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Back to Basics

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Back to Basics
From beginner to black belt and beyond
By Grandmaster Tony Vohra 8th Dan. Photographs by Master Jeff Scott-Smith 5th Dan

The start of a New Year and the benefits of a “new you”, have many people aspiringto set new goals and targets as a priority for January 2009, having overindulged during the festive period.

We need to start by considering the basics of Taekwondo. The simple translation of TKD is the foot fist way. Tae refers to kicking, striking, and jumping foot techniques. Kwon being a fist or open hand technique. Do being true spirit and personal development with an understanding of Asian philosophy.

If we breakdown Taekwondo into its basic components then we have Tae 25%, Kwon 25% and Do being 50% . Both teaching and training should reflect this split. The tenets of TKD comprise etiquette, modesty, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit of ourselves, which we all develop through training.

With practice, exponents can better improve their techniques and personal development both physically and mentally through the exercises involved in Taekwondo training. The spirit of martial arts encompasses sense of honor, patience, politeness, self control, wisdom, mercy, justice, endurance, honesty and courage. All these components should when put together be part of the curriculum of ones basic training.

Over the next few months I will be concentrating on basic movements and techniques which will provide the basis for developing a strong foundation for all future development in TKD (and martial arts in general). As the tree has to have strong roots for its foundation, so should a person’s basics be sound, which will make advancement to a higher level easier and quicker.

One of the first objectives for students when starting training is a high level of commitment (to TKD particularly) within the first six weeks. This initial phase reflects one of the most challenging times to get immersed into these new exercises.

Firstly, I would like to cover bowing. Bowing is a means of greeting and showing respect in the orient as well as many other parts of the world. Bowing is the first and last exercise performed in TKD training, when entering the training room, facing the flags, facing instructors and senior belts at the beginning and end of the class, and to a partner or partners before and after each interaction.

Martial art/Taekwondo practitioners should respect and bow whenever and wherever they meet each other. The bow comprises standing to Attention “Charyeot” and execution of the bow “Kyongrye” A standing bow “Kyongrye” is made from the natural standing posture from attention “Charyeot” by bending the waist at an angle of more than 30 degrees with the head inclined to an angle of more than 45 degrees and the fists clenched at the sides of the legs.

The basic ready position for commencement of techniques should be done with correct breathing. Breathing is important during performance of a ready stance “junbi seogi”. In particular, the correct way to breath for ready stance “junbi seogi” is to breath slowly and deeply As “junbi seogi” ( ready, preparation ) is the action which is taken prior to the main physical action, so mental attitude / focus is very important. This action is also performed at the end of a set of movements as breathing slowly and deeply is very good for concentration especially when working with children.

When performing the breathing techniques it is important not to have tension in the shoulders. Take a deep breath upon lifting of the hands and then exhale on lowering them. Try to perform slow deep breathing at various times throughout the day with an emphasis on using the lower abdomen. Awareness of your breathing should eventually become an integral part of your life. The end result being. to achieve a better focus for ones daily activities.

Future articles will cover correct technique (body positioning), generation of speed and power deliverance as we cover more techniques. The key to success is to try to relax and enjoy training as it should be a pleasurable experience rather than a painful one.

Your development will progress at a much faster pace if you relax and hone your skills in a training environment that is both enjoyable as well as fun. Master Tony Vohra is always pleased to advise individual students, clubs and instructors and he will arrange demonstrations, courses & seminars to suit at home and abroad and being of service. For further details, or for information, contact:

President Grandmaster S. S.
Vohra (8th Dan), International
School of Martial Arts UK HQ,
Nottingham School of Tae Kwon Do,
Ilkeston Rd., Nottingham NG7 3FX,
England. Tel: 00 44 (0)115 9780439;
Fax: 00 44 (0)115 9785567


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