If you logged in expecting me to be kicking people in the head and punching them in the chest (or more likely, hoping that I would be being kicked and punched) then sadly you are going to be disappointed. The first thing that the coach said to me when I explained my challenge was (imagine a Glaswegian accent) “Well lad, this isn’t THAT type of TaeKwon-Do.”
So what you will actually see is me learning the moves, to somewhat comic effect. Adding to the comedy was the fact that all the other participants in the class were under the age of 10, despite the class being advertised as for “teenagers and adults.” At least I knew that if it did come down to a fight at the end I stood a chance.
Having spoken to the coach at length prior to the session I came to understand some of the struggles that a minority martial art sport is facing at the moment. He suggested that nothing had really changed over the last few years in terms of the popularity of the sport, and that it was a real struggle to maintain a successful club. This is down to a number of reasons; funding, time, and, principally, competition from other sports, especially football, and especially so in the north east of England.
It just so happened that I wasn’t the only first time participant that night though, a (very) young boy from an immigrant family also started. We discussed the advantages of learning a martial art, in comparison to other sports such as football. The discipline and respect for the leaders and fellow participants in TaeKwon-Do, karate and the other martial arts, is way beyond that which can be seen at the various 5-a-side or park pitches, where abuse of referees or continuous foul play is, unfortunately, easily spotted.
Also, as you are about to witness, the key to being successful in TaeKwon-Do is co-ordination on both sides, not just accepting that people are left-footed or right-handed, but being ambidextrous is exceptionally important. Something that I failed drastically at, possibly as a result of being constantly focused on using my right hand or right foot to do sport.
Anyway, have a watch of the video. Unfortunately it is a little longer than the weightlifting one but we covered a lot in the session!
Iaekwondo has become a rich source of medals for Team GB in the recent past. Sarah Stevenson MBE started the rush witha bronze in 2008, and that opened the door for the magnificent Welsh dynamo Jade Jones to delight us all with her gold at London 2012 and, perhaps even more impressively, defend her title at Rio 2016. Lutalo Muhammad also medalled at both games, bronze at London foloowed by an agonising silver at Rio. If you remember he was leading in the final with literally one second left on the clock. His interview afterwards was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen in sport. Another rising star is Bianca Walkden from Liverpool who has been world champion and managed to claim a bronze in Rio.
I think it would be fair to say that British Taekwondo is going from strength to strength, and if you would like to get involved, or get your children involved in a fantastic martial art that could also lead to elite success and professionalism and a career then have a look at the following:
British Taekwondo – the governing body in the UK and a place to find a club
UK Taekwon-Do council – this the link to a free trial near you.
Get Into Martial Arts – if it’s not just Taekwon-Do that takes your fancy then this tool can help you find a free introductory session to a variety of martial arts at local clubs across the country. This is where I managed to find my session in Darlington. It has a very good booking system!