Friday, 20 December 2013

The way of the foot and the hand - Part 1

For something I really love to do it does not come easy to blog about it. Why is that? Or better, "What is she talking about?", you may ask. As I mentioned in my little self-introduction (left hand side bar) one of my hobbies is taekwondo. It is Korean and literally means "foot - fist - way". It is a Korean national sport and became also popular troughout the world recently. However, it is one of the sports that is still quite misunderstood in my opinion and this makes it more complex to explain. When people hear "taekwondo" they usually get the right connotation: It's a martial art! And then wild images of people flying and kicking and fighting like mad pop up, scenes from the many martial arts movies. Taekwondo can be a very good basis for those kind of movies. The real taekwondo classes for people like you and me though is more of learning techniques, flexibility, strength, perseverance and generally coordination of body and mind.

My local taekwondo club explains it like this on their website: "Foot" and "hand" represent the most important techniques of taekwondo, kicks in all variations, abdomen or head height, rotate, jump, double or triple and fist techniques, especially punches to attack and block for defense. The "way", however, describes the personal development that goes through each Taekwondoin (people learning taekwondo): from white belt to black belt, from student to master. It is more than just sporting progress. If Taekwondo is properly taught and learned, it becomes a character school. Patience, respect for the opponent, recognizing one's own weaknesses and strengths, self-discipline are only some aspects with which the athlete has to deal in training.

Well, that's a whole lot and there are slight differences between children, youth and adult classes. I'm very happy that I found out about my club as there are not many who offer adult classes. In our classes we start quite late at 20h00 until around 21h30. We usually start the class with a game to warm up, mostly football (but with a soft plastic ball and no goal keeper). And different from the games I know from school it is not about who wins but to have fun and get warm. And fun it is! I'm not skilled in any game involving balls and so are others in our group. However there are lots who are. So this leads inevitably to funny situations with a lot of laughter. And it helps me to leave the day behind, to clear my mind and to get ready for the training. We then do stretching followed by various key aspects of activity like basic techniques, pattern training, one-step-sparring, free-sparring or self-defense. The class ends with exercises for strenght/stamina or stretching. It's a really good workout, it's fun and helps to reduce stress. Most of the times before driving to my class I really feel more like relaxing on the sofa. Miraculously though, I feel relaxed after classes too. So I made it a habit to go to my club and exercise, and the habit became a beloved hobby.

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