Barefoot students and faculty meet twice a week in the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center to practice the Korean martial art of Taekwondo. Organizing the meetings is the Case Western Reserve University Taekwondo Club, a fun, friendly group where students and faculty of any skill or experience level can come and engage with the martial art.
The club’s instructor, Mark Jones, said, “Taekwondo is an art that’s very easy to learn, but extremely hard to master.”
Taekwondo is a form of martial arts derived from karate and Chinese martial arts, focused on striking with the hands and kicking, not weapons. Developed by various martial artists in the 1940s and 50s, Taekwondo sparring didn’t become an Olympic sport until the 2000 summer games.
The club, which meets Mondays and Wednesdays in the Veale Center’s multipurpose room from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., teaches members the ways of Taekwondo and helps them earn belts which signify their progress in the discipline with belt tests twice a semester. While CWRU’s club doesn’t compete against other clubs yet, they are hoping to join intercollegiate Taekwondo competitions in the spring. New members are always welcome, and no previous experience is required.
Anyone planning to get involved should wear comfortable clothes, such as sweatpants and a workout shirt, and should keep in mind that Taekwondo is practiced barefoot. Participants must sign a waiver before their first practice.
A typical practice starts with warm-up exercises like jumping jacks, as well as stretching out muscles used in Taekwondo by doing things like slower, extended kicking motions to stretch out the legs. Then, there is group work led by either the instructor or one of the high ranking belt students. The leader will call out moves for the group to do together, like punching and kicking.
Next, participants break out into smaller groups by skill level and experience, each led by one of the high belt students. These groups work on learning pre-defined sets of moves, called patterns, for their respective skill levels. After coming together again, everyone does their pattern, or as much as they’ve learned, while the instructor watches. From there classes include work with bags and pads, giving participants something soft and safe to strike, rather than just performing moves in the open air.
CWRU Taekwondo Club President and third-year student Liam LeBlanc says he originally joined Taekwondo “on a whim” his first year, but is very glad he did. LeBlanc says he comes back because “Taekwondo teaches you a state of mind and is as much an outlook on life as it is learning to fight. In Taekwondo we strive to learn courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and how to have an indomitable spirit.”
He also mentions that seeing how much he can achieve through the hard physical and mental work of Taekwondo is a rewarding experience and that meeting great people and having fun are perks of joining the club.
Taekwondo is a fun way to stay fit and learn self-defense as well as improve mental discipline. Any undergraduate student, graduate student or faculty member who wants to learn more about the club can find them on OrgSync or go to any practice and learn more.