Things I Hate About Tae Kwon Do

1) The Dobok

Could there be a worse outfit to wear for athletic endeavors? It’s stiff and hot and white and has long sleeves and pants. Did I mention that that top is slit up the sides? And then top it off by tying a belt around your waist. Can you imagine playing basketball in long pants? Think of boxing in a giant, long bell-sleeved denim shirt.  I still can’t figure out why gymnasts don’t perform their routines with a stiff cotton belt tied around their waists.

I want to wear a dri-fit shirt and shorts or leggings like I wear for running. How about baseball pants or at least something else conducive to movement? How about something sleeveless that shows off my guns? How about something my panties don’t show through?


2) The Togetherness

I don’t like any activity where the phrase “now get a partner” pops up. I have the very real urge to flee to the bathroom, or fake an incoming phone call, or just peel out of the parking lot all-together!

It’s bad enough when we do it at Sunday School. But at least there we just have to sit on our couches and discuss the scripture we’ve read with the person sitting next to us. At Tae Kwon Do, the BEST partnering up can mean is that you practice skills together, usually kicks. I feel really awkward when we do that because I’m so unskilled, I feel like I’m keeping my partner from practicing at full speed.

But the greatest horror of Tae Kwon Do is if they ask us to pair up during warm ups. It was bad enough when I had to lay on my side on the floor and let a woman sit on top of me and straddle my waist so I could do sideways crunches. It was even worse when we had to link ankles with our partner and do sit ups together. “Hi barely known acquaintance! Let’s throw our faces at each others sweaty crotches fifty times in a row.”

I really didn’t think it could get any creepier than that.

I should’ve known better.


Monday, as I drove to class I thought, “Please, God.  Just don’t let us partner up.” We began, lined up, ran a couple of laps around the mat and then, there it was. “Everybody get a partner!” I sighed and rolled my eyes. (This is why I’m a prize student.)

And then my life passed in front of my eyes as the instructor continued, “Now sit feet to feet with your partner.” Annnnnnnnnnd I was dead.

You realize we’re barefoot, right?

I do not particularly care for feet. Mine or others. That’s one of the reasons I have always taken issue with man sandals. Ain’t nobody got time to see long, hairy, naked man toes. (I’ve finally found a sense of resignation with my mandal problem, but not a sense of comfort.) It’s not even a hygiene thing. Feet are just – weird.

After years and years, I’ve gotten to the point where I can deal with my own bare feet. If my toenails are painted and there’s nothing too gross looking going on with my toes from running, my feet are almost cute. I’ve come a long way.

And I’ve even mostly handled the fact that Tae Kwon Do is practiced barefoot. But Lawd, my heart is racing right here sitting at the computer just thinking about having to sit foot to foot with that nice young man Monday night! (At least it wasn’t the creepy old man who left a scar on my finger when he kicked me with his thick, yellow. inch-long toenails one night when he missed the target I was holding.)

3) Lack of Punching

I kind of assumed that there would be more punching. Oh, we air punch in our poomsae. But most of our contact and target work is kicking. This skill doesn’t come as naturally as punching. I could’ve punched something really hard the day I walked in the door. And I was looking forward to it. I thought I was going to be able to deal with some aggression. I figured I would’ve gotten to put on some sparring gear by now and punch somebody in the head. But alas, there is nothing but lame, powerless flailing with my legs. I couldn’t kick anybody in the face unless they squatted down.



At least this guy gets to wear comfortable clothes to do his kicking!

But in spite of my eyerolling and sighing, I feel compelled to keep going to class because I paid for a year. I don’t hate it like I make it sound. I’m certainly engaging in some hyperbole for the sake of humor. But man, I’ll quit complaining about the dobok if I can just exchange that for never having to touch anyone’s feet again! *shiver!*


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7 responses to “Things I Hate About Tae Kwon Do”

  1. Thomas Jones says :

    You apparently never researched the various martial arts schools in your area.
    The dojo I belonged to had no contracts. One fee monthly and you could attend as many classes in your skill level as you wanted.

    Too bad you paid up front for one year. But I did find a link for karate schools in Atlanta:

    The style I took has a dojo in Atlanta:

    I was fortunate to train under a great sensei:

    This was one of the most humbling and worthwhile experiences in my life. And so, I’m disappointed that you apparently are not enjoying your training.

    Most schools will allow you to observe classes before you make up your mind.

    Tae Kwon Do emphasizes kick skills more than punches or strikes with the arm/hand.

    But I did laugh at this:
    “(At least it wasn’t the creepy old man who left a scar on my finger when he kicked me with his thick, yellow. inch-long toenails one night when he missed the target I was holding.)”

    I remember with regret (wince) completely taking off a partner’s toe nail when blocking his front kick.

    His fault: No rings, necklaces, or long toe nails and finger nails. Standard protocol.

  2. Thomas Jones says :

    Oh, Deanna. Found another north of Atlanta:

  3. Beth Plemmons says :

    No feet. Ever. I even hate my own.

  4. khendersonnn says :

    I don’t want to be discouarging, but seriously if you have this many complaints about Tae Kwon Do, you should quit and do something else. Like boxing, which is about hitting people. Tae Kwon Do is so much more. It conditions your mind as well. You don’t just learn how to DEFEND yourself, you learn confidence, self-control, and a whole bunch of other stuff. You can’t be squirmish if you’re going to continue with Tae Kwon Do. I, too, hate feet. But you can’t let that stuff get to you because I guarentee it’ll only get more personal. The dobok is actually traditional and it’s a really neat thing.

    Anyway, that’s just my soap box moment. I wish the best of everything and hope that maybe this helped change your attitude, if not, good luck and God bless.

    • Thomas Jones says :

      This is a good observation. Martial arts has taken on unavoidable commercial aspects, but in the best schools it is an approach to living with respect for oneself and others. I didn’t start training until my forties with the thought of being better equipped to defend myself physically, but I ended up learning much more.

  5. Finn says :

    Perhaps you should find a different style of Taekwon-do? By your description it sounds as if you are doing WTF/Kukkiwon style Taekwon-do. If you are still interested, here is another style of Taekwon-do available to you, it isITF Style or Chang HonTaekwon-do. ITF Taekwon-do does indeed teach punching and blocking with the hands. Our doboks don’t split up the sides and are made up of light materials. We do however do partner exercises, sorry about that. Try looking for an ITF school in your area or asking around to find a school that teaches forms called Hyung or Tul or ask if they teach the “Chon-Ji” form set.

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