Monday, July 10, 2006

U.S. Junior Olympics – Tae Kwon Do: Part 1

For the past 5 days, my family and I have taken part in the 26th U.S. Junior Olympics – Tae Kwon Do (TKD) event at the Georgia Dome.

I will post a few quick thoughts first, then expound on a few thoughts later.

As many of you know, my oldest son has been training hard these past few months. He has followed a diet lacking in fried foods and diet soda. I got by with very little fried food, BUT failed with the diet soda. I did manage to go 6 days without diet soda and I didn’t suffer the least bit. Maybe I should take a hint.

My son trained physically – running a half mile everyday, swimming everyday, pushups, situps, sparring, and poomse (form). He lost 12 pounds around his waist and looks great. He says he feels great, too. He has trained under Master Terry Wassink, Masters William, Candy, and Mitt Lenix, all of whom are true martial artists. He survived three days at an outdoor TKD training camp.

Never once did he lose heart or his attitude.

My son IS a young warrior in my eyes purely for those reasons above. I know at nine years old, I could not have done what he did and have the same character. As you can tell, I am VERY proud of him. So no matter the outcome of the Junior Olympics, he is a champion to me.

Now, here are some quick thoughts from the perspective of being a parent and martial artist.

At first glance, I thought this event was going to be very similar to other tournaments we had participated in. It quickly became very clear to me that I was wrong. This was an athletic/sports affair rather than a competition between martial artists.

At second glance, the TKD ‘athletes’ were just that: athletes. I kept looking for someone who exuded those characteristics of a martial artist: discipline, respect, patience, self-control, and indomitable spirit. If these students were in hiding, during this event, I can understand. I probably would be, too.

Now please don’t get me wrong; athletes can show those same characteristics I mentioned. But at this particular event, they were hard to find. Funny, I received more respect from the security personnel than I did from many of the athletes.

I also became more aware of the differences between the martial art – Tae Kwon Do – and the sport. Not only in character but the physical differences as well. I was reminded that TKD is often referred to as, “tae kwon”, in the sport context.

Sparring is different in the sport, than the art. In the art, sparring allows the student to sharpen their skills in a “realistic” fight situation. Even in traditional TKD tournaments, sparring can be very aggressive. Sport sparring is simply who can kick the fastest and score the most points, while not necessarily using power against your opponent. For the purpose of these athletes, speed was all they needed to win.

From my writing, you could surmise I’m being a little sarcastic with the sport TKD. Yet as I mentioned before, I will expound on this later as both sport and art have their place and their students.

In tomorrow’s post, I will discuss my observations with sport TKD and the benefits it has with kids.

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