Before his sudden passing in 2010, Grand Master Tran Trieu Quan (President of the ITF which currently is headquartered in Spain from 2003-2010) would on occasion release a “President’s Message”.
There was one President’s Message from 2006 that caught my attention because of how he spoke of how Taekwon-Do schools should be run and of how the role of the Instructor in that school must go beyond just knowledge of Taekwon-Do.
A Taekwon-Do school is a business
Taekwon-Do school owners have to wear two hats: They are, first and foremost, teachers.
But they also have to be business people.
The philosophy of Taekwon-Do, as developed by General Choi Hong Hi, teaches us to strive to live our lives based on principles such as integrity and respect for others. So an ITF teacher would certainly not try to take advantage of his students in any way. On the other hand, ITF teachers are offering a quality product, a product that is not available elsewhere, and that product has a certain value. Our students recognize that value and are willing to pay a fair price for it.
Ideally, an ITF teacher should make teaching Taekwon-Do his career. If he can make a decent living from teaching, he will have fewer financial worries and will be able to devote himself full-time to Taekwon-Do. As a result, he will be better able to serve his students and his community.
So, although teaching Taekwon-Do is a means to the realization of our vision of a better world, this does not mean that Taekwon-Do schools should not make a profit. In fact, it is essential that schools make a profit if they want to continue to operate!
Thus, school owners should charge fees that are in line with the quality of the courses they offer. It is important to differentiate our ITF Taekwon-Do schools from the competition by offering the best value for the money. Resist the temptation to participate in a price war with your competitors. Instead, concentrate on improving quality.
It is important that the working conditions for school owners and for their employees be interesting, and the salaries for teaching should also cover preparation time. Remember, if you want to keep up to date and make your courses interesting for your students, two hours should be devoted to preparation for each hour of teaching.
I believe that the salary for an ITF teacher with a 4th degree Black Belt should be the equivalent of the salary of a physical education teacher with a Bachelor’s degree. Similarly, a teacher with a 7th degree Black Belt should be in the same salary range as a professor with a Ph.D. This comparison should be kept in mind when you do your planning.
In order for a school to be profitable, the school owner must be an entrepreneur. You need to use business development principles and methods, planning and setting goals and defining action plans to reach your goals. It is particularly important to handle your finances properly. Courses on these subjects are often included in adult education programs.
It can be very interesting to be your own boss and make your own business decisions and the potential is great but to be successful you have to be well prepared. It is certainly not a 9 to 5 job. However, you do set your own hours, which means more time for your family. Very often family members are also involved, so everyone works together and shares in
the success of the family business.
If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, then this way of thinking isn’t news to you. But you must remember, that for the majority of instructors out there, “profit” is still a bad word. Rather then it being seen for what it is – as the reward that you EARN for providing a quality product or service that makes a difference for others – it is still, often blindly accepted as a synonym for greed.
This idea of running a Taekwon-Do school or organization as a business is still a foreign concept to many, if not an outright form of heresy!
However, if you can become one of the current few who can strike the balance between teaching and business, you will be greatly rewarded (some of you already have!). Not only will you experience great success, but you will also be an extraordinary example for your students of the great opportunity it is to teach Taekwon-Do for a living. Not only will you produce great instructors, but great school owners as well.
The future success of Taekwon-Do is directly tied to the success and growth of its instructors. So if you see yourself and/or your school as separate from your organization or separate from Taekwon-Do as a whole, your are sadly mistaken. The organization has nothing without the instructors and schools that make it up. You may not be dealing with Taekwon-Do at the international level, but dealing with Taekwon-Do in your local area is just as important.
Your success = Taekwon-Do’s success!
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do. He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com