Code Taekwondo: I limped in to a building that in the past has been host to my MMA gym and Jiu Jitsu dojo; however, this time the building was a Dojang, as Monday evening marked my second session of ITF Taekwondo. Following the usual address from Mr Gold, the session started with a warm up in a big circle, loosening up limbs and getting the blood pumping. This went some way towards alleviating the stiff aching from yesterdays training, made worse from sitting at a desk all day, but not completely.

The plan for tonight’s session was analogous to Sundays, only a little easier to accommodate for the class hosting a number of beginners. I was not about to complain. In pairs, myself accompanied by the lovely Eve, we worked on turning kicks on a focus pad held at around mid range level. I decided to use this as a drill to particularly pay close attention to my ranging and technique, which has historically been… ‘an area for improvement’. We performed ten kicks per leg, before swapping the focus pads with the partner; once this drill was satisfactorily completed, Mr Gold moved the class on to the same turning kick, but this time on two focus pads, one at mid range level and one at head height. As was the case yesterday, the Jeja (student) was not allowed to place their foot down between kicking the lower and upper focus pad. The drill started with me focusing on getting the positioning of my hips and knee correct, and kicking each pad without resetting; then, as the drill progressed I tried to shorten the time taken between strikes. At no point did I try to increase the raw power of the kicks, this will come with time.

For the next drill of the evening Mr Gold issued a number of kicks to be done by the Jeja, based on their belt ranking. Unfortunately, as Mr Gold knows me well, despite being a white belt I was issued with 100 kicks. These 100 turning kicks were to be executed with balance and precision, without placing my kicking leg on the ground between kicks; although my partner was holding a focus pad out, this was for a point of contact to aim for, not an object to smash as hard as possible. I was instructed to complete these 100 turning kicks ‘on a bounce’; my understanding of the kick was to turn my hips, lifting my leg and aiming with my knee, from the bent knee I extend my leg in to the kick. As the extension of the kick happens, I slightly lift my left foot from the ground; thus, creating a slight ‘bounce’ as I go through the set. I managed to get to 44 kicks before my legs decided they were done for the evening! As I progress through my TKD training it will be interesting to look back at my understanding of this drill.

With the main kicking drills completed, and the students re-hydrated and back in rank order, Mr Gold instructed us through our respective patterns. As with Sunday, for me this meant practising the 4 directional punch and 4 directional block. We begun by going through the drill in unison, before practising it in our own time. Although my foot work clearly required some improvement, and I slightly miss-stepped on a few parts of the drill, I was pleased that I remembered the pattern for the most part. After going through the pattern drill a few times, Mr Gold instructed the Jeja to all wait at one end of the hall, as he called fourth in rank order (from lowest) anyone who would like to demonstrate their respective patter to the class. The purpose of this was to encourage students to feel comfortable demonstrating in front of people, to help with grading and competitions; additionally, this allowed Mr Gold to see in closer detail any areas necessary for the students development – as he said, now is the time to make the mistakes. Despite only being on my second TKD class, I decided I had nothing to lose and jumped straight in. With some areas of improvement, that were even noticeable to my novice eye, I felt pleased with my overall performance.

Having completed my second session of Taekwondo, and feeling pleased with some improvements and some areas to work on, I had little time to rest as I prepared for my MMA session straight after.

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