Attending a first martial arts class for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the the language and traditions!
Below is an outline of what you can expect at a normal class. But don’t worry if you forget something—we’re always happy for you to ask when you’re confused.
For your first class, we suggest you arrive 10-15 minutes early so that you have time to change, stretch out, and get ready to focus and exercise.
Speaking of exercise—expect to get a little bit tired and thirsty in class; that’s a good sign! We will have some shared water available during class, but it is always better to bring your own water bottle so that you can stay hydrated.
Separate boys’ and girls’ changing rooms are available. Don’t worry, we’ll show you wear they are!
You’ll need to get into your uniform, which you get for free when you sign up. Remember to take off your shoes and socks, because we practice in bare feet. Don’t worry about your belt yet—we have a special way to tie it that we will teach out.
Once you’re ready for class, go ahead and head to the mat (if another class is in session, have a seat and wait for it to finish). At the edge of the mat, stop, place your arms at your side, and bow toward the center of the mat. In Korean martial arts like TaeKwonDo, this is a way that we show respect to our “dojang,” or training space. Bow like this every time you get on or off the mat.
If class hasn’t started yet, take some time to warm up and stretch. We ask new students to do 10 push-ups, 10 crunches or sit-ups, and 10 jumping jacks. After that, you can stretch, practice your kicks on a punching bag, or do something else active to help you warm up.
When it’s time to start class, an instructor will tell everyone to line up. We line up according to belt rank—the highest ranking belt is first in line, with lower ranks toward the back. We line up like this for 3 reasons:
- It shows respect to the higher belts who have been training for longer.
- It makes it easier for higher belts to help us teach, because they have learned more.
- It makes it easier for lower belts to watch and learn in case they are unsure what to do.
If you’re not sure where to stand, just ask an instructor or a higher belt where to go.
We always start class bowing to each other and to our Peacemakers flag, to show respect to our instructors, classmates, and the Academy’s tradition. We then all recite together our Peacemaker’s Pledge, so that we can remind ourselves about the type of people we want to be. It’s ok if you don’t have it memorized yet—we have it posted on the wall, so you can just read it!
Next, we spend a few minutes doing a breathing or mindfulness exercise; we do this to help us focus our attention, become more aware of our emotions and our bodies, and to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for class. Best of all, these exercises aren’t just for TaeKwonDo class—they are really simple tools that can help you focus or calm down at school and home as well.
The rest of class is broken into sections. First, we take time to warm up and exercise a little bit, making ourselves faster and stronger. Second, we work on our fundamental techniques and patterns, which helps us learn focus, balance, precision, and self-control. Third, we practice our self-defense and sparring skills, which teach us to use our skills effectively if we are attacked. Finally, we take time to practice our peacemaking skills, where we work on character formation, nonviolent communication, and emotional awareness so that we can handle conflict in peaceful and compassionate ways. (Note that if you’re attending the second class, you’ll be doing peacemaking first!)
That’s it! And the end of class, we’ll line up for a little bit more respectful bowing an any final announcements. Then you’re free to go change and head home, excited about everything you learned.
Above all – have fun, ask questions, and try new things. It doesn’t matter what you know right now; it matters how you learn next!