Sunday, 4 November 2012

Taiwanese Taekwondo

Taekwondo originates from Korea, but is very popular in Taiwan. It's one of the few sports in which Taiwan competes at Olympic level, as demonstrated at this year's Olympics in London, when Tseng Li-cheng won a bronze in the women's under 57kg event.

Learning a martial art was one of my son's few enthusiasms about coming to live in Taiwan, so I thought it would be best to enrol him at a centre soon after we settled in. The closest centre to our original apartment in Wanlong was luckily run by a patient and kind man who also spoke some English.

One of the best ways to learn another language is to use it in a meaningful way, and my son soon learned to count in Chinese and understand many of the commands, and while there isn't much time for idle chatter during training sessions, the children accepted him as one of their own and made him feel welcome.

Since then, Taekwondo has been a steady constant in our lives. Despite moving away from the area, I take my son back there for sessions twice a week Although he complains sometimes and says as soon as he reaches black belt he's leaving (thankfully that's quite some time away) he's actually very emotionally invested in it.

Last Saturday there was a grading session and I turned up to witness the award ceremony. When it was time for my son's level to receive their new belts, he wasn't called. He was distraught. I could see his head fall into his hands, and the teachers were patting him on his shoulders, in consolation I thought.

But it turned out that he'd been the best performer in his category. He was called with the other winners to receive his special belt.

Two interesting experiences have coincided with Taekwondo, once when we got caught in a thunderstorm, and once when I made the fatal mistake of picking up a lost mobile phone. I'm still waiting for the third to make the set, but I don't leave the house with only my keys anymore.

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