As with any sport, getting started in taekwondo may seem daunting to the beginner, particularly if you are a newcomer to the world of martial arts. However, finding a taekwondo club and getting involved in it is not a difficult task.
Many people decide to take along a friend when they start out so they don’t feel too uncomfortable initially, and this is a good way to overcome any fears you have about getting involved in taekwondo. Even if you go alone, though, you will quickly be paired up with a sparring partner who will normally be a good help through the early stages and beyond.
The history of taekwondo dates back over 2,000 years, but the sport is in its infancy in Olympic terms, as it only made its full debut at Sydney in 2000 (although it was a demonstration sport in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics).
Taekwondo, which translates as 'the ways of hands and feet', consists of a number of ancient martial arts unified into one sport. It came to the fore in the 1950s when Korean martial arts leaders decided it should be promoted internationally, although the first world championships were not held until 1973. Since then, the popularity of taekwondo has been on a rapid increase and the sport has been confirmed for the Olympic Games programme to be held in London in 2012.
Fitness and other benefits of taekwondo
Taekwondo is a combative contact sport and so the competitors wear body, head and shin protectors, as well as mouth guards, gloves and a groin guard, to protect themselves from injury. Yet this doesn’t mean the sport is an undisciplined free-for-all. The participants need to be highly disciplined and prepared to develop both their bodies and their minds.
The sport is for everyone and is a great way to gain self-confidence and strength. It can help you to develop discipline and leadership, improve your self-confidence and self-esteem, enhance your flexibility, and develop quick reflexes and agility.
As with all martial arts, taekwondo also provides an excellent workout. Anyone taking part will be punching and kicking with both arms and feet, not to mention continually bouncing on their toes during practice. These activities can lead to improved muscle tone and appearance, and increased strength and stamina. As well as the psychological benefits such as weight loss, improved circulation and heart rate, a desire for a healthy and active lifestyle, discipline and values - both of which are applicable to any area of life.
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