Tag Archives: taekwondo

What Taekwondo Means to Me

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.
Alex Mears

Reflections On My Taekwondo Experience

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.

Best regards,

Dr Simon Rowe

(Black belt, 3rd dan)