Q: How should I practice tae kwon do at home?

A: There are many, many ways that one can practice at home.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Work on specific techniques in front of a mirror (if room doesn’t permit stepping, then if it is a hand technique get into the proper stance and employing pivoting – chamber then execute and repeat — being sure to twist and snap everything into place simultaneously.  if it is a foot technique, then step into fighting stance and repeatly kick with the same leg, stepping back into the original stance each time)
  • Practice technique and accuracy by hanging a small target from a string (like a small ball of aluminum foil) suspended (by tape) from the ceiling.  This is useful for both hand and foot techniques.
  • Work on proper kick tracking with props.  example 1:  practice side kick by standing next to a dining table lift kicking leg up with knee high and supporting heel pivoted toward the table and slowly and with smooth control track the kick out above and across the table top and then back slowly and smoothly to re-chamber position.  example 2:  practice round house kick by getting into fighting stance and placing an object like a tall kitchen trash can just in front of the front leg — practice kicking with the rear leg lifting the knee high enough to safely track above the object, stopping at the kicking plane and then finishing the kick with the foot continuing path of travel out in the same line as the shoulder, hip and knee — and then re-chambering and pivoting back into the original stance.
  • Practice your forms and 1-steps in a room with the furniture moved to the edges or outside in the yard.  note: practice ALL of your forms and1-steps!
  • Practice noticing! — at everything!  the more observant you become the better martial artist you will be.
  • Practice stretching, especially parts of your body that are particularly sore or that do not have the range of motion that you would like
  • Increase your strength in your core muscles especially — twisting sit-ups, pilates exercises, leg-lifts, crunches, ect.,…
  • Visualize yourself executing your tae kwon do, whether you do this in the form of forms, 1-steps, sparring, or individual techniques — see yourself the way you would like to be.  The more clearly you can visualize the more you will improve (the brain does not know the difference between clear, vivid visualization and actual physical experience).  This means those few minutes as you fall asleep or come into consciousness in the morning can become your movie theater to the new martial artist you.
  • Teach a family member — as you begin to teach you begin to really learn.  If you are enthusiastic and effective, your family member may eventually join you in class!

There are many other ideas that come to mind.  These are just a few that come to my mind.  There is great value in you creating your own as well…

Awareness Insights for Everyday Life…

The Martial Arts are often misrepresented and misunderstood — as aggressive, excessive and egocentric by media “stars”, — as sloppy, silly or seeming to lack larger meaning by many students and instructors inadequately taught or driven by selfish agendas. Practiced to their potential however, martial arts offer a vehicle to a rich, balanced and connected world!

The ultimate goal of a true martial artist is to be a giver – a contribution to the context that he/she is operating in.  So, let’s work backward from here.  In order to be a contribution, one must be capable.  And capability grows from awareness … of everything…

So, increasing our awareness is the first step in the process  — that ultimately leads to a better world!

Now, while jumping to a BETTER WORLD may be too big a step for many of us – “too much to wrap our brains around” – “can’t get there from here”… all of us can get our heads around increasing our awareness – especially if we start with small accessible steps.   One of the most effective ways to increase our awareness is to increase what we notice.  Following are a few simple twists we can make with familiar tasks and everyday situations to notice in new ways and increase our awareness:

  1. use your less coordinated hand to accomplish ordinary tasks
    1. brushing your teeth
    2. holding and dialing the phone
    3. shaving
    4. writing your name
    5. opening a jar or bottle
    6. inserting keys into a lock
    7. handling office equipment/tools (scissors, stapler, stamps, screw driver, etc.,…)
    8. holding your fork/spoon while eating
    9. holding vessels while pouring
  2. close eyes with ordinary tasks:
    1. put on socks/stockings/underwear
    2. shower
    3. wash hands
    4. fold clothes
    5. dial the phone
    6. type
    7. walk (in a safe obstacle-free area)
    8. eat
    9. floss your teeth
    10. listen to music
    11. talk on the phone
  3. slow way down with ordinary tasks:
    1. chew food slowly and deliberately, noticing textures and flavors
    2. breath deliberately and slowly – see how slowly you can make it
    3. slow your heartbeat (through intention and concentration)
    4. get dressed at half speed

Of course there are many others.  See if you can think of a few twists of your own, as you try some of these.  Through it all – notice what you notice…  How much are you noticing that you never noticed before?  Now that you notice these things, what else is possible for you to notice?  Notice all that you can, and keep noticing – and as you do – your awareness will rise.