Getting Started in Taekwondo

Getting started in Taekwondo may seem like a daunting task. Having read about or seen those amazing splits kicks, board breaking punches and sky high leaps nobody can blame the beginner for feeling a little intimidated. The first thing to remember when starting out is that you will be learning Taekwondo one step at a time. A basic beginners class will contain only moves that are well within your reach so you don’t have to worry about being able to do the splits for quite a while yet.

To help you get started in Taekwondo here are the most common questions and their answers .

How fit do I need to be able to do Taekwondo?

You can be of any fitness level when starting out, as you will be in a beginners class and basic moves will be within everyone’s reach. However, you should certainly start improving your fitness levels rapidly. A Taekwondo class is designed to get you fighting fit so you do not neccessarily need to do any exercise outside of class at first (although it won’t hurt to do so).

I see Taekwondo kicks require great flexibility. How flexible do I need to be?

Again Taekwondo will get you flexible. Those black belts were not born being able to kick like that that, they trained like everybody else. Patience is the key word. Stretching takes daily practice and rushing things can cause injury.

What do I need to wear to a Taekwondo class?

For your first class you should wear comfortable loose trousers, or jogging pants and a t-shirt. If you decide to pursue Taekwondo classes then you will be expected to purchase a Taekwondo uniform known in Korean as a dobak or tobak. The Taekwondo dobak is composed of a white tunic, trousers and belt. It is based on the design of the centuries old costume worn by the people of the Koguryo Kingdom. Most Taekwondo classes should let you try out quite a few beginners classes before you are asked to purchase a dobak.

Which Taekwondo style is the best; ITF or WTF?

There is no best style, it is simply a matter of personal choice for each person. If you love kicking then WTF may be better, as in sparring competition there are no punches to the head allowed. However, if you want to learn how to use punching in combat situations then go for ITF, the sparring is more realistic with full contact being more frequent and harder, plus more dangerous strikes are permitted.

How many times a week to I have to train to get good at Taekwondo?

This partly depends on the individual student. Some pick up Taekwondo quicker than others. Some may be more prone to being flexible, fitter or have already done another martial art. It also depends on how many times a week your club trains.

Whatever the ability level of any student, nobody will become a champion through anything other than very hard work. Dedicated students will practice several times a week and sometimes separate their training days into a couple of sessions with one focusing on stretching or fitness exclusively. At the outset you should aim to train at least twice a week. As with all sports, do not overdo it and at least one day of rest is recommended to let tired muscles recuperate.

Do all Taekwondo students have to enter competitions?

The simple answer is no, nobody has to compete. However all Taekwondo students are encouraged to enter at least one or two competitions in their career as it helps to build a lot of important qualities in a true martial artist.

How do I find a good Taekwondo class?

First check out our section Finding a Taekwondo Club in the UK. Then, if there is more than one Taekwondo class within travelling distance, our advice would be to try them all out and see which seems to suit you the best. You should look for a class that is well organised, with respectful students who train hard. It doesn’t matter if the class is not full of black belts, as long as the people there are dedicated. Do not put up with any sexist or aggressive behaviour either – Taekwondo is a martial art steeped in a tradition of respect, humility and honour.