Welcome careful readers to my website on Taekwondo (or Tae Kwon-do). This site has WTF patterns (Taegeuk), self defense, links, a bit of humour, and some general information on this inspiring martial art.
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What is it?
Well it is basically a Korean Martial Art which is based mainly around fast kicking, although there is punching and blocking. It is an Olympic sport, scientifically taught, has sparring and traditional set moves (patterns), and can be used for self defense. It also appear to be spelt in many different ways, my favorite is: Tea kwon-do. I say pass the Earl Gray old chap.
What makes it different to other Martial Arts?
The choice of any Martial Art really is one of preference, I have studied four and they all have strength and weakness. I would break Taekwondo into three areas. Practice moves like punching, certain kicks, moves and stepping. Patterns, set moves against invisible opponents -used for grading. Finally, sparring -light contact fighting (can be with self defense). Taekwondo sparring is excellent for two reasons. The first is that due to its nature and the use of protective gear, there is not a high number of injures (relatively). Secondly, its system is taught with a scientific rational (with speed, distance, and precision, being basic elements).
If you have never done sparring, and are worried, don't be, you will be fine and I am sure that you will enjoy it (ladies don't be put off, those that I have trained with have found this quite fun). If you are looking to really get stuck in and inflict some pain, try another sport (and don't spar with me, I bruise easily). Generally most classes have some spare protective gear that they loan during the class for beginners to try out. As the student progresses, then the individual will pass gradings and earn lovely coloured belts and be expected to by their own pads etc.
What would I get out of it?
Obviously, any exercise is good, however Taekwondo is particularly good for flexibility, strength, and aerobic fitness (I hardly have asthma at all these days). I did find a bit of problem with my feet at first (some instructors like to train in bare feet, but others allow special shoes) but applications of Surgical Spirit to the soles toughened up the skin, eventually. I mentioned this to some ladies that had just started recently and they reacted in horror to this suggestion; on the ground that they spend loads of time getting rid of all the tough old skin from their feet.
Aside from the benefits of exercise, Taekwondo also offers the benefits of confidence, good self image, self control, and through its philosophy, moral development. You also learn to do really neat kicks, which might be slightly impractical for street defense but look very cool when demonstrating to your mates.
It sounds too good to be true. What are the drawbacks?
Well Rome was not built in day. Like the tortoise and the hare, it takes time and discipline to learn a martial art well. But that does not mean it can't be fun and rewarding. Initially, Taekwondo training does not given an immediate obvious benefit in self defense since the basics are usually taught first, but do see my page on Self Defense for a fuller explanation (remember rule one, protect yourself at all times -yell fire then run).
At the age of 39, (gasp) I decided to take this sport up, so age is never a problem (and I was not particularly fit before either), and neither is skill (I am not that good at learning physical sports either). Currently I am now 50 and a grandfather and hold a red belt (2nd Geup) -which I am very proud to have achieved; I also had the pleasure of gaining my first trophy at the age of 50 (a group effort with my daughter and two granddaughters). I had an email from Michael some time ago stating that he too was taking up Taekwondo at 44 to keep up with his son, and he couldn't sort out his left from right. Now he has managed to get his first dan black belt - respect to that individual, but he is still chasing his son who has is 2nd dan :)
After a lot of back problems for two years (related to work), it is really good to be back training. I have also manage to loose nearly 10 Kilos (22 pound) with a combination of Taekwondo and low calorie diet (see my quack page for details).
Requirements to study Taekwondo
There are every size, shape, and age in the class I go to. Of course there are the super fit young lads, and the very fast and supple young ladies; but there also the overweight, out of condition, and more mature individuals (and that's just me). However, they all special in that that have the spirit to take on a martial art and keep at it with maximum personal effort.
I have had many very nice emails of TKD students telling me of their successes taking up Taekwondo late in life; and from those who have managed a black belt even though they were 160kg when they started. It really is never too late. My wife's favourite sayings are: this is the first day in the rest of your life, and every epic journey starts with the first step (outside the house). Mine is Carpe Diem - Seize the Carp!
Weight, and obesity, is sadly an everyday fact for a very large percentage of the developed world. While studies show that the heaver an induvidual is the less they feel that they can do something about it, the reality is that there is hope - see my quack page for ... er ... quackery.
To study Taekwondo, and any martial art really, you will need Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, and Indomitable Spirit. Or in other words, be polite and bow, be honest with others and yourself, don't quit no matter what, exercise control both physically and mentally, and never give up -never surrender.
I used to say that I believed that Buffy the Vampire Slayer uses Tae Kwondo, but an Emma emailed me stated that this is not the case (actually she said it was a load of cr*p), but someone else say that she did. Joseline kindly sent me a link that told me that Jean-Calude Van Damme and Anthony Quinn practice Taekwondo (as well as Bill Clinton, I'm not sure if this is motivational or not?). Will anyone who know of some other good "famous" people that are into Taekwondo be kind enough to email me? Thanks in advance.
The philosophy of my site.
After a few years of learning this martial art, I have decided to share what I know, and what I have found out on the Internet. Please bear in mind that I am a student and learning this myself as I go, and I learn slowly. Hopefully beginners will find this useful, and experts will be kind enough to correct any misteakes. After all what more can I say, this is free and I am not getting paid for it. If you are reading this, I hope this will motivate you to take up a class; if you do, drop me an email to say how you got on -it's a lonely life, the life of an unappreciated webmaster:)
After surfing the Internet for more than a few nights, I can say that there is some excellent resources on the Internet, however those that I found are all rather serious. I hope to capture the more joyful lighter side of martial arts; as Soon Man Lee says: "Fitness without fun is a drudgery, but acquiring the skills of Taekwondo can be a delight for everyone."
What I intend to provide here is useful tools to help you get to grips with Taekwondo. Hopefully in a informal, humorous way but be warned my idea of humour usually involves elephants (for example: what is gray and not there? ... No elephants).
You will need to go to a class (and if you are really serious, two a week). Sort it out today, if you do not, like me you will be ooolllllddd when you finally start. However, after a class, I usually find that I cannot remember all the details, I do not have a Kinesthetic learning style my Teacher wife tells me. So I need to write down the details, particularly the patterns; hopefully you will be able to find some something of use to you. Alas, I have undoubtedly forgotten some salient points, feel free to correct me, I am humble in my ignorance of Taekwondo (I am good at something, but modesty restrains me from mentioning what).
Thanks to those who have emailed with various questions and comments; I hope to incorporate those question at some point. Working for a living is a bugger. Must make a note to win the lottery this week.
What's new? Check the history page to see what has been added.
7th June, 2010