Friday, April 24, 2009

My first month of taekwondo

Last month, I enrolled my four-year-old son, my six-year-old daughter and myself in a taekwondo school (03/24/2009). I thought it would be good for my son: good for his discipline and good for his confidence. It has been great fun. I found a brand new school with a storefront studio just a few blocks from our house. Their introductory promotion included three weeks of lessons and a free uniform. The instructor at this location is very young, about 22. He is a college student studying nursing. He has been studying taekwondo since he was 9. He's been teaching taekwondo since he was 17. He is preparing for his fourth degree black belt examination in April. His instructor is Master Byong-Cheol Kim, a South Korean who immigrated to this country after retiring from competitive taekwondo. He won several international competitions including the final round at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. His partner Je-Kyoung Kim was his teammate at the Olympics, and he also won the final round in his weight class. I haven't met either of them yet. They teach at other campuses in Beaverton and Lake Oswego.

Anyway, after a month we have learned two punches, three blocks and three kicks. We haven't leaned any forms yet. We've been doing a lot of jumping jacks, stretching, pushups and sit-ups (crunches). We have also learned to count to ten in Korean.

Our first belt test will be in June. Right now we all wear white belts. If we pass our belt test we will wear white belts with yellow stripes. Belt tests are every three months. If we stick with it, we can work through the rainbow and earn our black belts in about three years.

Before the children can belt test they have to earn stripes. The stripes are stickers which will wrap around the tip of their belt. They have to earn one red stripe, one blue stripe, one green stripe and seven black stripes. The red strip is for doing well in school. The blue stripe is for reading a book. The green stripe is for taekwondo skills learned in class. And the black stripes are for good behavior at home.

Last week they tried to earn their black stripe for showing respect. They didn't do so well. It's obvious that this is not a virtue we have been teaching in our family. This week they will try to earn a black stripe for showing gratitude. I'm sure they will earn this stripe without any trouble. We've always taught them to say thank you in our family. Next week they will try to earn a black stripe for taking responsibility. They will have to clean their rooms (or do some other chore) without being asked. This will be tough, but my daughter loves to be recognized for her achievements, so I think she'll be able to do it. My son is a good copy-cat. If his sister does it, I think he might do it.