Taekwondo: For Body, Mind & Spirit
You may have noticed… I’m constantly expounding on the benefits and advantages of knowing some Taekwondo. It’s a subject I’m quite passionate about, to say the least.
You may have seen my video where I explain what Taekwondo is. However, I thought I could use this post to delve a little deeper and explain it in more detail.
Eighty Five Million People Can’t Be Wrong
Taekwondo is a unique activity. It’s a hybrid of two and a half thousand years of traditional Korean self defence and the latest in modern western sport science. The art of Taekwondo is a scientific study and an artistic expression of the human body’s natural design. The whole body is used to move in its most efficient manner.
The main difference between Taekwondo and other physical arts, such as dance or gymnastics, is that the movements are done within the context of self-defence.
In my career as a Taekwondo instructor I have noticed that some people have a misconception that Taekwondo is simply learning how to injure others and is suitable only for commandos and such like.
Nothing is further from the truth.
World Taekwondo (WT), the international governing body, estimates that there are over eighty five million practitioners of the art and sport of Taekwondo around the globe. In the Olympic Games the Taekwondo finalists are from all over the world including Korea, Australia, Germany, Russia, USA, China, Norway, Egypt, Cuba, Turkey, Greece, France and Vietnam.
Soccer, known as the ‘world game’ is probably the only other sport that has participants from a comparable cross section of the world’s countries.
A Unique Activity
Taekwondo is popular in so many diverse countries because it contains no dogma of any kind. There is no clash with cultural or religious beliefs and training sessions are fun to do.
A Taekwondo session is more than just a physical work out. It’s best described as being a class. There is a constant flow of information from the instructor. They patiently teach students ‘what to do’ and they emphasise the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of each lesson.
A Taekwondo workout enables you to develop bounding energy. It’ also an excellent way to experience and learn about the benefits of meditation.
Taekwondo is not just for sporty or athletic types either. Any person, regardless of age, shape, size or ability, can reap the many benefits that Taekwondo offers. Within a couple of months, every new student’s body becomes noticeably toned. They also become more lithe and stronger. And, their flexibility tends to increase by an amazing rate.
Taekwondo classes are designed so that each student works out at their own pace. They only compete against themselves rather than with each other.
This has the effect of removing any pressures about ‘looking terrific’ or over indulging in ego driven impulses.
The other students in a Taekwondo class are very important. They become fitness partners and ‘support crew’. Students can share the experience or journey together.
Students can often form strong friendships. Taekwondo training is an excellent way to meet healthy, honourable, positive, motivated and successful boys, girls, men and women. In many black belt schools, such as Shire Martial Arts, whole families turn up to workout. Taekwondo training is structured on knowledge and fitness levels, not on age or gender.
Another great feature of a Taekwondo class is that students receive expert personalised training, which makes it easier for each individual to achieve their own realistic fitness and health goals one step at a time. Each Taekwondo training session is different, yet you can pick it up where you left off, anytime and anywhere in the world you may be.
I recently conducted a survey amongst thirty students who have been diligently training for three to nine months. There were boys and girls under ten years old, male and female teens, as well as twenty, thirty and forty something males and females – even a grandmother in her sixties, who without exception, all reported a dramatic improvement in the quality of their everyday life and how they felt about themselves.
Demystifying Aggression and Fear
Most people initially start Taekwondo training because they have a desire to maintain and improve their physical capabilities. They also want to learn some self defence. Once they get started, new students discover, there are many more benefits.
Most people initially start Taekwondo training because they have a desire to maintain and improve their physical capabilities, as well as to learn some self defence. However as new students discover, there are many more benefits.
Taekwondo students begin their learning by gradually applying themselves to the physical aspect of training such as by ‘free sparring’ (Jurugi) or board breaking (Gyokpa).
The ‘do’ (doe) in Taekwondo is the mental, spiritual, philosophical and esoteric side, the art. A student begins to first appreciate the benefits of the ‘do’ of Taekwondo, soon after they initially confront these types of daunting physical challenges. For example, when a student sees a steady improvement in their ability to do something difficult, their self esteem improves dramatically.
By engaging in a ‘fight’ under controlled contact conditions (giving and receiving hits), each student gains knowledge, confidence and understanding, as well as practical skills based on utilising balance, determination, timing, focus, fitness and tactics to own and control their ‘space’ in all circumstances.
The experience gained from this controlled ‘combat’ can then be adopted and applied into everyday life. Many of the non violent techniques in the Shire Martial Arts syllabus including ‘bodyguard mode’, ‘match management’, ‘finding your edge’, ‘using your edge’, ‘claiming your space’ and the ‘neutral eyeline’ are directly based on these non physical facets of Taekwondo.
Also, the strength and fortitude required to achieve a black belt can be utilised outside of the training hall (Dojang) to develop and maintain the necessary mindset to achieve major personal and career goals. I’ll describe this process in more detail in another post soon.
Setting Goals: It’s Easy!
The symbol of the black belt is synonymous with Taekwondo and is part of a belt ranking and grading system that is used to measure a student’s progression. Grading is an effective and time proven way in learning how to set, pursue and carry out the huge challenge of achieving a black belt. A student achieves this goal in small realistic and manageable increments. Each belt symbolises achievement of a further set of skills.
Each grading lifts a student out of their comfort zone in some personal way, either as a physical challenge or mentally, with the prospect of being publicly ‘judged’. By plugging into this ancient system and by applying practice and perseverance, the grading process gradually becomes less daunting for a student, even though the syllabus becomes increasingly more complicated and difficult. Consequently, other more trivial challenges in everyday life tend to pale into insignificance.
Become a Leader
It is no coincidence that professionally, most black belts seem to run businesses, hold key positions or are good at schoolwork. Taekwondo is also an excellent vehicle for leadership training because the training syllabus is designed so that students will grow into teachers.
After only a few months of regular training, each new student becomes significantly more confident, self reliant and capable of ‘looking after themselves’ than they ever could before.
Taekwondo training also facilitates the realisation that most troublemakers only use theatrical tricks to make themselves seem fierce and scary as a way to manipulate people.
Once a student grasps this, bullies and troublemakers can never again secure a ‘hold’ over them.
There is also a very strong ethos in Taekwondo that ensures students know how to control this power. Each student makes a commitment to always treat others in the spirit of friendship and to never deliberately provoke other people in any way that will negatively affect their body, mind or spirit.
Goodbye To ‘Little’ Upsets
This positive attitude adjustment soon makes a student’s self esteem and confidence grow and develop to a level where eventually it is possible for them to implicitly trust their own judgment and thoughts.
This self trust allows students to shift their focus off the effects of their problems and onto ways to deal with them. Many students tell me that Taekwondo training helps them feel as though they are moving ‘onwards and upwards’ in life instead of stagnating or wallowing in it.
The payoff for a student is when one day they suddenly realise literally, that life’s ‘upsets’ no longer affect them in the dramatic way they once used to.
Perhaps most importantly, Taekwondo is famous for being a particularly effective means of street self defence for men, women and kids. The Taekwondo ‘moves’ include blocks, strikes, punches, kicks, holds and grabs.
Advanced classes also involve learning how to defend against a weapon or multiple attackers when unarmed. This physical training is augmented by the principles of charity, modesty, loyalty, patience and respect
Until recently, there was no offensive weapon training in Taekwondo. Recently, 9th Dan Grandmaster Yong Dai Cho devised a weapon system called ‘Bongsul’ (long stick), Kumsul (stick sword) and Ssang bongsul (double sticks) which has added a whole new dimension to Taekwondo training.
This physical and ethical combination makes Martial Arts a perfect personal system for being confident, strong and what I call being “safe in your space’.
Anyone, including you, can get access to these benefits and more by simply doing Taekwondo training two to three times a week and participating to the best of your ability – and that’s it!
A Tool For Life
As I mentioned at the start, you may have gathered that Taekwondo training is something that I am very passionate about. One reason for this is because I have seen on a profound scale, how Taekwondo training makes an excellent vehicle for people to develop and evolve into what they want and consequently need to be, to feel fulfilled.
I have noticed generally, that most people tend to hold themselves back in everyday life due to a particular fear of some sort such as the fear of failure, the fear of looking stupid or not being good enough and so on.
Research indicates that besides a sudden illness, injury or perhaps public speaking, physical violence is generally regarded by the population as one of the worse things that could happen to a person in everyday life. Often, as in public speaking, the fear has a far worse effect on a person than the actual cause of the fear. This principal applies in varying degrees to all fears, including the fear of violence.
Therefore, by learning how to analyse and respond to an extreme physical attack in a controlled way students can explore, demystify and deal with important aspects of the body, mind and spirit that are often suppressed, due to a lack of confidence, in a way that makes them stronger – without hurting anybody else. For a lot of people, Taekwondo training helps them discover how to confront and deal with aggression, fear, ego, stress and pain, throughout their everyday life.
I have seen first hand just how effective Taekwondo is for dispelling fear of all kinds from the lives of myself as well as my students. Troublemakers find this lack of fear in a person unsettling and this is why black belts do not seem to get ‘picked on’, even though they do not ‘advertise’ the fact that they are a black belt.
Most people enjoy Taekwondo as a simple weekly workout. A few pursue Olympic dreams as athletes or coaches. Maybe like me, you would like to do something to help kids, by teaching them useful ‘life-skills’. Maybe you have had a personal safety scare and you want to develop some self defence skills fast. All this is possible with Taekwondo training, the only question is, how far do you want to go?
I am committed to helping as many people as I can discover the benefits of Taekwondo training so if I can help you find your way into a Taekwondo Class or answer any of your Taekwondo training questions, please feel free to ask me. This can be done through my Taekwondo website at https://www.shiremartialarts.com