Getting Back in Shape for Taekwondo

When I was in Japan, I went through a phase where I went on a low-carb diet and exercised every day. I thought I needed a ton of cardio and mostly it was to lose all the winter weight I gained (from sitting under my cozy kotatsu for hours eating cake and chocolate). Mind you, I decided I needed to lose weight because a man I worked with at the board of education told me I was fat, and I got really annoyed but also sort of agreed with him.

I found a lot of cardio and fitness workouts on YouTube and did them a lot. The summer before that, I did Kyudo at least 3 times a week, which isn’t exactly exercise but it is better than sitting around watching TV. Here in Korea, my first 6 months were crazy. I worked all the time and had no energy for anything in the evening or on the weekends, and then our wedding came and went, so I focused on getting everything worked out. Plus, my cats and my new job took up a lot of time, and I didn’t particularly feel like working out on my days off.

Now that it’s summer, though, I am much less busy, and I can’t sit around without something to obsess over, so it’s time for a new(ish) hobby. The amazing thing is, now that the apartments behind our building are up and running and getting an influx of people, there are tons of new shops and buildings undergoing completion. We have a pizza place, tons of Korean restaurants, a tiny grocery store, a new bakery, etc. We also finally have a pharmacy, which was much needed. However, the thing that I’m most excited about is the new Taekwondo studio that’s only one or two buildings over from our house.

I used to do Taekwondo in America. I started going with my friends for the summer, and I got into really good shape. I could do tons of push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, and I felt really healthy in general. I went back to school for a year, but the next summer, I started right back up, and got close to getting my blue belt. The test date was about two weeks after I left for my job in Japan, though, so I was bummed.

When I first got to Korea, I thought about doing Taekwondo again, but I had no idea where I would go, and I don’t know anyone who would go with me. I get really competitive sometimes when I’m working towards a goal, such as belt tests and sparring. Having friends who also started at the same time as me was really motivating and I fell in love with the sport. So when I saw the sign for the new place right across the street from us, I asked my husband if I could go inquire about lessons.

We went for a walk one night, and saw the sign and the lights were on in the building, so we went up to ask the instructor about their program and the price. The monthly fee isn’t too bad, only about ₩120,000, which is close to what I paid in America. When I went to my old place, though, it was almost an hour drive from my house, and I had to go late at night after a long day at work, so I ended up only going about twice a week. This new place, though, is so close that I can see myself going there most weeknights.

I’m thinking about joining after summer break ends, but in the meantime, I need to get back into shape. I’ve been doing yoga and stretches, but I need to keep that up every day and add in some strength training, like push-ups, which I am now terrible at. It’s gotten so bad that I can’t even touch my toes, but that’s not surprising, as I’ve never been really flexible. I used to do gymnastics back in elementary school, but those days are long gone.

On top of that, American Taekwondo is somewhat different than Korean Taekwondo. The patterns I learned in CTF, the federation I learned under, and the Korean patterns I’ve seen so far are similar but have a lot of differences that I’ll have to get used to. I’m so rusty on my patterns, though, that it might be a good thing to learn them all over again.

Plus, I’ll be taught in Korean this time. Hopefully this will be a great way for me to meet people and learn more Korean (and actually use it with people who can’t speak English). But that’s me being optimistic, because I know for a fact that there are more kids than adults who take Taekwondo in Korea. The instructor said they don’t have enough adults for a class just yet, but hopefully more people will join before too long.

Wish me luck! I’m excited and nervous, but I’m sure this will be a positive experience for me.