Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of martial arts training?
Some of the obvious benefits are increased physical fitness, flexibility and stamina. In addition, martial arts training often has positive effects in other parts of students’ lives. As students learn the techniques and tenets of Taekwondo, they develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence. At the same time, they also learn to always treat others with respect. Because patience, discipline and perseverance are necessary to advance through the belt ranks, students learn to make these qualities a way of life. Many parents report that their children’s attention to school and grades improved after starting training. The martial arts also bring out students’ leadership qualities and teach them to do their best in all areas of life.
My child is taking classes and I’d be interested in trying Taekwondo myself, but I’ve never done any martial arts before. Am I too old to start?
You are never too old to start training. One of the great advantages of Taekwondo is that it is truly a sport for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. At Choe’s Martial Arts we have students ranging in age from four years old to senior citizens. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish when you give it a try. At the 2011 AAU National Tournament, one of our moms, who started at the school as a white belt just a few years ago, took 1st place in Forms for the 35+ age category. Some of our black belts were over the age of 40 when they started their martial arts training. Training in the martial arts together is also a great way to bring parents and children closer. This is one of the few sports activities that parents can actually do with their children, rather than simply cheering them on from the sidelines. Come and enjoy working on your own personal health and fitness while spending quality time with your child! Parents can opt to take classes at the same time that your child is taking class, or you can attend separate adult classes.
Why do you require your students to be black belts before they can start weapons training? I’ve seen other schools offer weapons training to color belts.
Weapons are a means for the person to have greater extension and reach with his/her attacks and defenses. In order to be able to properly use a weapon for this benefit, students have to have well-developed hand techniques and strength, and have proper balance and stances. If a student tries to wield a weapon before having developed these basics, he/she will be thrown off-balance by the weapon and will be unable to use it properly. At our school, receiving the black belt is a sign that a student has mastered the necessary basic techniques and is now ready to successfully learn proper weapons technique.
It is true that some schools offer weapons training earlier than we do. Mastering basic techniques requires a lot of repetition and practice, and many students can get bored. Starting weapons training early can be a way to keep students motivated to keep training. However, persevering past the boredom is a necessary part of mastering the martial arts. And if the student hasn’t gotten his/her technique correct yet, he/she will not be able to handle weapons properly. Often schools compensate for this by doing weapons training with foam, plastic or other lightweight weapons. At Choe’s Martial Arts, we refuse to use flimsy lightweight weapons as they do not allow the teaching of proper technique. Hence we stick to the principle of only allowing black belts to do weapons training.
My child is pretty much only interested in the kicking and sparring part of Taekwondo. How will you get him to pay attention to the character-building lessons too?
Your child’s interest in kicking and sparring only is not uncommon. When we hear the term “martial arts,” usually it’s the fighting techniques that come to mind first. But no student can progress through the different belt ranks unless he/she is also developing in the character-building properties expressed in the tenets of Taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-conrol and indomitable spirit. Students’ conduct in class, from general attitude down to such small details as how they sit while waiting for their turn or how they hold their heads, provides many clues about that student’s character development. Master Choe pays close attention to these details and addresses both the technique and character issues they reveal. In addition, children cannot advance to the next belt rank without their parents being asked for feedback about the child’s behavior at home and school. Very few athletic activities expect children to know their parents’ birthdays, show a good attitude at school or help around the house as a sign that they are progressing in the sport, but these will be an integral part of your child's martial arts training. Master Choe will often talk as part of class about the importance of discipline and respect for parents and their rules. If you have any specific concerns about your child’s behavior at any time, do share them with Master Choe, and he will be more than happy to talk with your child to reinforce your messages.
What does the term “Olympic-Style Sparring” mean?
Taekwondo sparring is one of the two martial arts which have won recognition in the summer Olympics. It made its debut as an exhibition sport in 1992 and has been featured as a full medal sport since the 2000 games. This is a full contact sport. There are specific rules for such things as ring size, how points are awarded (and penalties for not adhering to those rules), and what protective gear is required. There are specific weight divisions for male and female competitors.
At Choe’s Martial Arts, we train students in Olympic style sparring as appropriate to their age level and belt rank. Students who are interested in competing in sparring tournaments are invited to speak with Master Choe about joining Team Tempest.
Why do you put such a big emphasis on sparring at this school? Isn't that just encouraging kids to be fighters?
Actually, the truth is just the opposite. Proper teaching of the martial arts emphasizes that students have a responsibility not to misuse Taekwondo by fighting and bullying others. This is emphasized in the very first tenet, which is courtesy--we treat others the way we want to be treated ourselves, with respect. Training in techniques gives students confidence which actually decreases the likelihood of their getting into bullying and fighting situations--when they know that they have the ability to defend themselves in case of need, they carry themselves with more confidence and behave in ways that discourage actual fighting.
When all students do is get practice in delivering kicks, punches, blocks,. etc. without sparring, they don't develop the necessary coordination to actually be able to deliver their kicks and protect themselves from attack effectively. In real life, when someone attacks you, they don't stand still and wait for you to respond and defend yourself. Sparring allows students to develop timing and coordination to be effective. It also requires students to develop overall cardio conditioning and fitness. Master Choe is serious about making sure his black belts aren't just black belts in name only, but actually have developed the skills they should have. He is also serious about their developing overall good physical fitness. Sparring training is an essential part of that development process.
How can I tell if my child will feel comfortable at your school? She just wants to learn the martial arts for fun, but you seem to put a lot of emphasis on competitions.
While it is true that Choe’s Martial Arts has students who aspire to become world-class athletes, we also have lots of students who are looking simply for a fun recreational fitness activity. Your child will benefit from coming here whether she is interested in competitions or not. However, I encourage you not to write off tournament participation as something that won’t suit your child. Many students find tournament competition to be not only rewarding but enjoyable. There’s something about having the opportunity to represent themselves and their school that brings out the best in them, and it really boosts their enthusiasm and improves their technique and ability. Competition is also a great way to find out how much you’ve learned. When students practice alongside and compete against the same group of classmates, they have no way to know whether they can really kick, block, perform self-defense or spar effectively in the real world. Our students come away from competitions feeling even more confident in their ability and skills. An added benefit of being a part of Team Tempest is the opportunity to form closer friendships with other students and their families. Whether or not your daughter ever gets interested in competing, though, Choe’s Martial Arts is a great place to be.