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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Taekwondo

Many of the Olympic disciplines are sports that I wouldn't normally be brave enough to consider. Taekwondo is certainly one of these, who would have ever thought I'd be doing martial arts in my life?

I mean, we all watched Karate Kid in the 80s, but martial arts with their blend of combat, acrobatic and eastern philosophy are certainly an acquired taste and not something one picks up casually on a Sunday afternoon.

Yet, when I showed up at my gym to enquire about the Sunday afternoon Taekwondo class, the Master (senior instructor) was rather encouraging. A part from obtaining membership of BTCB and getting some insurance, I could come along to the Sunday lessons freely, regardless of my ability.

Today I had my first lesson. It was nothing like I expected, and far more enjoyable and less daunting than I feared. In many ways it seemed like a yoga class plus punches and high kicks. The discipline focuses a lot on control, agility, balance, stamina, flexibility and speed. As an absolute beginner I start with a white belt, and my first aim is to learn the basic techniques. Today I learnt a few basic stances, blocks and kicks. The practice constituted mostly on the repetition of patterns, sets of prescribed formal sequences of movements. No actual combat was involved (I suspect this is only expected of the higher belts).

The more unusual aspects of the lesson were:
  • exercising barefoot and in my pjs (lacking a proper uniform, my pjs were the closest thing I had resembling a do-bok)
  • learning Korean: Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, Korean language commands are often used and Korean numerals were used to count repetitions
  • there was an awful lot of bowing and shouting, both expressions of Easter philosophy underpinning the sport
I think I am no where near breaking bricks with my elbows, but at first impression I found Teakwondo to be an entirely enjoyable sport, one well worth learning, even starting at 32 years of age.

You are never too old to learn something new.

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