Picking up a martial art like taekwondo is a great way to both stay in shape and pick up beneficial skills along the way. However, with so many different forms of martial arts, it’s hard to settle on just one. Depending on your personal needs and leanings, taekwondo could be the best choice for you.
So let’s go into some detail on practicing taekwondo and how it could be an excellent choice of martial art. We will look into what makes it unique and talk about the benefits taekwondo can bring into your life.
Why Taekwondo Is the Best Martial Art
Taekwondo is a popular form of martial art that can also be practiced as a competitive sport. It is a martial art based upon kicking and striking distance control. It is not enough on its own to create a completely balanced fighter, but the kicks and acrobatics of high-level taekwondo students can be seen in places like MMA.
As a fighting approach that predominantly features the use of kicks, it is easy to see why it is an excellent skill to keep would-be attackers at bay. After all, your legs are naturally longer than your arms, and this technique can come in handy in fight situations.
With enough power in your kicks, you devastating strikes that can knock out attackers.
Take a look at some of these highlights for some perspective on the kicking power that some taekwondo athletes develop:
As reiterated by Tomislav Zivanovic from Medium, aside from being a decent option for self-defense, Taekwondo also packs some other key benefits. These include building your fitness level, and improving your mental and improving your physical and mental health.
Read on for more on these mental and physical health benefits shortly below.
1. Taekwondo Improves Physical Fitness & Cardiovascular Health
One of the main benefits of practicing Taekwondo is that it will go a long way in improving your level of physical fitness. In a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy and Sports, the researchers conclude that this martial arts form positively impacts aerobic capacity and flexibility.
The teachers of Taekwondo at Level Up Taekwondo explain that training for this martial art features various elements that enhance your cardiovascular health. Accordingly, they explain that it features multiple kinds of training, which result in a healthy body.
In my experience, taekwondo students that trained frequently can be some of the more flexible and athletic opponents that I come across.
2. Taekwondo Builds Your Core Strength
According to Healthline, Taekwondo will deliver a full-body workout, the exercise routines involved in Taekwondo involve most parts of your body.
Due to the athletic nature of executing spinning kicks and other acrobatic techniques, taekwondo athletes can develop impressive core strength throughout the course of regular training. Frequently, instructors will have their students specifically work on their core strength because it is a vital component of being able to do the higher-level kicking techniques in taekwondo.
3. Taekwondo Improves Flexibility and Mobility
As a martial art, taekwondo has some of the most mobility-intensive techniques around. Typically, students build up both passive flexibility and mobility as a part of regular training in taekwondo. They are usually guided through these routines because it is eventually necessary to maximize these attributes to execute the acrobatic and flexible kicks that taekwondo is known for.
Some of the most mobile and flexible martial artists that I have come across have roots in taekwondo and carry over these attributes into their other athletic endeavors.
4. Taekwondo Aids Weight Loss
Taekwondo training can provide exercise that you will want to come back to regularly. Alongside a reasonable diet and decent sleep, taekwondo students tend to lose weight and stay healthier than somebody who does not get regular exercise.
5. Taekwondo Improves Your Self-Defense
Taekwondo can enhance your ability to defend yourself. This comes with the caveat that you need to be sparring against resisting opponents, which is not always the case in every school. Taekwondo can provide an impressive arsenal of kicks and other strikes, but it isn’t a well-rounded self-defense option.
The first option for self-defense should always be to diffuse the situation and escape the situation. However, if you want to build your physical self-defense fighting abilities then you will need to pair taekwondo with another martial art to become well-rounded for that situation.
In my opinion, the best martial arts you can pair with taekwondo are BJJ, judo, or wrestling.
6. Taekwondo Reduces Stress and Anxiety
In a study conducted on undergraduate students, the researchers discovered that the participants benefited from taekwondo in their ability to deal with stress. The study also found that participating in Taekwondo training also enhanced the student’s ability to maintain a perspective amid challenging situations.
This speaks volumes about the role that taekwondo training can help in mitigating or relieving your stress and anxiety (which is in many ways simply the anticipation of stress).
7. Improves Self-Esteem and Perceptions of Body Image
In her study on the various correlations between Taekwondo training and psychological well-being, Emily R. Weiss observes that there is a positive relationship between Taekwondo training and improved self-esteem and perceptions of self.
But what does this really mean?
On the surface level, the physical benefits of Taekwondo training such as fat loss and improved fitness and physical capabilities are easy to point to and understand. Lowered body fat and improved fitness also result in a better perception of personal body image.
The other factor that taekwondo contributes to self-esteem is that spending time learning and applying complex skills and capabilities fundamentally improves your confidence and sense of well-being.
8. Taekwondo Helps Improve Focus
Modern taekwondo training often has pillars of self-improvement that get emphasized throughout training. These pillars of self-improvement include discipline, health, and focus. Additionally, practicing attention to detail over many repetitions naturally builds discipline and focus.
Learning taekwondo gives students an opportunity to learn many skills and show up to training day in and day out. Commitment to long-term mastery enhances discipline and provides practice to your concentration and focus abilities. These skills are invaluable.
9. Taekwondo Promotes Personal Wellbeing
In a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the researchers observe that Taekwondo training results in catharsis. Ultimately practicing taekwondo helps students to deal with their repressed emotions.
Dealing with these repressed emotions including emotions such as pity, fear, or depression promotes an overall better sense of well-being. This happens through a few factors, but two of the more important ones are overcoming the difficulty of learning complex skills and getting positive social interactions.
10. Taekwondo is a Positive Social Environment
Taekwondo is an inclusive group activity and an excellent avenue to make friends or socialize with people over a shared interest. Humans are social creatures and I’ve observed that people who sometimes struggle to find positive socialization do well when they pick up martial arts.
Taekwondo is one of the most inclusive martial arts and is typically a positive experience that can help introverted or socially awkward students build socialization skills and comfort with social situations overall.
What Makes Taekwondo a Unique Martial Art?
Taekwondo is unique in its focus on kicking, this includes long-range and acrobatic kicking. Other techniques taught in taekwondo like punches and grappling can be used in some schools. However, this is primarily trained as a way to set up and effectively utilize kicks.
Taekwondo was originally invented in the 1940s in Korea. The word Taekwondo is made up of three Korean words: Tae (태, hanja 跆) – to kick, Kwon (권, hanja 拳) – to strike using the hands, and Do (도, hanja 道)) – to hit).
The hands in Taekwondo are only used as a backup. This is because some of the most effective fighters realized that using longer and stronger limbs over arms or punches offered an advantage in combat situations.
Over time, this martial arts form has become characterized by a blend of charismatic kicking techniques to strike an opponent with speed. Many of these tend to be head-height kicks or kicks featuring spinning, jumping, or both.
What Are the Strengths of Taekwondo?
Taekwondo brings its students excellent kicking techniques. It is one of the premiere martial arts for building up smooth and powerful kicks and is only rivaled by Muay Thai in its effectiveness for kicking techniques.
Taekwondo is frequently compared to karate since they are two of the most popular traditional martial arts around. They look similar to the outside eye, but taekwondo sets itself apart with its powerful, acrobatic, and effective kicks.
Studies comparing the two also indicate that Taekwondo has a greater degree of anaerobic power and explosive strength relative to Karate, at least as measured in the exercises in the study which were dominated by exercises using legs as a primary driver of the exercise.
Does Taekwondo Help in a Real Fight?
You can apply Taekwondo in a real fight situation. Taekwondo students will have an advantage over untrained individuals but need to practice training techniques live against resisting opponents to maximize effectiveness. Ideally, taekwondo should be paired with a grappling martial art.
The skills that you will learn during taekwondo training can help you out in a real fight. However, most fights do not involve rules. Taking that in combination with taekwondo’s relatively narrow set of techniques and effective distances and you do not have that much effective coverage for a fight.
This is why taekwondo students with an eye on self-defense competency need to pick up a martial art like BJJ, judo, or wrestling to round out their skills.
Dedicated students of taekwondo can build an impressive base of flexibility and mobility alongside some general athleticism. The fact that most taekwondo schools are welcoming environments also allows people who are out of shape to participate in it and reap many benefits from regular training.
Taekwondo is a specialized martial art based around kicking, so if you want to be a better fighter or martial artist holistically you probably need to add in other martial arts to reach those goals.
For more check out Do You Need to Be Fit to Start Taekwondo?