Back To School: Taekwondo!
By: Christa Sperry
It’s that time of year again. Many of us are scrambling around after having scrambled around all summer (will it ever end?), trying to get kids and grandkids ready for the new school year. My daughter will be going into 1st grade, so I am still pretty new at this whole school/homework/extracurricular activities thing. She attended summer school and some Girl Scout camps but otherwise took a break from last year’s activity of taekwondo so that we could have a bit more freedom with the summer. The looming prospect of what this school year is about to bring is already daunting - I have no idea how those of you with more than one kid keep it together...I bow deeply to you!
Next week we get back into the swing of things with taekwondo and we are all very excited! My daughter really loves and respects her teacher and enjoys being in the dojang pushing herself to be better at her forms. She earned her orange belt in March of this year and the changes we saw in her up until that point were amazing. I never took any martial arts as a kid, and now watching her, I wish I had.
She started taekwondo in August of last year, and she loved it immediately. Watching her in the dojang the first couple times, I could see how unsure she was on her feet but also how determined she was to figure out her body awareness. Every time she got a new stripe on her belt for respect or knowing her forms she got a huge confidence boost eclipsed only by the times she got a new belt color. This is something that she has achieved on her own, and she knows it.
A couple of reasons we got her involved in taekwondo is because she is hypermobile and also had surgery on both her hands and feet as a baby due to polydactylism. The surgery left one of her hands a bit weaker than the other and her feet are flat from it as well. We needed something that would strengthen her body overall to protect her joints and also help her be more sure on her feet. She was already very outgoing and polite, but having an activity that encouraged her self-confidence, patience, and empathy as well was a big plus.
If you are questioning whether or not martial arts might be right for your kids, let me try to persuade you a bit further:
- Taekwondo philosophy is based on 5 principles: integrity, indomitable spirit, courtesy, self-control, and perseverance (and who among us couldn’t use a little more of these guiding principles in our lives?)
- It is not a violent practice, though it does teach self defense
- It improves muscle strength, coordination, and balance
- It encourages self awareness in mind, body, and deed
- It promotes values with life-long benefits such as the importance of teamwork, honesty, humility, and camaraderie
- It puts boys and girls together to learn from and depend on one another
- It’s a fantastic outlet for high energy kids and gives them the tools to increase their focus
- Being that it is a 1,000 year old Korean practice, it introduces many kids who take it to a new culture that may be different than their own
Whatever you have on your plate for this upcoming school year, I wish you and your family luck! If you’re still looking for something for your kids to get into, check out some of our local martial arts studios - we have some great teachers and masters in the area (just remember sometimes you get what you pay for, make sure you do your research!). We are so glad that we got our daughter involved with taekwondo so young, and are grateful that we found such an awesome teacher. More importantly, she has shown HERSELF that she can achieve anything with a little hard work and determination.