Don’t just do Taekwon-Do

Grandmaster Kim said something to me several years ago that remained with me and has helped me avoid the injuries and nagging pain that plagued me during my blue belt and red belt years.

He said “Don’t just do Taekwon-Do“.

He also said, “if all you do is Taekwon-Do, your body starts to fall apart”.


That’s a little rough, a little depressing!

I have to admit, I haven’t had nagging injuries thanks to Grandmaster Kim’s advice.

One of the fittest, healthiest, fastest and top practitioners at Master Kim’s school was a 56 year old man named Henry. He was in the do-jang every day when I arrived for lunch class. Usually, I walked in as he was finishing up the vacuuming. (Imagine that! A black belt vacuuming the do-jang every day!) Henry had the good fortune to have had a successful business which afforded him 2 hours a day to leave work, practice on his own, and then assist with running the class.

The amazing thing about Henry was his passion for tennis. He claimed he would play 4-5 days a week including 4-6 hours on a weekend. He said the same thing as Master Kim – “you can’t just do Taekwon-Do“. By incorporating different movements and different activities into his weekly routine, Henry maintained a more balanced musculature. His active Taekwon-Do practice into his late 50’s is testament to this approach.

A couple of years ago, I was plagued by shoulder pain. A punch with my right hand began to hurt so badly, I feared I would have to stop practicing. My doctor told me to take Motrin, and offered muscle relaxants and cortisone. Personally, I avoid pills as much as possible. I had no clue what was causing my shoulder pain, but assumed it was “old age” and the fact that I was simply doing a lot of punching.

The weather was nice and for about 3 days in a row, I hopped into the pool and swam some laps to try to work off a little stress and enjoy some quiet peace of mind. Suprisingly, my shoulder pain subsided after these three days! If you think about the motion of your arms during swimming and contrast it with the motion of punching, you’ll agree that the muscle group is very different. In retrospect, I think my usage of different muscles helped put some things back into alignment. I felt a burn in my shoulder after the swim workouts, but it wasn’t the same piercing pain of punching.

The lesson I learned here is to give some thought to aches and pains to discover the MOTIONS that I repeat all too frequently. From there, I can work some of the opposite muscle groups and bring things back into balance.

Well, as usual, I write in 500 words what the Grandmaster says in 4: “Don’t just do Taekwon-Do”. I hope this little article is able to help those Taekwon-Do practitioners who suffer nagging injuries and provides some ideas on how to work other parts of your body to bring things back into balance.

2 responses to Don’t just do Taekwon-Do

  1. I wish I had “heard” him say that!

  2. Great advice, it really hits home with me..

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