Taekwondo: How to Bully-proof Yourself and Your Tween

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Chuck Norris’ Taekwondo credentials include creating and founding his own Taekwondo school called Chun Kok Do (which in Korean means ‘The Universal Way’). Picture credit: Geekshizzle.com, image source: “Way of the Dragon” Concord Production Inc. & Golden Harvest.

Mention Taekwondo and for me, only one image comes to mind: Chuck Norris in his film debut, who was cast in an epic fight battle with legendary Bruce Lee amidst the picturesque Roman Colosseum in ‘Way of the Dragon’. (Anyone reading this who DOES NOT KNOW WHO CHUCK NORRIS OR GOD FORBID BRUCE LEE ARE, I suggest you acquaint yourself with “Way of the Dragon” before continuing.)

In real life, Grandmaster Norris made history when he was the first ang moh in the documented history of Taekwondo (since its formal induction in the 1940s & 50s) to be awarded the rank of 8th Dan (Degree) Black Belt Grandmaster.

Joyce Lim of ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo in action

National S.E.A Games Silver Medalist and Commonwealth Championships Gold Medalist Joyce Lim, senior instructor at ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo, holder of 5th Dan (STF / Kukkiwon) black belt master & Singapore National Referee (Poomsae & Kyorugi). Here, she’s in action at the 26th S.E.A Games in Indonesia 2011. Picture credit: ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo.

Tae (Korean for foot) Kwon (hand) Do (method or art) is a traditional martial art form which originated in Korea some 2,000 years ago. However, it was only first introduced as a demonstration event at the 1988 Seoul summer Olympic Games, and officially became a full medal sport competition at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine though, you would have noticed more and more friends proudly posting pictures of their kids decked out in their crisp dobok (the traditional TKD uniform), or videos demonstrating their fierce kicks, shouts and warrior stance.

ACME Sabertooth students in action

ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo students in action at the 5th Daeda Taekwondo Open Championships, a competition sanctioned by STF. Picture credit: ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo.

The traditional martial art which puts a heavy emphasis on kicks was finally considered a mainstream sport when it was inducted into MOE’s (Ministry of Education) official school sporting calendar in 2010. This was after a herculean 20 years of pitching by the Singapore Taekwondo Federation (or STF which was inaugurated in 1974). Taekwondo would thus be the third martial arts sport (after judo and wushu) to be listed.

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Springfield Secondary students warming up at the inaugural Schools National Taekwondo Championships where up to 35 secondary schools offering Taekwondo as a CCA will be competing. Picture credit: Straits Times’ Desmond Wee.

ACME Sabertooth student in action

Your jaw will drop when you see these 8-year-olds performing death-defying kicks. Without a doubt, there is tremendous skill involved in executing those acrobatic almost ballet-like kicks. Picture credit: ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo.

Taekwondo = Lifelong Skillsets Everyone Can Use

A shining example and a much sought-after star-trainer at ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo, is master Joyce Lim. Asked why she has remained a steadfast and passionate Taekwondo practitioner despite the numerous major injuries she has suffered for the art, she answered that it is simply due to how she equates Taekwondo in her life. “It’s a skillset that I feel compelled to pass on to the younger generation, particularly my students here at ACME Sabertooth, and if time permits, at my alma mater Springfield Secondary School.”

Joyce Lim at ATU New Poomsae Education Training Camp March 2018

Joyce Lim (front row, sixth from left) at the ATU New Poomsae Education Training Camp March 2018. Picture credit: Joyce Lim.

Ordinarily in the world of sports and even martial arts, when a practitioner suffers a major injury such as an ACL tear (an anterior cruciate ligament injury), one would take baby steps in returning to the sport full-force. But it was the opposite for Joyce. It was because of her injuries and not in spite of them, that compelled her to hone her laser-sharp focus on her passion and seek great strides of improvement in the martial art form.

For example, as a recently-selected participant for the Asian Taekwondo Union’s (or ATU) New Poomsae Education for National Poomsae Team, Joyce not only fiercely displays the extensive breadth, width and height of her decade-long career, she continuously invests in expanding her repertoire of new moves out of her own pocket. She deftly destroys wooden boards perched at ridiculous heights, spars at lightning speeds and you’ll basically feel nothing but awe at one of Singapore’s own on the international Taekwondo stage. So believe me when I say that these definitely are skillsets you would want your offspring to develop if you do not want anybody to mess with them.  

‘Chuck-Norrisize’ Your Tweens – Physically, Mentally and Spiritually

It’s more than just kicks, punches, holds and throws you would learn as a Taekwondo student. According to Taekwondo-practicing parent and blogger at themortalmouse.com Kristy Hitchens, the 3 most important lessons she and her children have learnt through practicing Taekwondo go beyond perfecting the physical moves. One of the first things they learn are respect for the discipline, instilling in them a system of rigor that makes you ‘fake it till you make it’.

ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo student in action

ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo student in action. Picture credit: ACME Sabertooth

You learn to stand tall, look confident always regardless of how you feel inside. By that alone, Taekwondo may turn an introvert such as Chuck Norris (yes, Chuck Norris and he was bullied for it when he was young) into one mean, lean fighting meme, sorry, machine. Taekwondo enables you to step onto the mat against more formidable opponents, with your shoulders back, standing tall and without hesitation, looking him or her in the eye.

And this is also possible from learning the second lesson: that of building Resilience. She pointed out Dr Kenneth R. Ginsburg’s observation from his book “Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings”, “…in that sweet blissful moment when they perform a skill they couldn’t previously achieve, their confidence literally blooms.” Being able to beat your opponent who outranked, outperformed, outplayed, outkicked you, Taekwondo is a teaching system that builds up the grit levels you never knew your children had.

ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo family students in action

The years of practice honing these TKD skill-sets are made especially evident when family practitioners take their places on the competition mats. Picture credit: ACME Sabertooth Taekwondo.

Taekwondo Is For Everyone, From 3 Through 80

The third and final attribute of Taekwondo is, like any other sport or fitness regimen, extremely stress-relieving through the tremendous amount of cardio movement and stretches. The sheer physical activity becomes a form of moving meditation that enables everyone – from a child barely out of his pull-up pants to a senior, achieve an almost zen-state from constantly practicing and developing the Taekwondo movement patterns.

Some might say it gets boring even, but as stated by Joyce, that is when you need to dig deep, focus and stay on course. Even when you almost tore off your ACL in the process.

Taekwondo Wiki Willie Nelson

American country singer Willie Nelson got his 5th Dan black belt just two days shy of his 81st birthday. Picture credit: Taekwondo Wiki.

Joyce summed up to say that her main challenge was to continue to develop her teaching skills in a way that allows her to hold onto the passion and joy she has for the sport, without compromising the respect and control particularly amongst her youngest students, some as young as 3. And that’s why ACME Sabertooth has won every national club competition for the past 20 years (except for a single year in 2015).

So if you want to discover your inner Chuck or Joyce, ACME Sabertooth has been reviewed as a top-notch family-friendly facility, with state-of-the-art equipment. It’s managed by former national champion instructors (not just Joyce) and boasts a fraternity of students from aged 3 and above. Visit Tueetor’s Premium Partner at https://tueetor.com/AcmeSabertooth. Or call ACME Sabertooth at 8188 1129 for free trial classes. Written and compiled by Cecilia Leong.