The Health Benefits of Taekwon-do by Tessa Fischer, M.D.

Taekwon-do as practiced at Connelly’s Academy is an ancient art that brings health benefits to the body, mind and spirit of the contemporary practitioner. I have been studying for 24 years and, at age 66, I hope to continue for at least 10 years or more, to be limited only by serious injury or illness.

Although a very vigorous form of aerobic exercise, from the beginning, students are taught and encouraged to keep themselves and their fellow students safe. On the physical level, this means techniques that avoid injury, including non-contact sparring and proper form. If proper form and timing are attended to, students are unlikely to suffer joint injuries, fractures or serious contusions. As a female student, I really appreciate this attention to safety.

The vigor of repeated and careful techniques also builds strength and stamina. Part of every technique involves attention to breathing, another factor that contributes to health. Working in groups and with partners also encourages us to persevere in our practice. There is another component known as reaction force, which helps to balance and strengthen technique by a principle of equal and opposite movement.

From a mental health point of view, Taekwon-do practice which embodies the tenets of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and the indomitable spirit, encourages focus, concentration and attention. The tenets carry into everyday life in ways that I have found extremely useful in many areas and with many challenges.

Kicking, punching, blocking, and vocalizing to focus power are also great stress relievers.

Leadership is encouraged among all students, and is defined not by age or gender, but by experience with the practice. Accordingly, many of our “seniors” are young people. The community around the academy is extremely supportive and kind. For me, part of the attraction is seeing students progress for years, become friends with one another, mature and go on to achieve their goals in education, arts, music, martial arts and careers.

Finally, spiritual strength can be nurtured and enhanced by the practice. Without any particular religious connection, the process of attempting, progressing and then demonstrating proficiency is spiritually elating, if not enlightening. Ask any student who has accomplished a board break or mastered his/her high pattern.

There is also a brief meditation and breathing session at the end of each class. Students are encouraged to center themselves throughout the class, particularly as basic techniques are practiced.

Class, like other spirit-soothing places, is an opportunity to leave our outside lives behind for a brief time.

To sum this up, I would strongly encourage anyone who has an interest to try a class. Join your friends or family members or try it alone. You will always be welcome.