Jake, my son, has always been a bit of a natural martial artist and by that I mean, stealing moves from Naruto smashing them together with a bit of Power Rangers and adding a dash of Ninja Turtles which resulted in something that looked more like a string of high kicks, punches, and dance spins. It looked pretty good for someone who had been trained by cartoon characters.
It wasn’t until we saw Kung Fu Panda that real martial arts training became a reality. We received a free trial and after one class we were hooked. After visiting a few schools and programs, we found our martial arts home at United States Taekwondo Academy in Richardson. I dare say that “shopping” for a martial arts school is not unlike searching for the right church/place of worship, neighborhood, school, hairdresser, sorority/fraternity, gym, etc. It’s very personal and the environment plays a huge part in your level of comfort and your ability to train.
Jake and I happened upon the Academy one afternoon last July when we were out for a bike ride and ice cream. We popped in and met Instructor Rico. We were immediately greeted with a warm welcome and information that would have Jake in class later that afternoon. I joined Jake shortly thereafter and we became members of the Black Belt Club setting our sights on becoming black belts within three years. We are approaching our first year anniversary and what a quick year it has been. We’ve learned so much and still have so much more to learn. It is such an incredible journey and here’s why…
History: Taekwondo is one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts, that teaches more than physical fighting skills. It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing our spirit and life through training our body and mind. Today, it has become a global sport that has gained an international reputation, and stands among the official games in the Olympics. It has been developing with the 5000-year long history of Korea. It began as a defense martial art called “Subak” or “Taekkyon,” and developed as a way of training body and mind in the ancient kingdom of Koguryo, under the name of “Sunbae”. In the Shilla period, it had become the backbone of Hwarangdo that aimed at producing leaders of the country. (World Taekwondo Federation)
Meaning: “Tae” “Kwon” “Do” -- Composed of three parts shown in the English spelling, however it is one word in Korean. “Tae” means “foot”, “leg”, or to “step on”; “Kwon” means “fist” or “fight”; and “Do” means the “way” or “discipline”. Putting these together helps explain two important concepts of Taekwondo. The first is the right way of using the fists and feet, or all the body parts represented, and the second as a way to control fights to keep the peace. “Thus Taekwondo means ‘the right way of using all parts of the body to stop fights and help to build a better and more peaceful world’.”
Spiritual Growth: With each belt comes a different concept on which to focus and work. Spending approximately three months at each belt level gives each student ample time to study and learn the concept. Focusing for those few months on that particular concept reveals how much each concept impacts our daily lives. As an example, I am currently a green belt and the concept is patience. My patience is always being tested sure, but as it is my current concept I am more focused on my reaction and ability to work through situations drawing deeply on patience and my ability to grow within this concept. Patience is certainly not my strongest suite, as anyone who knows me will tell you, but absent martial arts in my life, would it have been something that worked on? Not likely. I would have just accepted this shortcoming, however, martial arts has given me the opportunity to work on this area of weakness and improve myself mentally.
Family: Your dojo becomes like your second home and your fellow students like your family. They see you at your highest and at your lowest. They help you overcome obstacles because like you, they are seeking to achieve the same goals. We become one with a common purpose. I have met some of the most amazing people at the academy and the diversity is unparalleled. I am grateful to martial arts for growing my family and creating connections that I would have not been afforded otherwise.
Physical Training: Depending on your martial arts program, you may learn more than Taekwondo. Our program includes Taekwondo, Japanese Jujitsu, Arnis and Modern Arnis, as well as specialized Olympic training. This physical training is an excellent form of exercise and provides not only self-defense training, but also aerobic and flexibility training. Additionally, when choosing a program ensure it meets you on your level. Our program meets the needs of all ages from 5 to 74+ with specialized programs like Little Ninja and Masters Club.
Whether you choose martial arts for the physical training or to learn self-defense, you are sure to gain so much more. I wish you all the very best on your journey and I look forward to sharing more of our journey with you throughout the summer with additional videos and posts.
“Knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough, you must do.” ~Bruce Lee
Special thanks to Master Alsharif and the United States Taekwondo Academy and Instructor Rico for his participation in the “Belting Up” video.
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