I have been fortunate. I was introduced to Martial Arts when I was fifteen years old by a Taekwondo Master who sponsored my tuition, my private lessons, my tests and tournaments. He believed in me and hoped that I become one of his instructors. Fast forward 14 years, the school I used to trained is no longer existent. My Master is no longer teaching Martial Arts, but my dreams to motivate and inspire, have just begun.
Martial Arts have been in my family since I was young. I have always loved the discipline, the culture and the foundations that build a student’s character for years to come. I have been part of Taekwondo for the past 14 years and it has been my dream since I began my training to become a head instructor, a mentor, and most important to inspire practitioners to strive being the best they can be; Whether it’s in the dojang, their personal life’s or their fitness goals. As I commenced my journey to further my education by pursuing a degree in Exercise Science to supplement my Martial Arts experience and overall knowledge of fitness, I began to do research on the type of degrees or certifications needed to be a certified Taekwondo instructor in the state of California.
Traditional Martial Arts Schools follow a belt ranking (white, yellow, orange, green) where the highest belt ranking is a black belt. Similar path follows with Taekwondo rankings, with a 4th degree Black Belt being consider a “Master” degree and the degree that a Martial arts school owner will or should have. These Master’s degrees are regulated by the United States of America Taekwondo Federation and by the World Taekwondo Federation, an organization that is in Korea and in charge of the development of Taekwondo as an Olympic sports. While there is some oversight internationally with Taekwondo practitioner, registration is not required to be a Martial Arts School owner in the states. The 2016 California Code of Business and Professions Code states:
“No person shall train a professional boxer or kickboxer or martial arts athlete unless he or she has been licensed by the commission. A professional trainer is someone who is responsible for the day-to-day training of those athletes and possesses a minimum of five years experience in combative sports.”
This statue clearly defines a Martial Arts School owner, who plans to actively have his or her students compete in events sanction by the World Taekwondo Federation. It does not include Martial Arts schools who are not currently active in competition nor does it define belt rankings or a way for California to verify the authenticity of Master rank practitioners. What is most telling is that to train a professional Martial Artist, there are no specific requirements for the type of background school owners need to have or pursue. A National Academy of Sports Medicine certification, The American Council on Exercise, Fitness Mentors or National Strength and Conditioning Association are never mentioned within the statues. I believe that this is an issue because as a teacher of physical movement, all Martial arts instructors should have some sort of background in movement, fitness, other than the training undertaken in Martial Arts. Without it, the benefit for the student is limited and someone without experience could end up hurting the students and the public. As of now, acquiring these types of certifications are left to the discretion of the Martial Arts owners, including running background checks for the employees.
While I feel very fortunate and grateful to have receive such an amazing Martial art experience, I do believe that every Martial artist who plans to become school owner or teacher, should associate themselves or strive to gain deeper knowledge in Exercise Science or Kinesiology. Ultimately, a true teacher or instructor, wants to give their students the best they have. I personally know many Martial arts School owners who have degrees and certifications to add more validity to their programs and for marketing. I know a lot of great Martial Arts School owners who do not have backgrounds or certifications but have successfully built a reputation through out the years. These are not the people who I worry about. I am concerned about those school owners who are only in the industry to make money from students and parents and don’t truly believe in helping people achieve their fitness goals. I hope that at some point, business regulations become stricter for the better of the students and practitioners and most importantly, as I commence my journey, I look forward to making a difference with all my students.
My full name is Jorge Antonio Orozco Lopez. I am an incoming transfer student to California Lutheran University. I am planning to Exercise Science because I have always been interested in assisting people with injuries as well as and coaching. First in my family to go a for year university, I am looking forward to long nights of studying and walks by the beach.
- CA Bus & Prof Code § 18653 (2016), https://law.justia.com/codes/california/2016/code-bpc/division-8/chapter-2/article-3/section-18653/.