Martial Arts is more about self-improvement than self-defense

September is National Self-Improvement Month and Taekwondo offers individuals of all ages the rare opportunity to learn valuable life lessons while exercising at the same time. This timeless Korean martial art allows students to learn a method of self-defense while improving self-confidence and self-discipline alike."Taekwondo is the art of self-improvement," Master Sung C. Kim, president of his own Taekwondo institute, told Democrat & Chronicle. "That's why we're all here, to grow a little bit more."

Physical improvement
Taekwondo's typical curriculum includes forms (known as katas in Karate), sparring and board breaking as types of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Regardless of the student's level of experience or even physical fitness, the physicality found in martial arts training greatly improves an individual's coordination, strength, flexibility and balance. Taekwondo focuses primarily on blocking positions coupled with strikes of the feet and hands to defend yourself in a dangerous scenario. Even the most basic movements strengthen the body and lead to an improvement in both energy and endurance overall. For example, upright kicks require core strength and a wide range of motion in your hips and spine. As you get to be more advanced, the sense of body control you gain will allow you to use different levels of force as you see fit, ranging anywhere from mild to severe.  

Mental strength and discipline
All kinds of martial arts require some degree of self-discipline from the student. By offering such a variety of movements, Taekwondo helps to keep the mind strong and in tune with the body. Learning to control the motions and memorizing the correct order of the patterns take both concentration and focus. Some adults and teenagers like to attend Taekwondo classes as a healthy form of stress release. But Taekwondo is much more than simply a physical activity.

"The Korean Martial Art also teaches life skills – courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and an indomitable spirit. It's how you approach, deal with and learn from daily challenges that ultimately build a person's character," Kim said.

In addition to the knowledge you gain in learning the various forms of Taekwondo, you will discover a new kind of self-discipline. You will learn which scenarios require action and which are better to walk away from. But it is worth noting that the emphasis of martial art forms like Taekwondo is on self-defense, not attack. The physical skills along with mental discipline necessary for Taekwondo make it a type of exercise that is worth trying, especially in this month of self-improvement.