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TKD Training Tips

WMAA Training Tips and Home Training Routines

As with all things in life you must work hard to learn a new skill. Taekwondo is no exception, but good quality instruction can really speed up the learning process. We at WMAA would like to share our practice tips with you. Please remember it is very important to do some basic stretching before and after your workout. Stretching is a key element to getting a good workout without injury. These tips will help make your training easier but a serious Taekwondo student should take class 2-3 times per week and also practice at home.


One Step Sparring

First of all, when practicing your one step sparring make sure you are doing it correctly.  If you do not your body will get used to doing it your way and when it goes to do it the correct way it may feel weird.  As far as actual practice tips, do each one step up to your current rank four times.  Once you have completed that try doing them with your opposite hand.  Next, have a person call out a random number from one to your highest one step sparring number.  Do the one step number they call out then keep going until all have been done.

While doing your one steps be sure to concentrate on the purpose of every move.  Visualize your attacker.  If you don�t understand the purpose behind a certain movement or what you are doing it for, then the move is pointless if it is ever needed.  If ever you are confused then ask an instructor in class to explain it to you.  Once you have completed the practice.  Take a break, catch your breath and get back to practice if you feel you need to.  If you don�t feel that you need to, you had better be positive that you know it perfectly.

David Bork
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)

One Step Sparring

When one wants to accomplish his or her one step sparring, there are a number of ways one can go about doing this. One way is to keep a positive attitude. Everyone is learning, so making a mistake is fine. Just keep trying to do better. Another way to learn the one step sparring is to practice. Practice makes perfect as they say. When practicing, make sure to keep good technique and to put power into it. This will help learn the moves and techniques quicker and better. Always learn the techniques and moves the right way the first time. It is more difficult to go back and unlearn what has already been taught. Although it may be quicker to learn wrong it will catch up and will be more difficult to unlearn what has been taught than to learn all new steps correctly the first time.

Matthew Wood
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Target Training

One of the most noticeable and repetitive problems students have in the beginning of their training is breaking techniques and the ability to consistently hit the kicking targets during classes.

There are 3 basic fundamentals that are easily overlooked when attempting to either complete a break successfully or hit a kicking target in class.

  1. You must always concentrate and focus on the center of the board or target.

  2. Acquire the board or target with your eyes (get your head around etc.), and then complete your technique. 

  3. Follow through with your technique.  Continue the hand or foot technique past your target.

Two helpful target training exercises will enable you to hit the targets or break your boards with remarkable results.

  1. Practice with a partner on your own time, not just in class.  Purchase a kicking paddle and work on your techniques at home.

  2. I hang a kicking paddle from a screw in my basement overhead on a bungee cord, which allows you to raise & lower the target to different heights and practice on your own.

Remember to focus on the target, acquire the target/board with your eyes and follow all the way through the target with the technique.  Your hands and feet will follow your eyes!!!

John Mikelonis
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)


Perseverance the third tenet of Taekwondo, what does it mean?  I would like to share with you a poem that I found by Jereme Durkin in Chicken Soup For The Kids Soul.

Don�t be a coward, fearful and weak
Be the last one to quit, and the first one to speak
Don�t hide your face from the light of day
Be courageous in life and stay that way
No need to run from your trials, troubles, and problems
Have confidence in your step as you reflect how to solve them
Yet, if you happen to fall, don�t lie there and die
Get up without thought, and hold your head up high
Be wise, courageous, bold and brave
And life will be worth living from your birth to your grave.

Allow me to expound upon the thought that this poem has created, in conjunction with a modified definition I learned from my USTA student manual about perseverance; I will overcome life difficulties by never giving up.  I will improve in Taekwondo by attending two and three classes weekly, practice on my own, assist other students and Instructors, setting and cleaning up for testing and tournaments when these events are done, giving 200% in class, give that one more snap kick when I�m to exhausted to move.  Never say the �C� word (can�t) or making an excuse.

Believe in yourself, complete what you start, and most of all, and keep the �YES I CAN� spirit alive in your heart.

Bobby Myers
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Instructor


What is the most disliked, but most necessary part of the Martial Arts? Stretching of course. We would all like to be naturally limber. We would all like to be able to be able to kick as high as possible without the tedious stretching, but the human body is not designed that way. The human muscle structure is comprised of muscle, ligaments, and tendons. These muscles, ligaments, and tendons have a natural length to them. Some people have a muscle structure that is long and allows them full range of motion without much work. Others of us must work harder to achieve full range of motion.

Although the muscle structure may not allow full range of motion in the natural state, with some work they can be �stretched� to allow full range of motion. This stretching must be done not just to allow high kicks, but also to prevent injury.

Prior to any stretching the Martial Artist must �warm up�. I prefer to do forms or jump rope prior to stretching. This way I stay sharp on my forms and keep my stamina up, and the �warm up� increases the blood flow to the muscles. The muscles are comprised mostly of water. This fluid composition is what gives the muscles their elasticity. We have all noticed at one time or another, how �stiff� we are when we stretch �cold�. Stretching a cold muscle is like pulling on a spaghetti noodle. The noodle will only stretch so far before it tears. Stretching a warm muscle is more like stretching a rubber band. The rubber band will stretch further before tearing.

Once you have stretched for a while you will notice it is easier to kick higher. Your technique will be better due to the increased range of motion. To maintain this new range of motion you must continue to stretch on a daily basis. The muscles will �remember� their original length and they will return to that length if you do not stretch.

To stretch properly remember to warm up first. Do whatever stretches you feel comfortable with, in order to keep yourself from �dreading� stretching. Assume the stretch position and hold it for a minimum of 10 seconds up to one minute. Any longer and the blood flow slowly becomes restricted. Do not bounce in your stretch. This is called ballistic stretching and is very dangerous. Ballistic stretching is just like the earlier example of pulling on a spaghetti noodle pull too hard, too fast and something will tear. And remember to breathe while in the stretch. The muscles need oxygen.

 Last but not least don�t get discouraged because you may not be able to do a �split� yet. You don�t need to be able to do a �split� to kick to the head. Trust me, I can�t do a �split� and I have no problem kicking at head level. So keep stretching and eventually you will achieve the �split� that we all want to do.

Randall Sutton
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)


Here are some tips on stretching.  When you do a stretch ALWAYS hold it for at least ten seconds.  You should hold it for one minute if you have the time.  First you should start out restful then in the completion the stretching should be active.  You should try to stretch more than one part of the body at a time to get a more efficient work-out.  You should be relaxed and loose when you do a stretch and not be in a rush, also when you stretch do not go all the way down at first, ALWAYS start slow and work your way up.  I like to start with a few jumping jacks, then some arm exercises, then the floor exercises, and last I do the standing leg exercises.  This has always worked for me.  When you stretch, don�t get lazy.  Every day set a new goal, like I want to go down two inches farther or I want to do the stretch correct, and always have confidence in yourself so you can reach that goal.  These were some of my stretching tips.

Chris Broyles
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Free Sparring

There are many important factors in tae kwon do sparring, and to be a really good competitor you will have to constantly practice each one.  I consider footwork to be one of the most important factors of sparring, because it is the base from which you make your attack.  A person with good footwork is able to react to there opponent by changing their stance or distance so that a number of different techniques can be executed.   Unfortunately good footwork is also one of the hardest things to learn.  It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of practice, but will eventually pay off. A good way of practicing your footwork is to stand in front of a mirror and just work on your basics, like switching feet and moving back and forth.  It is important when you are practicing to make your movements as quick and as condensed as possible.  If your motions are real big some one is bound to pick up on that and set you up for an attack.  When you start to feel comfortable with the basic movements you should begin throwing in some fakes and moving side to side.  Both of these are good ways to set up your opponent.  When you start feeling comfortable with this you should begin working in some kicks. When just starting you should only use basic kicks like a roundhouse, and make sure that your motions are fluid.  Then as this progress you will be able to start using more complex kicks, as long as you keep practicing.  These are all good ways to work on your foot work, but if you want to have real good footwork make sure you constantly get time sparring and trying different things.  All the practicing you can do in a lifetime dose not compare with experience in the ring.

Chris Sinner
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor

Kicking Techniques

Doing a kick is one of the easiest things any one can do. In Tae Kwon Do, you will learn many different kinds of kicks. Keep in mind when you learn these kicks there is a job for each leg to do. One will do the hitting or striking the target. The other will act as a base or foundation for the kick. Do not underestimate the base foot. This is where you will balance your whole body. Good balance will give you technique and power. These are your goals.

This will take practice and working with your instructors. Use these men and women for their knowledge. They are a good way to check how you are doing. They can give you a better point of view. Do not be imitated by their ability to do these kicks. They have been working a long time to be able do this well.

There are many different kinds of kicks. Each one is different in some way. Learn the right way to do each one. Practice and exercise will help you to do this. Even doing your forms is a good way to practice the different kicks.

Front snap kick, rising kick, round house and side kick are the first kicks you should learn. They will develop into more advanced kicks that you will learn to do. These four kicks will be important in that development. Learn each one well.

Each student will kick to their own abilities. You will learn do these kicks according to your own abilities. Do your kicks the right way and they will give you the confidence to do your forms and breaking techniques. Always stay within your abilities. Do not rate yourself by others. Again refer to the instructors, that is why they are there. Remember a kick is the easiest thing you can do!

Joseph Wagner
Recommendation Black Belt

Kicking Techniques

Having good kicking techniques is a big part of tae kwon do.  If you think that your kicking techniques could use some work then this is one exercise that I suggest that you do.

First you need to practice the basic techniques before moving to the more advanced ones.  Start by doing the technique to a kicking bag slowly and move through the entire motion of the kick until you feel that you can do the technique properly.  Once you can do this you can slowly progress to doing the technique with power and speed.  Next you can start with the more complicated kicks. For example, start with the basic round house kick, get the technique down and next move to the spinning round house kick and finally the tornado round house kick.

Becoming proficient at kicking techniques is learned through practice and hard work.  I believe that if you perform the exercises as stated above you will have no problem reaching your goal.

Kevin Brennan
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor


Forms are a way to express everything you know about martial arts, they also tell a lot about the ancient art of Taekwondo. Forms are composed of many blocks, kicks, and strikes.

A proper form when done right is very sharp, crisp, powerful, and energetic. The things you should concentrate on are the following: focus, power, target, control, technique, loud kihaps, stances, blocks, kicks, punches, and last would be Taekwondo spirit.

A good way to practice forms is to do them facing different directions. This way you don�t get used to doing it only in one direction. Also do your forms as if you were really using them as self-defense. This way it comes more natural for you when the time comes.

Forms are only a small part of martial arts, But a very good way of making you a much more rounded student.

Steve LaGarce
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Instructor


Forms contain several elements, including hand and foot techniques, directions to turn, and proper stances.  Most of the time, when learning a form, we focus on the direction to turn and the techniques, but do not seem to pay much attention to the stance.  One stance that is used most in the beginning forms, but is still used throughout all of the forms, is the front stance.

In learning to use a proper front stance in the forms, a good method is to imagine a sideways triangle on the floor, with one corner at your back foot, one corner at your front foot, and the third corner out in front of your back foot.  To step forward in the front stance, take your back foot along the edge of the triangle toward your front foot, then keep following the triangle with the same foot to the front corner of the triangle.  This movement of the foot shows the proper way to move forward in a front stance.  Keep in mind that after you step forward, the leg that is now in front should be bent, and the leg now in back should be straight.  To keep stepping forward with the other foot, imagine the sideways triangle again on the floor, and follow the edge of the triangle with your back foot from the back corner, to your front foot, and out to the front corner of the triangle.

Sean A. Brown
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor

One Step Sparring

Our school presently has 20 One Step Sparring techniques, two for each belt level starting at White belt through Red second.  These One Step Sparring routines consist of basic hand and kicking techniques used in Taekwondo. All of these One Step Sparring techniques are done in 3 counts. 

When learning them for the first time, I suggest doing them slowly and on the counts. When you have learned all the movements of a One Step, start concentrating on the correct form of each movement, proper stances, kicking form etc., then start doing the One Steps with full power. At a minimum, you should practice your One Steps, 2-3 times each up to your current belt level whenever you practice your current form. As you increase in belt level you will have more and more One Steps to learn and remember. Once you reach Yellow 1st and above you will have 6 or more One Steps you have to know. When you reach this level, once you have practiced the One Steps in order, you should practice the One Steps in some random order.  You can do this by yourself or have a fellow student call a number of a One Step in some random order, then perform the One Step. As always, you should do some type of warm-up before practice and a cool down afterwards to prevent any soreness or injuries.

Paul Fairless
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Positive Mental Attitude

A positive mental attitude is a critical component of Taekwondo. A positive mental attitude keeps a person well focused and gives direction in whatever is being attempted; sparring, self-defense, breaking, or forms. A positive mental attitude is absolutely necessary in order to succeed in executing any movement. The student must have mental clarity and purpose and a sense of "yes I can" ingrained in his or her mind in order to master the art of Tae Kwon Do. With a positive mental attitude, nothing is impossible. A positive mental attitude enables the student to overcome feelings about low self-esteem, lack of physical or mental ability, and helps to develop moral character to train both the mind and the body. A positive mental attitude enables a student to execute any movement with ease and determination, giving the student a true sense of accomplishment.

Maureen Wood
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Positive Mental Attitude

Positive mental attitude is important because the outcome of the challenge depends on what is going through your mind at that particular time. It is also the basis for building confidence in yourself and having a can-do attitude. When you wake up on the morning of testing, what are you thinking? Are you thinking you’re going to do awesome, or are you thinking you probably won’t do well? You’ll probably do better if you think you’ll do awesome. That is a positive mental attitude. This can be applied to many different things like tests at school, sports, playing an instrument, art, board games, like chess, and at Taekwondo. You can use it while doing forms, breaking, sparring, reports, hand and foot techniques, self defense, and one-step sparing, during testing, and in class. Positive mental attitude is a great skill to have because you can apply it to many different things in your daily life. Don’t be too nervous. It’s ok sometimes, but other times, nervousness can turn into negative thoughts and take with it your focus and concentration. If you let them, negative thoughts can destroy your positive mental attitude. This is what you should do to keep a good positive mental attitude. Think positive thoughts like I can do this, instead of negative thoughts like I’m not going to do well. It is also very important to have confidence in yourself and what you are doing.

Daniel Rosner
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Hand Techniques

When doing punches you should always keep your thumb wrapped around the outside of your hand. The reason we do that is because if you don’t you will break your thumb.  Also always extent your arm all the way but do not lock your arm. When punching put your other hand on your belt, in a fist. Like you where elbowing someone behind you.

When doing knife hand attacks or spearhand attacks always keep your thumb in. Also keep your thumb in when attacking. When doing a spearhand attack a place that is not hard (like the throat). When doing a knife hand attack always hit with the edge of your hand that is opposite of your thumb. When doing a these attacks always keep your other hand on your belt, in a fist (just like your where elbowing someone).

Ridgehands are different from knifehand attacks in only one way. They go the opposite direction. When doing ridgehands you hit with the side your thumb is on with your thumb tucked under. Make sure not to lock out your elbow when striking with a ridgehand.  These are a few hand technique tips to help all of you out there.

Kevin Lowe
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Hand Techniques

I would like to offer a few tips on the subject of front punches. When delivering such a technique, try to keep it as clean as possible. By this I suggest eliminating any extra body movement that might tip off, or telegraph to your adversary your intentions, such as subtle movements that may be picked up by his or her eyes, alerting their senses. Things like, dropping your shoulder, bobbing your head forward, taking a small step in the direction of the punch, leaning forward, or maybe a slight flick of the elbow just before delivering the technique. To eliminate such things, adopt a sparring stance and execute a few jabs or punches, while doing this be mindful of your entire body, since most people are not aware of these pre-delivery movements. If you start to execute a technique, and you feel extra bodily movement (such as a slight twist of your hips) just before you throw your punch, stop and start again. Try to make your arm move independently of the rest of your body. A good way to practice this is to stand still and extend your arm slowly out until that is the only motion you experience. When you start to feel comfortable with this add a little speed to your motion. Another way to achieve this is to watch yourself in a mirror, then you can see for yourself how you are progressing. If you can eliminate all of these little pre-movements, your punches will be much more difficult to detect i.e. “the hand is quicker than the eye.” I hope you will find these tips helpful in your study of the Martial Arts.

Mr. Tutterrow
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Hand Techniques

Hand techniques should be performed with maximum power and focus, whether it be a block, strike or a punch.  When practicing blocks, try to imagine where an attack kick or a punch towards you from an opponent would be executed, so you can block in the proper place to deflect the blow. Make sure you start your block from the right position.  A right hand, out to in block should start behind your right ear, and end in front of your face, but not in front of your line of vision. By starting your block here, you will add power to the block.  Using power in your block can actually do as much damage to your opponent as a punch or strike. Your left hand should be brought to waist at the same time that your right hand is executing its block. This action also helps put force in your block.  The same goes for strikes and punches.  The opposite hand goes to your waist to help the momentum of your strike or punch.  When practicing a strike or punch you should also focus on where you would actually be hitting an opponent. A knife hand strike to the neck should be about level to where you neck is, a middle body punch should be level to where your middle body would be.

Joan Baker
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)


For many new Tae Kwon Do students, breaking is the scariest part of testing for them.  This is because breaking is hard to prepare and practice for.  Forms and sparring are done in every class, but not breaking.  When breaking is practiced, it is usually with a soft kicking target and not with a board.  So at testing, they are scared that they will hurt themselves or the holders.

The first part of breaking, is knowing the technique.  For example, on the sliding sidekick, some people may take a step in front instead of back, or they may kick with the balls of their feet instead of their heel.  If you are unsure of the technique, ask an instructor before or after class.

Flexibility is also a key point.  On some kicks, like the axe kick, you would have to get your leg fairly high in the air to have enough power.  So before or after classes, or when you have some free time, stretch out as much as possible.  I have found that weightlifting also helps.  When I first tried to break three boards with a sliding side, I couldn’t even break the first board.  After about a month of practicing my kick, I was able to break the boards, and strength training helped me.  Some lower body workouts that help with breaking are squats and the leg bench.

Even with these training tips, the most important by far is believing in yourself.  Do not defeat yourself with a negative attitude.  And remember that the board cannot hurt you if you have proper form.

Sam Jones
1st Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Self Defense Techniques

Many Taekwondo practitioners like to categorize some of the different techniques that they have learned as either offensive or defensive in nature.  I have seen certain arm locks and blocks termed as a self defense technique and certain punching and kicking techniques classified as an offensive technique.  I have had many discussions with instructors and students about which techniques may work best in a certain situations.  I have used a roundhouse kick as an offensive technique in a sparring situation and I have also used a roundhouse kick in combination with a forearm block as a defensive technique (e.g. One Step Sparring #10, Green First One-Step-Sparring Technique at WMAA). Classification of techniques as either “offensive” or “defensive” can be useful in training; however, I think it is important for every student of Taekwondo to understand that the general philosophy of Taekwondo is to never initiate a fight and that all techniques learned are to be used only for defense.

Taekwondo and self defense techniques are synonymous. Taekwondo is a martial art that was developed as a defensive art. All of its activities are based on the defensive attitude that was originally developed for protection against enemy attacks. Over the years that I have been training in Taekwondo, I have developed the philosophy that I will try to learn each technique taught to the best of my ability and use these techniques only for my self defense or for the defense of others.

It is my belief that your best self defense technique is a confidence in your ability to control a hostile situation. This confidence can only be obtained through training. This training includes mental and physical training such as that received in the martial art of Taekwondo. When a situation presents itself where you are required to defend yourself, you will use techniques that you have been trained in and you are confident in. You will not stop to consider whether they are offensive or defensive in nature. In some situations just the confident sound of your voice or a kihap when issuing a warning may be enough to dissuade a potential attacker. If you cannot extricate yourself from a hostile situation by thinking or talking your way out of it, you may have to use some of the physical techniques you have learned in your Taekwondo training. Any technique you have learned is acceptable; however, remember that you should use the minimum amount of force necessary to control the situation. A few examples of my favorite techniques are listed below: 

1.       If you are grabbed from behind in a “bear-hug” that also immobilizes your arms, you can stomp on the attackers foot to distract him and then step behind him with your right leg putting your hips next to and lower than his hips and at the same time bending forward slightly. When you stand up straight, throw both of your arms straight out to your side and roll the attacker backward over your hip.  The attacker will have to let go of you to catch his fall and you will be able to escape.

2.       If you find yourself in a fighting stance and your opponent is attacking, use a spin-side kick to the middle body. This is a very powerful kick which will penetrate through weak arm blocks and immobilize your opponent.

3.       If an attacker has grabbed you by the wrist in an attempt to overpower you, you should use a front kick to the body or groin and then quickly turn your wrist until the attacker’s thumb and fingers are facing you and then pull your hands in one quick motion toward you. You will be able to break free from his grip and escape.

Rick Lowe
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

The Taekwondo Ki-hap

When I am in class I get the sense that some students are lacking in the Taekwondo spirit. This lack of spirit often manifests itself in poor techniques and weak Ki-haps. To improve upon their physical techniques, students must first learn to improve their mental approach to attending class. A student has to put forth the effort to obtain the benefit of Taekwondo. When attending class, the student’s concentration should be on the immediate task of how he or she can best perform the next technique required by the instructor. In Taekwondo this concentration or spirit is referred to as "Ki". Ki as defined by Black Belt Magazine is the mental and spiritual power summoned through concentration and breathing that can be applied to accomplish physical feats.

I have found that one of the best ways to concentrate on my punching or kicking techniques is to Ki-hap at the moment of intended impact. The Ki-hap is a power yell which releases your inner strength and applies that strength in a concentrated form to the point of impact. Any technique performed with a Ki-hap will be more powerful. The next class you attend, try to use and increase the intensity of your Ki-haps. Power yells (Ki-haps) are not only allowed in the Dojang, they are required to perform the striking technique with your maximum power.

Rick Lowe
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

The Taekwondo Instructor

Who is the Taekwondo instructor at your dojang? Is the Taekwondo instructor the owner of the school? Is the instructor the person holding the highest rank in your school? Is the instructor the black belt who is your mentor? Is the instructor the person who conducts the testing at your school? Is the instructor a higher belt who shows a lower belt his new form?

The answer to the above questions is "all of the above". By putting on a Taekwondo uniform each and every student becomes an "informal" instructor, a leader by example. So the next time you enter the dojang, be aware of how you conduct yourself. Your actions are telling others what you think of Taekwondo. Do you bow to higher belts? Do you bow to the flags when entering and leaving the dojang? Do you conduct yourself in a manner that you would want others to imitate?

Rick Lowe
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

So you think you’re good? How are your forms?

How can you test your knowledge of forms? Many people think that they know their forms well. But how well is another thing. Making your forms look well starts in the beginning of class whether you’re actually doing a form or not. It starts in the basics. When doing all of the basic hand and foot techniques, you need to take the time to make sure that those techniques are correct. If you don’t do them correctly while going over them, how can you do them correctly while doing a form? Find someone who has good technique and imitate his or her movements and positions. If you practice the wrong way during class most likely you won’t fix it while doing a form because your body will feel uncomfortable. Whenever you learn something your body gets a feeling of your positioning, even if it’s wrong. So if you continually practice wrong techniques, pretty soon correct moves will feel awkward and unnatural. So when learning something make sure you practice correct technique so it’s easier to perfect later.

Once you’ve learned the pattern and form, you need to remember that they’re not just movements. Every action has a purpose. You need to keep in mind that there are multiple attackers coming after you. So in your mind you need to play make-believe and visualize attackers that are much bigger than you and are trying to hurt you. The reason I say they are bigger is because if they weren’t they most likely wouldn’t cause a threat, so you wouldn’t take the movements seriously.

Teresa Sofaly
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor

Exercises to test your knowledge of your forms.

The first way of practicing your form is to test individual positions of a form. You’ll need a reliable and knowledgeable partner to help you out. Your partner will randomly call out numbers of the form and you will carry them out. An example is if your partner call out number five, and it happens to be a reverse face punch in a front stance, you will automatically go to that position. It’s not easy to be able to do this so one thing that helps is to go through a form before they start to call numbers. If you make a mistake your partner should be able to correct you. This also makes your partner pay attention and also tests their skill as well.

Another way of practicing your forms different is to practice them backwards. Like someone taped you and pressed rewind. You are forced to look at forms differently and in another way. If you really know your forms well this won’t be that hard of a test until you reach more complex forms. If you start off with difficulty again go through the form before you work your way backwards.

Teresa Sofaly
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor

Learning technique

When learning something new make sure you learn it the correct way or it will come back to haunt you later. For example if you want to learn how to do a jumping front snap kick. You must first master the technique of a front snap kick before you move on to add a jump to it. Sometimes when you’re in class you don’t have the time to stop and work on the kick. Just make sure that you pay attention to how it is being demonstrated, the movement, and things like the body positioning. Then when class is over you can find a place whether it be at home or the gym and work on it. Sometimes things like balance and experience play a big role in picking up techniques. You can find many ways to overcome them without lacking on extra practice.

One example is lack of balance. Let’s say you’re a beginning student that just can’t quite get a front snap kick because you keep falling. One way to help with balance is to use a prop. Lean on something while you work on the technique and wean yourself off of that crutch when your technique is better, or if you want to work on some form of a jumping kick. For example a jump spin sidekick. First make sure that you can perform a regular sidekick with good technique. Then step it up a notch by now working on the 180-degree jump. Making sure to tuck in the legs. Then start combining the skills together to get the ending result.

The main thing you need to keep in mind is that it takes little steps before you run. Each step of learning a technique is a building block for harder techniques.

Teresa Sofaly
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor


As a student and practitioner of martial arts you learn to be humble. Some students don’t learn as well as others though. You can always be proud of your accomplishments and hard work, but you need to remember where your boundaries are. Every student has more to learn. Even masters learn new things all the time. There is always something you can learn from another whether it is a technique or something personal about yourself. I as a student and assistant instructor, learn new things from lower belts and children everyday. I may have a black belt but to me it’s only a belt. I don’t have to wear it to be proud of myself, and I don’t have to prove myself to others. To me, the way you carry yourself and the respect you gain from others determines your rank. It doesn’t always have to be a belt around your waist. Some people believe that because their belt is black, they don’t have much to learn. But no matter what rank you are, you need to keep in mind that you can be really good, but there is always someone who is better.

Teresa Sofaly
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor

Trusting yourself

As an assistant instructor I have helped many people learn forms. I have found that many times the students don’t trust themselves. I would help people with forms, then when they were asked to do it by themselves they would stop at a position and wait for me to tell them if they were doing something wrong. Many times they didn’t trust what their body wanted to do. When students make a mistake I’ll ask them if it’s wrong. Most of the time they would say yes, because otherwise I wouldn’t have said something. I would then ask them what they wanted to do, and if it were wrong I would correct them. When I first started doing this a lot of students would look at me funny because they’ve never been asked that. They weren’t used to being asked what they wanted to do, just being told if they were wrong or not. But when they showed me what they wanted to do and what felt right, they were usually correct. As a student you can’t always rely on what it looks like, but also if it feels right. Students need to remember that part of learning is being wrong sometimes. The instructors are there to help you learn. Remember they can’t tell you if it feels right, just what feels right to them. So you need to be able to trust your body sometimes and take the risk of making a mistake, otherwise you will never learn through failure.

Teresa Sofaly
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor

DoJang (Training Space)

The dojang-a space to gather for inner collection- refers to the room where young and old, male and female students come together- regardless of race or religion- in order to practice tae kwon do. In the dojang, or school, students further and improve the art itself, as well as their own physical, psychological, and aesthetic abilities. Prerequisite for reaching that goal is guidance by an instructor who is well schooled both mentally and physically.

The tae kwon do instructor through their own authority creates an atmosphere in which a student can distance themselves from everyday problems and thereby effectively concentrate on the training they are about to receive.

Steve LaGarce
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Instructor


One might ask how they can get more power? Easy, Newton's theory states that Force = Mass x Acceleration. Mass by itself, even if it increases the degree of effectiveness, can never generate useful force if it is not accompanied by speed. There are several ways by which a student can increase the speed of a body movement. One way is by effectively shifting the center of gravity of the body, which, however always reduces the relative stability of the stance. Another way is by increasing the distance to the target, thereby increasing the amount of speed that is generated. Increasing the distance to the target also requires added agility on the part of the student. So remember you need two things to produce power, SPEED & MASS.

Steve LaGarce
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Instructor

Physical Fitness Training Tips

As an instructor of martial arts, one of the questions I ask a new student, what are you seeking to accomplish in your studies of martial arts? Nearly all students respond with physical fitness or getting back in shape. With this in mind I would like to address and share with you some of the things I have learned about physical fitness over the years. I would like to qualify my position, in that I am a retired U.S. Army Officer with nearly thirty years service, thus I have taught, trained trainers, and performed a lot of physical fitness. In addition to my experience in the Army I have studied and instructed martial arts, "Tae Kwon Do", for nearly six years. My source document is the U.S. Army’s Field Manual, FM 21-20, Physical Fitness Training, dated September 1992, currently in use.

I would like to draw a parallel between physical fitness training in the Army and Martial Arts. In the Army we trained to go to war – combat. In Martial Arts, we do the same, protect and defend. In the Army this training is for our constitution, family, friends, and citizens; in Martial Arts our training is for ourselves, our families, and those who are in need of our assistance. There are several areas that I will address in this training tip, components of fitness, principles of exercise, factors for a successful training program, and warm up and cool down.

The following is a definition of physical fitness: It is the ability to function effectively in physical work, martial arts training, other activities, and have enough energy left over to handle any emergencies which may arise.


There are several components of physical fitness and they are as follows:

Cardiorespiratory endurance- the efficiency with which the body delivers oxygen and nutrients needed for muscular activity and transports waste products from the cells.

Muscular strength- the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort.

Muscular endurance- the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated movements with a sub-maximal force for extended periods of time.

Flexibility- the ability to move the joints (for example, elbow, knee) or any group of joints through an entire, normal range of motion.

Body composition- the amount of body fat you have in comparison to your total body mass.

Improving the first three components of physical fitness will have a positive impact on body composition and will result in less fat. Excessive body fat detracts from the other fitness components, reduces performance, detracts from your appearance, and has a negative affect on your health.

Factors such as speed, agility, muscle power, eye to hand coordination and eye to foot coordination are classified as components of "motor" fitness. These factors effect your survivability in a conflict or competition. The physical fitness training that we provide during your training can improve these factors within your physical limitations and potential. Our martial arts training program seeks to improve and/or maintain all the components of physical and motor fitness through sound, progressive physical training for you.


Adherence to certain basic exercise principles is important for developing an effective program. The principles of exercise apply to everyone at all levels of physical training, from the Olympic-caliber athlete to the weekend jogger. These principles also apply to physical fitness training for the martial artiest.

These basis principles of exercise must be followed:

Regularity. To achieve a training effect, you must exercise often. You should try to exercise each of the four fitness components at least three times a week. Infrequent exercise can do more harm than good. Regularity is important in resting, sleeping, and following a good diet.

Progression. The intensity and/or duration of the exercise must gradually increase to improve the level of fitness.

Balance. To be effective, a program should include activities that address all the fitness components, since overemphasizing any one of them may hurt the others.

Variety. Providing a variety of activities reduces boredom and increases motivation and progress.

Specificity. Training must be geared toward specific goals, as ours is towards defending ourselves.

Recovery. A hard day of training for a given component of fitness should be followed by an easier training day or rest for that component and /or muscle group to help permit recovery. Alternating muscle groups will also assist in recovery.

Overload. The workload of each exercise session must exceed the normal demands placed on the body in order to bring about a training effect.


Certain factors must be part of any fitness-training program for it to successful. These factors are Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. The acronym FITT makes it easier to remember them.

Frequency: Devote three days a week to train, say Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, one week and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday the next week. With the variety of instructors and their methods of instruction you can easily identify a personal program that will allow you to challenge the components of fitness.

Intensity. Training with intensity is going to be one of your biggest challenges. Your intensity should vary with the type of exercise being done. For muscular strength and endurance, intensity refers to the percentage of the maximum resistance that is used for a given exercise.

Time. Like intensity, the time spent exercising depends on the type of exercise being done. At least 20-30 continuous minutes of intense exercise must be used in order to improve cardiorespiratory endurance. For muscular endurance and strength, exercise time equates to the number of repetitions being done. Flexibility exercises or stretches should be held for varying times depending on the objective. To improve flexibility it is best to do stretching during cool-down.

Type. Type refers to the kind of exercise performed. When choosing the type, the instructor should consider what is going to be the main focus of the class. If the class is going to be centered around kicking or foot work, then the instructor should focus on stretching and exercises for the legs and lower body. A basic rule is that to improve performance, you must practice the particular exercise, activity, or skill you want to improve.


You must prepare your body before starting class. You will see prior to class starting, many students warming up on their own. I recommend that all students do this as this will help prevent injuries and maximize performance. Warm up serves to increase the heart rate and increase blood flow to your body.

Student should cool down properly after every class, regardless of the type of workout the instructor gives you. The cool down serves to gradually slow the heart rate and helps prevent pooling of blood in the legs and feet.

 Take into consideration the tips I have just presented, the personality and method in which each instructor teaches, your individual goals for physical fitness improvement, and you can, by cross referencing all of these things, develop a program for your own physical fitness improvement.

Bobby Myers
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Instructor

Tae Kwon Do Interval Training

Tae Kwon Do is a very demanding sport. You must be in very good shape physically to master it. I like to stay in shape by doing some type of aerobic workout 3-4 times a week. I generally like to run 4 times a week for a total of 12-15 miles per week. I understand 15 miles per week is good number to shoot for. You get most of the benefits at this point. After 15 miles per week, the benefits go down and injuries go up, knees etc. We are talking Tae Kwon Do here, so unless you are training for a race, I would stay less than 15 miles per week.

Running can be a little monotonous and still may not get you in shape for sparring. So I started a training program of interval training to complement my running program. This is a high intensity workout consisting of 10 rounds of 2-3 minutes with 1-minute rest between each round using basic to intermediate sparring techniques. For example, in round 1, I do front-leg and rear-leg front kicks. In round 2, front-leg and rear-leg roundhouse kicks. In round 3, inside and outside crescent kicks. In round 4, I switch to hand techniques, such as, jabs, punches, backfist, etc. Continue this for the remaining rounds choosing any techniques you like, such jumping kicks; spin kicks, side kicks, combinations, or anything you want. Be creative, have fun and do not forget to warm-up and cool down before and after this workout.

I use this interval training program to compliment and enhance my regular training program, but this routine would be good to use for getting in great sparring conditioning. To keep in good cardiovascular fitness I recommend this workout or any aerobic workout 3-4 time a week. What I like most about this workout program is that it has the extra benefit of sharpening your Tae Kwon Do techniques while also increasing your cardiovascular fitness. The best way to get better at kicking is to do a lot of kicking.

Paul Fairless
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Tae Kwon Do Workout Plan

Tae Kwon Do is a lot of fun and also a lot of work. Going to class 2-3 times a week is necessary to keep your techniques sharp. However, it is also necessary to practice at home on the various techniques you may need to work on personally that you may not get to work on in class or that you may just need extra practice on. So what is a good workout plan for home?

A properly designed workout plan has four parts, a general warm-up, a specific warm-up, the main part of the workout, and a cool down. The general warm-up should include basic warm exercises, such as, running in place, rope jumping, joint rotations, and any other techniques where you keeping the body moving that would provide a good warm-up. Next, in the specific warm-up phase you want to do techniques that would more resemble what you will be doing in main part of the workout. For example, if you going to be doing Tae Kwon Do in the main part of workout, you would start doing exercises like rising kicks, front kicks, and roundhouse kicks. Doing these techniques starting slowly and getting faster and higher until your body is warmed up. Then you are ready for the main part of your workout, which in this case would be practicing all of your kicking and punching techniques. After you are done with the main part of the workout you are ready for the final phase, the cool down. In this part I usually do relaxed stretching and joint rotations.

This is just a basic outline for a home workout. It is designed to warm and stretch muscles before you begin the main part of the workout and then cool down afterwards. Following this outline should keep pulled and sore muscles to a minimum.

Paul Fairless
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Stretching Warm Up

One thing that I like to do before class or at home is to use forms or poomse for warm ups. I normally do five forms to get the blood flowing through my muscles before I do any kind of stretching. I do this because I don’t like to stretch cold muscles ( it hurts too much ). I don’t do the forms perfectly, either. I make an effort to put all the movements in, however, I won’t do a face level front snap kick. I will do a knee or waist level kick. This is just to loosen up before serious stretching.

Larry Carr
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor

Partner Stretch

Another thing that I like to do before class is to partner stretch. This can be done in several ways. One way is to have your partner stand with his/her back to the wall. You then pick up their leg (keep the knee straight) and slowly raise it to a point where it feels uncomfortable. They will let you know when they’ve reached their maximum stretch. You then hold this stretch for ten seconds. You then repeat with the same leg and then do the other leg. This was the front rising kick stretch. The next one is the side rising kick stretch. The difference is that instead of you partner’s body facing you as in the last stretch, now their side is facing you. Again, raise the leg as far as is comfortable for your partner, hold for ten seconds then repeat and then do the other leg.

Larry Carr
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)
WMAA Assistant Instructor

Using The Mirror To Practice Taekwondo

Oh mirror mirror on the wall, how are my Taekwondo techniques compared to all?

The mirror in the Dojang can be like a good friend. One that points out your faults in a way that is welcome and non-critical. It can also be a great practice tool. You have probably heard the old saying; "A picture is worth a thousand words." Well, the mirror will let you view your Taekwondo techniques in a way that clearly shows what areas need more work. Mirrors do not lie and what you see will greatly help you decide what techniques to concentrate on in future self-practice sessions.

Many areas of Taekwondo can be improved by including the mirror in your work out. For example:

Forms - Watch yourself as you slowly do your forms. Notice the position of your stances. Are they sharp and correct, or relaxed and sloppy? Are the shoulders straight as you perform the middle body punch? Do your kicks look sharp? Learn to really watch all technical aspects of your form and not just to see if you are doing the movements in the correct sequence.

Kicking Techniques - Accuracy in your kicks can be improved by using the mirror to select targets on your mirror image instead of just going through the kicking motions. Students that just throw kicks and do not think about a specific target area will quickly develop sloppy kicks and not gain control. The accuracy of spinning kicks can also be improved by making sure you acquire the target in the mirror before throwing the kick. After all, your chances of hitting your target are reduced if you don’t see it first.

These are just a few of the many areas where the mirror can be useful in your Taekwondo training. At the end of your mirror practice session, use it one last time to increase your self- awareness and to be your own critic. Are you "dressed for success"? Is the person looking back at you in the mirror the person you want to be? Remember that the last definition in Taekwondo is "Art" or "Way". Sometimes is it good to remind yourself this as you look into the mirror.

Glen Morris
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Stretching and Taekwondo

If you asked Taekwondo students what the least favorite part of Taekwondo class was, I would bet that many would say the stretching. Although many may not enjoy this activity, it is a very important part of Taekwondo.

Besides just increasing flexibility, which is very important to Taekwondo, stretching will greatly reduce injury to joints, muscles and tendons from the stress that Taekwondo puts on them. Proper stretching will also reduce muscle soreness and tension when used correctly.

How to stretch correctly:

You have probably noticed the most Taekwondo black belts perform many joint rotations at the beginning of the stretching routine. There is an important reason for this besides just loosening the joints. These joint rotations help by lubricating the entire joint with synovial fluid. This substance helps your joints function more easily when they are later put through the motions of Taekwondo practice.

Now that your joints are ready to go, the next important part of stretching is the warm up or raising of your body temperature and increasing your cardiovascular output. The increased blood flow in the muscles improves muscle performance and the ability for them to be stretched without creating injury. This is why you will find jumping jacks and other exercises like this towards the beginning of the stretching routine. If you have trouble stretching, you can make it a little easier by getting yourself more warmed up before the class stretching routine starts. Start with the joint rotations and then spend 5 minutes jogging around the Dojang to really get your blood pumping first.

Once a proper warm up is completed the real stretching begins. While I won’t go into a description of the different stretching exercises, I do want to discuss another important item for proper stretching which is breathing. Proper breathing control is an important part of stretching because is helps to relax the body, increases blood flow and helps to remove lactic acid and other by- products of exercise. To breathe properly while stretching, try to exhale while you are actually stretching the muscle and inhale between stretches.

The last part to a successful stretching routine takes place after class. Make sure you take the time to do some light stretching and cool down after class. This will help reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, which is caused by the production of latic acid in the blood stream.

So the next time you are in your Taekwondo class, take some time to think about how important a successful stretching routine will be to your overall success in Taekwondo.

Glen Morris
2nd Dan Black Belt (WTF)

Resource: Stretching and Flexibility (Everything you never wanted to know) by Brad Appleton.


Many people tend to overlook a very important aspect of martial arts training, philosophy. Physical aspects are excellent by-products of martial arts. The tenets of Taekwondo should be practiced not only in the dojang, but in everyday life as well. All students benefit from this philosophy. Courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit are great ways to better yourself.


Meditation can lead to a more positive mental outlook as well. World Martial Arts Academy instructors recommend meditating at least 5-10 minutes daily. This will allow the student to clear his/her mind and prepare themselves for the hectic world.

Find a quiet place where you can comfortably sit Taekwondo style on the floor. Practice proper posture and focus on clearing your mind. Breath deeply and try to relax every inch of your body.


Self-defense is one aspect of martial arts training which students and instructors feel is important to focus on. Students frequently ask instructors how to defend themselves in certain situations. The most important tools of self-defense are arming yourself with confidence and believing in your techniques and capabilities. You should learn a few basic techniques and perfect these. Let yourself become fluid and proficient with basic moves, then adapt these movements to suit your needs and concerns.

  1. Same side shoulder grab—right hand going over attacker’s right hand and grabbing, turning your shoulder and attacker’s hand 90 degrees so attacker’s knife hand is facing up, push down with left elbow on attacker’s elbow.
  2. Same side elbow grab—right hand palm coming up to attacker’s hand and grabbing, turning clockwise pulling attacker toward you.
  3. Behind bear hug—right hand grabbing attacker’s index finger, turning clockwise, pulling down on attacker’s index finger.

One step sparring

Practice each one-step, through your current belt level, 2 times. Next practice each one-step left handed, 2 times. Finally practice each odd numbered one-step, 2 times; then each even numbered one-step, 2 times. If you are feeling very confident, number small pieces of paper with each of the one-steps you are required to know. Place these pieces of paper in a hat and draw one out at random. Continue drawing the pieces of paper until you have done all of the one-steps.

Endurance training

There are many ways to build endurance, Mr. Walker recommends the following exercises as those that work best for him. Remember, every person is different, so feel free to modify these to suit yourself. Mr. Walker’s favorite hobby (other than TKD) is bicycling. He recommends riding for at least � hour every other day. On a daily basis, try jumping rope for at least one minute and gradually build up to 5-10 minutes. Also do speed kicking drills, alternating legs and again gradually building the number of kicks.

Jumping kicks

Taekwondo has many different types of jumping kicks. Students need to strengthen their legs and practice jumping as high as possible. Begin by jumping in place. Gradually increase the height of your jumps. Next, jump and tuck your legs at the same time. Next try jumping and spinning at the same time. Start with a 180 degree spin and work up to a 540 degree spin. Don’t try to put kicks in with your jumps right away, just concentrate on jumping high and tucking your legs.

Jumping front snap kick

Start with a simple jumping front snap kick. Jump with both feet leaving the ground at the same time. Tuck our feet and then front snap kick with your back leg. Start with 10 kicks on each leg. Do 5 sets, to total 100 kicks

Jumping roundhouse kick

Jump with both feet leaving the ground at the same time. Tuck your feet, rotate your hips and roundhouse kick with your back leg. Do 10 kicks with each leg. Do 5 sets, total of 100 kicks.


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