Recently, I had the chance to connect as a student the U.S. Haidong Gumdo Association Senior Chief Master. During the introduction and “getting to know you” conversations leading up to the seminar, he commented that he prefer the title “Sabumnim” instead of “Master”. His position is based upon the idea that “Master” has a more (my words here) arrogant status to it. That “Sabumnim” is a teacher, it becomes a more accurate description of those who really teaching the “Way”.
I have watched a couple local schools move away from teaching the Way. The position that has been taken by them is… “if they are a black belt in their curriculum, aren’t they a black belt in anything?” Most of these schools have adopted sword curriculums. These schools have been around for quite a long time but only recently have people teaching the sword. Now, don’t get me wrong…most “good” teachers/instructors can teach a variety of topics. That’s not the point. The real question is “Have they learned the material they’re teaching or are they mimicking the book or video reference material?” If they don’t have a teacher, are they teaching the Way or just trying to sell more classes? I have used the sword classes in this example because its directly related to an art that I’m trying to learn, but it could be any art.
I look forward to the opportunity to be called Sabumnim. Eventually, I’ll figure out how this whole thing works. I know I still have a long journey but with teachers like Sabumnim Parnell, it will a very educational, challenging and fun.
Author: Master Robert Frankovich
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