Lessons in Taekwondo by Grand Master Fred Parks
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the first in a series by Grand Master Fred Parks. In this column he is going to share his thoughts on Taekwondo based on his forty plus years in the martial arts. The US National Taekwondo Association is proud to bring you this series.)
As a martial artist I was attracted to Taekwondo because it is one of the oldest martial arts. Its earliest roots are traced back around 2,000 years ago in Korea. Taekwondo philosophy and techniques still being taught today as they were centuries ago, having been passed down from Master to student for many generations.
Taekwondo is based on scientific use of the body for self-defense and a martial art method of empty hand and foot fighting that is illustrated in the ancient book, MooYe-DoBo-TongGi written in the early 1400s.
In a traditional Taekwondo school, our instruction is designed to provide you with the unique system of physical coordination that Taekwondo demands. Moreover, you will find that our course of instruction stresses development of individual character, integrity, and respect for others. Our headquarters in Korea will tolerate nothing less than the best from our charter schools.
As you advance through a program of Taekwondo instruction, you will realize that Taekwondo, properly practiced, is a way of life. You will gain a new way of thinking and acting, which will guide you in all areas of life so that you will be happier, healthier, and wiser.
“Hard work is the key to success”
The US National Taekwondo Association emphasizes three main aspects of personal development from our training.
Body – develops coordination, flexibility, speed, power, stamina, etc.
Mind – develops focus, concentration, confidence, self-esteem
Spirit – develops intangible qualities such as integrity, humility, leadership, and an indomitable spirit that leads to success.
Developing the Body in Taekwondo:
The physical aspect of martial arts is the most familiar to the public. We have all seen movies of Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and other great martial artists showing off their speed, flexibility, power & technique.
In the US National Taekwondo Association, we teach and explore all these physical aspects to the body. Although not everyone can be as fast as Bruce Lee, or as flexible as Jet Li, we enable everyone to fulfill their potential.
We train the body through a variety of exercises and techniques:
* We always stretch before and after our workouts, to build flexibility.
* Line forms increase coordination and muscle memory through repetition.
* Proper technique is vital to generating speed and power.
* Punching and kicking drills with a target build power and stamina.
* We teach how to fall and roll, which is always a useful skill to have.
* Students learn how to control their bodies to minimize impact and reduce injury in unpredictable situations.
* One-step sparring teaches timing, distance, and technique.
* Hyungs or Poomse (forms) allow students to bring these aspects together into a fluid set of movements. This is where a student may express more of their personality and interpretation, through the choreographed set of basic movements.
Developing The Mind in Taekwondo:
The mind is a powerful weapon, and one that will be used more often in the modern world. While a strong body can help one fight once a conflict has started, the mind can help prevent the conflict from appearing in the first place. How many times have you walked into a building, and made a mental of the emergency exits? Or scanned the passerby on the street to assess their threat level to you? By being more aware of our surroundings and situations, we can take control of our fate.
There are many aspects to training the mind, which start from learning confidence and self-esteem, to achieving concentration and focus, and finally reaching enlightenment through meditation and breathing exercises. As we gain physical strength and ability, we must be sure to make equal improvements in our mind to properly wield those tools. Power without control is dangerous; thus, we make sure to develop both in parallel.
Developing The Spirit in Taekwondo:
Spirit is one of the intangible characteristics that is cultivated more than it is taught. A person’s spirit is a core part of their being, and it is very difficult to train or change it. The best we can do is to encourage its growth and adaptation in certain directions. The best analogy to this is the bonsai tree. We can trim and encourage it to grow in certain ways, but ultimately the tree decides what path it shall follow.
About the author: Grand Master Fred Parks is the Dean of the USNTA International Academy https://usnta.net and a senior consultant for the World Martial Arts Marketing Program https://worldmartialartsmarketing.com . He can be reached through his school website site at https://americandragonkoreanmartialarts.com .