Tag Archives: BOXING

Respect is the key in taekwondo

When I saw my local taekwondo training centre was giving free try-out lessons, I had to give it a go.

This isn’t my first experience with a martial art or combat sport. Previously, I’d tried boxing, and before that I obtained a yellow belt in choikwangdo (CKD) which is in some ways pretty similar to taekwondo, so I didn’t feel intimidated or hesitant about giving it a go.

As it was a taster session, no dobok (uniform) was required and everyone was advised to wear flexible and loose clothing. When I arrived at the dojang (as it is called), the first thing that hit me was the temperature.

It was freezing, like Christmas in Moscow, which reminded me of how cold it had been doing my CKD classes. I don’t know if it’s a deliberate tactic, but it certainly encourages you to start the session with a good warm-up, in every sense of the phrase.


Before that, however, we were taught how to bow correctly, which was largely the same as in CKD; straight back, hands by your side, feet parallel and a nice, even bow.

The respect factor in martial arts is huge, and one of the key things that make them so popular all over the world.  Every martial art I have seen, particularly those with Asian roots, have a philosophy that encourages integrity, respect for your opponent and honour in defeat.

The warm-up began with light stretches and a jog of about 15 minutes, and judging by the sweat it produced, it did the job very well.  It may be necessary, but personally it’s the part of the class I enjoyed the least. Then again, who really enjoys warming up in a martial arts class?


We then learned the correct stance for hand strikes (very similar to the bow) – a complete contrast to the orthodox or southpaw approach in boxing – we were taught some basic defensive manoeuvres involving blocking with the forearm, which in turn lead to the most enjoyable part of the lesson, the art of the kick.

From that point, it was not long before we got onto the real business of the session: sparring.

Having learned the technique for sidekicks and front kicks, to finish off, we were asked to line up and test our capabilities on a pad which was a lot smaller than I had been expecting. Clearly, a high standard is placed on students and teachers in taekwondo.

Coming out of the session, I definitely felt like I had had a good time, and it had been a worthwhile way to spend an hour. Knowing techniques from CKD, which were so similar, definitely helped, but the fact I was so rusty meant I did not have a huge advantage on the other learners.


As far as effectiveness goes, even though I only had a short time in there trying it, I came away feeling taekwondo was better than CKD due to the more precise nature of the techniques. However, I also felt both sports are inferior to boxing.

As someone who has tried all three disciplines, I feel boxing keeps you fitter and is more useful in a fight situation, as it teaches you correct ways to avoid being hit through movement of the head and feet, as well as superior striking technique.

That said, I would certainly recommend taekwondo to anyone considering giving martial arts a try for the first time. Free taster/beginner sessions are easy to find and widely available, particularly in London.

It was something I enjoyed, and I learned enough from it to ensure it will be one of the sports that I’ll be keeping an eye out for at this summer’s Olympics in Rio.

Image by M Shaff via Flickr Creative Commons

‘Peace starts at the dinner table’

Ella Simola has swum at the Finland Junior Championships, tried her hand at karate, Muay Thai and MMA and is about to begin boxing training. She is also a vegan.

The 21-year-old from Tampere made the switch to a fully plant-based diet at the age of 15.

“I had always been an animal lover – just like any other kid, I would have never wanted to hurt them,” she told me. “But it was hard to make that connection as our society sees animals as products. One day I accidentally saw a part of a documentary about slaughterhouses, and I was shocked.”

Horrified by the cruelty she had witnessed, she started doing research about changing her diet.

“I transitioned to vegetarianism at first, and when I was a bit more familiar with nutrition and such, I went fully vegan. It was the best decision of my life.”

Switching to a plant-based diet not only put the young adolescent’s conscience at rest, but it also boosted her swimming.


“It seemed like my body had been waiting for me to change to this diet all along. I noticed a change in my energy levels immediately,” Ella said.

“I didn’t feel a need to take a nap before training anymore, and my swimming felt easier. Also, my skin got clearer.”

“My love for martial arts comes from the same reason why veganism appeals to me as a lifestyle so strongly- the goal to live a peaceful life. And peace always starts at the dinner table”

Ella is an advocate for everyone at least trying veganism.

“There’s a lot of research suggesting that plant-based diet is the healthiest choice, but also a lot against it, although most of this is basically propaganda, as meat, dairy and egg industries are big gold mine after all.

“From my own experience I can say that I have never felt better. I sleep better, have energy to work out and have restored a healthy relationship with food.

“I have heard many people tell how they have cured from eating disorders with the help of a vegan diet. A lot of athletes, also bodybuilders, do great as vegans and are able to build muscle without any problems.

“I have also learnt to listen to my body’s needs now, and know how to nourish myself with the right foods.”


In 2010, Ella also took another radical turn in her life, this time deciding to give up swimming for the Koovee Club even though she had excelled in the pool.

“I quit because I just didn’t feel like I could stay dedicated to it any longer. I trained seven times a week and basically didn’t have any free time.

“It was a huge thing for me to quit, because swimming had been my whole life for eight years, and it had provided me with such amazing memories.

“I don’t regret my decision, though, because afterwards I had time to invest my energy to other things. I found out that I was talented in other sports and I started enjoying training again. ”

Martial arts became her focus , and she initially took up karate.


“When I quit competitive sports and left swimming behind me, I became fascinated with self-defence. I discovered David Meyer, who does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and speaks proudly about animal rights,” she said.

“Inspired by him I did karate, Thai boxing and MMA. The thing about these sports is not that you become more violent, but that you learn to avoid confrontations.

“My love for martial arts comes from the same reason why veganism appeals to me as a lifestyle so strongly – the goal to live a peaceful life. And peace always starts at the dinner table.”

Ella’s next sporting challenge is boxing: “I have totally fallen in love with boxing and I do want to compete in it. Considering my combat background, I hope it will happen soon.”