The first International Do Course (IDC) to ever be conducted online in the history of the ITF was held on January 23rd and 30th, 2022. It consisted of four 3-hour sessions over a 2-day period for a total of 12 hours.
The highly anticipated IDC brought together 71 participants from 18 countries, namely (in alphabetical order): Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Scotland, Spain, United Kingdom, and U.S.A. Among the participants, there were 8 Grand Masters and 28 Masters. Also, the course was attended by the ITF President, Grand Master Paul Weiler, the ITF most senior member, Honourable Grand Master Tom MacCallum, and the ITF Senior Vice-President, Grand Master Clint Norman. In addition, participants included 6 ITF Standing Committee Chairs.
The course was conducted by the Do and Ethics Committee. The instructors were Sbn. Prof. Janel Gauthier (Chair) and (in alphabetical order) Master Mark Banicevich, Master Andreu Martínez, and Master Joliette Trân. It was the first time that a full IDC was offered online. Until then, all IDCs had been conducted exclusively in person. The decision to offer online IDCs in addition to in-person IDCs was made to facilitate worldwide access to the course. This is of the utmost importance for the development of the teaching of the Do around the world because not every Taekwon-Do instructor can afford to travel abroad to attend an IDC. Furthermore, earlier experience had shown that it is possible, with all the options available on a platform such as Zoom, to conduct an IDC online that provides participants with a learning experience as valuable as that of an IDC conducted in person. Each modality of course delivery (online and in-person) has its own strengths and limitations. Neither is better than the other. They simply provide different ways of learning about the Do.
The course was structured so that experienced and less experienced Taekwon-Do practitioners and instructors would have a great learning experience. In his opening remarks, Prof. Gauthier stated that the aim of the course was “to take participants on a journey to explore what it means to be truly a man or a woman of Taekwon-Do, as defined by General Choi, and how one becomes truly a man or a woman of Taekwon-Do.” Then, he went on to quote General Choi who wrote in last publication, the Moral Guide Book (2000): “…the only way one can truly achieve the status of a man of Taekwon-Do is to go beyond the technical aspect of Taekwon-Do and establish a way of life based on a solid code of morality.” This provided the general orientation of the course.
During the course, participants had the opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics and reflect on many of them. Those included, but were not limited to, the following: (1) the moral culture of Taekwon-Do; (2) the origin and meaning of the word “Do”; (3) the tenets of Taekwon-Do (courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit); (4) the Student’s Oath; (5) the development of moral reasoning from childhood to adult; (6) the relations between the psychosocial determinants of human behaviour and how psychological knowledge can help to achieve the goals of Taekwon-Do; (7) ethical decision-making and how to resolve dilemmas or conflicts between tenets; (8) motivation and goal-setting (how to set effective goals in Taekwon-Do and every day life); (9) the integration of the teaching of the Do into the teaching of Taekwon-Do (general guideline and tips).
Much of the course concentrated on the tenets of Taekwon-Do because they are at the heart of the moral culture of Taekwon-Do. Anecdotes and concrete examples were also used to show participants in a practical, down to earth way, how to use the tenets of Taekwon-Do in their training, teaching, competing, and every day life to reach their goals, and be more successful and happier in life.
It can be quite daunting and challenging to pay attention to, and stay focused on, what is said or discussed online during 6 hours per day, even when breaks are inserted between sessions throughout the day. Accordingly, a wide range of activities were used to grab and hold participants’ attention throughout each day. For example, participants were polled and challenged with quiz questions during presentations. At other times, participants met in small groups to discuss a particular issue or find ways to address it before returning to the main meeting to share some of their ideas with the main group. Still at other times, they were challenged with thinking exercises designed to spark their interest and curiosity.
PowerPoint presentations and demonstrations were used to help participants better understand the information presented during the course. Video clips were used to show how to apply many of the practical strategies presented for developing and teaching the tenets of Taekwon-Do. As it was an online course, participants were encouraged to use the in-meeting chat to share their own thoughts, opinions and ideas during the course. Their response was great and the content of their chat messages showed that they were very receptive and engaged in the course. They had much to share and react to. Not only this helped participants to stay receptive throughout each 3-hour session. It also made the course more interactive, and provided instructors with useful information to complete or clarify the material that they were presenting.
After each day of the IDC, participants were given a link to a web page where they could go to download a PDF copy of the document showing all the slides presented during the sessions of that day. The document will help them to recall the content of the presentations and the basic strategies for teaching the Do to their students. It will also make it easier for them to keep on learning.
One of the highlights of the course was the speech delivered by the Chair of the ITF Grand Masters Promotion Committee, Honourable Grand Master MacCallum, at the closing of the IDC.
He spoke about the importance of the Do in Taekwon-Do and the need to integrate the teaching of the Do in the teaching of Taekwon-Do as envisioned by General Choi. His words were not only inspiring, they also were showing us the way in the future.
Since the 1st of January 2022, all 8th degree holders who apply for the title of “Grand Master” must attend one International Do Course to be eligible for promotion. This is the result of a policy adopted by the Grand Masters Promotion Committee and approved by the Board of Directors in 2021.
Yours in Taekwon-Do,
Sbn. Prof. Dr. Janel Gauthier
Chair, I.T.F. Do and Ethics Committee