Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Lessons I learned from Taekwondo-Part 1

My elder son has just started his first wushu lesson with Martial House , not bad for the first lesson as he managed to learn some steps for this 五步拳, the coach also seems to be pretty friendly and patient with the kids. I feel excited for him as learning wushu is what my #1 has been asking for. But due to unsuitable timings, venues and dates for the lessons, we have been unable to accede to his request. Well, but the bad news is after his first lesson, they will be taking a 2 weeks break (slap forehead), there goes his 五步拳.

This makes me reminisce my university days. My uni life = Taekwondo (tkd). I have always been interested in tkd because I think their gi looks really cool. So when I joined the NUS tkd club, I did not expect that it would become a sort of obsession for me, I absolutely fell in love with it.

I'm actually quite a sporty person though my looks can be deceiving (petite, fair looking girl) and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a Jack of some trades but master of none. I'm in the school cross country team in JC, though not among the fastest, I do have some stamina, I can run for as long as I like without any signs of tiredness. Running is a chance to spend time with myself and I only start to dread running when I need to run to win. I hate the feeling when I need to push myself to overtake other runners. Though I only hold a beginner certificate in swimming, I can swim 40 laps without taking any breaks. It's never about speed for me. So I guess, enjoyment is more important to me than achievements. 

TKD totally fits my bill. We trained 4 times a week for 3-4 competitions per year. To improve my stamina,I would also go for a 6 to 8 km run myself before joining the tkd trainings. I'm honored to be training under one of the best tkd coaches, Mr Henry Tan Kheng Juan, who was a 10 times National Champion and a SEA games gold medalist. The days of training with NUS tkd club is certainly one of my best memories. 

So what do I learn from tkd other than kicks? I learned about life too.

1. Less is more
When I was still a novice student, my kicks were really weak, there was no sound and impact when I kicked the targets. When executing front kicks, we were supposed to lift our knees, twist our bodies and snap our lower legs on the targets to produce a loud and bright "PIAK" ( someone please advise me on a better word ) sound. Power is generated primarily from the sharp extension of the leg and the speed with which the lower leg shoots into the target.

Why is it so important for us to pay great attention to our techniques and make our kicks sharp, accurate and impactful? That is because during sparring sessions, when there are opportunities for us to attack our opponents, we must ensure that our kicks land with impact on their paddings and produce a loud "PIAK" sound. That is when we score! We would really be wasting our energies if we send our legs flying around yet unable to score any points.

So I began to work hard on my front kicks. I was really attentive when my seniors demonstrated the kicks and explained the science behind the techniques to create powerful kicks. I observed how my team mates kicked and then I started to practise real hard, I kicked and kicked and kicked and kicked and kicked.........Until one day, my efforts finally paid off. I found myself drowning in happiness listening to the "PIAK PIAK Thud Thud" sounds when I kicked the targets. Perhaps being a long distance runner gave me more strength in my legs as well. I was quite satisfied with my front kicks!

But the bad news is, I was only confident in my front kicks. You would probably fall asleep watching my sparring sessions because it was so boring I only execute front kicks and nothing else. Also, I'm neither swift nor agile, watching me fight is just like watching a slow motion movie. However, if I had a chance to strike, my front kicks are still reliable.

Though front kick seems like a "boring kick",it is actually a safe, powerful and reliable weapon to be used during sparring. It can be used to attack and for defence and doesn't lose its potency at close range.It requires minimal pivoting and lends itself to combinations.You can do a front kick after a punch or transform it to a deceptive double kick.

Rather than putting up a fanciful show of thrusting,spinning,hooking and jumping kicks on the arena and yet not scoring a single point, I would prefer the player to keep both his feet on the ground and use his front kicks instead.

Since front kicks are such useful kicks,why aren't they used more frequently?Is it because they look simple and people tend to brush it off and spend less time perfecting it,moving on to other kicks instead?

Similarly,the "simple" and "small" things in life are actually the more important ones. There are many perspectives to look at this.I shall cite the teacher as an example. 

To manage a class, plan a lesson, deliver it well and to mould our children's character is like spending time to perfect the front kick,it never fails and is never wrong because this is the most important task on hand as a teacher. We should never stop honing our skills in these areas. But yet nowadays, it seems like these are the "little" things which we assumed beginning teachers know.Before they have time to test out their kicks on the arena,we convinced them that they have mastered it and should instead moved on to try other fancier kicks instead.

Why?Because it's boring to execute only front kicks on the arena. People are watching you,give them something more exciting to see please.

In this case,I would prefer to be a master of one and a jack of some trades.

I also learn that with perseverance and determination,I can definitely become better and that is all I need.I'm never the best and will never be the best player but yet I've succeeded in my heart.
This little achievement which means nothing to others weighed a lot to me. Besides, I'm contented to be a part of my club and celebrate successes with my team mates.Their victory is mine because we are one.

Shouldn't we have that mindset in life as well? At home,at school and at work?To celebrate others' successes and not mind about who has put up a better fight.To do our part well and watch others grow,or even better,to contribute to their growth.

To be continued......

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