We all know the fact that exercise improves our sense of well being. In Martial arts, specifically Taekwondo is considered by many to be an ideal workout as it combines most elements sought after in a balanced fitness program. Often translated in modern terms as "the way of the hand and foot," Taekwondo is a Korean form of martial arts that combines rapid hand and foot movements, kicks and spins. With regular practice, not only can one increase their fitness level, but overall it is a great way to shed unwanted pounds and other bad habits. Taekwondo can also increase balance, strength, and flexibility. An added plus is an increase in confidence, and an overall sense of well being. While the origins of Taekwondo date back nearly 2000 years, its modern form and practice dates back to the 1950's. Hear are a few of elements to consider while looking into this form of martial arts.
Element #1 – The Mind
Often potential students and other enthusiast are intrigued by the martial arts gear seen in movies, television, and advertisements. From the swords and other sharp weapons, mats, shields, and targets, figuring out the proper Taekwondo gear can be puzzling. What is surprising is that the practice of Taekwondo begins with properly engaging the mind. As the student evolves in practice, the mind begins to sharpen and concentration is enhanced. The art and form of Taekwondo resides with the dedication of the students and not with martial arts uniforms or fancy martial arts gear. Without the proper adjustment in the mind of the student, the martial arts supplies will be of little use in improving the student’s life.
Element #2 – The Body
Taekwondo systematically engages and energizes all parts of the body. Each training session involves stretching, balancing, sit-ups, squats, kicks, push-ups and punches. Anyone who has observed the sport has witnessed impressive displays of speed and agility, along with high kicks and punches. Once properly trained, the student’s body can be used defensively against attacks regardless of the height and weight of the opponent.
Element #3 – The Spirit
Taekwondo brings the mind, body and spirit together. Practitioners believe that through the regular practice and perfection of the technique, the sprit evolves to a point of perfection. This spirit serves as the foundation of all of the elements of Taekwondo, thus it is considered a way of life and not a mere sport.
Element #4 – The Sport
Taekwondo often appears as an aggressive self defense sport, but it is actually considered a supportive sport by those who practice and master it. The goal is not to injure, but to protect, and the main competitor is ‘ self’. The sports aspect of marital arts involves physical contact, and there are vast amounts of martial arts supplies to support the various aspects of this art. Since the major goal is the protection of self, it is important to have the proper Taekwondo supplies. As such, during sparring, students wear specially designed Taekwondo gear for protection and safety.
Element #5 – The Ethics
Since Taekwondo builds the students confidence and ability to protect and defend them, it is important for students to always embody integrity, humility and self control. The forces of right and wrong are always present in day to day life, and a good student is self aware and seeks to demonstrate good behavior and proper judgment in all situations.
Element #6 – The Advancement
It is important to research schools (dojo) and clubs prior to becoming a student to ensure that advancements in the art are based on quality training and acquiring the proper skills and techniques. Students generally advance through exams administered by instructors or during competition. Schools/clubs generally have very strict guidelines on advancement procedures. Exams usually include: kicking, sparring, and demonstrating forms. During exams and competitions, different schools/clubs are identifiable by the markings on their martial arts uniforms. The ranks of the students are determined by the colors of the belts they wear.
Element #7 – The Taekwondo Uniform
One of the first orders of business when joining a class is to acquire the proper attire. Martial arts uniforms, specifically Taekwondo uniforms are functional and symbolic. The uniform demonstrates unity, and discipline, and is an indication of a serious student. Taekwondo uniforms for students, called DoBok (Clothing for our way of life), are white to symbolize purity. Along with the white v-neck top and loose fitting white pants is the belt. The belt colors change as the students advance to higher degrees, starting with white and building as skill is acquired to black.
Remember, these are just a few of Taekwondo’s elements, all of which are intertwined and lend to the successful application of this art. There are also some Taekwondo Technique and Forms which are to be understood.