Olympic Taekwondo is an explosive, dynamic Korean Martial Art which is featured on the world’s most elite athletic stages. The art form which started off as a military combative system has since been studied, refined and transformed into a beautiful and efficient way to not only defend yourself but also quickly increase your fitness. It focuses on primarily on kicking and through mastery of the system one will learn a variety of amazing jumping/ spinning/ combination kicks. A recent study states that taekwondo is the the third best way to burn calories, as a person can burn an average of 937 calories per hr.
The number of taekwondo practitioners in Trinidad and Tobago is very small compared to that of other sports and with this comes a few pros and cons. One pro would be that for athletic individuals seeking to represent Team TTO at international competition the pool of athletes is small so there is a lot of room for upward mobility and relatively fast ascension to the Trinidad and Tobago National Taekwondo team. However, the flip side to this coin is that current competitive players have a relatively small body of players to train with, which makes it a little difficult to hone their skills to the point of becoming a successful international player. Now the solution to this quandary is simple, the taekwondo community needs to start recruiting! So listed below are a few of the amazing benefits of practicing the art form, some incentives, motivation and a list of the Olympics taekwondo schools across the country.
1)Weight loss – You will burn so many calories using those big leg muscles of yours that the weight will fall right off
2) Self defense – No explanation necessary…
3) Increase self-esteem – Besides looking better and feeling more healthy there is a certain confidence that you obtain which can only come with knowing how to defend yourself
4) Make friends – The bonds you build while training are like no other! Blood, sweat and tears in training! Combined with shared happiness…sometimes sadness at competition brings us together in a very meaningful way.
5) Release stress – there is something about hitting those kicking paddles that just melts the stress away! I have never come out of a training session feeling stressed no matter what was on my mind before I went in.
6) Increase flexibility – After a few weeks of trying to do face kicks your flexibility will increase pretty quickly
7) Increase strength – There is a lot of strengthening that goes into the prep work to be able to kick and control your body effectively, soon after starting your body will start to feel like a whole new machine
8) Increase stamina – The worst feeling in the world is sparring with someone and running out of gas and its a feeling that we all get at some point in time, but after the first time it happens you’re going to be VERY MOTIVATED to take your cardio seriously
9) Learn about Korean Culture – Korean traditions are very intertwined into the practice of taekwondo. Besides bowing, taekwondo athletes learn the language and also about the history and practices of the country
10) Increase Self control and discipline – You wont believe it until it happens to you, but after you attain the knowledge of a defensive art and you feel confident that you can fight well, you very rarely use your weapons. Your new confidence is accompanied by a deep peace and the knowledge that your body is a lethal weapon that should not be activated unnecessarily.
Body Types that would give you an advantage-
Tall – Because taekwondo is a martial art that focuses on kicking, being tall can have huge advantages. For one the taller you are the further your head and torso is from the ground ad thus your opponents have a harder time kicking you. However leg length is the an even stronger factor. If your legs are long and your torso is short that means you have the reach to be an offensive player and you have a smaller area to be targeted by your opponents.
Flexible – If you are naturally flexible even if you are on the lower end of the BMI scale you could be a very dangerous taekwondo player. The ability to raise your legs easily is priceless in a kicking art so if you can do the splits or even kick above your head you have a huge head start over a lot of people. Don’t worry though many players started off with below average flexibility and slowly worked their way up with consistent stretching.
Sporting backgrounds that would give you an advantage-
Gymnastics has got to be the best base sport ever as gymnasts develop so many strong athletic attributes flexibility, near super human strength and power and above average coordination. If you used to be a gymnast and would like to try something more combative taekwondo is definitely the way to go as it would take advantage of the body you already spent years developing.
Football would most likely have built up many attributes (leg strength, coordination, stamina and explosiveness) that would give you a head start in the dojang.
Sprinting/Jumping Though you would most likely have below average starting flexibility, you would make up for it with those explosive fast twitch fibers you have been developing, not to mention your above average coordination. You would most likely have strong hip flexors and abductors making it easy to hold your legs up and thus kick more effortlessly.
Dance…yes dance if you were a dancer you would most likely have attained a high level of flexibility, coordination and hip flexor, adductor/glute strength, again making it easy to keep your leg up in the air.
Now that I’ve got you thinking about it, its time to choose a taekwondo school to try!
Taekwondo Tigers: Master Collin Mofford – Bishops Anstey High School and Mucorapo East Secondary 398-4010
Sankar’s Taekwondo School: Master Cheryl-Ann Sankar Apple Blossom Street, Petit Valley 782-3769
Trinidad Taekwondo Academy: Master Curtis Lumkin – #6 Cane Street San Fernando 722-3100
Florez Taekwondo: Master Sherland Florez – St. Augustine South Community Center 732-1685
Jung’s Olympic Taekwondo: Grand Master Jung – #22 Belle Smythe Street, Woodbrooke 628-5812
Edson Breedy Taekwondo: Instructor Edson Breedy – La Joya Sporting Complex, St Joseph 794-7975 (First 2 classes free)