Taekwondo is popular with young adults and children, but I’d like to take the time to talk to the adults. A lot of you are looking at taekwondo as a good activity for your children, but seem to rule it out for yourselves. I can understand why, with work and family obligations, you might feel that you just don’t have the time to spare. I’ve spoken at length about the benefits for the 40+ set, and how being fit helps as you age, but my personal reasons for practicing are as follows.
- Mindfulness is often thought of as awareness, but it is more than that. You are not just observing your own body and mental state, but acknowledging your emotions, the sensations your body feels, and your own state of mind. We too often live lives where we do not examine ourselves, only feel and go with the moment, Being mindful of yourself is the first step to understanding yourself.
- When you are practicing taekwondo, you focus intently on the way your body moves, on the correct and controlled way to accomplish hyeong or pumsae.
- Because even black belts and Grand Masters can mess up. Sometimes with epic and YouTube worthy results. Humility is important, and so is the empathy that comes with it. The ability to understand where and when you stepped in it helps you avoid the same situation next time, and helps you to empathize and teach others that they can get back up again, too.
- Friendship and sportsmanship are important not just in team sports, but among individuals as well. You become friends in the true, dep, and lasting sense of the word through shared experienced.
- Being the change I want to see. Role models are important at every stage of life. They are important to children and young people doing the critical work of growing into adults, but adults need role models, too. So many tell themselves that they are “too old” for this and that they can’t do that. That they’d embarrass themselves or their kids if they tried taekwondo, or that they are too out of shape. I want to be a role model for adults, too, so that they feel this isn’t just “kid stuff” but a way of life for them, too.
You don’t have to practice taekwondo, or any martial art. You can practice yoga, Pilates, tai chi, or any sport, the main thing that matters is that it contributes to your wellbeing and growth as a person. When you make changes to your life, those changes are most likely to take root if you are happy with them or enjoy the results, and learning something new should be enjoyable. The need to grow and learn does not stop with the diploma, or the corner office, or the retirement party. We should all grow and learn throughout our lives, and live the values that we want to see in the world.