There is a bewildering variety of different styles of martial art now being taught. Each emphasises different techniques, approaches and even philosophies. As a result, it’s not possible to say which ones are ‘better’ than others; rather, you should choose your martial art based on what you want to gain. For example, tai chi is heavily concerned with formalised sequences of movements and meditation, so it’s probably not ideal if you want to learn self-defence. Below is some information about what taekwondo does and doesn’t involve; however, if you’re at all interested the best thing to do is to come along to a demonstration or a class and try it for yourself!
Taekwondo places a great deal of emphasis on powerful kicking and punching techniques. These are coupled with blocking techniques and stances. Essentially, it is a powerful martial art based on dynamic movements. This can be contrasted with styles such as wing chun which focus on conserving energy and minimising effort. As a result it’s a very exciting style to learn and is one of the best martial arts if you want to improve your physical fitness.
Martial arts differ in their level of formality. At the ‘informal’ end of the spectrum are styles such as kickboxing, which are explicitly designed to be used in real fights and sparring, and little else. At the other end are styles such as kung fu which are much more stylised and ‘artistic’: these also become useful in real fights, but only when one reaches a high level of expertise. Taekwondo encompasses both aspects. The techniques taught can be used for sparring and in self-defence, and this is a major component of our classes; however, there is also a more formal artistic element, particularly in the patterns. You can to some extent pick and choose between the two aspects (for instance, some of our classes are devoted to sparring), though you have to master both to grade.
Many martial arts, such as Judo, focus on holds, locks and throws. Taekwondo does not place great emphasis on these. However, a vital part of learning taekwondo is self-defence training, which includes a solid grounding in these techniques. Competition taekwondo does not permit throwing.
Taekwondo is an unarmed martial art. We teach students that their own bodies can display amazing strength and speed, up to and including putting one’s hand through four concrete blocks. However, our self-defence training includes techniques expressly designed for dealing with attackers armed with weapons such as knives or bottles.
Lastly, many people are attracted to martial arts after seeing people in sunglasses doing triple jumping spinning kicks while plummeting from tall buildings, and the like. If you want to be able to do this sort of thing (apart from the falling off buildings, which any twerp can do), taekwondo is ideal. Many of our techniques are inherently impressive, and ‘flashy’ (though also useful) moves such as spinning and jumping kicks are integral.