Very, very discouraged - It seems Taekwondo is not for me

JowGaWolf

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I truly don't think MA is for everybody. A friend of mine told his wife that MA is his 1st wife and she is only his 2nd wife. How many people will treat MA training as the highest priority in their life?
Not many. I agree with you that MA isn't for everyone. I just think most don't like it because of an inaccurate perception of it. Humans are social animals so how one's social influence thinks of MA will have an effect.
For example, At what point did these people think that this would be fun?

People are strange
 

ballen0351

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I truly don't think MA is for everybody. A friend of mine told his wife that MA is his 1st wife and she is only his 2nd wife. How many people will treat MA training as the highest priority in their life?
Your friend's a moron. As someone who is watching his wife battle cancer right now and would give ANYTHING to make her better thats literally the stupidest thing I have read all week and thats saying something since im on several political pages as well and people say pretty crazy stuff there but thoa takes the cake for today.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Your friend's a moron. As someone who is watching his wife battle cancer right now and would give ANYTHING to make her better thats literally the stupidest thing I have read all week and thats saying something since im on several political pages as well and people say pretty crazy stuff there but thoa takes the cake for today.
I like to remind people that martial arts are tools to help people. People are not vehicles to serve martial arts.

There are people who put their passion (be it art, business, sports, or martial arts) ahead of their family. Im inclined to think that those people shouldnt get married. Your spouse deserves better.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Look man, I'm not a touchy feely guy so this may sting a little. You've got to do a better job at doing your homework before you join a certain style. If you're 57 and in that poor a shape, you need to work on your conditioning and stretching before you get into a style like teakwondo. That's reality. That instructor was doing you a favor and not wasting anymore of your time or money. Go get a personal trainer, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK on them, certain trainers work towards certain results. Once you hit a realistic goal you've set for yourself, then start looking at a less dynamic martial art. At 57, you don't need high flashy kicks. a solid front or side kick will do just fine. Okinawan styles are great but I'll admit I'm biased there. Certain Kung Fu styles will work for you as well. Boxing is an AMAZING work out and really develops hand/eye coordination. Yes, anyone of any age can do martial arts, but you gotta be smart about it. Otherwise you're going to hurt yourself, waste your money, and turn away from any activity that means more than getting off the couch. Best of luck to you dude, you have the motivation, you just need to work on your confidence and tune your physical abilities.
I disagree. A good instructor will help with that conditioning and flexibility, and should have better information (in that context) than most potential students. Is it easier for me to teach someone who comes in fit? Sure. But I don't need it to be easier for me.

As for looking for another art, from what I hear from folks in TKD, it's very possible for TKD training to be suitable to someone in the OP's situation. If (and that's a big if) the instructor in question knows how to adapt.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I like to remind people that martial arts are tools to help people. People are not vehicles to serve martial arts.

There are people who put their passion (be it art, business, sports, or martial arts) ahead of their family. Im inclined to think that those people shouldnt get married. Your spouse deserves better.
Agreed. I've often wondered if two such people would even like each other, because they're the only ones really suited for that relationship. If both of you put the relationship in second place, then at least everyone is on the same page.
 

dvcochran

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I agree with the others. I think the instructor has the problem, not you.

Im 66, female, and I didnt start martial arts until my 40s. I ran into more than one instructor who said, Women cant learn to punch. My attitude was, and is, if YOU cant teach a woman to punch, Ill find an instructor who can. If your teacher cant teach someone like you, thats HIS failure.

Ive trained in karate, choy lay fut kung fu, capoeira, and tai chi. Ive NEVER encountered an instructor who made a student *prove himself* before even *letting him* buy a uniform. How ludicrous. How alienating. Many dojos *give* you the uniform as part of the introductory tuition. I mean, if nothing else, its part of the culture of the dojo.

Secondly, there are other options besides TKD or the gym. If martial arts speaks to you, look around. Firstly TKD is a *sport*, and there is usually emphasis on competition, lots of trophies in the window. A lot of martial *arts* dont emphasize competition. Many dont emphasize high kicks or overextension. Others concentrate on locks and holds, or floor work, not striking. In others, youd never find yourself on the ground.

See if you can find a school that teaches tai chi *as a martial art* (not just tai chi for exercise.) You never over-extend your body in tai chi, and theres an emphasis in the internal as well as the external. And dont think tai chi isnt physically and mentally challengingit most certainly is. Ive been doing it for more than a decade.

And heres something you probably know, but you may not want to hear. If youre looking to improve your fitness, you need to address more than exercise. You need to take a hard look at your nutrition, your mental/emotional, and social health.I

I really hope you dont quit. I hope you explore your options. Good luck.
I commend you for still working out a 66 years young. It appears you have dabbled in several different styles. I am wondering why you state TKD is a sport when it is not one of the styles you have experience in? TV based confirmation bias is my assumption but wondered what you base your comment on.
While the battle seems to have diminished somewhat it is an ongoing effort to educate people that there is much more to TKD than what you see in the Olympics or local tournaments.

FWIW, My GM came to Nashville, TN from Korea in 1974. He was Very traditional and women working out was something he had to adjust to. His first female black belt was a bad-***, butch woman we called Ms. Wiz. She took (and gave) a Lot of crap that would seem out of bounds these days. It goes without saying there were not nearly as many kids and not too many women training back then. Anyone who lined up was treated the same. No padded targets or sparring gear. But it never slowed her down and you had better bring your A-game when working out or sparring her. She had a good run to the 1986 Olympics making it to the regionals.
We also have a married couple who now live in CA who went very far in competition. Ms. Thackrey is still competing at 70 years old.

We also have a very long list of AAU kids and adults who have been in the circuit. If you ask any of these people, they would scoff at the idea that TKD is a sport.
Competition is an available component of TKD (and many other styles) that is attractive to some folks. It is not a required part of a curriculum. (Sadly, I have heard competing is a testing requirement at some schools from various styles.) For me, that is lazy and pretty jacked up curriculum.
 

dvcochran

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The short answer is: almost anything but physical activity. You know, some people don't like maths, or chemistry, or history, and it's very easy for them not to have any contact with any of those things after they are 16. Or if you don't like ironing your clothes, you can pay someone else to do it for you. But when the only subject you don't like, or rather, you hate, is PE, you can either choose to forget completely about it, which most people in that situation would do, or at least try and have a go at doing something because even if it's the last thing on earth that you'd do, short of having a tooth pulled out, you know it's good for you. Which is what I was trying to do.

For the last fifteen years of my life I've had a job that takes up most of my time, and I when I started -at an age when just having the possibility to find a job is so important that it being awful doesn't matter at all- I was forced to quit all the activities I was doing back then (which included playing electric bass in a band, cross-stitching, attending chess lessons, being in a photography club, and studying for my third university degree in art history after having finished others in electrical engineering and English literature). So, well, what the hell do I like? As I said, almost anything but physical activity.

I've never thought you must be good at something to enjoy it. I wasn't especially good at chess, and my photographs suck, but I never missed one of the monthly evenings out the club used to organise to take photos. I wasn't good at those things, but I enjoyed them. And, what's more, there are things I am good at which I don't like too much. I'm a very good cook, though I cannot say I like it. But it's one of those things you have to do unless you want to end up eating precooked unhealthy food. So, not even in my apparently negative outlook on life does being good at something have to do with liking or disliking it.

I carry on thinking I haven't got a negative view of myself. I'm very bad, extremely bad, at physical activity. I'm bad, average, good or very good at other things. And that's all there is to it. What's the problem with being aware of it? Do we all have strong and weak points? Yes. Is there room for improvement in both cases? Yes. Are we ALL more willing to put effort into things we like than into things we don't like? Yes. Is everybody willing to put some effort into the things he doesn't like at all? No. Am I? Yes, that's what I was doing.

And the effort was huge, believe me. I get up every morning at 4.45am, leave home at 5.30am to arrive to my workplace at 7.00 am (yes, I'm adult enough to realise that's insane, but I cannot choose where to work, and I won't live far from the specialised elderly home where my elderly mother lives -her condition does not allow her to be anywhere else- because I absolutely refuse to leave her alone when all she has left in the world is me, and see her only at the weekend). My working hours are supposed to end at 4.00pm (with fifteen minutes for breakfast and forty-five minutes for lunch), but that's never true, and I'm happy if I can leave before 5.00pm or 5.30 pm. So I arrive home at 7.30pm or 8.00 pm. I should go to bed at around 9.00 pm, but I never can, since I must do all the housework, have dinner, have a shower... What normal people do in a normal evening. Plus visiting my mother for half an hour every day. What's more, there's a small part of my work I can do at home, and I do it at the weeked, so as not to spend more time there on weekdays. When my TV set broke down some years ago, I didn't even bother to replace it. What for? When would I watch it? There's absolutely nothing I can sacrifice in my life at present, except sleeping time.

So finding a one-hour gap twice a week to do some physical activity wouldn't have been easy in any case, with this crappy sort of life. Put on top of that that I don't like it. But I did it. And I did after reading on many websites that Taekwondo, even though it's a demanding sport, can be taken up and enjoyed at any age and in any physical condition, as long as you don't overexert yourself or are in too much of a hurry. And I wasn't aware I was doing any of those things. I was happy aiming my kicks at groin level when others were doing so at chest level, and when I hurt my leg it wasn't because I was trying to hit higher up than usual, but because I couldn't control well where I was kicking, and I suppose that just one inch higher may have done it.

I must have explained myself badly, because I've never had any sort of pains or aches anywhere that need to be relieved by physical exercise. I know I should do it because anyone with an IQ over 20 can understand how physical exercise is good, not because something in my body has hinted that way (of course, I know there may be some hidden issues, like for anyone else, but I'm just mentioning this in reference to someone who understood I was trying to fix some evident physical problems when I enrolled in the TKD lessons). And I haven't ruptured myself with 1-kg dumbbells yet because I've never been in a gym before. I only mentioned that as an (hyperbolic, I hope) example of what I would expect when trying it. I was feeling very disappointed because after having found a sport I liked, I was told to quit and start doing some other thing I dislike. As I said, I'd never tried it, but it sounded so similar to what we did in the school gym that it's very likely I won't like it, both because of that and because the disappointment I feel hasn't left me in the best frame of mind to approach it.

I went to the first gym session on Wednesday and, as I expected, I hated it with a passion. They gave me a list of exercises I was supposed to do in one hour, and it took two hours to do them (next week, when I don't need to be explained the machines any more, I hope it'll go down to one hour and a half). I wasn't worse at it than I was at Taekwondo, but I didn't enjoy it at all. Boring to death, and with many Herculean guys looking down on me with a sneer, though I pretended I didn't see them and did my own thing. I have one more session paid this month before I decide whether to book the month of December or not. I probably will, but unless things improve a lot, I cannot see myself doing it after Christmas.

I never came here with the intention to tell you all about my private life, as far as it wasn't directly related to the original topic of having been asked to leave the Taekwondo classes (that is, I just wanted to know whether you can't get in good shape by doing
Trying not to stray away from the OP, I will just say the bigger answers to your query have nothing to do with MA's class or gym.
You have a busy lifestyle. Who doesn't? It is something that is hard to look at as a gift when you are in the middle of it all but it surely is better than the alternative. I have started my days at 4:00am for so long I would not know how to change that even if I could. If I understood your post, you have three degrees, one in engineering? May I ask what kind of work do you do? I only to ask to better understand you time allocation choices.
Taking my engineering background into consideration I totally get having a binary mindset. But that is not how life works. A person simply cannot ignore that a LOT of life is in the shades of grey. The best of life in many cases. It seems you have put everything in black and white categories whether that is correct or not. That is a ton of data you are excluding for consideration.
Good on you for staying close to you mother. It is a treasure that will not be around forever so cherish these times, hard as they are.

Time management is your ally. It sounds like you are overwhelmed by your schedule and need to make changes. This does not explicitly mean changing what you are doing. It may only mean changing How you are doing them. Hearing what you say and how you say it, a workout is low on the list. However, if your work/lifestyle is sedentary, exercise does need to be on the list.
You are a 'glass half empty' person right now. That is neither pleasant for you or the people around you. Everything I have read in your post leads me to believe you have a Ton of gifts and a quality life. Don't forget to appreciate the things you have. Get outside your routine and comfort zone and do some things for less fortunate people. It is definitely that time of year. Go serve at a rescue mission or social services because you seriously need a change of perspective.
 

bill miller

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See if you can find a school that teaches tai chi *as a martial art* (not just tai chi for exercise.) You never over-extend your body in tai chi, and theres an emphasis in the internal as well as the external. And dont think tai chi isnt physically and mentally challengingit most certainly is. Ive been doing it for more than a decade.
I totally agree with this statement. Anyone who has trained for a good period of time in some of the external systems should be able to see the martial applications in the tai chi form sets. I was blessed with a tai chi instructor who held to the belief that in order to get the health benefits, you have to have an understanding of the martial side as well.
 

bill miller

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Your friend's a moron. As someone who is watching his wife battle cancer right now and would give ANYTHING to make her better thats literally the stupidest thing I have read all week and thats saying something since im on several political pages as well and people say pretty crazy stuff there but thoa takes the cake for today.
Ballen, you are so right on the mark, sir. I watched my wife battle cancer for almost six years, and would give anything to have had more time.
 

Phoenix44

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I commend you for still working out a 66 years young. It appears you have dabbled in several different styles. I am wondering why you state TKD is a sport when it is not one of the styles you have experience in? TV based confirmation bias is my assumption but wondered what you base your comment on.
While the battle seems to have diminished somewhat it is an ongoing effort to educate people that there is much more to TKD than what you see in the Olympics or local tournaments.

FWIW, My GM came to Nashville, TN from Korea in 1974. He was Very traditional and women working out was something he had to adjust to. His first female black belt was a bad-***, butch woman we called Ms. Wiz. She took (and gave) a Lot of crap that would seem out of bounds these days. It goes without saying there were not nearly as many kids and not too many women training back then. Anyone who lined up was treated the same. No padded targets or sparring gear. But it never slowed her down and you had better bring your A-game when working out or sparring her. She had a good run to the 1986 Olympics making it to the regionals.
We also have a married couple who now live in CA who went very far in competition. Ms. Thackrey is still competing at 70 years old.

We also have a very long list of AAU kids and adults who have been in the circuit. If you ask any of these people, they would scoff at the idea that TKD is a sport.
Competition is an available component of TKD (and many other styles) that is attractive to some folks. It is not a required part of a curriculum. (Sadly, I have heard competing is a testing requirement at some schools from various styles.) For me, that is lazy and pretty jacked up curriculum.
Thank you for your explanation. My view comes from the fact that in more than 25 years of training and teaching, Ive never encountered a TKD dojang here on Long Island, where theres a martial arts studio in every strip mall, that DOESNT compete in tournaments. But Ill be happy to re-explore. BTW, the strip mall comment is to emphasize numbers, not quality. Strip malls are where the real estate is around here.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Thank you for your explanation. My view comes from the fact that in more than 25 years of training and teaching, Ive never encountered a TKD dojang here on Long Island, where theres a martial arts studio in every strip mall, that DOESNT compete in tournaments. But Ill be happy to re-explore. BTW, the strip mall comment is to emphasize numbers, not quality. Strip malls are where the real estate is around here.
Just because folks in a dojo compete, that doesn't mean the dojo is only practicing the sport aspect. A BB I taught with for a while (taught classes in a different art at her dojo) used to compete, but they never trained for competition. She just took what they did in class, and took it to the sport.
 

NikiMandra

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Hello, I know this suggestion might not be popular with everyone but since your options are limited have you considered looking into online classes/courses? I`m not talking about learning alone from videos but there are hybrid courses out there where you have a mix between videos/live online classes and the possibility to have your videos regularly assessed by an instructor for tips and adjustments. I don`t know about TKD, you`ll have to do that research for yourself, but a few examples (the ones I`m subscribed to) that you can check out for reference are kungfu.life and 6 Dragons Kung Fu. This approach will not teach you to fight, since you need sparring for that, but it might be great for you if your priority right now is to get in shape at your own pace doing something you enjoy. It will also save you a considerable amount of money compared to in person classes. Hope you find a way to get through this. 儭
 

isshinryuronin

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My view comes from the fact that in more than 25 years of training and teaching, Ive never encountered a TKD dojang here on Long Island, where theres a martial arts studio in every strip mall, that DOESNT compete in tournaments.
Just because folks in a dojo compete, that doesn't mean the dojo is only practicing the sport aspect.
At the risk of offending TKD people (which is not my intention - sticking to the facts as I know them) I respectfully disagree with the second quote.

Most TKD, like most Shotokan schools from which they descended, are inherently sports oriented.

Shotokan was, from the early 1930's, designed to be a sport. The Japanese government actively worked to make it so with the long term goal to get their karate onto the international scene, including the Olympics. (The old FAJKO, Federation of All Japan Karate, and eventual heir, the JKF, with current relationship with the WKF, worked along these lines.) This was what was exported to Korea and spawned TKD. (Okinawan karate was mostly excluded from this effort - a story in itself!)

It's true that individual TDK instructors may stress other areas than competition, and most TMA's are capable of being used as self-defense and self-development, to varying degrees. But the built in focus of the base style is sport as mentioned above. So the experience related in the first quote should not be surprising, though I'm sure there are a few exceptions.

Karate has evolved in divergent directions: jutsu (combat), do (personal development), and sport (exercise and competitive). Combat and sport can overlap in function and both contribute to do, but also at times, be different. This is fine as people have different goals in practicing MA, but should be aware of just what their focus is and find a school that best provides that.
 
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dvcochran

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At the risk of offending TKD people (which is not my intention - sticking to the facts as I know them) I respectfully disagree with the second quote.

Most TKD, like most Shotokan schools from which they descended, are inherently sports oriented.

Shotokan was, from the early 1930's, designed to be a sport. The Japanese government actively worked to make it so with the long term goal to get their karate onto the international scene, including the Olympics. (The old FAJKO, Federation of All Japan Karate, and eventual heir, the JKF, with current relationship with the WKF, worked along these lines.) This was what was exported to Korea and spawned TKD. (Okinawan karate was mostly excluded from this effort - a story in itself!)

It's true that individual TDK instructors may stress other areas than competition, and most TMA's are capable of being used as self-defense and self-development, to varying degrees. But the built in focus of the base style is sport as mentioned above. So the experience related in the first quote should not be surprising, though I'm sure there are a few exceptions.

Karate has evolved in divergent directions: jutsu (combat), do (personal development), and sport (exercise and competitive). Combat and sport can overlap in function and both contribute to do, but also at times, be different. This is fine as people have different goals in practicing MA, but should be aware of just what their focus is and find a school that best provides that.
This last part lost me on what the point is you are trying to make.
Seems to me we are all saying the same thing based on that last part.

All styles compete. Some more than others. The bigger concern for me are schools/styles that do not pressure test. Sadly, I would aver that there is some of this in every style as well.
So picking a style(s) to bash (for whatever reason) is pretty shallow.
The my style is better than yours is, well just sad.
 

dvcochran

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Thank you for your explanation. My view comes from the fact that in more than 25 years of training and teaching, Ive never encountered a TKD dojang here on Long Island, where theres a martial arts studio in every strip mall, that DOESNT compete in tournaments. But Ill be happy to re-explore. BTW, the strip mall comment is to emphasize numbers, not quality. Strip malls are where the real estate is around here.
Okay, so your experience is from walking past all these schools just when they happen to be competing?
Or possibly you saw them at tournaments you just happened to be competing at as well? So who is the fool here?
Why is competing a bad thing to you?
Do you not get that it is akin to competition in any other sport?

Your point totally escapes me.
 

isshinryuronin

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This last part lost me on what the point is you are trying to make.
Seems to me we are all saying the same thing based on that last part.

All styles compete. Some more than others. The bigger concern for me are schools/styles that do not pressure test. Sadly, I would aver that there is some of this in every style as well.
So picking a style(s) to bash (for whatever reason) is pretty shallow.
The my style is better than yours is, well just sad.
I was not bashing or endorsing any style. Merely saying that even if individual schools/instructors of the mentioned styles of shotokan, and by extension,TKD don't push competition, the styles themselves are historically structured to facilitate sport competition. This is not meant to be derogatory, just putting some interesting subtext into the subject.

As you may know, open tournaments have their own "style." Watching a match, it's hard to tell whether the fighter is shotokan, goju, EP kenpo or lama lima, because they all want to score points per the rules, so all must conform to that template. They are not fighting using their traditional style's doctrine, but adopt "tournament fighting style." This is why, at least in the past, champions came from a variety of traditional styles. Success did not necessarily come from skill in their individual style, but from their skill in "tournament" point scoring style.

To illustrate, there were fearsome fighters and karate masters in 1935 Okinawa. None of them would win any modern tournament sparring, or forms, competition - their style was/is not point scoring friendly. However, Japanese shotokan practitioners of that time would have a much better chance in a modern tournament as karate was more "sportified" in Japan than Okinawa. This sort of sums up the point I was trying to make.

I think I am just being factual here, talking about the fascinating modern history of karate and some of the factors that have guided it into its current state. It's a topic that can have academic discussion. My post, including the last part you mentioned, was recognizing the reality of the art as it exists today, being a product of the past.

I certainly agree that pressure testing, at least as one approaches black belt and beyond, is a must.
 

dvcochran

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I was not bashing or endorsing any style. Merely saying that even if individual schools/instructors of the mentioned styles of shotokan, and by extension,TKD don't push competition, the styles themselves are historically structured to facilitate sport competition. This is not meant to be derogatory, just putting some interesting subtext into the subject.

As you may know, open tournaments have their own "style." Watching a match, it's hard to tell whether the fighter is shotokan, goju, EP kenpo or lama lima, because they all want to score points per the rules, so all must conform to that template. They are not fighting using their traditional style's doctrine, but adopt "tournament fighting style." This is why, at least in the past, champions came from a variety of traditional styles. Success did not necessarily come from skill in their individual style, but from their skill in "tournament" point scoring style.

To illustrate, there were fearsome fighters and karate masters in 1935 Okinawa. None of them would win any modern tournament sparring, or forms, competition - their style was/is not point scoring friendly. However, Japanese shotokan practitioners of that time would have a much better chance in a modern tournament as karate was more "sportified" in Japan than Okinawa. This sort of sums up the point I was trying to make.

I think I am just being factual here, talking about the fascinating modern history of karate and some of the factors that have guided it into its current state. It's a topic that can have academic discussion. My post, including the last part you mentioned, was recognizing the reality of the art as it exists today, being a product of the past.

I certainly agree that pressure testing, at least as one approaches black belt aand beyond, is a must.
Shotokan, TSD and ITF TKD have similarities. Several styles use the Pinan (Heian) forms so I would call them moot for the discussion. To say Shotokan and WT TKD have similarities would be a stretch to say the least. The same is true for an open tournament compared to a WT, Kung Fu, or Kali tournament. Just completely different animals. Sure, there are always good kickers or strikers where it is hard to tell from where they originate, but by in large it is easy to pick certain styles out of the crowd.

Arguably, most of the influence on Korea was Okinawan but that is a different discussion.

My first ever tournament was a Shotokan tournament. While it was a point-based tournament for scoring there was very little in the way of contact control. Truly a slobber knocker. About as 'open' as a tournament could get. The PKA matches I used to compete in were more controlled.

Everything is a product of the past in some ways. Definitely, in modern history there was quite a divergence in style between Japanese and Korean. A big part of the 'Korean Plan'.

We all like to regale our history and looking back things seem to appear 'bigger' to everyone. Mine would be the amount of contact in WT tournaments of the '80's and 90's. WT of today bears little resemblance

Great debate.
 

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First off take care of your injury.

I believe that studying any martial art is a personal journey. You should not compare yourself to anyone in the class, everyone is at a different point in the journey. Ask yourself are you improving overtime. Are my kicks higher today then they were when I started, even if only a little.

I personally hate working out on my own, but really enjoy the class atmosphere, it adds a social aspect to working out. In addition to martial arts class I have enjoyed attending fitness classes. Most of the folks in class are much younger then me and are capable doing things and lifting weights I am not, and I don't care. I just watch myself and look for the incremental improvements, today I lifted 5 lbs more than I could a 2 months ago or my kick is now waist level.

I think it is important to find a school, gym or instructor that is interested in helping you achieve your goals. A good instructor will understand this and act as an escort on your journey.

Please don't give up and work to being the best you. Good luck to you.
 
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kfman

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Hello everyone,

It's not a happy day for me, but I've decided to join the forum and ask for your opinions before labelling it a disastrous one. I'm very sorry to be writing so much in my first post here, but I'm really upset, and maybe I need letting off steam as much as I need advice.

I had my first Taekwondo lesson in September, when I was 56. I'm 57 now. All my life, I've been s*** when it comes to physical activity. I know having negative thoughts about oneself is not good, but I've found that being realistic as far as one's limitations are concerned saves lots of frustration. At school, I was the worst in PE class. I had little strength, endurance, speed, flexibility, stamina, and close to no coordination. I've never been able to do a single press-up in all my life. I dreaded running towards the vaulting horse, knowing I'd never be able to jump it. I was so scared of dangling from the wall bars that I would end up dropping to the ground when my weak sweaty hands would no longer hold me.

Saying that I didn't like physical exercise would be putting it mildly. However, my parents put me down for the school's basketball team and, clumsy as I was, I enjoyed the training sessions twice a week. But I was so bad at it that when we went to play against other schools on Saturdays, the manager wouldn't let me play, not even when only five of us showed up for the game. A team of four was better than a team of five including me (the manager's professional ethics might be the subject of another discussion, but it's not something that bothers me, and even then I saw it as normal). I blundered my way through ir for four years, and then I didn't do any sport at all until I went to university. There, I joined the rugby team for three years. I knew I wasn't going anywhere, but I saw them during training sessions, and they seemed to have fun... So I joined, and I had fun, too. This is when I realised how badly the basketball manager had behaved. In the rugby team, those who trained harder and showed more interest would play all the games, even if they weren't good. What I usually did is claim I was very tired (and I wasn't lying) and ask for a change during the intermission, knowing it would be good for the team, and also good for me (I can't deny that, much as I enjoyed training, I was terrified during the games, whenever I saw one of these giants running towards me).

I was 21 when I quit, and then I didn't do any type of sport until I was 45 or 46. At that point, I realised that my perpetual "off-formness" was getting even more serious when I saw I wasn't able to cut my toenails any longer (I'm 5'7" and weigh 183 pounds, with rolls of fat, though I like loose clothes and people seem to think I'm in good shape when they see me - I've always been sort of "high-density", even when I was slim as a teenager, but I'm clearly overweight now, though I wouldn't say I'm obese). Someone suggested that I did some Pilates. I hated every minute of it. I felt as if in the school gym again. But I knew I needed to do something, and I know things don't come easy, least of all for me, so I endured that absolute torture for one year and five months, but gave up when I saw it was taking its toll on my morale. I work long hours, so finding the time to go to the gym on weekdays was really a feat for me, and some days I came out of there almost with tears in my eyes, on wasting my time on something I loathed.

Funnily for someone so little sport-oriented as me, the idea of Taekwondo started going around my head about six years ago, when I met a young boy who competed at a national level; we were workmates for some time, and I got to hear a lot about what he did. Somehow I thought I might like it. But I quickly discarded it, because I saw it more or less as feasible as becoming an astronaut. However, last year was an extremely demanding one at work. It left me close to a nervous breakdown, and I decided I had to do something with my life instead of just working all day. I don't like doing sport, but I thought that it would be good for my health, and it would allow me doing something different, even if it meant taking those hours from my sleep (with my job and my housework, which I must do myself, I have absolutely no free time except on Saturday evenings and Sundays). Then I remembered Taekwondo.

I read lots of things on the internet. Everybody says one can start martial arts at any age, as long as you go at your own pace and don't try to do things as quickly as others. This sounded great: with my background, I'm very conscious that I'll need five years to achieve what others do in one. But I didn't (don't) mind. So I enrolled in classes last September.

I've been doing two sessions a week since then (I cannot afford to spend more time doing it). And I thought it was fun from the very beginning. It's true that after the five-to-ten-minute warm-up I'm already in a terrible condition, ready to go and have a shower, but I bravely go on, trying to do things as well as I can (which is not very well, of course). While other people who started at the same time as me (a couple of them in their forties) are able to kick at chest level, I still seem to be intent on proving that a kick in the crotch is the best method of self-defence. But I didn't mind. And neither did I mind being the only one who wouldn't be doing the test for yellow belt in December. Well, I don't even have a white belt, actually, since the instructor said we the "elderly" shouldn't buy a dobok until we knew we were going to carry on doing Taekwondo; little by little, he told other students to buy theirs, but after almost three months I'm the only one wearing a T-shirt and tracksuit trousers (this was the only thing I wasn't completely happy about, as I thought I would be less noticeable if I dressed like the rest). Anyway, as I said, I was having a very good time, even having already tasted that life is not a bowl of cherries when I was kicked on the face when failing to dodge someone's foot quickly enough (no tooth was broken, I was able to swallow all the blood, and my swollen lip wasn't seen because of the mask, so not even the instructor noticed anything and I didn't kick up a fuss).

Everything was going well until today. I don't have any technique to speak of, but I've done one of my pseudo-kicks today worse than usual, and I've felt a pain in the back of my leg. I finished the session, had a shower, and when I was limping my way out of the gym, the instructor called me and told me I should stop doing Taekwondo and start doing workouts in the gym instead. I asked whether that meant improving my shape before returning to the dojo, and he said "More or less". Then I asked him how much he'd think it might take, and he answered "These things last a lifetime". I would have thought that after seeing me struggling for almost three months he had realised that I'm in no hurry, but I've found his answer very discouraging.

I'm aware that I cannot do any sport unless I'm more or less fit. But I had hoped I'd get fit by learning Taekwondo, little by little. I can understand how once you reach a certain level, working out at the gym will help you increase your strength, or agility, or whatever. But I cannot help having the impression that I've been dumped. I foresee the gym will be a drag, close to the nightmare PE was at school. I cannot picture myself lifting weights just because; if I did it so as to improve some aspect of my performance at Taekwondo, I think I'd do it gladly. Maybe knowing that at some point I'll be allowed to return to the Taekwondo lessons might be enough, I don't know. But I suspect that's not going to be the case. I believe I'll end up not reaching the level required to take up Taekwondo again, and while I would enjoy the process of struggling with my mock-Taekwondo with the idea of getting a yellow belt some day, I don't think I'll enjoy the process of sweating at the gym doing things I don't like with little prospect of doing Taekwondo afterwards.

I'm feeling very depressed now. I've never liked sports like running, swimming or doing gymnastics in general. Other sports are more appealing to me, though not all, but I know I'm very bad at them. And, anyway, where I live there's not much to choose from. I've never minded being reminded of how bad I am, because I knew it was true. And when just for once I find the courage to decide I'm going to devote the free time I don't really have to trying to get a bit fitter while having fun, even knowing I will never really succeed, and I find that I actually have fun doing it, I'm told to quit. In normal conditions I can only sleep six hours a day. On the two days I went to Taekwondo, I went to bed almost one hour later than usual. I've been doing it gladly, but I don't think I can do the same to go to the gym. All I wanted was to do something I like in the middle of a life I don't like at all, and now I'll be adding two hours a week of something I dislike. And thinking of getting healthier doesn't make it worth it, I'm sad to say. When I was young, I never noticed any improvement in speed, endurance, strength and all the rest, so I'm afraid I won't notice it now, in the same way I didn't notice it in the almost one year and a half I attended Pilates classes. And what I was looking for when I enrolled in the Taekwondo lessons wasn't getting fitter (though, of course, that was a bonus), but being happier.

Of course, I know you cannot tell me much without knowing or seeing me but, from what you've seen around you, what would you recommend? Should I quit the gym and devote those two hours a week to sleeping, as I did before, or to painting lessons, which I'd also like trying? Is there any way I can measure my (supposed) progress in the gym? I mean, if I spend one month rupturing myself with a one kilo dumbbell in each hand without being able to move on to two-kilo ones, should I assume I'll never go back to the dojo? Are all those blogs and website lying when they say anyone can try Taekwondo at any age? I know all of you would recommend doing exercise in any case, because of good health and all that, but I don't want to go back to the depressive mood I had after Pilates. With this lack of motivation, I know I'll never return after Christmas.

And, on top of all this, the pain in the back of my leg which prompted all this is killing me. I can't even sit straight. All for nothing.

Thanks for reading this far, if you did.
I've practiced and teach the Five Family Style kung fu for 42 years. GM Ark Y Wong was quoted as saying that kicks are waist high and hands are waist low, with a few exceptions. I'm 70 and can still do most movements in my forms. So I suggest trying a kung fu style that's not wushu with flying fancy kicks. Tai Chi would be excellent as well, especially if the instructor teaches it martially. And to lose weight, try not eating after 7 pm and only drink water.
 
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