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From The Asian Reporter, V16, #38 (September 19, 2006), page 16.
Korean martial art introduced
Taekwondo for Kids
By Y.H. Park
Tuttle Publishing, 2005
Hardcover, 48 pages, $11.95
By Edward J. Han
Over 50 million people worldwide practice the Korean martial art form of taekwondo. Y.H. Park, seven-time Korean National Champion and coach of the 1988 gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team, has called upon his decades of expertise in writing an informative guide to the popular sport.
Taekwondo translates as "the art of kicking and punching." Master Park appropriately discusses the history of the martial art in the first part of his book. He explains that taekwondo is a philosophy for life and lists increased confidence, better coordination, strength of character, and independent thinking ability as reasons to study the discipline.
"Getting Ready for Taekwondo" is the title of chapter two. The white uniform, or dobuk, is worn with a colored belt. New students start as white belts and progress to darker hues, eventually reaching the black-belt stage. In order to become a sabumnim (instructor), one must achieve a black belt of the fifth degree (dan).
The taekwondo school is called dojang. Chapter three explains the rules of behavior and etiquette that encompass the space of learning. Fellow students, the teacher, and the dojang should all be treated with respect.
The class itself consists of twelve basic elements. After bowing to the teacher and other students, time is devoted to warming up and stretching. Flexibility is a key component of taekwondo. Next comes blocking, kicking, punching, and forms practice. After some sparring sessions, the class ends with a time for meditation. Color illustrations accompany each of these explanations in the book.
There are five main goals of taekwondo, which are outlined in the last chapter. Respect, humility, perseverance, self-control, and honesty are the basic principles that a student of the martial art form should learn.
Taekwondo For Kids is an easy-to-read introduction to a globally popular sport. The descriptions of different moves, stretches, and poses are enhanced by more than 75 full-color drawings. More than just physical exercise, taekwondo is also about discipline of the mind. Although marketed as an instructional book for children, Taekwondo For Kids would be a useful guide for parents and other adults who are interested in learning about this ancient style of martial art.