Taekwondo is a Korean martial arts that gained world wide fame in the 20th century through its display of beautiful jaw dropping kicks that wowed crowds in busy arenas.
Today it is practiced by millions around the world, and is one of the most popular martial arts on the planet.
However with the rise of MMA, and the hardcore fanboys along with it that love to bash any traditional martial arts and calling them ineffective for modern times, this has lead to a lot of confusion for beginners that are looking to start their martial arts journey.
Is Taekwondo worth learning?
This is a question that many beginners ask when they are seeking out a martial arts to study.
But are we too quick to judge traditional martial arts like Taekwondo and not consider the positive aspects the martial art can bring into our lives?
In this article, I will go over several reasons why Taekwondo is still worth learning.
Great For Cardiovascular Fitness
Taekwondo has been shown to be a great mechanism for improving someone’s cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance levels.
Try doing 3-4 sets of 50 roundhouse kicks to kicking pads and then tell me whether or not Taekwondo doesn’t improve your cardiovascular health.
A Taekwondo class can consists of doing a lot of cardio drills such as kicking pads one after another for several minutes, sparring with a partner for several minutes, or doing laps or other forms of physical activity that gets your heart rate up and pumping nonstop during the class.
I noticed that after only studying Taekwondo for 2-3 months that my cardiovascular fitness levels had improved quite tremendously.
Instead of huffing and puffing after completing some kicking drills in class, I barely broke a sweat.
In one study, researchers found that after only 16 weeks of Taekwondo training, study participants (male obese adolescents) increased their aerobic fitness levels in addition to their standing long jump, sit and reach (flexibility), and sit-ups.
If your looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness and health, Taekwondo is a great option that should not be ignored.
Great for Weight Loss
Another benefit of Taekwondo is its ability to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body composition.
In a single 1 hour Taekwondo class, students can burn a whopping 752 calories for a 160 lb person. If you weigh more than that, then expect to burn even more calories!
If you attend 5 classes a week then that’s a pound of weight that you could burn off.
Do this for month and now you’ve just lost 4 pounds.
Furthermore, research has shown that vigorous exercise raises one’s metabolism levels and will continue to burn calories up to 14 hours after a bout of exercise is finished.
Instead of doing some mundane exercise at the gym such as running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike and looking at the clock to see when you could go home, you could learn Taekwondo, have fun, and also melt the fat away.
Your never sedentary in a Taekwondo class, and that means calories being burned.
Improves Strength and Muscle Endurance
In addition to Taekwondo’s great cardiovascular and weight loss benefits, it also helps with building strength and muscle endurance.
In a Taekwondo class, expect to be doing push ups, sit-ups, crunches, planks, and other muscle conditioning exercises.
Furthermore, the constant kicking and punching will work your upper and lower body, as well as your core.
Because Taekwondo requires students to practice performing explosive high velocity kicks at a moment’s notice, Taekwondo practitioners over time will develop strong leg muscles, especially when performing high velocity movements.
Those high leg kicks that you see being performed by Taekwondo students have been developed through years of constant dedicated training.
Muscular endurance is improved over time as well through constant repetition and training of the muscles.
Through the rigorous physical curriculum of Taekwondo, students can develop muscular strength as well as endurance.
Improves Self Confidence and Self Esteem
In Taekwondo, students are taught a variety of very difficult moves that they need to master in order to progress in rank.
As a student tackles these goals and eventually overcomes them, their self confidence and self esteem will be improved.
In one study, researchers looked at cognitive function, self confidence, and self efficacy and found that after 16 weeks of Taekwondo training, the children saw significant improvements in these areas.
Furthermore, students often times will have the support of their fellow instructors and classmates as well, cheering them on in class or tournaments which will only help improve these mental aspects of their lives.
In addition, since students are taught how to defend themselves, they will no doubt have increased self confidence that they will be able to handle any confrontation issues outside of the Dojang.
Lastly, a student’s self image will be improved as well as a result of training in Taekwondo through helping them lose weight and maintaining a healthy body composition.
For some people, they may even get very toned and defined, which will increase their self confidence and self esteem outside of class.
In a Taekwondo class, students are taught to follow orders and instructions.
Some of these commands are for their safety and the safety of other fellow students, while others are meant to help a student progress in their journey of learning Taekwondo.
When class starts, students need to line up in order of rank, and the same applies when class ends.
Through being constantly challenged and having to face adversity through mastering techniques or even trying to beat a sparring opponent, students will need to develop discipline through constant practice and hard work to overcome these obstacles.
Take for example, a student that knows that in order to win an upcoming tournament, they will need to put in extra work towards practice and attending Taekwondo classes if they wish to do well at the tournament.
Through these challenges and hardships, the student will develop discipline.
Teaches Self Defense
Now assuming that you picked out a good Taekwondo school that focuses on self defense and not the sporting aspect of Taekwondo, you will no doubt learn quite a number of techniques to defend yourself.
Kicking techniques, proper distance and footwork, how to punch properly, as well as some joint locks and even throws may be taught during a self defense class in Taekwondo.
Furthermore, students are taught the proper way to strike so as to maximize the amount of power that they can generate, usually using the hips and rotating it to generate the power necessary to strike down an attacker.
Now a lot of MMA fanboys out there will argue that Taekwondo is useless as a martial arts for defending yourself which is based on the assumption that Taekwondo does not teach enough punching in class, and that there are no grappling techniques being taught.
While they do have some valid points regarding the heavy focus on kicking and lack of punching or grappling being taught in class, they fail to see the self defense side of Taekwondo that is usually not shown on TV or tournaments due to strict roles that forbid a lot of these deadly techiques.
Things like joint locks that can break someone’s arm or wrist, gouging of the eyes, or a deadly strike to the throat of an attacker, or even a kick to the groin to send your attacker on their knees.
These are all valid self defense techniques that could be used in a live threatening situation by a Taekwondo practitioner.
Furthermore, outside of the Dojang, the chances of a Taekwondo student encountering someone with an extensive martial arts or fighting background I would argue would be pretty low.
The more likely scenario would be an argument or fight with your everyday lay person who doesn’t know a thing about fighting.
In those cases, I would argue that a Taekwondo student would come out on top assuming they have learned the proper skills and techniques necessary to execute a well timed strike to their opponent and not some half-assed kicked that can easily be grabbed a hold of.
This is why taking the time to select a proper Taekwondo school is very important.
When selecting a Taekwondo school, make sure that you do not enroll in a Mcdojo nor one that focuses on the sporting aspects of Taekwondo otherwise the curriculum taught will not align with your goals.
One of the Best Martial Arts to Learn Kicking
If Taekwondo had any weaknesses, this would not be it.
When it comes to learning how to kick, I would argue that Taekwondo is one of the best if not the best martial art out there to learn from.
Due to the heavy focus on kicking, students are taught kicking right from the get go as soon as they step foot inside of a Dojang.
Front kick, round house kick, side kick, and axe kick will be their foundations and these will be practiced thousands of times during the life time of the student studying Taekwondo.
Later on, students learn more advanced kicks like spinning hook kicks, back kicks, heel kicks, and the jumping variations of those kicks.
Not only will technique be nailed down, but also how to generate power using the hips.
Kicking pads, punching bags, and kicking air will further help the student develop speed, accuracy, and timing.
Sparring will help a student develop timing, and footwork as well.
Furthermore, if your a tall person then you will benefit from Taekwondo greatly as you will always have a reach advantage during fights using your long legs to strike opponents.
You may have seen some Taekwondo students exhibiting extreme feats of flexibility during a demonstration before.
Splits, high jumping kicks are all common sights in a Taekwondo class.
Due to the kicking nature and the need to strike at high targets at times such as when competing in sparring tournaments to score the most points, there is a heavy focus on flexibility training during a Taekwondo class.
When students first start class, usually as part of a warm up, students perform a variety of dynamic stretches to help improve their flexibility, followed by static stretches later on.
Back when I was still studying Taekwondo, I used to be able to throw kicks at head height due to all of the stretching that we did in class.
This came in quite handy when I was competing in tournaments as I was able to score head kicks on opponents during matches.
Researchers have also found that Taekwondo training improves flexibility. In one study that looked at female adolescents strength, power, flexibility, and body composition after studying Taekwondo for 12 weeks, the student participants were found to have increased their flexibility during a sit and reach test.
Not only does stretching improve flexibility, it also helps reduce back pain, reduce the chances of injuries but it also makes you more mobile for your daily activities as well.
Great Stress Reliever
It has long been a known fact that exercise is a great way of relieving stress.
This is partly due to chemicals being released in our brains known as endorphins that bind with receptors that reduce your perception of pain. In addition, these chemicals also have been shown to exhibit good feelings inside of us.
As Taekwondo is a physical activity and form of exercise, you can expect to experience the same benefits for stress reduction.
Having a bad day at work?
No problem, come on down to class and you’ll feel like a million bucks afterwards.
Furthermore, being able to take out your stress on a kicking pad, punching bag, or
your sparring partner will greatly improve your mood afterwards after you’ve emptied the tank.
There’s just something about hitting objects that leaves most people feeling great.
If you worry about stress often, then Taekwondo may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Opportunity to Compete in the Olympics
If you ever had dreams of being an Olympian, well then Taekwondo can bring you one step closer towards realizing that dream.
Because Taekwondo is an official Olympic sport, you can compete to win a gold medal and represent your country at the Olympics.
Now of course, qualifying and being good enough to make the Olympic team is another story.
There are tonnes of Taekwondo schools out there that place a heavy focus on the sports aspect of Taekwondo.
At these schools, you can expect to spend a good majority of your time learning techniques to help you score more points, as well as sparring, all with the goal of making your Olympic dreams a reality.
In this article, we looked at whether or not Taekwondo is worth learning.
I believe Taekwondo is in fact worth learning due to the following reasons that I discussed above:
- Great for cardiovascular fitness
- Great for weight loss
- Improves strength and endurance
- Improves self confidence and self esteem
- Teaches self discipline
- Teaches self defense
- Its one of the best martial arts to learn kicking
- Improves flexibility
- Great stress reliever
- Gives you an opportunity to compete at the Olympics
Now I do want to mention that Taekwondo isn’t perfect, nor is any martial art out there. There are pros and cons to each martial arts.
Here is an article that I wrote detailing the pros and cons of Taekwondo.
However, if your goal aligns with the following points that I mentioned above then I am sure Taekwondo will more than fit the bill for your needs.