Getting Serious About Taekwondo Training…

I was inspired reading the autobiography of one of the world’s greatest dancers Michael Flatley, about when he really decided to make dancing his life’s endeavour,  how his training regime was seriously upgraded…On one occasion, that is, on one training session alone, he went through eleven t- shirts of sweat. Younger dancers said he pushed them so hard that they got physically sick and he always trained harder and demanded more of himself than anyone else because he was the leader.


Most Taekwondo students are familiar with the expertise of Grandmaster Hee Il Cho and his relentless training to develop jumping back kicks. He must have put in hours and hours into breaking down each part of the initial jump and spin. He must have made zillions of mistakes, had lots of injuries, as he worked away on building up strength in his legs and speed in turning his hips. This kind of repetitive training, day in and day out, brings a whole new meaning to the word “boredom “. Clearly if one is this focused on perfection of a dance routine or a jumping spinning back kick, a level of determination is reached so much so that boredom never enters into the equation. You just eradicate any negative thought and continue the arduous drills and seek to perfect technique. The journey of self discovery becomes rewarding when our repetitions become automatic if required.


Liverpool’s Alfie Lewis in the groundbreaking competition days of British Martial Arts was a great fighter and fearless in competition, he is now a legend with titles spanning almost two decades. In a recent interview withMAImagazine editor Bob Sykes, he talks of  training so hard on some occasions that he entered a trance like state known as “Mushin”  which means Open Mind, where combinations of kicks and punches that he perfected for competition became instinctive, the kick or punch landed on the opponent without any fore thought, again automatic response.

All three of the above appeared ‘at one with themselves’ when in performance, an almost out of body experience to get to the levels they managed to reach. Extreme practise, I mean a serious two hours every morning and evening for even a few months, with the help and encouragement of likeminded individuals (or ones that are unknown to you, see below) will definitely aid and benefit your progress. If life for you right now will not allow for this, I would recommend you plan ahead and block off a few weeks or months to try it out. We all have felt the euphoria after training, a massive feel good factor, just rewards after a tough session. This however is still a bit off from what I am trying to convey here, feeling of ‘at one’ with all your faculties, on a real natural high. We all need a good push now and then, so why not try  and  train harder than you ever did up to now, more intense squats, sprints, running longer, circuits with weights, sparring, grappling or any combination or facet of the arts. Mix hard with soft, meditate, even if you only switch off for five minutes a day, alone and unannounced. Explore some Pilates, Yoga or Tai Chi.  Just a few weeks of self imposed extreme practise will force you to dig deep inside and experience the sensation, or really, more the feeling of the phenomenon of “Mushin”.

Serious training need not be unhealthy or indeed unsafe, but will most definitely require a very clear commitment. Clear goals with dates marked down and memorised make for a mix of excitement and focus. A set of determined, goal oriented press ups, counter attacks, spinning kicks and back fists are a lot better than ordinary ones. If you want to make any progress, please realise that you cannot resort to just the ordinary, as this is a convenient label.  Acting ordinary or worse, “Feeling” ordinary is just a social limitation imposed upon us placing a negative slow moving frequency or vibration into our conditioning. As Martial Artists, we have the advantage of being extraordinary every time we set foot in the training hall. So when you are in your uniform next class, realise that you are somebody that has high value. Raise your internal radar of self worth. Get into some serious training. Turn up for your class a bit earlier and be warmed up beforehand. Squeeze those sit ups out, kick that air shield with all you have, do everything, complete all the drills, try stretching more than just your body, stretch your mental muscles too. Seek out some role models and mentors, question them and try and emulate what you admire about them but always be your own person.

Finally, a word on training partners. While is it great to enjoy training (enjoyment is one of the fundamentals of training,) with a safe and trusted partner, the downside, especially from a martial arts viewpoint, is that we only maintain technique, we do not advance. Enjoyable, co operative and compliant partners are great for maintenance and I do this every week for my own training. But really the ones that push us physically are the ones we do not know. Most clubs will have members park their cars in exactly the same place, stand in exactly the same place when the instructor calls to line up, and yes partner with almost the exact partner every week. This is normal, and you guessed it, this is deemed ordinary and safe. Enjoyable and safe yes, serious advancement no. It is exactly the same mentally. The ones that make us react, or who we judge as unconventional, inconsiderate and uncooperative really make us grow. Try on occasions to seek out the uncoordinated, the maverick, the ones that give you a bit of a hard time. Can you remember the teachers who taught you the best lessons? Who was that school teacher who gave you a hard time? Who bullied you at school? At work? Who rejected you in your life? Who beat you getting on the team? All these people forced you to be better, to stand up for yourself and most likely to join a martial arts school. These great “Real Life” experiences pushed your buttons the hardest, so you had to change and adapt.   Remember you will only make progress in any road of self improvement if you seek small doses of discomfort along the way. One can stay in one’s comfort zone and this is where I dwell mostly. However I know in order to grow I must on occasions, try and leave it to test myself. When I return, I always to find my knowledge and abilities have increased. Set your goals to experience some self imposed hard training. Try to tackle some fear you may have, even only for a while, by putting yourself deliberately in some arena where you’re slightly out of your depth. By doing this, you will find you will develop not only as a martial artist, but as a person.

Your comments from last month’s blog were very much appreciated. As always, feel free to take a chance and put your comments on line, so we all can share your thoughts, learn from your experience, see things from your point of view and grow together.

Until next month, enjoy every present moment of life.

With Respect

Frank Murphy

2 Responses to Getting Serious About Taekwondo Training…

  • Mark Crowley says:

    Inspiring words, and so true. Getting out of the comfort zone is so important, and pushing yourself hard towards a goal can be so rewarding.

    • Master Frank Murphy says:

      Thank you Sir, having a few good partners who share mutual training interests, values and goals can be one of the best supports along the way. Again these are all nice inspiring words as you say the inspiring actions await us all.

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