Taekwondo, the “Way of the Hand and the Foot”, is a Korean martial art which traces its roots through the centuries to the ancient fighting arts of the Korean peninsula. Today, Taekwondo is the world’s most widely practiced martial art, with over 20 million practitioners worldwide.
Taekwondo is practiced for the power, grace and beauty of its numerous techniques, whether it be in the practice of the individual techniques or in the practice of synchronized techniques called “poom sae” or “hyung” (forms).
Taekwondo was founded on an ancient code of model citizenship espoused by the earliest practitioners of Taekwondo: loyalty to country; filial piety, honor and integrity, courage in battle and justice in the use of force. Practitioners of taekwondo today strive for these same ideals. Through rigorous physical exertion, the practitioner strives to achieve harmony of mind and body, and indomitable strength of spirit.
Taekwondo has gained recognition as a full-fledged international sport as evidenced by its inclusion as a full medal sport in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Taekwondo has also long been included in the Pan Am Games, Goodwill Games, Asian Games, Pan African Games and numerous other international and regional competitions.
Taekwondo training incorporates extensive stretching and constant aerobic exertion. The results are increased aerobic capacity, strength and awareness of one’s body.
Taekwondo is a complete system of unarmed combat for self-defense. Taekwondo is especially recognized as the martial art with the most highly developed arsenal of kicking techniques, techniques which range from the simple to the spectacular.
About four years ago I separated from my husband. Our son was nine years old at the time and I had sole custody. He had been doing some swimming training and the coach advised me that although his arms were strong, he needed to develop some inner core strength and suggested a martial art would be a good way to achieve that. I had been looking for a form of exercise that we could do together as being single; it was going to be difficult to get a baby sitter every time I wanted to exercise.
Bondi Junction Taekwondo was the first place I rang and Maria was so kind and explained that there was more to taekwondo than just exercise. It is great for your mind as well. Many of the younger students have done extremely well at school.
We went to watch a lesson and discovered there was quite a mix of people – young, old, male and female. As I was 44 and female, it was reassuring to know that I wouldn’t be the odd one out.
For the first few lessons Maria showed us what to do at the back of the class. She was very patient and inspirational. I felt very comfortable as she did not push us hard. We could go at our own pace. When we had learnt all the moves after a few lessons, we joined in with the class under Lindsay’s instruction. Lindsay is one of the most respected black belts in Australia, being a seventh dan. I thought he would be very serious and strict, but he makes the class so much fun with his jokes, so although it is hard work, it is definitely enjoyable.
My son dropped out after a couple of years, but it is quite normal for boys to do that when they go through adolescence (much to their mother’s dismay!). Most of them come back after a few years and go on to become black belts.
I have continued to go for the last four years and try very hard not to miss a class (three times a week). As a single mother, my life can be quite stressful. Maria and Lindsay and taekwondo have been so good for me. I always feel better after a class. It is a challenge mentally as well as physically. You can’t worry about anything else while you are there. The stress of the day goes completely and my body is so much stronger and suppler. I am confident my body can only benefit from taekwondo well into my old age.