Unexpected Things I Learned From Tae Kwon Do

When I started tae kwon do a few years ago, I wanted to become stronger, to learn some self-defense, and maybe learn to do some of the fancy kicks you see on TV.

I have done all of those things, but I also learned some unexpected things along the way.

Physical power feels good

I was always one of those people who lived in their heads – my body was just a way to move my brain around. Tae kwon do has put me solidly into my own body, and realizing the power of my own movements has been incredible.

In many situations, women can feel physically vulnerable because of their size, or strength. Learning that I can use my smaller size, my speed and my flexibility to my advantage has changed how I move through the world. It hasn’t made me more aggressive, but it has given me confidence that I can handle physically difficult situations that might arise – whether that is changing a flat tire, or someone grabbing my arm.

Moving backwards

Most of the time, we think of moving backwards as a bad thing, that we are backsliding or moving away from our goals. In tae kwon do, we learn to build power by starting with a slight backwards motion, and I put that principle into practice every time I do any tae kwon do. It’s been great for my brain for problem solving overall – a mental step back is not failure, nor is it a problem, it’s just a way to build some power.


The word discipline tends to make people think of punishment, but that’s only the negative interpretation of the word. Real discipline involves channeling your energy where you want it to go. In tae kwon do, I’ve learned to discipline myself in order to practice, and to put my energy where it needs to be in order to meet my goal – whether that is doing my patterns well, or breaking a board. In the rest of my life, I’ve been able to apply that same discipline to accomplish challenging tasks by focusing my energy on the activities that will get me to my goal.

Learning styles

I was really frustrated in tae kwon do at first because it seemed like I just couldn’t ‘get’ the patterns, the kicks and the punches, no matter how hard I tried. I struggled to practice because I couldn’t be accurate enough to ensure that my practice was effective. Then I did some reading on learning styles and on martial arts, and I found out that while some people learn things easily step-by-step, others have to get the big picture and then suddenly they will have a flash of understanding that lets them put it all together. I’m definitely in the latter group. Practicing this at tae kwon do has made me a lot more patient with myself as I learn new things overall, I practice what I do understand and trust that the big picture will become clear.

So, tae kwon do has not only brought more physical fitness into my life, and introduced me to a whole new group of friends, it has also improved almost every other area of my life. Tae kwon do has taught me the benefits of moving backwards, the importance of disciplining my energy, and how I can be patient while I learn new things. The fact that I can break a board with a kick is just a bonus.

How have you applied lessons from your hobbies to the rest of your life?

C Hennebury

Guest blogger, C. Hennebury

By guest blogger Christine Hennebury. Christine is a writer, storyteller and life coach who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador. Helping people feel a little better right now is one of her favourite things to do. Read her previous posts on GirlGuidesCANBlog: Pretty Powerful Princesses, Don’t Forget to Breath, and Figuring Out Your Feelings.

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