I guess there are a couple of things I would like to say about taekwondo in general and Lindsay and Maria’s school in particular.
The first is that I never thought I would be the kind of person who did martial arts. As a child and teenager, I hated aggression, would do anything to avoid a fight and thought that people who did things like taekwondo just wanted to be violent in more effective ways.
Now, after training with Lindsay and Maria for almost 16 years, I know better. I still hate aggression. And I still would do anything to avoid a fight. But I know that taekwondo actually brings out the best in people, is suitable for literally everyone, and if anything, reduces your chances of being caught up in violence.
Taekwondo is far more than self-defence, however. It is a uniquely balanced activity in that it increases your strength, flexibility and cardiovascular reserve at the same time – something you could achieve at the gym, but only with a highly tailored training regime which divides your time evenly between weights, cardio machines and the stretching mats. Taekwondo offers all of this ‘off-the-shelf’, so to speak, while engaging your mind and imagination in a way that a treadmill or bench-press never can.
What’s more, taekwondo encourages personal growth: it improves your mental focus and resilience while providing a great way to de-stress at the end of a day. It also has a philosophical basis, and by nurturing ideals such as courtesy, modesty and integrity, a good school provides a space of mutual respect and encouragement. This not only facilitates the process of learning, it also provides a haven from the ego-centrism and competitiveness of the outside world.
Alright, so you probably realise by now that I’m a big believer in the value of taekwondo. But the honest truth is that now, 16 years down the line, I can’t imagine myself not doing it. Thanks to Lindsay and Maria’s school, I have had a constant source of exercise, social contact and personal growth throughout my adult life, and that is something not to be taken lightly.
Which brings me to the school – Eastern Suburbs Taekwondo (or Bondi Junction Taekwondo as it was when I started). The name lacks the razzamatazz and machismo of some martial arts schools – but that summarises Lindsay’s approach to teaching: forget the attitude and the ego and get back to the basics of the art. Taekwondo should be accessible to everyone, not just the testosterone-enhanced minority . . .
As an approach it has certainly worked to create a fantastic balance in our school, such that women usually make up at least 50% of our classes. In terms of age, many of our students (myself included) have weathered the awkward storm of adolescence all the better for the confidence, perspective and physical competence that can be gained from training, while our oldest students are in their sixties. In fact, I honestly doubt there is another school out there than can boast such diversity – which is all due to the supportive, inclusive and highly personalised instruction that Lindsay and Maria provide to everyone who walks through the door.
Anyway, I’ve probably gushed on enough now. Suffice it to say that starting taekwondo all those years ago was an easy decision and without a doubt one of the best I have made – before or since. If you’re looking for something fun, challenging and sociable to do for your health and well-being, in my honest opinion there isn’t a better option out there.
(Black belt, 3rd dan)