We’ve touched on some of these benefits in earlier blogs. Today we’ll go in-depth on a couple of them.
Confidence. We see students enter the do jang for the first time timid and unsure. Not only children but adults. Sometimes the older the adult, the less confidence they have. They are not sure they have the strength, endurance, ability to remember the movements, let alone the names of the movements required.
As they continue to come to class, they find that the instructors repeat the moves, make games and memory enhancers for each move. As classes continue everything becomes routine, muscle memory kicks in and habits take over. The movements and names become routine and confidence increases. The occasional misstep is not an issue – everyone makes one now and again.
Entering the do jang no longer is a confidence drain, but a confidence boost. If a little help is needed, there are private lessons available, a friendly hand from a classmate, and a pat on the back from a higher belt ranked student all boost self-assurance.
This assurance is not limited to the do jang floor or just when wearing the gi. Knowing they have learned a difficult skill few others have accomplished builds confidence in all areas of life. “If I can do this difficult thing, I can do that.”
Part of this poise is built through the fellowship of classmates. Often students attend the same class time week after week. As a result, they see the same people in their classes. They follow each other’s progress and are able to both offer and accept help when needed. This bond of acquaintance can and often does, flower into friendship. Many moves and teachings require a partner. The partner on the floor can become a friend in life.
Many classes have more than one level of belt attending. This is a perfect opportunity for the higher level to help newcomers and teach them to be that helper for others when they achieve a higher rank belt. The fellowship of teaching goes even further to bond classmates as they realize they are a group of people striving toward the same goal.
Some friends have gone through multiple levels of belts together and even gone on to test for Black Belt jointly and even into higher levels of Black Belt. These friendships often expand beyond the walls of the do jang. Like-minded people find they have more in common than a love for Taekwondo.
Families sometimes train together. We had one family of Mom, Dad, and three children train at the same time through Black Belt. It was an amazing bonding experience that overcame a couple of injuries and some work and school responsibilities that required the others to ‘wait’ for one of the members. Watching their joy as they gathered around Grand Master Natzke to receive their belts one by one was heartwarming. There was more than one damp eye in the watching crowd.
We see siblings as well as parent and child often. The comment often heard from a parent is “I was watching my child train and it seemed like so much fun I had to join in.” Having a workout buddy handy at home is definitely a benefit!
The encouragement from fellow students, friends and family can keep a student training and excelling even when they have the strong desire to quit. So many students write in their Black Belt Book bio “I was ready to quit but my (friend, family member) encouraged me to hang in. I’m so glad I did.”
The patience of waiting and working toward a worthwhile goal is another attribute not only developed by Taekwondo but enhanced. It seems everyone comes up against that tough form they just can’t seem to master. To develop the patience to work through the steps time after time without giving up is another of those attributes that translate into a better lifestyle. These are pathways that allow the student to realize with patience and perseverance they will triumph.
A big part of Taekwondo is performance. Just being in class is a type of performance. To proceed to another belt level takes showing your stuff to a panel of judges. Often there are families and friends from other students watching – and applauding. Many tournaments are planned and it is even required for the Black Belt candidates to participate in them.
We had one memorable student who came to Taekwondo very shy and retiring. This was an adult who hated how she looked in the gi, hated having people watch her and thought of quitting many times. She formed friendships with two other adult women starting out and a few years ago all three tested for and received their third degree Black Belt together. She is now a confident, outgoing woman who, at least appeared to, enjoy performing the creative form at her last test. She is a delight to have in the do jang and is a strong part of our mentoring program for new Black Belts. We smile every time she enters the building.
Being able to perform in public is another skill that goes beyond the floor and into life. Being able to speak in front of others is a valuable part of today’s society. Many business dealings require this type of confidence.
Confidence, friendship, patience, performance skills – these all are skillsets within Taekwondo. They are also valuable skills needed to enhance life. Some lucky people have no problem with these traits. They seem to be born with them or learn them at an early age. Others of us are not as fortunate. They need to be shown where to find their confidence resides. When exposed to the opportunity of friendship, taught the patience to persevere, and given the chance to perform they shine. All of these things are available on the do jang floor with the guidance of highly trained instructors.
Can these behaviors be acquired somewhere else? Of course. But not with as much fun as while practicing Taekwondo and cheering on your friends. The bonus is you get to learn an incredible talent only a few people in the world have mastered.