When I signed up my 13 year old son for Taekwon-Do lessons at Black Belt Excellence Martial Arts Academy in Kanata, I did not realize that I was signing us up for life and parent coaching, too. Not only is Master Phil a seventh degree Black Belt, who passes on the passion for his discipline to his students, he is also a master teacher. He teaches students respect, motivation and belief in themselves and he teaches parents and teachers how to relate to their children.
When Master Phil meets his students, he doesn’t try to make friends and to be like them. He is authentic and he is very clear about his role and the student role, very politely demonstrating respect. Right from the start, he looks students in the eye, introduces himself, and asks questions. At first, his questions are closed questions so the student has to answer yes or no. When the student responds, Master Phil instructs them to answer with a “Yes, Sir.” or a “No, Sir.” He welcomes them to his dojang (martial arts academy), and talks about the importance of respect verifying the student has understood by simply asking, “Do you understand?” Another closed question. When the student answers, Master Phil reminds the student to answer with “Sir.” With the third question, Master Phil assumes the student knows, and just waits for the appropriate response. From the start, with a few very simple questions, without any fuss, he has established expectations for respect and discipline.
Master Phil also understands the importance of creating rapport with parents and demonstrates respect towards the parents to his students. From the start, students get the message that everybody is there for the same goals: supporting that student. And everybody understands that they need to work together to achieve those goals. Greeting students and parents alike when they arrive, Master Phil creates community. He thanks the parents for taking the time to drive their kids to the lesson, and commends the students on their dedication to practicing. With a few simple comments, he creates a bond and demonstrates to his students how to be respectful as well as boosting their confidence and motivating them.
When Master Phil gives feedback to his students, he goes beyond the generic and questionable “Good job.” He seeks to acknowledge who they are and what they can do: You listened well; You were focused; You worked hard; I can see how dedicated you are; Your practice is paying off. This specific feedback focusing on what they do, motivates students because they know someone has noticed what they can do and, as a result, they want to improve. Then, when Master Phil tells them what they need to work on, they know they are getting honest and helpful advice and not criticism. When he addresses his students as “Future yellow belt”, or “Future green stripe” he is telling them that they can achieve the next step, that they are on the right track, and that he sees it. They want to work harder because Master Phil believes in them and knows they are capable.
If you decide to sign up your children for Taekwon-Do lessons with Master Phil at Black Belt Excellence Martial Arts Academy in Kanata, know that you are signing up for so much more. Master Phil demonstrates and teaches students respect, dedication, and authenticity. And, he teaches the observant parent how to achieve compliance from children and young adults, how to foster a respectful relationship while staying in the teacher/parent/adult role and how to motivate and encourage them. Masterful, Master Phil!