Leadership and Taekwondo

The world has changed dramatically over the last few years and even more so in recent months with the awful impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the more recent shocking death of George Floyd in the USA, and subsequent protests that have swept across many countries.

The majority of people in Great Britain are renowned for being resilient and tolerant, and we live in one of the most multi-cultural, ethnically diverse places in the world. This is something we should be immensely proud of.  This resilience, tolerance and diversity is represented brilliantly within the British Taekwondo community, with great role model examples for our upcoming athletes, members and future coaches.

That said, Britain, like everywhere else has its deep social problems, and the Black Lives Matter campaign perfectly illustrates the challenges people are facing every day.

You may be asking – what has this got to do with Taekwondo?

The answer is a lot!

Taekwondo has so many positive attributes to offer – it can be and should be a vehicle to teach our next generation about tolerance, spirit, self-control, work ethic, helping others, discipline, modesty, honesty and a sense of community.  It is also an excellent way to help maintain good mental health and a healthy lifestyle. It’s not just about the kicking and punching!!!!

Our fantastic coaches have a huge part to play in this.   They are positive role models and leaders, in a world where inequality is always an issue. This is especially the case for the large number of our BT clubs that operate in inner cities and areas of depravation, where Taekwondo is much more than a hobby and the club is a real social lifeline and place of stability.

Anyone with racist, homophobic, small-minded or any bigoted attitudes has no place in British Taekwondo, Great Britain, or anywhere in our society for that matter in the 21st Century.

To play our part, instructors and coaches have a duty to be good role models for our members. It goes with the territory. Some do not even realise the impact and influence they have on impressionable young people in their clubs and the opportunity they have to shape people’s views and lives.

The use of social media is a perfect example. Social media can be a force for good, and a great way to communicate with people and members with a passion for Taekwondo. But equally, it can be a real negative, when people use it for the wrong (or frankly stupid when trying to be funny) reasons.

In a lot of instances of poor or offensive use of social media, people don’t even think through what they are saying and post content that causes real hurt to others, whether this is intended or not.

As we start to come out of the lockdown and clubs return, Taekwondo coaches and instructors have a real opportunity and a part to play in shaping the conversations that take place around BAME, LGBT, disability, mental health and other social issues in a positive way.

This is something for us to be proud of, where we can stand back and say we helped change someone’s life for the better, even if its just a little nudge here or there, a word of encouragement when they might not get that at home, or offering no more than a safe and stable place to come once or twice a week!

Stay safe, stay alert and help each other be better people through Taekwondo.

Ian Leafe

British Taekwondo CEO