Taekwondo for Fun and Fitness by Instructor Ma
Tae Kwon Do is a traditional Korean martial art with many benefits. The word Taekwondo means The Way of the Hand and Foot (punching and kicking). The essential benefits to a beginner in this martial art are Muscle Toning, Philosophy, Forms and Self Defense.
It is a well-rounded exercise program that encompasses muscle toning, stretching and flexibility, increasing strength and stamina through aerobic sparring and mental challenges through becoming proficient at the patterns or forms and self-defense moves.
Most classes start out with warm-ups. These exercises are calisthenics such as pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks, trunk twists, squat kicks and various leg stretches. For certain you will tighten your abs and strengthen your arms just from performing the warm-up exercises. Before you know it, you’ll be doing fifty knuckle or triangle push-ups at rapid-fire pace and will be able to lean up against a wall and have someone lift your leg up so that your toes touch the wall behind your ear. Tae Kwon Do will definitely help you to become or stay limber.
Sparring is always taught in a controlled environment. It is not street fighting, and all participants wear protective gear: helmet, gloves, shin guards, forearm guards, chest protector and mouth piece. Usually, you will spar in three-minute rounds. It shares many similarities with kick boxing. Then a minute rest; switch partners, then spar again and repeat. You will get extremely hot and sweaty. Jab, punch, upper cut, side kick, reverse punch, round house, hammer fist, bob and weave and repeat. It’s excellent aerobic exercise.
Learning the forms or patterns can really tax your brain. Many of the forms have 26+ different movements. It’s your job to remember them in order, and learn them proficiently. In theory, by learning the forms, it’ll help you to become a better fighter. For example, one form might start out: high block, front kick punch left; high block front kick punch right. Turn 90 degrees, down the center, knife hand left, knife hand right, knife hand left, spear hand. And so, it goes. If you master these, when it comes time to spar, you can implement some of these patterns into your match.
Many people enjoy Taekwondo, or any martial arts for that matter, because it is an all-inclusive exercise program. It’s fun, it’s challenging, and it’s an excellent way to get in or to stay in shape. As with any exercise program, start slowly and consult your physician. If you haven’t participated in much physical exercise in a while, your muscles will be very sore for the first few weeks. Don’t be intimidated by the other students who may appear to be in better shape that you are. Everyone started out as a white belt. Just have fun; and get moving!
With all respect in Taekwondo,
Language, Culture, and Character Development Teacher, USNTA
About the Author: Instructor Ma is a certified Taekwondo and Hapkido Instructor. She is the Language, Culture and Leadership Development teacher for the US National Taekwondo Association. She is a professional sports and fitness model and full-time nursing student.
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