Friday, December 12, 2014

Taekwondo and Developing Physical Fitness

By Nathaniel McKernan, 1st dan

The five components of health related physical fitness are improved through martial arts training at the Colorado Taekwondo Institute. However, we might as well ask the question, “What are the five components of health related physical fitness?”
They are:

All of these components of physical fitness are part of the Taekwondo training.

Now, just in case you didn't know, Taekwondo is a martial art which demands physical fitness and abilities in order to get good at the martial art.  You have to work hard and improve the body.  And, when you work hard at something like Taekwondo, you get a good workout.  And, to become even better at Taekwondo, you will begin the whole cycle again.  So as you work hard in Taekwondo classes at our Westminster location, you will improve the five components of health related physical fitness.

But how?  Well, let’s start with muscular strength.  In Taekwondo, we always do our exercises-- jumping jacks; push ups, etc. and these exercises help build up muscular strength over time.  But it is not just exercises that gives you muscular strength;  doing classes over a long period of time builds muscles.  Think about it, if you were to do kicks over and over again, or push-ups over and over again, you would build up muscular strength.  I myself can vouch for this.  When I first started, I could not do a single push-up (actually, for the first three years, I was doing a bad imitation of a push-up for building arm strength) and doing multiple amount of kicks made my leg muscles sore.  Now,  it’s a different story.  I can do push-ups and also do many kicks without my muscles being sore.  However, it took effort to get that strength.  Working hard in each class helped build muscular strength.

Now, what about muscular endurance?  What about the ability to keep your muscles going even when you are tired?  This is probably the easiest physical benefit you would achieve.   At first, it is difficult to keep one's muscles going during class because you have not developed very good muscular endurance yet.  Even really fit athletes sometimes have trouble because, odds are, they don't practice muscular endurance for all body muscles and Taekwondo uses all the body muscles.  However, over time, you will develop strong muscular endurance.  On that same note, you accomplish the same for cardio respiratory endurance.  For breathing, it would be very similar to muscular endurance; you would be able to breath better during long workouts then when you first started.  I am a living testimony.  When I first started, my muscles were aching and I was breathing hard after only 75 jumping jacks.  However, through years of continued participation, I am now able to do many more jumping jacks without breathing hard or getting sore muscles.  However, getting good at both does require you to try hard.  Just like muscular strength, the more effort you put in, the better you will get.

Next up is flexibility.  I am pretty sure you might have seen those gymnast be able to do those splits in mid-air and other feats and you probably thought “Could I ever be that flexible?”  Well, it is possible, and you can get it from continued participation in Taekwondo.  On your first day, you probably could not kick very high.  However, after continued participation, your kicks start to get higher, and higher, and higher.  Eventually, you would be able to kick so high that you would be considered “flexible.”  How?  Simple.  Stretching.  Every time we do class, we stretch to make ourselves more flexible.  And every time we stretch, our muscles extend a bit.  After a while, you would begin to realize that you are kicking a bit higher.  And, after more stretching, you would eventually be able to kick higher than you thought possible. This increased flexibility will also carry into other aspects of your life!

Last of all, there is body composition.  It is pretty much common knowledge that working out helps you get the best lean  body weight to fat ratio.  Well, Taekwondo demands physical exertion!  Or, in simpler terms, when you practice Taekwondo, you sweat.  That’s called a workout.  And when you workout, you get less fat.

So as you can see, classes at the Colorado Taekwondo Institute, including the Westminster location, does address all the five components of health-related physical fitness.  By doing Taekwondo, you can improve in all these areas.

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