[Reprinted from Parents 'n' Kids magazine
Volume #1, Issue #6, Sports & Leisure
"TaeKwon-Do for the Family" by Jim Ripley]
TaeKwon-Do today is one of the most popular Martial Arts practiced in the world. It is practiced by millions of people of all ages as a means of achieving physical fitness and confidence while providing self-defense and sport. The tenets of Taekwon-Do Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control and Indomitable Spirit act as a guide for its practitioners so they may achieve its many benefits.
Courtesy is the first tenet and it is possibly the most important of all. Students (children) are taught to have respect for the Instructor, the Dojang (studio) and their peers. When they enter the gym they bow as a sign of respect for this honorable tradition and those involved in it. Students are encouraged to get along with their fellow students and to help one another in their development of skills. TaeKwon-Do is run somewhat similar to a school environment. The skills are graduated according to belt level.
Integrity encourages students to be honest in their dealings with others.
Perseverance is a very important tenet. Achieving any goal big or small requires ongoing efforts. Sometimes, just as you get close to your goal, a barrier is thrown up. Goals that are important sometimes require more effort or thought. The important thing is to continue until you achieve them. Short-term goals in TaeKwon-Do could be achieving your first belt, winning a competition or just getting in better shape. Many students will wish to quit out of impatience just before they achieve their goal.
TaeKwon-Do can also teach realistic goal setting by promoting short and long-term goals. Sometimes people become frustrated because they can only envision the long-term goal or result. As an example, consider earning your black belt. There are a lot of obstacles. A solution is simply to start by earning your first belt and achieving the long-term goal, one step at a time.
Self Control is a necessary trait. Controlling ones actions in the gym is where to begin. Being polite to and tolerant of others, not using your techniques on others except in self-defense, controlling the amount of contact when you spar are all required for everyone to progress in a safe and enjoyable manner. The studio is a reflection of a miniature society.
Developing an Indomitable Spirit by practicing TaeKwon-Do will help build your confidence and courage. Through the countless hours in the gym, you put yourself to the limit physically and mentally. When you take an accidental hit do you quit or keep going? What if you feel tired do you stay home or go to the studio? If you don't like sparring, do you quit or do you gradually overcome your fear? You have a test do you let nervousness overcome you or do you make the test? All the above examples challenge your spirit and by always striving past your limits you will develop confidence, composure, great physical fitness and self-defense skills. So in summary, the above tenets will help any child or individual along the road to success in school, work and in life, in general.
TaeKwon-Do is a mind/body activity and you learn very quickly that the mind guides the body. Many of the new defensive movements require attention to detail and perfecting them is a form of active meditation. You can become lost in practice as you leave your everyday problems behind you. A short session of meditation is a part of every class and serves to clear the mind of distractions and prepare you for practice techniques.
As your body learns to react, and your body becomes more fit, your confidence and self-esteem will improve. Your body language will reflect your confidence and the latter is a great self-defense deterrent in itself. From the schoolyard bully to the urban mugger, poor body language is often cited as a method of selecting a victim.
The International TaeKwon-Do Federation (I.T.F.) style of TaeKwon-Do involves the use of hand and foot techniques to repel an attacker, also, the I.T.F. has 3200 separate movements for self defense including blocks, evasions, strikes, releases and using pressure points. TaeKwon-Do is wonderful for developing excellent physical fitness, balance, flexibility, aerobic capacity and muscle tone. These benefits will be experienced by the student that trains regularly (2-3 classes/wk).
TaeKwon-Do is a wonderful activity the whole family can enjoy. People of all ages can reap the benefits of TaeKwon-Do. Families can take advantage of learning the art of self-defence and having fun doing it, together. Parents can help children learn and vice versa. TaeKwon-Do is a great way to stay in touch with one another.