Taekwondo is a dynamic martial art and Olympic sport that combines poses, called stances and forms, with the dynamic action of kicking and punching. The World Taekwondo Federation describes this form of martial art as “the unity of body, mind, and life, and the unity of the pose.” The Federation claims that practicing taekwondo syncs your mind with movement, bringing harmony to your life, as well as to society. This unique balance of body, mind and spirit may give taekwondo an advantage over other forms of self-defense.
Kicking and Core
Taekwondo is Korean for “the way of the foot and the fist.” Attackers are blocked through a series of punching strikes, flying kicks and sweeps designed to take out any opponent. Kicking is more prominent in taekwondo than it is in other martial arts; therefore, it is an especially effective workout for the leg muscles. Taekwondo also engages the core muscles that hold the spine and stomach, improving posture and balance with its series of forms and stances.
Taekwondo is cardiovascular, working your heart and lungs. Taekwondo training often begins with exercises to increase heart rate, such as running, jumping jacks, squats, lunges, push-ups and sit ups. Taekwondo also builds strength, endurance and agility, tasking every muscle in your body, including your heart.
Autism, Attention and Learning Disabilities
Taekwondo is excellent for expelling extra energy in students with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), while requiring an attention to detail to perform the intricate maneuvers correctly. Taekwondo is a precision sport and helps students with attention, focus and sequencing issues to hone these skills and feel successful. Taekwondo builds self-esteem and confidence in children with ADHD, learning disabilities and autism. Taekwondo strengthens executive functioning skills that are lacking in students with these disorders and is recognized by Autism Speaks, as well as a number of organizations as therapeutic for children and adults alike. Taekwondo is based on discipline and utilizes positive reinforcement techniques, much like Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), a therapy scientifically proven to help people with autism.
The jumps, kicks and stretches provide the agility, strength and flexibility required in other sports. Many well-known figure skaters, for example, train off-ice using taekwondo and other martial arts. Practicing martial arts allows skaters, and competitors of other sports, to train a different set of muscles than they normally do, helping them avoid over-use injuries and leading to a more balanced athlete. Taekwondo helps athletes maintain a high-level cardiovascular workout needed to run faster, jump higher and develop and all-body workout that will ultimately improve performance in a variety of sports.
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