Last summer before my son started school as a first grader, I was looking for a new hobby for him in our neighborhood. I found that Espoo Taekwondo Academy was offering taekwondo training at the gym of my son’s school. After visiting their website, I called master coach Timo Jansson to find out more about the sport and its practicalities. Timo was open and insightful and told me that parents or grandparents can participate in taekwondo lessons together. I thought that was an excellent opportunity to finally find myself a hobby and also spend my time in a meaningful way, while my son is at his hobby instead of only looking at what he does.
The decision to take up taekwondo as a hobby for my 7-year-old son and me was excellent. Taekwondo offers a range of benefits that make it a great option for parents (or even grandparents) and their children (or grandchildren) to practice together.
Here are some of the key benefits of taekwondo for my 7-year-old son and me:
Physical fitness: Taekwondo is a great way to stay fit and healthy. This martial art involves a lot of movement, which can improve cardiovascular health, build strength and flexibility, and increase endurance. We have two scheduled trainings per week yet we can also participate in more training sessions, either theme training, for instance, focusing on kicks, sparring or poomsae. In Taekwondo there is a) sparring and b) poomsae. Sparring is also known as fighting. Poomsae is also known as patterns or forms. In Taekwondo, Poomsae is more of an art form, it looks like a precise choreography where you execute specific movements in certain patterns. Sparring is about scoring points for touching your opponent with power and speed. It is important to note that taekwondo is one of the safest martial arts. While sparring there is a good amount of protective gear and you only score points for touching your opponent not knocking them out or knocking them down. Punches to the face or punches or kicks below the waist are not allowed as well as attacking your opponent with the knee or the head is forbidden.
Self-defense: Taekwondo teaches self-defense techniques that can help both adults and children feel more confident and empowered. Learning how to defend ourselves give us a sense of security. However, always our coach says that in case of an attack, the first thing you should do is walk/run away and not engage in a fight.
Mental discipline: Taekwondo is not just about physical fitness and self-defense. It also teaches mental discipline, including focus, self-control, and perseverance. These skills can help both parents and kids in all aspects of life, including school, work, and personal relationships.
Socialization: Taekwondo classes offer an excellent opportunity for socialization. My son and I have met new people and made new friends. Our coaches are father and daughter duo Henri and Ilona and our teammates are children from first grade to fourth. In other trainings such as sparring and poomsae, there are teenagers and adults. A diverse group of people!
Goal-setting: Taekwondo provides opportunities for setting and achieving goals. Both Philippos and I have trained towards earning belts and mastering new techniques. This creates a sense of achievement and boosts our self-confidence. We have now earned our yellow with green stripe belt and soon we will –hopefully- earn our green belt! There are also many possibilities to compete in either sparring or poomsae and this is important to grow confidence in performing in from of an audience and achieving your goals!
Stress relief: Taekwondo can also be a great way to relieve stress and make us feel more relaxed after a long day of work or school.
Improved strength and flexibility: Taekwondo involves a lot of movement and requires a high level of flexibility. With regular practice, our strength and flexibility have improved and our kicks are stronger and higher.
Balance training: Taekwondo involves a range of balance exercises, such as kicking and footwork drills. These exercises can help improve balance and coordination which is beneficial to people of all ages.
Bonding: Taekwondo can be a great way for a mother and son to bond. The shared experience of learning and practicing taekwondo brings us even closer together as we have a common hobby and goals to discuss and work on.
Lasting memories: Sharing a hobby together with your kid can help connect on a deeper level and create lasting memories.
I would strongly recommend taekwondo to all parents and children and I wish I had thought of it earlier in my life. It is never too late! One day perhaps I could get my black belt. As the coaches, Timo and Kirsi Jansson remind us often is that “a black belt is a white belt who never quit”!