By Mishi, 8th grade | September 2021 … Class starts with our teacher saying “Annyeonghasibnikka.” My brother and I greet her and bow. We start warming up and stretching. After our warm up, we start with some endurance training. Twenty minutes in, my legs are burning and I’m running out of breath. Finally, we bow and say “Kamsahamnida.” (Thank you.)
Annyeonghasibnikka and hello! You have probably heard of Taekwondo. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that involves kicking and punching, with emphasis on fast kicks and spinning kicks. It is an Olympic-level sport that people all over the world participate in.
I do Taekwondo with my brother at a dojang (a formal training space) in New Jersey. I practice six times a week: four days on Zoom, and two days in-person at the dojang.
Doing Taekwondo on Zoom is definitely different than how it would be in-person, but it has its benefits, too. Because Zoom classes are private lessons, my brother and I are able to get a more personalized class, which leads to us picking things up faster. Classes in-person are also fun, because we get to use actual targets when we practice.
According to World Taekwondo Academy, “Taekwondo was developed during the 1940s and 1950s by various Korean martial artists as a blend of the indigenous Korean fighting styles of taekkyeon, gwonbeop, and subak, with influence from foreign martial arts, such as karate and Chinese martial arts.” It was created to be a method of unarmed combat, which is intended for self-defense. It also gives a heightened mental and physical wellbeing.
Most martial arts have a belt system. In Taekwondo, it goes from white belt all the way up to a 10 Dan (10th degree) black belt. You have a set amount you need to learn to graduate to the next belt. Some of the curriculum includes a new kick, a board-breaking move, and typically a form. (A form is a combination of kicks, blocks, and punches. The forms get harder as your belt level increases.) There may be even more things included as you get to a higher belt level.
Taekwondo is also a great form of exercise. We don’t do just kicks— there is a lot of muscle training involved, and it’s hard! I have had classes that left my legs shaking—in a good way, though.
If you want to learn a martial art or just want a fun way to get exercise, I definitely recommend Taekwondo. Kamsahamnida!
Mishi lives in Swedesboro, N.J.