What is First Tae Kwon Do?
What are the differences between Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Kung Fu?
Is martial art training dangerous?
Does martial art training encourage violence?
Is First Tae Kwon Do good for health and fitness?
How fit do I have to be to start training?
At what age can my child start First Tae Kwon Do training?
When would I be too old to start training?
How much does training cost?
What style of Tae Kwon Do does First Tae Kwon Do teach?
What are the ranks?
How long does it take to become a Black Belt?
What happens when I achieve my Black Belt?
Can I transfer my rank (or grade) from another Tae Kwon Do school or another martial art?
Do you train in weapons?
Can I compete in tournaments?
Can I cross-train in other martial arts?
How do I start First Tae Kwon Do training? Do I need to book in?

 

What is First Tae Kwon Do?
First Tae Kwon Do is a traditional martial art school. We teach the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do for both practical self-defence purposes and the personal development of our members (in terms of physical conditioning, mental discipline, and other qualities). The head of First Tae Kwon Do is Master Vernon Low. He was the first Tae Kwon Do instructor in Australia when he began teaching in Adelaide in the 1960s, hence the school’s name. In addition to his original South Australian branches, Master Low expanded his school to Western Australia and now has many branches in Perth as well.

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What are the differences between Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Kung Fu?
Most Asian martial arts trace their history back to China, but in essence, Tae Kwon Do formally originated in Korea, Karate in Japan (via Okinawa), and Kung Fu in China. Each art shares some common elements with the others, but each one developed using different principles to maximise its effectiveness. In Tae Kwon Do, we generally use a greater percentage of leg techniques to give an increased reach advantage and to keep opponents outside their preferred striking range. Karate and Kung Fu practitioners generally use a greater percentage of hand and arm techniques, compared to Tae Kwon Do, but that is not to say that we neglect those techniques!

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Is martial art training dangerous?
It is a common misconception that martial art training is dangerous, with a relatively high risk of injury. In First Tae Kwon Do, all members learn about safety, respect and self control in training from Day 1. While there is always some risk of physical injury, most members will encounter no injuries or only very minor injuries. Typically, the types of injuries seen in school sports (even non-contact sports such as basketball or netball) are more severe than what we encounter in our traditional martial art training.

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Does martial art training encourage violence?
Another common misconception is that martial art training encourages violence. In our experience, the reverse is generally true. In First Tae Kwon Do, the moral use of martial art skills is foundational to our training. All members are taught to respect each other as individual human beings; after only a few months’ training, all should have developed a basic understanding that getting into a physical conflict is probably the least desirable self-defence option. That said, it is up to each individual to decide how he/she will approach martial art training and conduct him/herself through life.

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Is First Tae Kwon Do good for health and fitness?
First Tae Kwon Do has many benefits, of which better health and fitness are just a couple. Apart from strength, endurance, balance, coordination, and flexibility, First Tae Kwon Do is also excellent for building up mental toughness and calmness, developing strong concentration skills and for stress relief. Bear in mind that outcomes will depend on how much effort you put into training, and that any exercise should be undertaken intelligently and safely. First Tae Kwon Do involves all the major muscle groups, both in individual exercises and in paired exercises (where you and a training partner provide physical resistance to each other). A lot of our training focuses on mobility (avoiding an attack) and kicking, which both involve moving your entire body weight, and will help ensure that you will burn off any excess fat quickly. If you put in a reasonable effort, you should have an excellent all-round cardiovascular workout.

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How fit do I have to be to start training?
Many beginners do express concerns about how fit they should be before starting their First Tae Kwon Do training. You will need to have a basic level of fitness so that you can participate in class to a reasonable degree, but we recognise and support each individual at their current level of fitness. We do not put pressure on beginners to ‘keep up’ in terms of physical fitness; it is no problem at all to do your best, and then ‘step out’ for the remainder of an exercise. It is important to remember that most First Tae Kwon Do members, including instructors, are just ordinary people who were not necessarily very fit when they started their own journey in First Tae Kwon Do!

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At what age can my child start First Tae Kwon Do training?
All prospective members need to have at least a basic understanding of moral concepts and of the consequences of their actions. They also need to be able to understand and follow instructions, and be able to maintain reasonable focus over an hour-long class, otherwise they will not be able to benefit from the training. Starting children too early will be a frustrating exercise for them, and could well turn them off training, which would see them miss out on the many long term benefits. In general, most children should be ready to begin First Tae Kwon Do training from the age of five years. For younger children, we recommend introductory gymnastics training as an excellent foundation on which to build First Tae Kwon Do training.

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When would I be too old to start training?
As we age, our bodies obviously become more limited in a physical sense, but your attitude will probably be a much better indicator of whether you are ‘too old’ to start training. While all members work to improve on their physical conditioning, we recognise and support each member’s current capabilities, regardless of age. In general, you are probably your own best judge of the maximum starting age. We do have older First Tae Kwon Do students, including Black Belts into their 60s and beyond, who train regularly.

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How much does training cost?
We do not have contracts; fees are simply paid at the beginning of each calendar month. You do not pay any fees for months in which you do not train. Our monthly training fees are probably the lowest on average for any mainstream martial art school in Australia. Family discounts are applicable. The Branch Instructors are all senior students; most have been continuously training in Tae Kwon Do for 15 to 45 years, some are professional martial arts instructors, others have their own full-time professions outside First Tae Kwon Do. We teach because we love bringing our martial art to the community, Please call us on 0411 831 650 or e-mail us at john.obrien@firsttaekwondo.com.au to find out about our fees.

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What style of Tae Kwon Do does First Tae Kwon Do teach?
We teach the original style of Tae Kwon Do that some refer to as the ‘Chang-Hon’ style. Our style is what the International Taekwon-Do Federation style developed from and the World Taekwondo Federation style went the sporting way from. All current Tae Kwon Do styles worldwide ultimately came from the same style that we continue to train and persevere with in First Tae Kwon Do.

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What are the ranks?
As with many other Asian martial arts, First Tae Kwon Do ranks are marked by coloured belts. The lighter colours denote more junior ranks, while the darker colours denote more senior ranks. Beginners start with a white belt, and move to a white belt with yellow tip (stripe) after passing their first grading examination. The next belt colour is yellow, followed by green, blue, brown, and then black. In First Tae Kwon Do, black belt ranks mark advanced training ranks.

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How long does it take to become a Black Belt?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, but there is no set answer, as this depends very much on each individual’s ability and dedication. Master Low encourages all new beginners to aspire to achieve the black belt ranks, but obviously this will take a lot of work, and entering the black belt ranks denotes the beginning of advanced training. (Many people seem to hold the misconception that achieving a black belt means that they have finished training!) Generally, around three years of regular training (two classes per week as a junior belt, and three classes per week as a senior belt) should see a student be ready to apply for his/her black belt grading under Master Low. Achieving black belt level involves more than just physical kicking and punching. For those who have the determination and spirit, achieving black belt status marks the commencement of learning the ‘Art’.

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What happens when I achieve my Black Belt?
As mentioned in the answer to the preceding question the student can now commence advanced training. All black Belts in Australia have access to the unique First Taekwondo Black Belt Master Class, taught by Master Instructor Low It is here that the advanced techniques, necessary for further promotion within the Black Belt ranks, are taught.

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Can I transfer my rank (or grade) from another Tae Kwon Do school or another martial art? (In Korean, these are known as Kup or Dan ranks.)
No, but Master Low assesses every student at each quarterly grading, and any students who have the appropriate attitude and skills may be upgraded accordingly. If you are applying for membership in First Tae Kwon Do, we assume that your values and goals are similar to ours, so we will be aiming to help you build on the quality of your skills (e.g., practical usefulness) rather than being too concerned about moving through the ranks as quickly as possible.

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Do you train in weapons?
No. In Australia, members of the public cannot legally carry weapons; but we do carry around our bodies and minds with us 24 hours a day, so those are the tools of self-defence we train to protect ourselves with. We do train in defence against common hand held weapons and as such practise disarming tactics in class.

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Can I compete in tournaments?
No. First Tae Kwon Do is a traditional martial art, not a martial sport. We train to perfect technique for real self-defence applications, not for point-scoring or competitions. We believe that, as opposed to the sport approach, the traditional art approach builds physically stronger and more mentally confident practitioners. Of course, any martial art or martial sport style that is taught properly and practised diligently will have benefits, and we certainly do not want to detract from what any serious martial artist might be seeking to accomplish. It is common sense that you should choose a style or school that matches what you are trying to achieve.

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Can I cross-train in other martial arts?
No. First Tae Kwon Do is a traditional martial art school, so all members are expected to show the traditional loyalty to a single master instructor; in this case, Master Low, as the head of First Tae Kwon Do. In principle, there are no problems with members stopping training in First Tae Kwon Do and learning another martial art, and then later returning to First Tae Kwon Do if they wish. Bear in mind that our general philosophy is that it is better to learn one art, and learn it extremely well, than to learn several arts to a lower level. Our art focuses on mobility, generally involving avoiding an attack and then counter-attacking as needed; this maximises our chances of survival against a bigger assailant or multiple assailants. Also note that advanced training in First Tae Kwon Do does incorporate skills (such as grappling and throwing) that other martial arts focus more on. As mentioned above, you should choose a style or school that matches what you are trying to achieve.

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How do I start First Tae Kwon Do training? Do I need to book in?
All you need to do is call 0411 831 650 or e-mail john.obrien@firsttaekwondo.com.au to find out class venues and times, and then get to one of our conveniently located Adelaide classes 15 minutes early to speak to the Branch Instructor and request a trial lesson. We have centres located at Adelaide University and the suburbs of Elizabeth Downs, Gawler, Glenelg, Greenwith, Henley Beach, Ingle Farm, Kensington, Mitcham, Modbury, Port Adelaide/Woodville, Salisbury, Tea Tree Gully, Morphett Vale, Mount Barker, and Wynn Vale. The trial lesson is free, and we trust you will enjoy it and wish to continue your training in First Tae Kwon Do.

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See Also