The Tao of Taekwondo

Notes and reflections from a deeper practice of traditional taekwondo

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Strength building exercises everyday

I have adopted a regular strength building routine that I do every other night (or every night if I don't feel soreness). It is a simple way to build your endurance for triceps, core strength and legs and you progress steadily.

At this point, I am doing seven sets of the following:

  • 10 pushups
  • 10 situps
  • 10 squats
  • 10 breaths
Following that, I do 2 sets of 15 reps of each. It's important to take the breaths. Overall, that's 100 of each every night and breaking it up allows you to do them with good form which is important. Follow this with some stretching and meditation.

Now to progress on those, I am adding one set of 15 a month, replacing one set of 10. So next month it will be 6x10 and 3x15, meaning 105 reps. Every month repeat that pattern so that by August I'll be doing 9 sets of 15. At that point, I'll start the process again, with the last set being 20 reps and keep going. In a year or so I should be doing 200 reps almost every night.

This is an easy routine to keep, takes about 15 minutes and makes for a nice warm up for a stretching session. You can do it anywhere, including in a hotel room which is important for me these days.

It's important to train more than twce a week to see progress. I am seeing immediate results in my stamina, form and endurance with these exercises.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Solo training

Worked solo in the dojang yesterday, focussing on my tornado kicks and spinning hook kicks. Did the following:

  • Warm up drills
  • Black belt patterns and Tae Geuk 8-5. Took a break between each pattern went to the standing bag to work on palm strikes. Three sets of straight, upper cut and roundhouse palm strikes, 10 each arm. Followed this with a one minute beserker session on the bag.
  • Stretched
  • Worked tornado kicks by breaking the kick down did several sets of the following drills:
    • Lifting the rear leg and moving up to the front leg and holding that position.
    • Lifting the rear leg and corkscrewing it around the front leg.
    • Same exercise but landing the plant foot in the pivot, to turn the hips.
    • Timing the front leg kick with the landing of the plant foot.
    • Putting it all togther
  • I discovered that my tornado kick was faster, much more stable and incredibly powerful, even on my troublesome left side. Still had trouble judging distance with my left leg...I tend to crowd the target on that side.
  • After this I adopted the same spinning technique to spinning hook kicks, knocking a target off the top of the standing bag, placed at chin level. Much better control and accuracy.
  • Finished with strengthening exercises including squat sets, 50 sit ups and a one minute plank. Was shaky at the end of that.
  • Stretched and went for a hike which involved lots of ducking under fallen trees. I used this opportunity to do some twisting squats! Nature is my gym!
Solo training is a test of one's resolve and discipline. Lorne Christensen says that our tired mind, lazy body and apathetic spirit want to keep us from training when we known that we should otherwise. Perseverance means sticking with the commitment to improve, to notice what needs working on and going ahead and taking care of it. If mastery comes from executing a technique 10,000 times, it will take years to accomplish that in two classes a week. I find solo training to be an inspiring way to keep with my commitment to improve.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


First full training session in the dojang since before Christmas. Got some homework:

  • Tornado kicks suck at the moment. Could use a session just working those, especially left leg. Found a great video here.
  • I got a minor thumb sprain while sparring. I have to break the habit of keeping my hands open while sparring, so from now on I am going to train with coins in my hands.
  • Picked up a couple of drills to improve the strength of my base. Practiced some wall sitting and just standing in a horse stance. But also twisting squats look interesting, whereby froma horse stance, you simply twist one way and go down and then twist the other way and do the same.
We worked basic kicks, basic punches, and patterns today, and did some strength training, holding push up positions and holding sit up positions.

Starting to track goals, big and small here. I'll note when I have accomplished them too.

GOAL: Want to get both of those held positions up to a full minute with good posture by March 1

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Solo training in Hawaii

Kamaole dojang

Spent two weeks in Hawaii, during which I did about 45 minutes of solo training most mornings. The piece of grass above Kamaole III beach in Kihei was my temporary dojang.

My basic pattern consisted of starting with some warmups, light stretches and cardio stuff, like footwork or jumping jacks. Then I did all 14 patterns I know, the Tae Geuk series, the three balck belt patterns and the Kibbon pattern. Following that, I worked on different technical pieces, certain kicks or basic blocks and punches. Some mornings I worked on timing, movement and anticipation. After that I did some body weight strength exercises moving between upper body (push ups, dips, planks and the like), core exercises (situps, crunches) and lower body (squats, squat thrusts, shooters and bootstrappers). Then I stretched and moved to a rock above the ocean to meditate for twenty minutes or so.

I got into a good rhythm of doing this morning practice, and hope to find a way to continue it back at home and on the road, despite travel, work and cold weather.

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