It’s Never too Late to Kick Yourself into Shape with Taekwondo
You don’t have to be a ninja warrior or ultimate fighter to practice Taekwondo as an adult.
No matter what your age or gender, you can enjoy the benefits of Taekwondo, an ancient Korean form of martial arts. On top of health benefits, you’ll improve your concentration, self-esteem and life balance.
Thinking of kicking yourself into shape? Keep reading to find out more about what Taekwondo can do for you.
What is Taekwondo?
The name Tae Kwon Do means “the way of the foot and the fist.” It dates back to 668 AD. Its founding principles included trust, valor, justice and family duty. The main practitioners at that time were monks and priests. They used it to develop their minds and bodies as well as for self-defense.
Today, you can find Taekwondo studios in every city and town. In fact, over 70 million people living in 188 countries enjoy this sport.
It’s true that many Taekwondo classes are for kids. But, that doesn’t mean young adults to seniors can’t enjoy the benefits of this fist and foot art form.
What is a Typical Taekwondo Lesson Like?
Before you begin your first adult class, your instructor will teach you how to wear your uniform and tie your belt. You’ll also learn how to put on the headgear, and padded foot and hand protectors.
When you go to your first Taekwondo lesson, you can expect to start with warm-ups. This usually includes squats, jumping jacks and other cardio exercises. You’ll always loosen up your joints before stretching.
After your warm up, you’ll spend time stretching. Of course, the time spent all depends on the schedule your instructor created.
As a white belt, you’ll learn basic techniques. Usually a few moves of the first Taekwondo form named Taegeuk Il Jang. You might also work on some beginner self-defense moves.
Your instructor will explain breathing, proper form, movement, and balance. Most Likely, you’ll begin in the starting or ready position called the chumbi. If you hear the word, “baro,” it means relax.
Beginner Taekwondo moves include:
- Horse stance
- Low and high blocks
- Inner forearm block
- Palm heel punch
- Hammer fist
Other white belt techniques you’ll learn in later classes are crescent kicks, round kick, outer forearm block, knife hand, and double knife hand blocks.
Your instructor will also explain rules and body target areas. The class always ends with cool down exercises.
What are the Physical Benefits of Taekwondo for Adults?
Kick back and get ready to hear what Taekwondo can do for your health and physique. There isn’t a better way to take a few inches off your waist and butt with the twisting movements of your hips and torso.
Here are a few of the physical benefits you’ll experience when taking Taekwondo:
- Use all the muscles in your body from your fingers to your toes
- Incorporate low-resistance movements for building a lean and flexible body
- Increase endurance
- Increase energy
- Burn calories
- Enhance balance and agility
Plus, you’ll learn how to defend yourself!
How Does Taekwondo Strengthen Mental Alertness?
Many times, you don’t think of the spiritual and mental benefits of Taekwondo. Most people see it as a self-defense art, rather than one of mindfulness. But, as you learn the values of the sport, your mental strength develops along with your body.
The following mental and spiritual benefits can help you in all parts of your life:
- Relieve stress
- Strengthen concentration
- Build self-esteem
- Create a feeling of well-being
- Build confidence
- Develop self-control
- Encourage discipline
If anything, Taekwondo is as much a sport of the mind as a sport of the body.
What Are the Social Benefits of Martial Arts?
Taekwondo isn’t only about self-defense and physical fitness. It’s a place where you can meet new people of all ages and diverse backgrounds. The thing that binds you together is your interest in Taekwondo.
Inside the Class
After a stressful workday, your supportive classmates can be a welcome change. It’s a way to make new friends outside your usual circle. In fact, many people find that as they interact with other students on the mat, they feel the stress of the day melt away.
You’ll find an instant community of new people to share the Taekwondo experience. The journey you take with your classmates is a celebration of accomplishment and openness you can’t find anywhere else.
Martial arts benefits can help people who feel awkward in social situations. During training, you’ll encourage each other, sharing your accomplishments and failures.
The bonds you build helps you interact, listen and feel comfortable with each other. The trusting friendships that develop in class make it a peaceful, safe setting.
Outside the Class
The skills you learn in your taekwondo class also carry on outside the class. the interaction you have during lessons makes you more confident in the outside world.
You’ll learn courtesy, perseverance, and self-control. As you gain these martial arts skills, you’ll also practice them in your everyday life.
As you continue with your classes, you’ll understand your limits, and become more self-aware and patient. As a result, you’ll have more patience with your family and coworkers. You’ll even be more forgiving of people who always annoyed you in the past.
Does Taekwondo Improve Thinking and Reasoning Skills?
In 2016, the Journal of Sport and Health Science reported on the benefits of martial arts on thinking skills in the elderly. The study divided the participants into three groups.
One group practiced martial arts twice a week for over a month. Another group did traditional workouts, such as running, gymnastics and strength training for the same amount of time. The third group went about their daily lives with no changes in their routines.
The martial arts group was the only one showing improvements. These included increased attention spans, quicker reaction times and more resilience in stressful situations. It helped the seniors taking part with focus and kept them mentally alert.
What Are the Physical Benefits for Seniors?
If you’re a senior, you know how age-related ailments can affect your lifestyle. Your balance and walking could be unsteady, putting you at risk for falls. Practicing Taekwondo moves helps with balance and walking skills that diminish with age.
In a 2007 study mentioned in the Journal of Gerontology, seniors 72 to 73-year-old participated in Taekwondo classes. The study tested the following areas:
- Balancing on one leg
- Reaching in different directions
- The speed of getting up and down
- Walking speed
- Sitting and reaching
The seniors who took Taekwondo showed significant improvements. They could reach around backward, and to the right and left. Their walking speed increased, and their balance improved.
How to Avoid Injuries when Learning Taekwondo as an Adult
Even though plenty of adults take martial arts classes, spinning back kicks and high jumps can cause injuries.
Don’t be afraid to tell your instructor if you have any physical limitations. Remember that learning Taekwondo isn’t a race.
It’s an individualized sport encouraging everyone to move at his or her own pace. This is what makes it such an effective and enjoyable sport for adults.
A good instructor will focus on your strengths, abilities, and weaknesses. This will help you have the best experience in the class.
6 Tips on Staying Healthy in Martial Arts Classes
It’s not enough just to show up for class. You have to prepare properly. Here are six tips that will help.
- Make sure you build up your flexibility and strength before attempting complicated Taekwondo moves. Also, your reflexes might be slower than you think. This won’t interfere with practicing forms, but it could make it hard to spar younger students.
- Let your instructor know about any past injuries, such as sprains or joint problems. Then he or she can create safe routines that don’t depend on a full range of motion in your neck, shoulders and hips.
- You should also do more stretching and warm-ups before class. You can even do these at home before going to class if you don’t want to interfere with lessons.
- If you have any vision or hearing problems, ask your instructor if you can stay in the front of the class. Then there won’t be any confusion about what you should be doing.
- Be sure to tell your instructor if the spinning techniques make you dizzy. As you age, the fluid in your inner ear becomes thicker. This can make you dizzy, so extra practice won’t solve this problem.Your lessons can focus on Taekwondo techniques that don’t require spinning. Some of these are blocking, kicking, striking and light contact.
- You can also concentrate on poomsae and teul forms. these provide cardio workouts and can strengthen your core and legs. Not only that, but it’s a good mental workout to memorize forms.
Being practical about injuries doesn’t mean you can’t get into the true spirit of Taekwondo. As long as you’re aware of your physical limitations, you can perform plenty of forms and drills.
Can Families Take Taekwondo Together?
If you’re thinking of enrolling your kids in Taekwondo classes in Chicago, consider going with them. It’s a wonderful way to spend family time. You get to exercise together and form a bond based on values and life balance.
Together your family can learn respect and patience for each other. It also helps your kids develop the self-esteem and confidence they’ll need throughout life.
You’re Never Too Old
Kids aren’t the only ones who can enjoy Taekwondo. If you want to experience the benefits of Taekwondo like getting in shape, developing a sense of self and meeting new people, think about trying this martial arts form. Age doesn’t matter. All you need is the determination to learn something new while on a road to self-discovery.
If you think Taekwondo is something you’d like to try, please visit Hyun’s Hapkido in Chicago or read more about us online.