Code Taekwondo: Having finished the seminar in Bedford at Rising Crane Centre at 1700hrs(ish), and knowing I had a 1900hrs Kenpo Jiu Jitsu class in St Neots, I decided to drive straight to the training venue. I was tied, hungry and in much need for some mindfulness; however, when I arrived in St Neots at 1745hrs, I couldn’t resist the invitation from instructor Adam Gold to join in with his 1800hrs Taekwondo class. I had only the other day mentioned to Mr Gold my intentions to become a Taekwondo student at his school, expecting to have my first class on Monday 18/09/2017; however, being in the right place at the right time meant that last night I took my first kick as a Taekwondo white belt. I was surprised how quick my first hour of Taekwondo went past, perhaps due to previously blasting through a gruelling submission wresting seminar, meaning I was mostly holding myself up with my reserve willpower!

The class started with a regimented line up and introductory address by Mr Gold, it was later explained to me that this regimented style has its roots in the militaristic style of its creator. This history requires further study. After Mr Gold’s address, the class formed a circle where we quickly warmed up together, loosening ourselves up for the first drill. I was aware that in the absence of any prior bespoke striking training that I would be a novice kicker, particularly lacking in technical finesse; however, I was note prepared to feel the pain and discomfort I felt in my first Taekwondo drill. The first of two ‘pyramid drills’ involved the training partner holding out a pad for the student to throw a turning kick off their front leg; seemed easy, done that before. However, being a pyramid drill, Mr Gold called out a number (in Korean), starting with one, going up to ten; the number called by Mr Gold was an instruction for the student to throw the corresponding number of kicks – without the student putting their foot down between each strike. We did this on both legs. The next drill was similar, but this time with the partner holding out a focus pad in each hand, facing the same direction, signifying the opponents centre mass and head. The practicalities of this drill were analogous to the last; however, a kick to each of the two focus pads counted as one rep. When I have previously practised kicks the full emphasis was on clumsy power, sinking my leg in to a kick shield; however, with a focus on balance and control, this drill forced me to use muscles that I didn’t know I had! My balance felt all over the place, it was very apparent that I have some way to go in this new endeavour.

A number of students (myself included) had placed their foot on the ground during kicking drills; therefore, Mr Gold imposed a ‘punishment’ upon the class which we all enjoyed as a team with Mr Gold himself participating. Based on rank, a number of press-ups were allocated to the students, despite being a white belt it was decided that due to my age and fitness I would enjoy the full extent of 100 press-ups. Just what I needed after a long day! It’s all self-improvement I suppose!

Following the destruction of both my lower and upper body, the class was back in rank for ‘patterns’, a fundamental of ITF Taekwondo. I was shown the first patter of the system, with the whole class executing it in unison; after this, most of the class moved on to the pattern needed for their next promotion, whilst I went through the first one in my own time. The pattern involved a sequence of steps, strikes and blocks, first executed on the right side, and then on the left. With some small slip-ups, I think by the end of the drill I could remember the basic movements of the pattern; however, there were a number of subtleties in the positioning of my footwork, posture and hand positions that I will need to work on before obtaining this proficiency. I am especially interested to see how the principles of  posture and foot work will help me in my overall striking ability across my training.

The class ended much as it had begun, with the students in rank order and addressed by Mr Gold; this time, with students being quizzed on their ‘theory’ and understanding of Taekwondo. As a bit of a history and Martial Arts nerd, I’m looking forward to digging a bit deeper in to this. Overall I feel my first Taekwondo class went  well, and I’m glad I finally took the first step/kick!

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