Taekwondo can be broken down into 5 elements that work together to make you a rounded athlete, whether you are purely a recreational athlete or you have grander ambitions. These elements are:
Pattern or form (Taeguek/Poomse).
Patterns are a traditional part of Taekwondo where you practice the movements in set form. They represent practising against an invisible assailant. You practice a series of movements for the various kicks, blocks, punches and strikes of Taekwondo. Patterns build discipline, strength, coordination and muscle memory. The sequence of patterns is designed so each builds on the skills already learned. From Basic Number 1, your first pattern when you remain in a single stance and perform 10 basic movements all the way up to Ilyeo, for 9th Dan where you practice 23 more advanced movements, each builds on the last.
The official poomse for competition are those recognized by the World Taekwondo Federation. Those poomse are Taegeuk Pattern 1 to 8 (Colour Belts), Koryo (1st Dan), Keumgang (2nd Dan), Taebaek (3rd Dan), Pyongwon (4th Dan), Sipjin (5th Dan), Jitae (6th Dan), Chonkwon (7th Dan), Hansu (8th Dan) and Ilyeo (9th Dan).
Sparring has 2 sides. You learn a more traditional form of Sparring for grading where you demonstrate the kicks you learn, your ability to control those kicks and how well you use the space available.
Sports Sparring, the type you see in the Olympics, is much more competitive, it’s about you scoring points against a a real opponent. Your fitness will improve along with your coordination. A lot of sports Sparring is tactical, it’s as much using your brain as it is using your feet. It promotes fitness, flexibility, stamina, coordination, movement and it releases the brains ‘happy pills’, endorphins.
Only the adult and more senior junior students will be allowed to break boards. It’s about proving your technique works effectively. OTC have reusable boards for you to practice, under supervision, your punching, striking and kicking techniques. There is a certain satisfaction when you successfully break your first board. You learn control, power and speed.
Self-Defense (Ho Shin Sool)
Learning techniques in the dojang for patterns and sparring doesn’t really translate to real life. OTC teaches basic self defense to all ages and genders. You learn the basic ABC of self defence along with practical techniques that can be applied in real life. Remember the first rule of self defence is not to be in the situation to start with. You develop your self confidence and feel safer out on the street.
Meditation (Jung Shin Tong)
Taekwondo isn’t just about your physical wellbeing, it’s about your mental state too. Meditation helps you to focus, relax and destress. It benefits your Taekwondo training by keeping you sharp, improving precision and focusing your power. You learn to visualise your goals and listen to your conscience.