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This is a question that might be asked as an essay requirement, or oral response for a promotion test. Researching the subject is a good idea, but it is important to fully understand this from your own perspective, and experiences so you can put it into your own words instead of just quoting what someone says on an internet forum.

Leadership in Taekwondo occurs on three main levels.

First, there is the "Sunbaenim" which is any senior student or higher rank that serves as a help and inspiration to lower belt students. Even a yellow belt can be a leader to a white belt by being a good example of what a yellow belt should be, and then encouraging, and helping the white belt to reach the next step. Advanced students are often class leaders long before they are qualified or certified to teach. The 1st grade ("Il geup") color belt student is senior ("sunbaenim") to all the other color belt students who are junior ("hubaenim"). It is important to remember that in your own quest for learning Taekwondo, someone (often other than your main teacher) cared about you enough to help you along the way, so it is reciprocal for the senior students to do the same for the newer students coming up behind them.

The second level of leadership in Taekwondo is the Instructor. Whether you are a 1st Degree Assistant Instructor ("Jogyonim") or a 2nd or 3rd Degree fully certified Instructor (Gyosanim), your position is that of a roll model. It is important at this stage to be a connection between the color belts and the Masters so that you can answer questions, help students improve, and give them a living example of what it means to be a high quality, dedicated and honorable student. Color belt students are often afraid to approach the senior Master, so the beginner Black Belts can determine if there is a serious problem, and help guide the student to open communication with the Master Instructor. Also, sometimes negative talk and complaints among students can get out of hand in the locker room and other areas, rather than being handled properly. The younger Black Belts can stay abreast of this kind of destructive behavior with private consultations, and communication with the Master Instructor.

Young Black Belts and beginner instructors can establish friendships with students, but must be careful not to try to be "buddies" with students where the student fails to look at the Black Belt leader as an individual of higher education to be respected, and followed in guidance, both inside the Dojang (school), and out. Black Belts must be careful not to try to be "cool" by doing childish or foolish behavior just to be popular with the students, and get them to like you. Students should learn to like and respect their leaders because of the nature of their character, and their dedication to the art.

The third level of leadership is that of the Master and Grandmaster. A Master is the head of the Dojang, and is responsible for the education of all students, Black Belts, and Instructors under his/her charge. The Grandmaster is the head of an organization, or one who is a Master in charge of other Masters at several schools. Masters are among the highest trained experts of the Martial Art, and embody the core principles, and philosophies of Taekwondo in their everyday life. As leaders, Masters are responsible for preserving the integrity of the art, keeping the structure of training intact, and ensuring that the art is passed on as accurately and completely as possible. Masters are not only leaders in Taekwondo, but in the community, and inspire other Black Belts, color belt students, and the youth of the community to be a positive member of society.

Leadership means leading others. It is a great privilege and responsibility, therefore should not be taken lightly, nor should it be undertaken without sufficient training, and the highest level of care and concern for those you lead. A leader takes pride in knowing that they are leading others correctly, and is humble to not view leadership as a right of authoritarian Dictatorship. The 16th President of the United States is quoted as saying "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent." A Master of slaves governs without consent. A Master of Taekwondo leads with consent, and respect based on the student's true appreciation of the value of that leader's knowledge, and personal devotion to the art, and to their students.

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Q: What is the meaning of leadership in Tae Kwon Do?
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