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Guide to taekwondo

Speed, agility and the kicking skills of a mule are just some of the boxes you might be ticking if you were checking your suitability for this popular martial art.

Your mentality is also crucial. But don't worry. It is a sport anyone can take up.

So what does it take to be the best and why is it such a great sport - even if Olympic stardom is not on your agenda?

Great Britain's performance director and top coach Gary Hall reveals all.


Taekwondo is based around a dazzling combination of kicking techniques, and out-foxing your opponent with a variety of defensive and punching moves.

What does taekwondo mean?
It is the art of hand and foot fighting
TAE - kick or smash with the feet
KWON - fist or to punch
DO - art or way
The better you can put these technical combinations together, the better your performances.

Agility and flexibility will help you achieve all of this.

You have to move across the floor quickly and kick your legs at the same time. It is not easy.

And the good news? These techniques do not rely on your physical strength or size so it is a sport available to anyone.


Taekwondo is a full contact sport so you will have to have a fighter's mentality.

Some people call this desire or passion, but it is a fire in your belly. This has to be a controlled fire burning in your belly.

It will be a desire to train hard (to make it to the elite level the standard is 20 hours a week), a desire to win and a desire to be aggressive without losing your cool.

This will be more natural for some and although it does take a certain type of character, success is never attained without hard work.


When you are on that mat, you have to make decisions under pressure.

If you are getting close to winning a medal in a competition, you are drawing after three rounds and it is down to sudden death, the pressure can be immense.

You have to be able to handle that and be free in mind and be instinctive to still make the right moves.


Much of being able to perform when it matters will depend on you being honest with yourself.

And this means being honest about your preparation. Success will depend on this preparation and this is what we focus on at the taekwondo academy - any club will be the same.

We train players to concentrate on delivering performances and not winning medals. By the time you walk on to that mat the pressures of competition should be second nature.

You should be able to act logically based on all the effort you have made in your club and in the gym.

Your head should be focused on facts, and not fantasy. This is where honesty comes into play.

Thinking about all your hard work will allow you to perform against the best in the world.

If you haven't done that work then don't waste your time.


Taekwondo is an amazing thing to do.

It offers all the normal benefits of sport - fitness, strength, endurance, flexibility and also self-defence.

It also instils a discipline and a code of ethics that is unique in a martial art form. You will learn self-control and develop a positive mental attitude.

These codes and ethics are good characteristics to help develop you for the future.

And it does not matter how old, or what size and shape you are.

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