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

Sammy19

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I have only been in TKD for 15 months.... My instructors are very encouraging, know how hard it is, modify items to help me get better, But do not just give any one anything, they are demanding, but understanding. I have been discourage many, many times but they encourage me and I am glad for it.... My thoughts are 1. You might need to just accept where you are and take satisfaction in small gains (which is hard) 2. if your instructors are not encouraging and helpful, find a new place.

But don't give up.... Hang in there!
 

drop bear

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Losing weight depends on a lot. Generic advice like this assumes there's one answer that works for every type of fat, every metabolism, and every lifestyle.

There kind of is. But it isn't that.
 

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.
Same here. We own two of them.
 

Hanzou

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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 to pile on here, but as much as I love martial arts, my wife is numero uno. The only thing that rivals her importance in my life are my kids.

Your friend needs to get their priorities in order.
 

Frank Castle

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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.

You're right in that a good instructor will help, but at the same time he likely isn't the only student. If class time is an hour and there are approx 10-15 other students (Granted, I'm spit balling this student to teacher ratio), an instructor isn't going to want to spend a quarter of the class time on an individual student's conditioning and flexibility for too many classes. From a business stand point alone, that would be insane and an magnificent way to lose students who equally want attention to make sure they're doing the techniques correctly. If he can afford a private instructor then that's a completely different issue but the reality is these days martial arts is just as much a business as it is a sport or an art. I hate saying that but it is what it is. Schools that spend too much time on a single student vs the rest of the class tend not to be in business too long. People want to learn, they also want to feel like they're getting their money's worth.

As for TKD for older students, sure. Anything is possible. But why learn a style that is notorious for high, flashy, power kicks when there are more suitable styles to match age, body styles, and conditioning. If it's an ego thing and he just HAS to learn a flying spinning kick, whatever man...you do you. If it's to learn a suitable self defense, there are other styles that are just as effective with less personal risk. A perfect example is my first sensei. He was an older guy but had black belts in several styles, to include TKD. Ultimately he chose to continue studying and, eventually teaching, Shorin Ryu because it was more suitable to his physical limitations. At the time I was an obnoxious teenager, who could do the crazy kicks, and didn't understand. I do now.
 

auntlisa1103

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I guess I dont get why training in TKD mandates the ability to execute a flying spinning kick.or whatever. Its about finding your own journey through. I didnt even start training until I was 38. Im blind in one eye, type 1 diabetic, two bad knees, and I was the kid who couldnt sports. But Im about to test to first Dan after 4.5 years of training.

I can personally guarantee you that if I get attacked on the street, I will not be attempting anything close to a flying spinning kick. In 4.5 years of training TKD I have yet to successfully put a rotating kick in the air. Stopped trying long ago. Its not necessary. All it takes is a well placed knee strike or side kick. Heck, a palm strike is enough if placed properly. Do I push myself to try harder techniques? Of course, partly for my own training and partly so I can be used as an instructor in class. But Im no less a martial artist just because I cant do repetitive tornado kicks all the way down the dojang floor.

One of my masters once called me out in the interview portion of one of my brown belt tests, for skipping every other 360 side kick. I responded that rotation is always a struggle for me given my balance and vision issues. He then said he was mentioning it to praise me for it. One mark of a good martial artist, he said, is understanding your limitations and how to work both within and around them. So if I needed to skip every other 360 side to get through a drill on my feet, then I should continue to skip every other kick.

Unfortunately, some instructors are far too focused on textbook technique to find the hidden martial artists in their students.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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You're right in that a good instructor will help, but at the same time he likely isn't the only student. If class time is an hour and there are approx 10-15 other students (Granted, I'm spit balling this student to teacher ratio), an instructor isn't going to want to spend a quarter of the class time on an individual student's conditioning and flexibility for too many classes. From a business stand point alone, that would be insane and an magnificent way to lose students who equally want attention to make sure they're doing the techniques correctly. If he can afford a private instructor then that's a completely different issue but the reality is these days martial arts is just as much a business as it is a sport or an art. I hate saying that but it is what it is. Schools that spend too much time on a single student vs the rest of the class tend not to be in business too long. People want to learn, they also want to feel like they're getting their money's worth.

As for TKD for older students, sure. Anything is possible. But why learn a style that is notorious for high, flashy, power kicks when there are more suitable styles to match age, body styles, and conditioning. If it's an ego thing and he just HAS to learn a flying spinning kick, whatever man...you do you. If it's to learn a suitable self defense, there are other styles that are just as effective with less personal risk. A perfect example is my first sensei. He was an older guy but had black belts in several styles, to include TKD. Ultimately he chose to continue studying and, eventually teaching, Shorin Ryu because it was more suitable to his physical limitations. At the time I was an obnoxious teenager, who could do the crazy kicks, and didn't understand. I do now.
I don't think it requires spending that kind of time in-class on an individual student. I've sometimes had a few minutes of discussion with students outside class time to give them some suggestions. And I sometimes spend a bit of class time talking about fitness that supports what we do (as well as fitness that supports general life, because they're going to need that whether they train with me or not). And parts of class are specifically designed to push fitness a bit, too.

A good instructor should be able to point a student in the right direction in their training. Rank is irrelevant. So, unless someone has an issue that makes working on basic kicks and punches dangerous or damaging, there's no reason they cant' study something like TKD. TKD doesn't require high, flashy kicks. How do I know? My brother took up TKD in his 40's, when his son wanted to join a dojo.
 

dvcochran

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You're right in that a good instructor will help, but at the same time he likely isn't the only student. If class time is an hour and there are approx 10-15 other students (Granted, I'm spit balling this student to teacher ratio), an instructor isn't going to want to spend a quarter of the class time on an individual student's conditioning and flexibility for too many classes. From a business stand point alone, that would be insane and an magnificent way to lose students who equally want attention to make sure they're doing the techniques correctly. If he can afford a private instructor then that's a completely different issue but the reality is these days martial arts is just as much a business as it is a sport or an art. I hate saying that but it is what it is. Schools that spend too much time on a single student vs the rest of the class tend not to be in business too long. People want to learn, they also want to feel like they're getting their money's worth.

As for TKD for older students, sure. Anything is possible. But why learn a style that is notorious for high, flashy, power kicks when there are more suitable styles to match age, body styles, and conditioning. If it's an ego thing and he just HAS to learn a flying spinning kick, whatever man...you do you. If it's to learn a suitable self defense, there are other styles that are just as effective with less personal risk. A perfect example is my first sensei. He was an older guy but had black belts in several styles, to include TKD. Ultimately he chose to continue studying and, eventually teaching, Shorin Ryu because it was more suitable to his physical limitations. At the time I was an obnoxious teenager, who could do the crazy kicks, and didn't understand. I do now.
But this would not be the normal class dynamic. The odds are very, very good that everyone in class needs to work on the same thing(s) (granted, it may be at different degrees), so it is reasonable to expect everyone to stretch, for example. While this is going on, the instructor can devote more time to said person.
 

AIKIKENJITSU

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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.
Taekwondo is still being taught the way it was taught a thousand years ago, which isn't good, although many people like Taekwondo.
I personally have studied Tracy Kenpo and American Kenpo. I have taught Kenpo for fifty years and still teaching. Kenpo, which allows the minimum movement for the maximum results. American Kenpo is a more modern martial art that was developed for modern times.
Sifu
Puyallup, WA
 

Dirty Dog

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Taekwondo is still being taught the way it was taught a thousand years ago, which isn't good, although many people like Taekwondo.
What a crock. TKD didn't exist a thousand years ago.
I personally have studied Tracy Kenpo and American Kenpo. I have taught Kenpo for fifty years and still teaching. Kenpo, which allows the minimum movement for the maximum results. American Kenpo is a more modern martial art that was developed for modern times.
Sifu
Puyallup, WA
You should probably mention that your "rank" wasn't awarded or earned in either Tracy or Parkers system, but is entirely self-awarded.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Taekwondo is still being taught the way it was taught a thousand years ago, which isn't good, although many people like Taekwondo.
Where did you get this from? Considering a lot of TKD comes from shotokan karate, which hasn't even been around for 100 years, and the kwans have only been unified for less than 50 years, I seriously doubt that.
 

Dirty Dog

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Where did you get this from? Considering a lot of TKD comes from shotokan karate, which hasn't even been around for 100 years, and the kwans have only been unified for less than 50 years, I seriously doubt that.
Well... the major Kwan were formed in the mid to late 1940's. So 70-80-ish years. The unification was ordered in 1961, so 60-ish years. It's not really correct to say they're actually unified even today, despite what the Kukkiwon claims.
But you're right in that the 'thousand years' claim is utter and complete nonsense.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Well... the major Kwan were formed in the mid to late 1940's. So 70-80-ish years. The unification was ordered in 1961, so 60-ish years. It's not really correct to say they're actually unified even today, despite what the Kukkiwon claims.
But you're right in that the 'thousand years' claim is utter and complete nonsense.
Ah. In my head they were unified in like the mid 70s. I'll take your word on that though-you know much more about it then I do. I'm not surprised to find out that there were kwans that chose not to unify, and are (I'm guessing) therefore not considered relevant by the 'main' unified ones.

That said, that's a matter of decades, not centuries lmao
 

Dirty Dog

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Ah. In my head they were unified in like the mid 70s. I'll take your word on that though-you know much more about it then I do. I'm not surprised to find out that there were kwans that chose not to unify, and are (I'm guessing) therefore not considered relevant by the 'main' unified ones.

That said, that's a matter of decades, not centuries lmao
In the '70's, the Kukkiwon declared that the Kwans no longer existed. Of course, the non-Kukkiwon branches disagree. There were some that joined the unification and then left (such as GM Hwang Kee or General Choi) and others who never wanted anything to do with the movement.
But certainly, the main point is that the thousand year claim is a pile of fetid dingoes kidneys.
 

dvcochran

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Where did you get this from? Considering a lot of TKD comes from shotokan karate, which hasn't even been around for 100 years, and the kwans have only been unified for less than 50 years, I seriously doubt that.
There is a reasonable argument that Taekkyeon, which can date back to the 1,700's is an original component of today's traditional TKD.
But at best, it would only exist in certain movements only and because of the demographics.

Myself included, it is hard to appreciate how steeped in tradition and history Korean's are.
 

Flying Crane

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Taekwondo is still being taught the way it was taught a thousand years ago, which isn't good, although many people like Taekwondo.
I personally have studied Tracy Kenpo and American Kenpo. I have taught Kenpo for fifty years and still teaching. Kenpo, which allows the minimum movement for the maximum results. American Kenpo is a more modern martial art that was developed for modern times.
Sifu
Puyallup, WA
I can appreciate your enthusiasm for the martial methods that you trained for many decades. As someone who also trained in the Tracy lineage kenpo I disagree with your assessment. I personally found the system to be cumbersome and problematic in terms of how the curriculum is constructed and organized, to the point where I no longer train it in any way.

That isnt meant to take away from your feelings for it. It is simply to illustrate that quite literally, different strokes for different folks. Which gets to my main point: the OP was discussing his training in TKD, not kenpo. Over and over you have jumped into threads and repeated your 50 year history in kenpo, and suggested people ought to train kenpo instead. This is irrelevant to the discussion. First, kenpo is not available everywhere, for every person, so people tend to train in what is available in their area. Second, people are interested in what they are interested in. So if someone wants to train TKD, telling them to train in kenpo instead is kind of a turn-off and shuts down the conversation, at least in your ability to contribute to it.

So I dunno. Maybe there needs to be a little more thoughtfulness in what you post.
 

Dirty Dog

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There is a reasonable argument that Taekkyeon, which can date back to the 1,700's is an original component of today's traditional TKD.
No, there really isn't. The training the founders received is pretty well known. Shotokan. Judo. Kendo. Northern Chinese. None of the claims to mysterious Taekkyeon instruction received from a Secret Master who lived on top of a mountain have any real credibility. It's been acknowledged that those claims were made in an attempt to differentiate TKD from the arts taught by the people who conquered Korea and suppressed the native culture.
 

dvcochran

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No, there really isn't. The training the founders received is pretty well known. Shotokan. Judo. Kendo. Northern Chinese. None of the claims to mysterious Taekkyeon instruction received from a Secret Master who lived on top of a mountain have any real credibility. It's been acknowledged that those claims were made in an attempt to differentiate TKD from the arts taught by the people who conquered Korea and suppressed the native culture.
I fully agree with your short summation as far as the occupation(s) effects. There is no denying that Korean society was influenced by this lineage and, after the separation they wanted to individualize their art.
This is not hard to research and connect.
 
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