By Lydia Willis, 1st dan
“Where can I start Karate?” Whenever taekwondo, karate, or any martial arts comes to mind, I think of the Colorado Taekwondo Taekwondo, where I take my karate classes. Why? Because it has many benefits including exercise, leadership and a wide variety of skills to learn.Colorado Taekwondo Taekwondo provides difficult, yet enjoyable exercise. We warm-up with lots of jumping jacks and stretches. Unlike other martial art schools, we all have a chance to count out loud ten jumping jacks. But, we don’t count in English, we count in Korean because Taekwondo originates from Korea. A very long time ago the farmers in Korea had a hard time defending themselves during any combat so they develop their own fighting skills that would smash through armor and get them to the height of a man on a horse. Most words we use that relate to a move or command are in Korean. A normal class schedule includes our warm-up, the Taekwondo basics, something we call patterned movements or poomse, and a fun game or self defense segment at the end of class. Instead of saying Taekwondo basics we just call that part of class basics. In basics we work on our punches, strikes, blocks, and kicks. We have three kinds of punches, high, low, and mid, later on when we work on self defense or poomse they come into play. Actually everything we do in basics translates into poomse and self defense. That’s why we call them the basics. Poomse is a group of moves put into one flowing set. It’s kind of like making music notes into a whole song, but the notes are the moves and the song is the poomse itself. We are taught many, many, many poomse as we progress through the belts that we earn. Self defense is pretty self explanatory. We learn different defenses for different situations. Or we play a game. There are lots of different games for use to play, some strengthen our reflexes or abilities, while others seem to just be for fun.
Next, we learn leadership skills from the beginning of our Taekwondo career. When you begin Taekwondo whether you are 2 or 62 you show respect by saying "yes sir" or "yes ma’am". As you progress in belts the amount of leadership skills you need increases too. As a white belt, it isn’t your responsibility to line everyone up for class, it’s whoever is the highest belt student in class. It takes a lot of courage and leadership to make the group assemble correctly. Another example is when we have game time, specifically relay races. Someone is the captain on every team and sometimes they have to work hard and set a good example for the rest of their team. The captain also has to keep their group in line, literally, and behaviorally. It takes a whole lot of leadership skills to participate in Taekwondo.
Finally, we can look into the many physical skills that you will learn in Taekwondo. First of all, we must learn about endurance. To learn endurance, we do around two hundred jumping jack per class and several push-ups, sit-ups, and difficult stretches. The main part of class is basics where we work on our kicks, punches, strikes, and stances. All of basics plays into different parts of class, mostly our or poomse. In poomse we learn to precisely time our moves and to work hard in memorization. Poomse is probably the biggest part of Taekwondo, but it has a rival. In class we also work on self-defense. The two different types of self defense learned are called, one-steps and just straight up self defense. We have twenty-six one-steps and lots of self defense. Sometimes there is a world tour where we go to some country, including South Korea. We also are given the opportunity to go above and beyond in our learning with something we call Black Belt Club. As the name states it is a class that prepares you for black belt. It’s a class for those looking to challenge their memory with lots of new activities.
Taekwondo is an amazing experience no matter how old or young you are. It has so many perks including exercise, the gaining of leadership skills, and the knowledge of many different physical skills. You should come down to any CTI campus and at least try out a karate class.