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Whilst everybody else was Kung Foo fighting, we at Treatwell were checking out Tae Kwon Do, the Korean national sport that will help you slim down, tone up and should the need arise, protect yourself on the night bus!
Looking for an exciting way to mix up your exercise routine? Feeling less Karate kid and more Kung Foo panda? This popular combination of self defence and exercise with a dash of meditation and philosophy might be just the thing to get you up and moving.
Although styles differ from class to class, generally Tae Kwon Do focuses on kicks, blocks, punches and open handed strikes, with kicks being the most emphasised technique due to their greater reach and power. Some instructors also use pressure point grabs and ‘take down’ techniques borrowed from other martial arts. A great thing about Tae Kwon Do is that the classes are usually varied enough to keep even the most fickle of ninjas interested. A typical session could include:
Patterns or forms- a series of moves performed in a controlled fashion, like a sort of martial-arts pilates, these tone your muscles and develop control and technique as well as strength.
Self defence techniques- this is where you learn your cool new skills at a slower pace to really get your technique spot on, with self-defence against an imaginary aggressor in mind.
Sparring- here’s the ‘fighting’ bit. Luckily Tae Kwon Do is a predominantly non-contact sport, so no black eyes here! Sparring may seem scary at first but it’s a great opportunity to put your moves into practice as well as providing an aerobic aspect to your workout.
Breaking- this is usually used in training or for demonstrations (due to an apparent lack of real life situations in which you need to split a tile using your bare hands. That’s why power tools were invented) but it would also make a memorable CV addition...
Relaxation and meditation exercises- Tae Kwon Do is not an aggressive sport, and therefore practitioners aim to find their motivation in inner calm and concentration, not anger. These exercises are designed to relax the student and provide focus. There is a distinct emphasis on ethics, discipline, respect and self-confidence.
Progression in Tae Kwon Do is measured in practical exams, passing which well get you a shiny new coloured belt. To pass you must demonstrate aptitude at your current level, performing your patterns cleanly and sparring with control and skill. Random flailing is widely frowned upon....
Tae Kwon Do is suitable for everyone, as long as you are capable of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise and don’t mind dressing like Hong Kong Fooey!
If you really want to be teacher’s pet, impress them with your Korean! Tae Kwon Do means 'the way of the foot and the fist', the training hall is a 'dojang' and the snazzy white outfit is a 'dobok'.