Taekwondo, the Art of Hand and Foot

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Taekwondo, the art of fist and foot, is a modern Korean martial art. It is the unification of nine distinct martial arts systems that sprang up after the Japanese occupation of Korea ended after World War II. Because it is the unification of several systems and because of nationalistic prides and prejudices, its true origins are diverse and often hotly debated. Particularly nationalistic Taekwondo practitioners claim it is based upon ancient Korean martial arts, particularly _subak_ and _taekkyon_ and draws its roots from the _Hwarang_ (a royal warrior order in the ancient Korean kingdoms of _Goguryeo_, _Silla_, and _Baekje_). Others trace Taekwondos origins to Chinese and Japanese martial arts such as Kung Fu and Karate. In fact, the arguments and debates about Taekwondos origins are particularly wasted effort; all traditional martial arts influenced each other while each developed and retained specific characteristics.

Our Taekwondo study seeks to develop four primary aspects of ourselves: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Our physical and much of our mental development is through practice of
* _Mooshim_, _innae_, and _guekki/jajeh_ which focuses on basic stances, movements, stretching and breathing
* _Poomse_ (forms), specifically _DaeMahng_, _PalGwe_, and advanced forms which focus on precision and concentration
* _Hoshinsool_ (self-defense) and _gyorugi_ (sparring) to develop speed, power, and coordination
* _Guyk-pa_ or breaking to develop precision and confidence

Spiritual and emotional development are taught throughout our training, perhaps most visibly by _moog-nyum_ or meditation (empty moment), the Korean terminology we recite, and the specific lessons taught at the end of class by the _Sa-boo nim_ and _Kwan-jang nim_. Less visibly but as important, our spiritual and emotional development are taught through our training as we learn to respect fellow students and instructors, ethics of when to use our skills, to cooperate during partner or team drills, to persist in our efforts, and eventually to lead others as instructors.

I came to OMAC one year ago, on November 30, 2007. I was immediately immersed in the school by being instructed to take part in a demonstration on December 2 with only one class! At the time I started, I weighed 254 pounds, somewhere around 50 to 60 pounds over my target weight, and while I could complete the beginners class, I could not complete a mixed class. Not only was my weight very high, I had a terribly high body fat composition, and was habitually dehydrated.

Recently, Mr. David Bailey and I were talking, and he brought up that early class of his I couldnt complete. We were talking about our interaction at that first class, and how that had started our relationship (not on a good note). I confessed to him that I did not like him for several months after that confrontation, and that while I still didn't agree with him about that particular instance, I have enjoyed dealing with him since the Battle of Columbus. He congratulated me on the changes he had seen in me, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I look forward to class every day. I struggle to get the full benefit of _moog-nyum_, but as time progresses, I find it easier to clear my mind and prepare for class. I have built a strong foundation through the various _mooshim_, _innae_, and _guekki_ drills we do, although I know I can still improve and continue to struggle with my _dollyo chagi_. I love to learn new _poomse_, but need to practice the old ones to remember them. I am still not a fast fighter, but even there I see improvement. _Guyk-pa_ is by far my favorite training, and I only wish that we could really do it more often.

One year later, I am even more immersed in the school. I have competed in two school tournaments, including the Battle of Columbus and the Intra-School Championship, winning three gold metals and two silver metals. Not only can I complete any class, I occasionally take two classes and recently completed the entire fall camp. I currently weight about 225 pounds, having lost almost exactly thirty pounds. In May, I began taking _Kimoodo_ with my wife (and more recently my father-in-law), and regularly act as an assistant instructor. Soon after we began Kimoodo, my younger son joined the Little Tigers program, which I assisted in teaching until he moved up to the junior program.

I sometimes have a harder time seeing the mental, emotional, and spiritual changes in myself, but others see them. Mr. Bailey mentioned the changes to me. Some friends and family have mentioned them to me. I irregularly write an online column called "Black Belt Systems Administration":/?q=taxonomy/term/9 that combines the lessons Ive learned in Taekwondo with the knowledge I have of working as a computer systems administrator and manager. I assist in instructing one class or another nearly every week, and almost to the day of my one year anniversary, I have been assigned my own Little Tiger class as primary instructor. I look back on the past year, look forward to the next year, and can only wonder what other future years may bring.