© ATC 2010

Perspectives on Taekwon-Do


There are several things that I happen to really enjoy about Taekwon-Do. As someone who sits behind a computer in an office for much of my life, having the routine of going to training several times a week provides me with a sharp starkly sensate contrast; the rush of being pushed and motivated is hugely beneficial to me on many levels: socially, physically and mentally. During this essay, I would like to explore these facets, providing personal insight into what a student experiences - I feel that the experience of a Taekwon-Do end-user may be interesting or enlightening to others. I also explore how we – as an organization – might better be able to advertise these strengths and positive aspects to newcomers.


Firstly, it's worth mentioning that I really enjoy the people behind Taekwon-Do. Both within the confines of the sport, and outside of classes, many of the people I have met within this martial art are truly of an exceptional calibre that is both rare and refreshing. Taekwon-Do espouses a set of key values that seem to resonate fairly consistently with  a lot of good, genuine and open-minded people.


Sometimes, at the end of a long day, simply knowing that not going will actually matter to these people makes the difference to putting in the effort to attend.


Also, realizing that other people do notice and keep track of your progress and skill adds in a good sort of motivation.


It's difficult to over-state the value of all of this. It always feels good to kick a pad out of someone's hand, or simply to hear the smart crack of a pad after executing a difficult kick properly, but it's always that much better if others appreciate it with you. When you can appreciate and enjoy the company of a club, your levels of commitment and dedication will increase dramatically!


That motivation can carry over to one putting in the effort to train at home too. There are several techniques that I have only been able to reach proficiency in by practising and training by myself. Usually it's not a question of other people providing encouragement, so much as seeing the their expectations. This can transform your own standards into something you need to strive towards to achieve, until at the end of the day, you have something you can be genuinely proud of.


In broad principle, Taekwon-Do manages to define a predictable framework for me in which the unpredictable happens. Stepping into a sparring ring, for instance, is predictable: the centre referee is there, as are the corner judges. But then the sparring match starts, and I get punched on the nose – and – okay, that may be slightly predictable too, but the timing, the set-up leading to that moment – is inevitably unique, and surprising.


It's a flippant example, but this pattern gets repeated throughout the world of Taekwon-Do. I know that on any occasion, we will likely do things like pad-work, patterns, fitness, kicking exercises, special techniques, sparring training, but it's never always the same, it's never mindlessly repetitive, I can almost never walk into an evening being able to predict exactly how any given twenty minute stretch will go. That's a good thing – it stops it from becoming boring.


Of course, I know and understand the dynamics of classes because of simple, direct experience. If I think back to when I first started, I didn't have that, and it took a while for me to acclimatize to the scope in which they function. It may be helpful to examine if we can do more to give new-comers a sense of perspective of how it all works, and of what to expect – not only in the short term, but also that of the bigger arc – the one that has you becoming a black-belt and more.


I feel that setting the framework, starts far sooner than in necessarily obvious. It can be in the tone of the website, and it continues during the person's first class. The feeling that one understands the bigger picture can mean a lot when you're first starting out, but this needs to be emphasized and repeated throughout the formative months.


Much of this does in fact happen, but formalizing this as a specific goal – of painting the bigger picture for beginners - is of value. They might be very enthusiastic, but lacking knowledge – basically, they don't know what they don't know – means that they are at a disadvantage when it comes to trying to move forward faster by themselves, or even simply gauge their own progress for accurately: there's certainly far more to Taekwon-Do than your current belt level.


Thinking back, it was always nice to have individual attention – the up-close and direct investment in me by my seniors. Having someone highly qualified – but closer to the ground – personalized the experience for me, and it drove home the sense that I was in good hands.


I relish the opportunities that being part of this world affords me. The idea of doing a martial art always seemed like a pipe-dream for me – let alone being part of a demo-team.


Creating something that anyone can tap into to help realize their own dreams is rare indeed. Truly, I am grateful for it!

© ATC 2010