So, as I think I've mentioned before, I got my introduction to martial arts back in the mid 1990s at a school in the Monterey/Seaside California area, which taught Tang Soo Do. I didn't mind the school, but had to leave after a few months owing to a PCS.
Fast forward about 4 years and I find myself in San Angelo, Texas, where I decide to resume my training at a taekwondo school in town. Several warning flags pop up as I sign up - first, he wants a 6 month contract, second, he doesn't seem to be focusing too much on patterns, and third, in the time I went there, I don't remember ever sparring at all, though we did do several 1-step run throughs with what he referred to as "the hapkido."
I can't say with any real certainty that the instructor was a bad instructor, or that he was giving substandard training - I just know that the training he offered wasn't a match for what I sought.
Approximately 2 1/2 years ago, in an effort to get my youngest son active in something, we decide to check out the Taekwondo program at the local YMCA (my daughter was already taking Gymnastics there, and so the location was chosen out of convenience as much as anything else). The program is a supplemented ITF program (i.e. the school studies the tul patterns as opposed to the poomse, however, the primary instructor has added several patterns that are referred to as "free spar" patterns to complement the tuls). My son took to this like a duck to water - he appears to be a natural, at least as far as the patterns goes. He's impatient with his sparring, though he does enjoy the sparring.
The school does a pretty good job of combining the patterns with the sparring, though I do wish that we were able to integrate the 1-step sparring a little more, just to help with the spacing and timing training.
Some of this is due to the scheduling difficulties inherent in training at a YMCA, as there is only room to have 3 consecutive one-hour classes twice a week.
At any rate, I do enjoy the classes, and the kids appear to enjoy them, as well.
More on TKD later.