Taekwondo is one of Korea’s traditional martial arts. Since adopted as an official Olympic sport for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, it has been recognized as a global martial art that is enjoyed and practiced by people around the world, with Taekwondo associations being operated in over 200 countries. Aside from being a martial art, it is also a cultural activity that anyone can experience for leisure or sports.
The impressive Taekwondo training hall, which looks like a hanok (traditional Korean house), teems with a lot of people neatly dressed in Taekwondo uniforms. Wearing the uniform is slightly embarrassing and unfamiliar to me. However, I feel like I am a great Taekwondo master, so I could not help but glance at myself in the mirror. Moreover, watching the video introducing Taekwondo and the instructors’ wonderful demonstrations, I felt as if I could jump and do a flying kick right now.
Warm-up exercises are the most important in any sports: running inside the hall, jumping in place, and stretching limbs straight. At a glance, warm-up exercises that are done to loosen muscles looked simple and easy to follow, but it is easier said than done. I could not control my legs and arms to my liking. However, I just laughed because of my funny motions and laughed again upon seeing my friends equally having a hard time with the exercises.
Watching the instructor move their arms and hands briskly, I tried to follow the basic hand techniques: closed hand and open hand. My arms, which were playfully moving at first, moved powerfully along with the shouts of concentration. The weak posture became solid like a rock as each motion was repeatedly practiced: Low Block, Upward Block, and Fist Punch. Moreover, people in white uniforms were showing their determination and tenacity through their eyes.
Let me talk about the kicking techniques of Taekwondo. An instructor kicked the kick pad swiftly and powerfully, making a cheerful sound. Doing a roundhouse kick looked so cool. Although people couldn’t do so first as the instructor did, they strived to do a front kick in the right manner. At first, they missed the kick pad, but soon, the hall was filled with the cheerful popping sound. Those who were satisfied with their kicking beamed with a sense of achievement.
The last highlight was breaking boards. People break two boards with the kicking technique. They seemed to be unburdened as if all the stress was swept away with the sound of broken boards.
The experience program was complete when I was finally used to the stiff uniform and the texture of the floor felt barefoot. Those who received the experience certificate and posed nicely with their stretched legs could not hide their joy of experiencing a new culture along with a sense of accomplishment that they made it.