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Because our Tae Kwon Do school offers an adult-focused martial arts curriculum, we value well-rounded individuals, not mere technicians. Our dojang is unique in offering a robust program of self-study that guides our students through exercises in six areas. This program is not required for advancement within classroom practice, but students who embrace these challenges will receive a comprehensive education in the Martial Ways of East Asia.

The first task in each area of study is available to the public. Upon completion of each task, the student will be “promoted” and this page will update to show them the next challenge. This means that to see higher achievement levels, students must be registered users of this website and must be logged into their accounts.

This program is for River Valley Tae Kwon Do students only. If you’re a current RVTKD student but haven’t registered to use our website, click this button.

Korean Language 한국어

Tae Kwon Do 태권더was created in Korea 한국, and many of the values that come with our traditional training derive directly from Korean culture. Language is the foundation of culture, and being able to read, write, speak, and understand Korean can greatly enrich a student’s understanding of the Korean martial arts. The first steps in this achievement area are easy, and the last steps are difficult, but each will be satisfying and open doors to understanding that weren’t clear before.

1) Learn the Hangeul Alphabet

Learn to read, write, hear, and say the Hangeul 한글characters used for written Korean 한국어. Unlike Chinese/Japanese characters, the Korean language has a phonetic alphabet, so after a few hours of practice, it’ll be possible for you to read a Korean newspaper or book aloud.
See Requirements
Korean History & Culture

American interest in Korea and its culture may never have been greater than it is today. Tae Kwon Do is popular around the world, and Americans are increasingly interested in Korean food, electronics, cars, K-Pop music, television dramas, and other cultural obsessions. The country is often in the news—whether from hosting the Summer Olympics in 1988 or the Winter Olympics in 2018, because of political tensions between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), or because of its rapidly expanding economic and cultural influence.

We hope Tae Kwon Do practitioners will be interested in learning about the country where their martial Way has its roots. RVTKD students who want to learn more about Korea will explore three areas of content:

  • History and Geography
  • Art and Literature
  • Daily Life and Culture

1) Historical Overview

Read one book-length historical overview of the Korean Peninsula and its people. The scope must cover prehistoric times to the present. Choose one of two books we recommend, or work with an RVTKD instructor to choose one from outside the recommended reading list.
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Martial Arts History

In many Tae Kwon Do schools (and martial arts schools in general), it’s possible to become accomplished in the physical practice but know little or nothing about the context or meaning—what is often broadly called martial arts “philosophy.” Familiarity with the evolution of the East Asian martial Ways helps answer the question Why to complement the How training that takes the form of our daily workouts.

Curious beginners may want to explore this right away, and for others it may take years to want to know more. This structured reading program shows useful books to provide a start. Advanced martial arts scholars can use these books as a jumping-off point in their own investigations.

1) Personal Stories, Broad Overviews

Read about the lives of archetypal martial arts practitioners, and learn about similarities and differences between Tae Kwon Do and other East Asian martial arts. Understanding different approaches, values, and histories of martial arts gives us a better appreciation of what we do.
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Leadership & Service

So much of training in the martial Ways, especially in the early years of practice, concerns the cultivation of the self. For advanced students, and for the general populace in many East Asian cultures, the real goal of following the Way is to create a more harmonious society—to help and inspire others. In this way, service to the school and the community may be one of the highest achievements in martial study.

People who perform enough service to their communities often become leaders, “pillars of the community,” and leadership/service becomes a virtuous circle: serving society by inspiring others to serve in turn.

The form this leadership takes may vary, but three broad areas come to mind:

  • leadership within our school of Ji Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do
  • volunteer work, mentorship, or leadership within the nonprofit world and other service endeavors
  • leadership of other kinds of organizations that bring people together in the pursuit of a worthy selfless cause

These are certainly not the only ways to explore the concepts of leadership and service, so if you’d like to discuss other ideas with a RVTKD instructor, feel free to do so. This is the most open-ended of the achievement areas, and it’s more important to pursue something worthwhile that you care about than to try to shoehorn an idea into an existing framework.

1) Perform Two Small Acts of Service

Perform two different acts of service work that happen on a one-time basis. One should be for our Tae Kwon Do school and one for our community or some group outside our dojang. The idea is to try different things to see what you like, not necessarily to go into depth or form a lasting relationship with a group of people, organization, or endeavor.
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Meditation & Mental Training

Because genuine meditation practice is usually time-consuming, we don’t usually dedicate time to this pursuit during class. Nevertheless, when people think of the consummate martial artist, they often imagine a wise, serene, thoughtful figure with Taoist insightfulness and Buddha-like equanimity. Authentic Tae Kwon Do practice may be considered a “moving meditation” and may contain enough mental training for many practitioners. That said, there is much to be gained by developing an understanding of, or ideally an ongoing practice, in meditation and other types of mental cultivation. This is a perfect example of a habit that will help a practitioner both inside and outside the dojang.

1) Meditation Fundamentals

Begin your mental training by attempting a 28-day meditation and mindfulness practice using Sharon Salzberg's book Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation or by using the Calm app (available for both Apple iOS and Android).
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Forms Club (Poomsae 품세 Study)

Learning poomsae (forms or patterns) beyond our school’s core curriculum broadens a student’s perspective on the different branches of Korean “hard style” martial arts.

We have a Forms Club, open to students of Sam Geup and above, where we meet once per month to practice twenty-five poomsae: eight from the Pal Gwe sequence (our dojang’s core forms), eight Tae Geuk forms (contemporary forms that form the Kukkiwon’s core curriculum), and nine Chang Han forms (the Geup level forms that form the ITF Tae Kwon Do curriculum).

Without exception, students who train with the Forms Club show an impressive improvement in their ability to understand and perform all poomsae—which is the heart of traditional martial arts training. Advanced form study includes patterns with weapons and/or historical forms practiced by Korean martial arts styles that are not part of contemporary Tae Kwon Do curricula.

1) Join RVTKD Forms Club

Join the RVTKD Forms Club and learn the first two poomsae in the Tae Geuk and Chang Han series. The Forms Club is open to students holding the rank of Sam Geup 삼급 (brown belt, low level) and above. We meet monthly and practice all of our forms every meeting. New members can expect to learn one or two forms per session.
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Physical Conditioning & Fitness

Unless a student is already an accomplished martial artist, athlete, dancer, or gymnast when they join our school, most will find that simply coming to class improves their strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and other criteria that we use to describe the physically fit. Students who train regularly, with enthusiasm and self-discipline, may be able to reach a fairly high level of achievement without additional exercise outside the dojang. That said, almost any advanced practitioner of Tae Kwon Do will benefit from supplemental conditioning: weight training, endurance work, agility and balance drills, and so forth. This work can make in-class training easier and more satisfying, as well as make it possible for practitioners to reach higher levels of achievement.

Two things to consider:

  • these fitness standards supplement, but do not replace, the monthly group fitness activities that all students in our school are strongly encouraged to participate in as a matter of course.
  • students in excellent and well-rounded physical condition may have certain of the beginner-level achievements waived by demonstrating equivalent aptitude.

1) Improve Two Areas of Fitness

Work with an RVTKD instructor to improve your physical conditioning in two areas: stamina, strength, flexibility, or proprioception (body awareness/control). To meet this challenge, you will need to set goals, then keep a diary to show how you've been training to achieve those goals.
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