Matt Pilcher, 1st Gup, Dragon’s Spirit Papatoetoe
Training for Taekwon-Do is varied due to the wide range of movements and techniques we need to understand and execute.
Patterns – Need to be flexible, have explosive strength, able to kick, breath control, and memory
Sparring – Need to be flexible, fast and light on your feet, quick reaction times, fitness, and ring craft
Power – Need to have explosive power, need to condition the tool of attack, and need to know the theory of power
Specialty – Need to be flexible, able to jump, and accurate with techniques
Overall, we need to be flexible, fit, and have core strength to be able to perform Taekwon-Do effectively. This is something that we work on through our journey in Taekwon-Do. Not everyone starts off fit, flexible, or knowledgeable. I personally started Taekwon-Do unfit, not flexible, and with very little knowledge. However, as I have progressed through, my flexibility has improved, I have lost a lot of weight, gained knowledge and learnt techniques I didn’t think I was able to learn, and my fitnessed has increased. We learn as we progress. It’s like when we first start Taekwon-Do at White belt. It seems very overwhelming at times, learning how to punch correctly, walking stances, sine wave, breath control etc, but after time and repetition, we get it, and we progress through the ranks. Flexibility and conditioning is the same. A lot of the techniques in Taekwon-Do are not natural movements to us, so we need to prepare the body and get it used to doing them. This is done by stretching (Dynamic and Static), performing the movement multiple times, and also strengthening the muscles required for each movement.
The human body is a wonderful thing, and if you perform a movement enough times, the body will remember that movement, and know which muscles etc to engage to make that movement or technique work. That is why when we learn a new pattern of technique, our instructors will go over and over that movement multiple times throughout class, correcting any details they see to enable you to perform it correctly. Once the technique is mastered, practice it over and over. The more you practice, the more embedded in your mind and muscle memory it will become.
To be able to perform at your best, you must also ensure you are getting enough rest, eating the correct foods, and drinking enough water. Coming to training if you haven’t had enough water, or haven’t eaten since lunchtime, will make your energy and concentration levels drop, you will find things harder, and you will have trouble retaining the information you are given by your instructor. Make sure you have a water bottle with you at all training’s, and have a small snack, a banana, muesli bar, or something before training to allow your body enough fuel to perform at your best.
When it comes to the required flexibility for Taekwon-Do, whether it be for kicks, stances, flying techniques etc, there is a wide range of information on the internet, some great thesis’ by Senior Dan’s in the documents section on our itkd.co.nz website, and your instructor will be able to advise on what stretches and exercises would be best suited to you. If you feel you need to work on your flexibility, then have a chat with your instructor. He/She will have all the required information you require.
Conditioning the attacking tool is something that comes later on when you are a little bit older and your bones have developed and hardened to the fullest. If you are interested in Power Breaking or general tool conditioning, speak to your instructor or another senior who does power breaking, and they will be able to advise the best way to condition your attacking tool.
Apart from ensuring our body’s have the right amount of fuel, we have enough water, the most important aspect we need to bring to any training session is an open mind to learn and the correct attitude. if you come to training with a desire to learn, then you will learn. if you come to training because your parents are making you and you would rather be at home playing on the XBox, then you wont gain as much as you can from your instructor or senior. Your instructor want’s to see you succeed, to obtain your new belt, and to grow as a Taekwon-Do student. Coming to training fully prepared physically and mentally helps your instructor to achieve this. Coming to training tired, grumpy, hungry, and not wanting to be there is not showing your instructor the respect they deserve.