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Title [Voices of Youth] Learning Taekwondo at School
Photo of the Blue belts of the students.
Seoul Global High School, 2nd Grade, Jeung Eum WOO
‘Nurturing international specialists equipped with scholastic excellence, honorable character and physical strength.’ This is the educational goal of my school, SGHS (Seoul Global High School). Amongst these goals, to achieve ‘physical strength’ all first graders gather every morning at 6:30 am, on the school fields to practice Taekwondo. Our Taekwondo instructor showcases a movement with loud chants and we start the day by following our master. You might think 30 minutes of Taekwondo practice is too short to mean anything, but the effects are truly big. Through this writing ‘Taekwondo at School’, I wish to share my experience in learning Taekwondo for a year with my school friends.
When I first started writing about this experience, I began to wonder ‘out of all those sports, why Taekwondo?’ Luckily, I was able to assume the reasons of learning Taekwondo by looking back at my experience through this opportunity. More than anything, Taekwondo is a physical activity that does not require any other tools or equipment. I didn’t have to pay for anything except for my Dobok (training clothes), and I can learn this anywhere, anytime. The colorful belts and Poomsae, taught differently upon level, visually motivate the learners and periodically allow students to feel achievement. And since Taekwondo is a national martial arts of Korea, learning the art may help student increase pride as a national citizen. Then what is good about learning Taekwondo ‘at school’?
Taekwondo is not just a simple sport that consist of physical activities. It is a kind of activity that trains both the mind and body. Politeness between people, benevolence, and unity preoccupied in Taekwondo are very helpful in physically training the body and cultivating humanitarian values. Many students pick ‘Kihap (similar to shouting)’ as an important factor in cultivating the spirit of unity. Ian CHO, first grader at SGHS, who has been learning Taekwondo since middle school, shared his/her experience as the following, “practicing Kihap and adding Kihap to every Taekwondo moves naturally increase ones’ confidence because sounds have more power than you think. I wasn’t confident when I started Taekwondo but because I added Kihap to every move, I was able to perform everything with confidence regardless of how good I was at Taekwondo.” Learning Taekwondo at school, helps the student gain confidence through shouting Kihaps and have trust in each other as well as have unity.
Taekwondo at school also encourages responsibility and cooperation between students. For instance, at my school, a student with a black belt stands at the very front and becomes an example for the others. The students standing at the front learns responsibility while performing in front of everyone and the ones behind can watch and learn the correct movements. This is a good opportunity for the students to give one another positive effects and learn together.
‘Kihapsori,’ a Taekwondo club at SGHS, plans and implements a Taekwondo mentoring program each year. This is an opportunity for the mentors to learn about responsibility, and for the mentees to learn cooperation and be motivated. Before I attended SGHS I had never learnt Taekwondo before. First few weeks at school, I had difficulty following simple Kicks and Poomsae movements, and could not remember consecutive movements. But thanks to consistent help from my friends, and through mentoring from Kihapsori, I was able to achieve my goal of acquiring a ‘blue belt’ and I felt a lot of accomplishment. In a situation where we couldn’t get enough Taekwondo class due to COVID-19, this was an accomplishment I could not achieve if I had not received help from my friends, so I was reminded of the importance of cooperation.
Like this, Taekwondo at school provides many benefits to the students. During my practice of Taekwondo for the last year, I felt ‘learning Taekwondo at school opens up infinite possibilities to the students.’ Students not only become physically strong, but can also experience many values such as growth in character. Also 30 minutes of vitality a day to the mind and body provides an increase in study efficiency. Some research show students’ Taekwondo practice positively impacts adaptability and peer relationship (2018, Oh, Kang, and Hwang.) If Taekwondo were to be practiced not only at my school, but at other schools as well, I believe this will provide more opportunities of self-development. As a person who have earned many things from Taekwondo, I would like to recommend Taekwondo at school to more people.
Oh, Kang, and Hwang 2018, The Effect of Taekwondo Training Satisfaction of middle and high school students on personality development and school life adaptation, Journal of Martial Arts (JMA), vol.12, pp. 65-80, Available from: https://www.kci.go.kr/kciportal/ci/sereArticleSearch/ciSereArtiView.kci?sereArticleSearchBean.artiId=ART002323229
※ Opinion in this writing are the author's own.