So it’s now 11th October – can you believe I’m already 5 months into my challenge, and 4 sports in?! My fourth sport is the art of Tae-Kwon-Do and I’m conducting my 6 weeks on a Tuesday, with Bath Tae Kwon Do club based at Culverhay sports centre. The adult team are very welcoming and really friendly even though everyone else was belts above me and they all helped at some stage!
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon means “to strike or break with fist”; and do means “way”, “method”, or “art”. Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the art of the foot and fist” or “the art of kicking and punching.” It combines combat techniques, self-defense, sport, exercise, and in some cases meditation and philosophy.
My first lesson started with a grading presentation (they had had gradings last week) where those who had achieved high marks and a new grade recieved their certificate and exchanged their belt for the new colour representing their grade. The junior level starts at tenth geup (a white belt) and advance toward first geup ( a red belt with a black stripe). The senior level is made up of nine ranks. These ranks are called dan, also referred to as “black belts” (as in “third dan” or “third-degree black belt”). Black belts begin at first degree.
After these had been given out I was introduced to Emily, who had just recieved her green belt and she was to help guide me through the warm up. Luckily for me, the instructor started with some hard moves – que a very un-coordinated Christina! We all had to center ourselves in lines and pretty much from then on, it was a jumble of controlled punches, kicks, turns and sounds like “huh!”, “hoosh”, “oof”. Emily was very good and helped teach me each move even though it took me a while to grasp, and by the time I had grasped it, they’d moved onto an even weirder move! I was also having difficulty with my left and right and putting my arms in the right place! The instructor came around and helped my posture a little and told me to “tuck those thumbs in” or in combat I’d break them – so I’m definately tucking them in! The warm up also included press-ups – jesus christ!
It was then time for the different belts to showcase their different Patterns. So we all sat in a circle and it went from black belt pattern down to yellow belt pattern. It was extremely interesting to watch as they were so co-ordinated and controlled with their moves – and these patterns were in no way easy!
Then we broke off into groups and one lot went to do Sparring – ‘free-form’ fighting – and I went off with the Yellow belts to practise a basic pattern/form. The pattern was a circular motion, to the left and to the right. It involved you performing a lunge position with your legs (say the left leg bent) and punching your left arm straight out – fist facing down, and your right arm pulling in to your waist – fist facing up.
Then turning to the right, move the left leg in and out in front of you in a lunge position again, repeating the right arm technique and extending your left arm in a low block – as though you are blocking a kick away from your right leg.
This is repeated with your right leg and arm, and then you can also do a cross block instead of a low block, where your block arm, instead of being straight defending your leg, is bent in front of your chest with your fist up in the air (as if to block a punch towards your chest).
I repeated these moves until I understood which was my left, and which was my right and basically just got the hang of the basic art of Taekwondo for the rest of the lesson. Then one final fitness test at the end of the class – in pairs – jump over the other persons legs for a minute – christ is it easier than it looks!!
I thoroughly enjoyed my first lesson and can’t wait for next weeks class to try putting my new moves into a bigger pattern! Ha! That’s if I even remember them from today’s lesson – I shall have to keep practising…!