Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a baby.
No, Charlie didn’t get a new brother or sister. And my wife Tica felt no pain at all.
This was my baby. I birthed it myself. And I named it SWAT.
SWAT stands for Special Winning Attitude Teens. It is a group of students that I personally select from one of two groups. SWAT is made up of students who are eager, and who I believe will become future leaders at our school. But, it is also for students who are introverted, those that just need to be brought out. Regardless of which group they fall into, all SWAT Team members need to be willing to realize their potential and join the team.
Typically, I would charge extra for special programs like this. They have value, within the dojang and without. And, it is a way of ensuring that the student will see the program through.
I don’t charge students who join the SWAT Team. It is 100% free. The SWAT Team is my baby and I am very particular about it. I don’t need any safeguards to make sure that the students who participate will get something out of it and stick with it. I hand pick them myself, and I am there every step of the way.
The only cost to join the SWAT Team is commitment.
When I identify a student that I want to join the SWAT Team, I approach them and their parents to explain what it means. We meet every Monday and Thursday. They would need to be here at 11:15 am to get ready. We then take the noon class and train until 3:00 or 3:30 pm.
Then, we have lunch together. I mentor and we discuss leadership topics, life in general, teaching, people in the school we feel need extra help, how to become a better black belt, how to train, etc. They also get the opportunity to ask me questions about my own training. Sometimes, we have each SWAT member address the team and give a speech.
The SWAT lunches are where I notice students blossoming. The strong students become super strong. Their leadership traits seem to just leap out of them. And the more introverted students will come to life. They smile, they laugh, they make friends. They’re developing a sense of community that they never thought possible.
They’re doing exactly what we want every student that comes here to do: become part of something bigger than themselves.
And boy, is it ever a joy to watch.
After lunch, the SWAT Team gets a chance to hang out with each other and prepare for the classes they will teach. Remember, they have all been here since almost 11:00 am. A testament to the kinds of students we have on the SWAT Team is that many of them routinely stay for more than one class, and don’t end up leaving until after 9:00 pm.
The dojang becomes a second home for them. But the comfort level doesn’t make them lax, it makes them protective. Protective of this place and truly understanding of what makes the dojang what it is.
We have seen absolutely amazing growth in the SWAT Team. Usually, the team consists of about 10-12 students. This year, we have 18 students on the SWAT Team, the biggest team we have ever had.
I believe that all 18 have been truly benefiting from it.
If you are ever curious about the impact being a SWAT Team member can have on your life, ask an instructor. They were all once SWAT Team members themselves.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!