must attend the class on time especially the higher belts in order to act as role models for the others. Student are also required to dress according to what the instructor approves of (i.e. Jewelry, particular clothing, etc). Students must also speak or yell clearly as signs of discipline because discipline is a primary focus in the standards at the center. Although it is a martial arts community, it has also introduced me to a different culture separate from the society I live in. Within the class, it is a necessity to bow to anyone that is older or have a higher belt (this must also be done when entering/leaving the dojo), when speaking to the instructor, each sentence must end with “sir” or ma’am,” and since the martial art originated from South Korea, there are particular some of the words and number used when attending must be in South Korean. This has particularly taught me a lot about discipline. From my experience in volunteering thus far, I realize the importance of respect which is much more emphasized in the culture that taekwondo originated as opposed to the environment I live in because there is less restriction in language. I realized that it may be directly applied to school because its policies follow a similar manner. There are two particular often used quotes being, “Finish what you started,” and “Always work to better yourself.” The policies that I have learned while attending are: discipline, respect, perseverance, indomitable spirit, and stand by the weakened justice. Although these are the themes that I claim to have realized, it is also a direct quote that the students repeat every day before beginning the class. I have also recognized the utmost importance of leadership and authority because they are fundamental for me in order to instruct the class and/or supervise the sparring matches. Although it is true that the classes teach martial arts, it is heavily accentuated that its teachings are for self-defense, not to bring harm upon others. However, the sparring matches also have the purpose to ready the students for tournaments that he/she may participate in. The students may practice for months/years in preparation which displays the importance of dedication when applied to any given set goal to achieve. I have also attended one of these competitions which occur on very rare occasions to volunteer. The atmosphere and environment were incredibly outside of my comfort zone as I had to adapt to how to score and judge the matches. Each of the students from many different schools were there with their instructors to compete and display their efforts that had brought them thus far. The experience enabled me to learn how to adapt to new environments by relying on observational skills. It also stressed communication because it was essential for me to address others that were more experienced in the work given to the volunteers. Overall, the work that I have done at the takewondo center has expanded my knowledge on culture and the effectiveness of perseverance. I also learned to not take things for granted, particularly my loved ones because at the end of each class the students must thank their superiors and their guardians that are present during the classes. The introduction to a culture separate from my own has also sparked an interest for me in learning about other cultures because my curiosity has resulted in appreciation towards the policies that are stressed in taekwondo.

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