What is a Taekwondo instructor called in Korean?

In Korean, a Taekwondo instructor is called 사범 sabom.

This is not pronounced say-bom, but is instead pronounced sah-bom.

While this is the word for ‘instructor’ in Korean, if you wanted to ask your instructor a question or get the attention of your instructor, you would add 님 nim (pronounced neem). 님 nim is an honorific suffix used in Korean after titles. So the correct way to start talking to your instructor in Korean is 사범님 sabomnim, so for example, you might say ‘Sabomnim, can we do some free sparring in this evening’s class?’

What is an assistant instructor called in Korean?

An assistant instructor in Taekwondo is called 부사범 busabom (pronounced boo-sah-bom).

Just like when talking to an instructor, when talking to an assistant instructor, add the suffix 님 nim. For example, ‘Busabomnim, can you teach me Wonhyo?’

What should you not say?

Do not call your instructor sensei. This is a Japanese term, not Korean. It’s used in Karate, which is Japanese, but not Taekwondo.

Do not call your instructor gyosa. This is a Korean term meaning ‘teacher’, but it refers more to a primary or secondary school teacher, not a martial arts instructor.

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Want to learn more?

If you'd like to learn more about the Korean terminology used in Taekwondo, consider buying this book: Taekwondo Terminology. It contains an extensive dictionary of terms used in Taekwondo, as well as explanations on how to pronounce Korean words, and aspects of Korean grammar.

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