As a widely practiced and popular martial art, Taekwondo is a comprehensive discipline that improves one’s physical and mental health. The benefits of Taekwondo extend beyond just making the body stronger and more agile. The practice also introduces subtle changes in the player’s interactions with the world and improves their life for the better.
Grand Master Jin Suh is a second-generation Taekwondo Master from Bayside, New York. Jin is also a former U.S.A. National Team Member, U.S.A. National Champion, U.S.A. National Collegiate Champion, U.S.A. National Team Coach. His son, Master Christian Suh, is a third-generation Taekwondo Master and also a U.S.A. National Team Member and U.S.A. National Champion. Together, they are the first father and son in history to have both made the U.S.A. National Senior Team. Jin founded “High Performance” which is known nationwide as the top school in New York to train in Taekwondo. Jin believes that Taekwondo training helps maintain balance in one’s life in more ways than one.
Confidence and self-esteem don’t come easy. Negative experiences and setbacks in life hammer one’s confidence and bring down self-esteem. That can impact a person’s career and social life as well. Luckily, Taekwondo works on that side of the player’s personality and addresses any issues related to low self-esteem.
According to Jin Suh, this has to do with the very nature of the discipline and the different poses, strikes, and moves that Taekwondo is famous for. When the student learns a new pattern and perfects it, they get a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. That works wonders on their self-esteem and confidence.
The interactions between the student and the master of the class, especially the positive feedback and words of encouragement, also have a role to play in building the student’s sense of self-worth.
Stress is just a part of modern life. Tight deadlines, appointments, and the constant hassle of facing heavy traffic and being on time are just some examples of the sources of stress people face on a daily basis. That stress build up can have a negative impact on one’s health, mood, and quality of sleep among others. Studies show that health issues such as heart disease, obesity, asthma, and diabetes are caused by constant stress. And that’s something that Taekwondo can help with.
Jin Suh points out two benefits of Taekwondo training that are closely related to stress relief. The first is the increased levels of serotonin in the brain after practice. And the other one is another chemical called endocannabinoids which the brain produces to increase the sense of calmness and physical relaxation. The intensity of the strikes and patterns of Taekwondo also allow the student to release all the pent-up stress, which helps them feel calmer after each class.
Better Bone Health
Bone health is important throughout the many stages of one’s life. As people get older, the bones lose some of their density and that would make the person more prone to injuries and sclerosis. Health experts recommend weight lifting to counter these negative effects on the bones. But the different poses and patterns of Taekwondo seem to improve bone density and the overall strength of the arms and legs as well.
Jin Suh believes that regular Taekwondo training which involves kicking, punching, and sparring with opponents all have the same benefits as weight lifting exercises. The more strain the player puts on their legs and shoulders, the stronger the bones get over time.
Build Muscle Strength
On a related note, all of these exercises and Taekwondo moves work the same way on the muscles as they do on the bones. Core muscles in the human body improve posture and protect the spine and vital organs. If you watch two Taekwondo players sparring, Jin Suh explains, you can see that they’re using the major muscle groups in their body in this activity. The intensity of the practice and the force the players put into it all reflect in a good way on their muscle structure. It’s no secret that Taekwondo players experience an improvement in their muscle strength akin to those who engage in weight lifting.
Inner Peace and Happiness
With the boost of confidence, high self-esteem, and reduced stress, Taekwondo practice brings about a general sense of inner peace and happiness. The lack of happiness often results from the inability to handle difficult situations in life. However, since Taekwondo training instills in the practitioner a sense of empowerment and enhances their self-defense capabilities, that feeling of helplessness disappears. It is often replaced by inner strength and a prevailing sense of confidence and optimism.
After each class, students often experience general overriding feelings of happiness. That has to do with the increased levels of serotonin in the brain which is responsible for relaxing the body and calming the anxious mind.
Cardiologists often recommend getting a few hours of exercise every week to maintain a healthy heart. From jogging to running and swimming, the more intense the workout regimen, the better it is for the heart. Jin Suh points out that the Taekwondo training involves some intense exercises of its own which would make these types of workouts redundant.
The practitioner often jumps ropes, runs laps, and engages in high-intensity forms of physical exercises that give their heart a complete workout.
Final Thoughts from Jin Suh
Life without discipline is just one missed opportunity after another. People who have goals to meet and milestones to achieve need discipline in their lives. And nothing teaches one discipline like a martial art such as Taekwondo, says Jin Suh. The practitioner has to stay focused and keep their wits about them in order to learn and master every move and pattern. It takes patience, long hours of practice, and razor-sharp focus to get ahead in Taekwondo. These are the building blocks of discipline. And all of that reflects positively on the person’s life, both inside and outside of the Taekwondo class.
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