The summer months are here and energy and temper levels are soaring as high as the temperature. The Korean martial art Taekwondo, which translates as ‘the way of the fist and foot’, is proving hugely popular in Doha with children and adults as a way to beat the heat.
It certainly looks like fun as the coaches at The Korea Taekwondo Centre put the little ones through their paces: a group of the youngest students suffer a mini pile-up in their eagerness to kick the instructor’s padded paddle. In their little white dobok suits they practise shouting the ‘kihap’ as they make the moves.
At the other end of the room the more advanced students look graceful as they go through the routines. Alessandra Roberto, who’s 14, particularly likes the poomsae – the flowing sequences of techniques the students practise. She explains, ‘I’ve always had a good memory and you have to memorise the moves. It makes it more like a dance sequence with strength.’ Alessandra tells us she started Taekwondo to beat the boredom of being stuck indoors in the heat. ‘We needed something to lift our spirits up,’ she adds, and now she is a red belt three and is working towards her black belt.
There certainly are a lot of benefits to Taekwondo. Lena Liew, the administrator and a student at the centre herself, explains that the benefits for children are twofold: ‘Physically, they lose flab as they became more interested in physical activities. Mentally, our students have become less easily distracted and less naughty or aggressive in school and at home. Parents have reported that their children have grown to be more respectful and their studies have improved as their ability to focus improved.’
Jennifer Ponce, whose eight-year-old son David has been doing Taekwondo for two years and is a blue belt, agrees that it’s helped him focus better. ‘It’s been very good for him, it’s improved his discipline and concentration; he’s a daydreamer and it’s helped him focus. He’s a very energetic boy and he needs a lot of activity so it’s a good outlet for him – perfect for when it’s too warm.’ David loves the sport and tells us what he has just learned: ‘I enjoy the part with the new kicks. Just today I’ve learned some new things – I put my fist in front and twist around and use my elbow as an attack,’ he explains, demonstrating with enthusiasm.
The actual fighting only comes when students are experienced and skillful. Anxious parents needn’t worry because their precious offspring are more padded than a Home Centre sofa set before they are allowed to kick each other.
All are welcome at The Korea Taekwondo Centre. It has 400 students on its books ranging from four-and-a-half to 59, and it has an A to Z of nationalities, from Azerbaijani to Zimbabwean. Students are in the experienced hands of the centre’s founder, Grandmaster Shin, who is a seventh dan black belt and was coach to both the South Korean and the Qatar national teams.
So if you, too, fancy some yelling, kicking and punching (and don’t we all get that urge at some point?), the centre runs adult classes and sessions where parents and their children can learn together.
For more information about classes and prices call 465 9066. The Korea Taekwondo Center is located on Salwa Road, opposite the Jarir Bookstore, in the Al Muthanna Complex, just along from Crepaway.