Start To Be Great – The Poomsae Series Part 1


The Poomsae Series is intended to glean lessons from the meaning of each form or “poomsae.” My school studies the palgwe forms (as opposed to taeguk) so that’s what I will use for each post. Descriptions are taken from the book “Complete Taekwondo Poomsae” by Dr. Kyu Hyung Lee and Dr. Sang H. Kim.

Palgwe Il jang is “keon,” meaning the sky or heaven, which, according to Lee and Kim symbolize the “beginning of the universe.” Up until this time the student typically learns the blocks, punches, and kicks as stand-alone movements. They spend months sliding back and forth into front stance doing a single spear-hand thrust or knife-hand block like a toddler learning single words at a time before stringing together sentences. This form, the foundation for all others, is the beginning of expression through taekwondo. Sh*t just got real.

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Will This Be On the Test?


For the last four months I have been preparing to test for my black tip. As the days draw closer my anxiety creeps upward. When asked what I want to work on in taekwondo class I immediately jump to testing requirements. Is it my responsibility to practice outside of class? Absolutely. Does it happen every day? No. I read my one-step instructions daily and practice all the forms I’ve learned to date on the weekends. It’s a little harder, though, to work on my flying side kick when I have a creaky floor plus downstairs neighbors and would look like a crazy person if I practiced them outside on the parking lot of my condominium complex.

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How I Would Teach a Taekwondo Class – A Parody

By day I am an organizational development consultant for a large healthcare system. That means that among other things, I practice the art and science of adult learning. Meanwhile as I advance in my taekwondo career I am asked to help with warm-up exercises, teaching forms, and coaching lower ranking belts. At times my two worlds of facilitation and instruction collide. I’ve learned that asking seven-year-olds about the finer points of blocking usually results in blank stares. I do however find that threatening my professional adult learners with push-ups fills me with sadistic glee.

So if I followed the rules of adult learning what would a taekwondo class look like?

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White Belt is the New Black

gucci belt
Now that’s a white belt I could wear all the time.
White belt is probably the most trying time for most students even though the upper belts are full of complicated techniques and memorization. It’s doubly trying if you’re an adult in a class full of spazzy little kids and awkward teenagers who actually say “ki-yahp” when they ki-yahp. Being a white belt is like being a freshman in high school or college. Everything is new, the instructors are intimidating, and your body behaves like a clumsy newborn calf. You’re on information overload, and it takes months or even years for the muscle memory of your body to catch up with the cognitive understanding of your mind. Doing the same basic movements over again can be pretty boring, so it’s up to the student to dig deeper and find ways to improve and refine them.

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The Point of All This


Despite despising my grad school marketing class I did get the message that you have to be clear about the market you want to target. That being said I haven’t quite found my “niche” with Little Black Belt. While the motif is taekwondo the deeper purpose is personal growth through self-awareness and reflection. It just happens to be written from a female perspective. That’s all good and well if I want to keep an online public journal (the paradox of that is staggering) and shout into the abyss from my soapbox, but it doesn’t make much of a contribution to other people other than having something funny and possibly thoughtful to read for 20 seconds.

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