Physical self-defence is the use of physical force to counter an immediate threat of violence. Such force can be either armed or unarmed. In either case, the chances of success depend on a large number of parameters, related to the severity of the threat on one hand, but also on the mental and physical preparedness of the defender.
Many styles of martial arts are practiced for self-defence or include self-defence techniques. Some styles train primarily for self-defence, while other martial/Combat sports can be effectively applied for self-defence. Not all Martial Arts are sport, so they focus their art on self-defence. To provide more practical self-defence, many modern day martial arts schools now use a combination of martial arts styles and techniques, and will often customize self-defence training to suit the participants’ lifestyles, occupations, age groups and gender, and physical and mental capabilities.
At Central Taekwon Do UK we take the self-defence element very seriously as this is generally the primary reason for a student taking up the art. We utilise a combination of Taekwon Do, Ju Jitsu, Krav Maga and Tactical Edge techniques to give you the very best self-defence tool box for the street if you are unfortunate enough to have to use them. This would involve techniques such as joint locks, release, take down and throwing techniques, defence against knife and bottle attacks.
WE ALL KNOW THAT BEING PHYSICALLY FIT IS GOOD FOR US, BUT EXACTLY WHY IS PHYSICAL FITNESS IMPORTANT?
HERE ARE THE TOP 10 BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL FITNESS:
1. YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO LIVE A LONG AND HEALTHY LIFE.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. It also reduces the risk of having a stroke. In one eight year study of more than 20,000 men, those who were lean but unfit had twice the risk of death as those who were lean and fit.
2. YOU’LL HAVE MORE ENERGY, STRENGTH AND STAMINA.
People who complain that they don’t have enough energy to exercise fail to realize that working out gives you energy. In one study, middle-aged women who lifted weights for a year became 27% more active in daily life than before they started lifting weights. Regular exercise also increases your strength and stamina, allowing you to better handle common activities such as carrying a heavy bag of groceries or climbing a flight of stairs.
3. YOU’LL KEEP EXCESS BODY FAT OFF.
If you try and lose weight simply by dieting, you’ll lose some muscle along with any body fat you lose and you’ll slow down your metabolism. If your weight loss program includes exercise, you’ll lose body fat without losing muscle and without slowing down your metabolism. If you’re currently at a healthy weight, regular exercise will help you avoid putting on excess body fat in the future.
4. YOU’LL KEEP YOUR BONES STRONG.
Both men and women start losing bone mass around age 35. Lifting weights can not only stop the loss of bone mass, but in some cases it can even reverse it. This drastically reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises like walking and running also help keep bones strong.
5. YOU’LL PREVENT OR REDUCE LOW BACK PAIN.
Strengthening your abdominal and lower back muscles can help prevent low back pain, and it can also reduce discomfort if you already suffer from this pain. You might also be able to avoid back surgery by strengthening your abdominal and lower back muscles. In one study, 35 of 38 people who had been recommended for back surgery were able to avoid surgery by following an aggressive strengthening program.
6. YOU’LL GET SICK LESS OFTEN.
Both aerobic exercise and weight lifting strengthen the immune system.
7. YOU’LL SLEEP BETTER.
People who exercise regularly fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night than people who are sedentary.
8. YOU’LL KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP.
Multiple studies have confirmed that regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mind. Regular exercise improves brain function, which helps prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
9. YOU’LL IMPROVE YOUR MOOD.
A large amount of research shows that you have a better sense of well-being following a workout. Thanks to chemicals released in the brain during exercise, feelings of depression, anxiety, stress and anger are diminished during a workout.
10. YOU’LL ENJOY LIFE MORE.
Life is much more enjoyable when you’re fit and healthy. You look and feel good and you’re more productive in everything you do.
Why is physical fitness important? Because many of the problems commonly associated with aging are often the result of a sedentary lifestyle and can be minimized or prevented by improving your physical fitness.
1. Prevent everyday injury including: muscle and disc strains that occur when turning over in bed or getting out of bed; shoulder tweaks that result from doing tasks on the job that involve lifting or reaching; back aches due to transitioning to standing from sitting, bending down to pick something up, or even walking up and down the stairs
2. Improve your posture
3. Lengthen your muscles for a longer leaner look
4. Make playing with your kids and babies easier and less injurious (remember that football game during which you overstretched you hamstrings?)
5. Allow you to feel more free, open, calm, content, and confident from the inside out
6. Spread Chi (life force) into your cells, which invigorates your spirit
7. Make cardio activity a lot lighter and easier
8. Enhance sports performance (i.e. better arm and shoulder extension and rotation for swimmers and basketball players, longer strides for runners, deeper knee bends and hip flexion for skiers) as well as to parry blows that come with strong athletic endeavors
9. Travel more comfortably because of the ability to sit in many different positions and do things with your body in confined spaces you otherwise could not do
CAN I DO TAEKWON DO?
If there is anything that men and women of all ages can get involved in and have a positive affect on their lives, it is martial arts. If you visit one of our clubs, you will see people of both sexes from different generations training together. In particular, it is wonderful to see the amount of kids that take up martial arts and you may be wondering if your own kids could benefit by joining a class. There is definitely a time commitment but it could be so helpful that you might do it yourself as well.
The first advantage of a well run club is the respect and self-discipline it teaches the students especially children. We all love to think that our children are well behaved but it easy to come under the wrong influences in life and martial arts are an excellent way to prevent this happening. Learning something like this at a young age will help them to develop excellent life skills and habits. A child learning a martial art at a young age won’t just be able to quickly absorb the techniques, they will also develop respect and self discipline.
IS TAEKWON DO RIGHT FOR ME?
LET’S START WITH YOU
If I can help you answer a few key questions about yourself and your interests, you will have done most of the work toward picking out a martial arts school that is best for you.
First and foremost, what do you want to get out of martial arts training? I know you want to learn self defense – put that on the list but people study martial arts for a variety of reasons, you want to get some exercise, you want to meet new people, you want to get rid of stress, you want a new hobby, and you think the uniforms look cool. Really think about it and write down your reasons, everything is valid and your reasons are your own. Then I would prioritize your reasons – which ones are more important than others. Maybe getting into shape is your main goal – if so, that may help determine a place to study.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about systems or styles. A system is just the type of martial art you will be studying like Taekwon Do, Karate, Kendo, or Kung Fu. The differences between styles may also help you to determine where to look.
The main difference between most martial arts style is focus. Some arts like Taekwon do focus on large kicking and striking movements, while others – like Kendo focus on a particular weapon. Body type and interest will help you think a little about style focus. For example: if you are built short and wide, are somewhat slow and are very interested in the self defense aspect of training, Jujutsu might turn out to be the best style for you as it focused on unbalancing the opponent, the kicks were low to the ground, and the fighting in close where shorter people excel also a lower level of fitness is required, however if you are not built this way then Taekwon Do could be more suited to you.
Beyond focus is a scale of formality to informality. To me formality is a measure of emphasis on things like training etiquette, ceremony, style of dress, method of addressing seniors etc. Many Japanese and Korean styles are very formal. On the far end of the informal scale you might have a cardio kickboxing class at local gym. On the far end of the formal scale you might have a style like Kendo which places a lot of emphasis on appearance and etiquette.
Neither formal nor informal is better or worse; it is a matter of preference. I personally enjoy some of the formalities and discipline of traditional Korean martial arts. For me they build character and shape a strong state of mind that carries over into day to day life. For others, the formalities may be difficult to grasp and they may wish for something less formal.
The following is a list of styles that you may consider, there are many variations on the following, but this is ment as a guide to make you aware of the diversity of the martial arts and a starting point:
Tae Kwon Do
Kendo / Kumdo
Tai Chi / Bagua / Hsing-yi
Arnis / Kali / Escima
While you’re on the web already, it would pay off to do some research. Look up a few sites for a few of the styles I have listed here. Get some general information about focus and formality. See what strikes you as interesting. Make a small list of styles you might be interested in pursuing.
OK, now you’ve done some soul searching and some research and you have a list of styles you might be interested in learning. Now we have to talk a little bit about lifestyle. If Kendo interests you, but the nearest school is 200 miles away – it may not be a practical choice.
You can certainly do your internet search to find schools close to you or ask people you know if they know of any schools. A word to the wise: friends will always try to get you to come to their school and may get offended of you don’t or if you visit and then don’t want to sign up. That’s definitely something to consider.
Some practical things to consider are school location and proximity to home / work, costs and your ability to pay dues and other fees, class schedule and how it fits into your schedule. Other things may also be important to you like parking, and facilities – write them down.
You should narrow down your potential list of schools based on your criteria, but you should still plan on visiting more than one to give you a sense of comparison.
CHOOSING A SCHOOL
The following are a list of things I suggest you look for when choosing a school or instructor. To me, these factors are more important than any other of the above factors and can make or break your martial arts experience.
• When you call the school, are all your questions answered, and answered honestly? Sometimes someone will answer the phone that may not be able to answer all your questions. They should pass you on to someone who can , or have someone call you back.
• Every school out there should offer a free trial class before you sign up. How else can you determine if you want to study there? Your best bet is to try out several different schools to give you some comparison.
• When you visit the school, is the practice safe, or are students allowed to train in dangerous ways or without proper supervision?
• Is the school itself hygienic and free from unsafe conditions?
• Do students and teachers show respect toward everyone? This extends beyond formal bowing and address to making sure everyone is learning and nobody is being abused.
• Be prepared that many schools these days require a contract like a health club. Make sure you are clear on the terms of the contract if you do decide to sign one, and do not be afraid to walk out if you are uncomfortable with the terms.
• Be very wary of cult-like schools that try to up-sell you to intensified black belt programs and the like. While some of these may be legitimate, there are many scam artists in black belts out there. You should be very clear about what you are paying for up front.
• Do the teacher and senior students display a lot of skill in the art they are teaching? This may be hard to determine since great martial artists are often very subtle. However, the teacher and students should display knowledge, skill, and balance which might be more obvious.
• Most importantly, trust your instincts. If something about the school doesn’t sit right with you, then it probably isn’t right. Look out for the fast talking salesman who tries to sweep your concerns under the rug.
Remember that choosing the right teacher and the right school is more important than the actual style. If you choose a school that you enjoy, study with a teacher you like, and train with students that inspire you – you are likely to stick with your martial art. The longer you stick with it – the better you’ll get. Hopefully you will discover a very positive lifelong journey that will shower hidden benefits on you as my martial art has upon me.
If you still choose Taekwon Do after reading the above and after your research we very much look forward to meeting you and hopefully assisting you in your aspirations.
Martial arts safety is all about understanding the fundamental risks that and how they can be minimised through general guidelines given here. As well as practicing a safe technique when you are engaged with your chosen discipline, martial arts equipment and the correct martial arts clothing will help to keep you protected and safe.
The martial arts were originally established as structured systems of combat training. Today, they are also studied for their value in self-defence, and enjoyed as modes of sport and physical development.
By fundamental nature, the martial arts are contact sports. They all involve any one or a combination of striking, kicking, grappling, throwing, or use of weaponry. Due to their inherent dangers, martial arts should be practiced with care and responsibility, following proper guidelines and ensuring a safe environment.
During Taekwon-do training you will encounter the following:
During light to medium contact sparring both competitors are protected by padding and particular targets are prohibited, such as the back of the head, groin, and mid-to-lower back (the region of the kidneys).
As with any contact sport, it is highly recommended to consult with a physician before beginning participation. Some medical conditions may be prohibitive or require a certain degree of management prior to the training phase. In addition, the following may help there are some other things you can do to prevent injury.
Before the primary activity, it is advisable to engage in exercises that develop strength, balance, flexibility, and control. Particular focus is recommended for “stabiliser” muscles, which include those of the upper arm and shoulders, inner thighs, and outermost hip area. Full-contact or free-fighting should not be attempted until sufficient proficiency has been mastered at the light-to-moderate level.
Avoid eating at least two hours prior to exercises, and select a sparring surface that is even and padded, such as traditional mats. Some of the martial arts, particularly jujitsu, are practiced on special, softer mats that carry technical and safety specifications. Avoid outdoor matches that rely on natural terrain that may hold surprises – you should be looking to purchase any martial arts supplies from a specialist stockist.
Any martial arts clothing and equipment should be suitable for the activity, most of the martial arts suits are generally comprised of light cotton pajama-style top and pants. If informal clothing is selected, it should be just as loose-fitting and sturdy.General protective gear and that specific to a type of activity are nearly always to be employed in light- to medium-contact – and increasingly in full-contact – sparring. For example, cups are universal for men, whereas head, forearm, and shin guards are reserved for high-level sports such as taekwondo.
All sharp and free-flying objects should be removed or controlled (i.e. taped down) to remove the risk. This includes jewellery, belt buckles, and objects in pockets, as well as long finger- and toenails.