Why is Taekwondo better than other sports? It isn’t. It is an alternative that can be a game changer for any aspiring athlete. It can be an addition to an established regimen to enhance balance and endurance, or the stand alone sport of choice to develop all around sports skill. There are so many areas to explore – boredom is not an issue. Eye/hand coordination, analyzation skills, memory skills, ability to follow directions, the list goes on.
Here are some of the many reasons to give it a try.
Beyond Self Defense:
A third degree Black Belt, who was fond of walking in a central city area at night, encountered a dog. Not a friendly Chihuahua, but an attack trained Doberman! This could have turned out very badly both for the Black Belt and the dog. But the preparation forged on the training floor kicked in and allowed our Black Belt to not only evade the snapping teeth, but lead the well trained Dobbie back to his handlers where they convinced it the Black Belt was not only not a threat, but a good guy.
Self-defense is not always a negative attribute, but often a positive way to avoid confrontation. In fact, special classes are offered in deescalating situations and defeating bullies, both physical and verbal. Classes are offered to the public for self-defense in near real life situations. Trained masters use body padded suits so the students can actually hit, kick, strike the instructors without actually harming them. The ‘bad guys’ don’t have these suits.
The class times are active and physically demanding. From early days of being a white belt, they increase in duration and intensity as the number of forms learned is raised. The endurance level increases and each class enhances the last. Many of the forms are graceful, requiring balance and control. Of course, they are not learned in one class or even in one belt level. The learning builds as the student progresses.
The forms have Korean names which are used as identifiers. The student not only learns the movements involved in each form, but the name of that form. This enhances memory ability as each belt rank has more forms to remember. Stances and choreographed movements, much like dance routines aid in completing the forms.
In today’s society, many children have problems gaining confidence and self-discipline. Competition can and does inhibit many. Children as well as adults come to the dojang shy and introverted and as they succeed in the craft of Taekwondo, they blossom. Each form mastered, each stripe earned, leading to a new belt level improves confidence which leads to even more success. The fellowship of their peers encourages them to excel in the forms and excelling in the forms creates more confidence and enjoyment of their ability. This carries over into other areas of their life as the student achieves success.
Friendships on the floor are often lifelong. Frequently a class of candidates will continue through Black Belt ranks together. The friendships, fellowship, and encouragement of the classes creates enduring relationships. The encouragement of their friends leads to even more confidence.
These friendships are solidified as the higher belt ranks become teachers of the earlier ranks encouraging even more confidence in the new belt candidates.
The best bonds are when families train together. Entire families train and test for Black Belts. The refrain of “My child was having so much fun, I just had to join them” is often heard. Practice at home becomes a strong bonding device, often with children teaching parents. How often does a child get to best their parent in a sparring match?
Frustration over not being able to master a form as quickly as you would like is real. That’s where the patience of a student is forged. Instructors are skillful in teaching skills in different ways to engage the minds of diverse students. Instructors may rotate to give a different perspective on the curriculum to vary the thoughts. What isn’t clear to a student one way, may be seen better by a subtle shift in focus. Teaching is tailored to individual needs and working with challenging situations is one of the strong suits of Taekwondo.
Seminars, testing, and contests are held. Those who are shy are encouraged to participate and we have seen students realize they enjoy being on the floor showing their skills to others. It’s a beautiful sight.
One once shy white belt adult has become one of our best mentors and examples. Currently a third degree Black Belt, she has become an integral part of our teaching staff.
Many students have likened being in the zone with a series of forms as a type of meditation. The mind is allowed freedom from thought as muscle memory takes over. Strangely, the physical movements become a relaxing strength.
A large part of the practice of Taekwondo is service. The youngest of our students are encouraged to serve family. They are reminded to become polite, obedient, and listen to their caregivers. Of course, this doesn’t always happen, but they are reminded in each class of the ideal.
Students are encouraged to take their service further to work or school settings. The goal of excellence in all areas is made clear in each class. Repetition helps to embrace the concept.
Service to the community is shown with food bank drives, clothing drives, donations to funds to help local charities are included often in the school curriculum. These have included donations to aid disasters that have occurred around the world.
Learning Taekwondo is not a chore. The instructors devise games, fun nights, and events to show off learning and have fun with friends. There are movie nights, seminars to learn or enhance new skills, and tournaments. Going home with a trophy for the shelf is a great motivator, even for older students.
While the majority of students are still in school, there are many older pupils who enjoy the classes and continue to upper belt ranks. These older students may find the curriculum challenging, but are more motivated and determined. The exercise, memory tests, and fellowship keep them young at their core.
So why choose Taekwondo? Pick any point from the above list. Do it for yourself or a loved one. Do it to stay young or to improve your memory. Do it to find new friends. The reasons are as diverse as the students. And the results are amazing. Give it a try.