Taekwondo: More Than a Martial Art

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Many years ago, Korea was in a constant state of warfare. Warriors and families were taught self-defense techniques that eventually created the current martial art of Taekwondo (thai-kwon-doh.) Taekwondo is a Korean word meaning: (Tae) foot and kicking, (kwon) hand and punching, and (do) the art or way. Unlike other martial arts such as Karate, Taekwondo focuses greatly on kicking techniques whereas Karate focuses more on hand-techniques. Taekwondo has not only become used to learn important self-defense techniques, but has become an official Olympic sport focused on goal setting.

Depending on the training studio, there is a range between eight to over twenty belt levels. The experienced teachers will push you further and you will receive challenges with which you can set a goal. Each colored belt level represents an achievement with the ultimate goal being black belt. I, personally, began the journey of becoming a black belt in fifth grade and received my black belt mid-way through the ninth grade. To achieve the goal of receiving my black belt, I had to devote much of my after-school time to practice, and improving my technique.

I was involved with a smaller training studio which allowed me to teach the younger classes once I became a black belt. This was an amazing experience, and one of my most enjoyable memories from Taekwondo. I remember feeling slightly in awe the first few weeks of teaching the younger classes because I had once been in their place only dreaming of the position I currently held.

Learning different stances, kicks, and hand techniques requires lots of patience, confidence, and commitment. The most basic kick is the up-and-down kick. This kick is exactly like the name; you raise your leg high as possible then slam it back down to the ground with force. The up-and-down kick is one of the three basic kicks of Taekwondo. A more difficult kick is the spinning hook kick. For this kick, kick your back leg straight back, to the side of the opponents head. Kicking straight back like this would normally be called a back kick. However, the spinning hook kick has a twist, literally. You “hook” your leg, like a fishing lure, to slam the back of the opponents head. After many weeks of practice, students will learn various techniques and soon become ready to test for the next level of belt.

The black belt is known as the “master belt” because you have mastered all the basic and more advanced techniques of Taekwondo. It takes many years of practice to achieve this level. The black belt is just the beginning; there are many degrees of black belt. After finishing the amount of levels in your degree you can test for the next degree of black belt.

‘The necessary virtues of a Taekwondo practitioner include, among others, courage, boldness, thoughtfulness, composure, endurance and promptness. The most important codes of behavior are self-denial, taking initiative, and the observance of courtesy. Self-denial means overcoming such faults as avarice, impulse and passion. Taekwondo practitioners must resist idleness and distraction and, instead, plan their goals and heartedly whole give their best efforts to achieve these goals.’ (Lee, Kyu S. Taekwondo & World Martial Arts. Korea: The Asian Taekwondo Union/Read & Change Publishing, 2004. Page 289.)

Taekwondo requires that you follow the Taekwondo Tenets, which are: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit. Upon entering the training studio, it is respectful to bow towards the Korean and American flag hanging on the wall. When class begins, all students recite the Taekwondo Tenets. A typical stereotype of martial arts is that all you learn is how to fight an opponent more effectively. This is only partially true. A martial art teaches you self-defense against an opponent, and the grave circumstances in which your techniques should be used. Also, martial arts teach good sportsmanship, respect (especially for an elder), goal setting, leadership, and how to set a positive example.

The reason I personally participate in Taekwondo is to set goals for myself, reach higher levels, exercise, and learn self-defense. It is important to have goals in life and Taekwondo can give you the opportunity to have them. “Never give up on your goals, and you will be the best you can be,” was advice my past taekwondo instructor, Ian, gave to me. My goal in Taekwondo has always been to become a black belt. Now that I have received a black belt, I can move on to smaller goals within Taekwondo like learning to become a more effective teacher, or learning hapkido, a division of Taekwondo. I would encourage anyone that is looking for a competitive and goal setting sport, to participate in Taekwondo because the experience will be with you for a lifetime.





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Kilia said...
Jun. 23, 2009 at 2:26 am
I used to train in TKD. it was a lot of fun. i trained from age 6-12 and achieved black by the time i was 11. it was so much fun. i left my dojo for personal reasons but i remember so much about it.

one thing though... up and down kick?
i'm sorry, but that name just makes me laugh. i prefer the term axe kick, which i learned in TKD as well as my new and current style. then again, we have "iron butterflies" which are kind of oxymorons... so i guess i really can't be talk... (more »)
 
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