Here we have tried to answer all of the most common questions which beginners ask us. If you need to ask any other questions, we are only to pleased to help – just go to our Contact Us page and email or phone us from there.

What is TaeKwon-Do?

TaeKwon-Do is a Korean martial art which can be loosely described as a cross between Karate and Kickboxing. Literally translated from Korean (where TaeKwon-Do originates) it means “The way of the Hand and Foot”. It is a good means of self-defence and principally uses blocks, kicks, punches, locks and restraints to achieve this. Please see our What is TaeKwon-Do page for a more in-depth explanation.

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What age do you take children from?

We take children from the age of 5 once they have completed their first term in reception class at school (in January). For pre-school age children I recommend you seek out your nearest Tumble Tots class, in my opinion the classes provide excellent learning in co-ordination and balance for the younger child and prepares them really well for moving on to learning a martial art.

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Does it matter how old I am?

No it doesn’t. We teach children from as young as five (subject to an in class assessment) once they have completed their first term in reception (foundation) class, and adults as old as eighty are training in clubs around the country. Because TaeKwon-Do requires self-imposed discipline, the only limit is yourself.

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Do I need to be fit, and will I get fit?

No, you don’t need to be fit or flexible. The training we give you will increase both. We do not expect beginners to have had any previous experience of martial art, we expect them generally to be unfit and often also overweight. As with taking up any physical activity it is wise to seek the advice of your doctor if you are at all unsure if you are fit enough to take up such an activity.

In the early weeks you will probably curse me; there will be times that you will be very out of breath, muscles screaming for mercy, and get very sweaty! Some mornings you will wake up stiff and achy; STICK WITH IT! In 4 – 6 weeks of training, the difference you will notice in yourself will be great. After six weeks, you will see brand new beginners struggling to keep up, and you will realise how far you’ve come. For more information please see our page on fitness.

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What will TaeKwon-Do do for me/my child?

TaeKwon-Do improves fitness, strength and flexibility. It also teaches self-defence which increases confidence in our students. As a martial art, it allows self-expression and, particularly in younger students, teaches self-control and discipline.

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Will I learn to defend myself?

The practical application of TaeKwon-Do in real self-defence situations is very frequently covered in the sessions. We cannot claim that after six months of training you will be able to defeat any opponent, only that you can hope to be more aware of things you can try to help yourself. The best lesson you can learn is to not put yourself into a dangerous situation in the first place, but if it happens you need to be armed with some techniques you can call upon instinctively, and we hope to be able to arm you with these – but as is mentioned in the section on self-defence, it takes much practice and maintenance for these skills to be available to you when you need them.

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Will I get hurt?

TaeKwon-Do is a contact sport/art, so of course we cannot guarantee that you will never be hurt. However, accidents rarely happen and even then are rarely serious (you can expect the occasional bruise!). Our semi-contact free sparring is always done wearing protective equipment; head guard, gloves, foot protectors, shin guards, groin guards and gum shields. Before you can take part in any of the contact aspect of TaeKwon-Do you will need to have joined our club and governing body, the ITC, which will cover you for insurance purposes also.

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What clothing do I need?

Initially, a t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms is fine. Please ensure that the trousers you (or your child) wear are not so long that they come down under the soles of your feet as this can cause you to slip over. We train in bare feet, and one of our traditions and also for safety, we remove any jewellery before training. Once you decide to stay, training suits (called doboks) are available to buy from us. These cost £36 – £38 each depending on the size.

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Do I have to take exams?

The belt system in TaeKwon-Do is such that, to work up through the belts, gradings do need to be taken. However, it is purely your own choice when you take them and if you do not feel ready, you will not be pressured into it. Gradings are available in the Bristol South Ashton and Bristol North Bradley Stoke venues every three months, although for children expect them to be ready to grade roughly every six months. There are ten belt colours to go through before reaching black belt; the minimum time to reach black belt is three and a half years.

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Do I have to enter competitions?

No. The ITC is a large organization and there are plenty of opportunities to enter competitions for those that wish to but it is entirely optional. Nobody will be forced to compete who does not wish to but for those who enjoy it there is a lively competition scene. Please see our competitions page for more information.

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What Does it all Cost?

The basic training costs are paid by monthly subscription of £43 per month which is usually paid by standing order. For families wishing to train, the second student from the same household costs £43, the third costs £20, the fourth costs £15 and the fifth is FREE! There is no ‘by the lesson’ or ‘once a week’ rate.

Training is based on attending at least two sessions per week, but any of our students can train at any of our clubs – up to six nights per week at no extra cost! There are other costs – yearly membership your club and our governing body, the TCUK, costs £38 each per year – this covers you for insurance purposes and is mandatory. Each grading costs £28 – gradings are available every 3 months, although children generally grade every 6 months. The training suit costs £36 – £38 depending on size, and a full set of equipment used for sparring is currently £146 for males and £124 for females.

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When and where does training take place?

The Bristol North club at Bradley Stoke trains every Thursday and Friday at the Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre, Bristol South Hengrove at Hengrove Leisure Centre every Monday and Wednesday, and Bristol South Ashton at Ashton Park trains at the Ashton Park School every Tuesday and Friday. Please see our Venues page for more details. Remember we ask that you try to train twice a week minimum, but you can train whichever nights suit you, however many times you like – you can train all six nights if you like! It doesn’t cost any more to train any more.

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How Do I Start?

Just turn up! It is helpful if you can aim to arrive 5 – 10 minutes before the start of your first session to introduce yourself and also so we may ensure that an assistant instructor is available to take you through some basics. For children it can sometimes be helpful for them to come along and watch a session first – otherwise we often find they spend more time ‘rubbernecking’ to see what’s going on in the rest of the class than taking in any of what they’re being taught!

Parents are always welcome to stay and watch any of the classes.

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Can I train at different clubs or do I have to stick to just one?

You are welcome to train in any of our three clubs (Bradley Stoke, Hengrove and Ashton). Each club trains twice a week; you can train one night at one club and one night at another if it suits you, and you can train for as many nights each week you like, as long as you try to make the minimum of two nights per week.

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Are the classes term time only – do you stop for the holidays?

We train all the time, we don’t stop for the school holidays. We stop for some of the bank holidays and the Christmas period (although we train at least once between Christmas and New Year, to try and work off some of that turkey!). If Mr Martin is ill or taking a holiday, classes will be covered by another fully qualified instructor – so the classes will always be on! Occasionally we have to cancel a class if a hall is being used for another purpose as sometimes happens in Southville due to blood donor sessions, but you will be informed of these well in advance – see the Calendar of Events page.

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How often do I have to train?

Because we cover a syllabus of material enabling students to potentially take a grading every 12 weeks, it is important that you aim to train a minimum of twice a week. Training for less than that means you will quickly fall behind other students training at your level and will be in a constant state of ‘catch up’ which is frustrating not only for you, but for the other students and instructors alike. From a fitness point of view, even twice a week is not enough if TaeKwon-Do is your only form of exercise! You should be aiming at three sessions of exercise a week to maintain your fitness.

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Do you have separate classes for beginners?

No, beginners are taught in a small group separately from the main class, by an assistant instructor. The basics of TaeKwon-Do can often be picked up very quickly, and as soon as we feel you are ready you will be able to join in with the main class. It is important that you can see and try to emulate more senior grade students – you can learn much from them! In time it will be you that the beginners will be trying to emulate!

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Do you have separate ladies classes?

No, all of our classes are mixed. This does however mean that women have the opportunity to practice their self-defence moves on men! We are a very friendly bunch, however if you feel at all uncomfortable during a session, please always make myself or another of the instructors or black belts aware and we will do all we can to help.

The sparring sessions that take place in class are mixed – you will be facing both men and women, however it is always expected that the men go easier on the women unless you tell them not to! (mind you, we’ve had a few chaps quite surprised to find they’re fighting a demon woman!) Sparring is very closely monitored at all times by qualified instructors, and if you feel anyone, male or female, is going too hard you are encouraged to say so and the issue will be dealt with.

Sparring at competition level however is single sex.

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Can I train at the same time as my child?

No. Although children are essentially taught the same syllabus as adults, the way they are taught is very different. As you might expect, a child’s concentration span can be a lot shorter than that of an adult (well, generally!) and so their sessions are broken into smaller chunks, interspersed with various games aimed not only at refreshing their minds, but also getting them fit without realising it!

There is also the issue of physical size – we take children from the age of five, and generally once children reach the age of around 13 they are just too big for the kids class!

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My child is lacking in confidence, will TaeKwon-Do help them?

Experience has shown that TaeKwon-Do can certainly help with a child’s confidence. On a very basic level TaeKwon-Do helps to teach balance, co-ordination and self-awareness which has been shown can be vital steps in building an individuals confidence. Tying on the next colour of belt can be a huge boost – the child can look back and see how far they’ve progressed, whilst still looking forward to the next level they are aiming to achieve.

Having the opportunity to ‘teach’ other more junior students (in ability, not necessarily age!) can also be a huge confidence boost to any individual (this teaching is always closely monitored by a qualified instructor), once I feel a child is ready and they are happy to try, I encourage them to give it a go.

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My child is needing some more discipline, can you help?

The TaeKwon-Do dojang (training hall) has very definite rules and etiquette which all students and instructors alike are expected to follow. The rules are based fundamentally on respect – for yourself, and all others around you. If any students choose not to follows these rules they are given warnings and ultimately penalties (I have occasionally had to exclude adults from classes, though thankfully not very often). If the poor behaviour continues I will speak to both the child and parent, and we will normally come to an agreement about how the behaviour will be handled during the class. For the sake of both the individual who is misbehaving, and that of the other students and instructors around him/her, I will not allow poor behaviour in the class to continue.

That said however, we often find that the children whom we are told are ‘handfuls’ at home, can turn out to be some of our most attentive, hard working, helpful and delightful students!

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My child has learning difficulties/ADHD/Autism, is TaeKwon-Do suitable for them?

I judge each student individually. My response to any parent who informs me that their child has any form of learning or behavioural difficulty or who are not neurotypical, is to ‘give them a go’ – the one month’s free training is there for this very reason. Often parents have been surprised at how well their child has taken to TaeKwon-Do. It does not suit everyone. That said, we have trained many children that have been labelled with ‘ADHD’ with much success, and have several students training who have Autism Spectrum Disorder – other students are generally very understanding, helpful and patient towards them.

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Do I have to sign a contract?

No, subscriptions are paid monthly but there is no contract to sign. You will however need to join your club and our governing body at an annual cost of £38; this also covers you for insurance purposes.

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Where do I buy the equipment from?

From us. Again for insurance reasons the sparring equipment is made to the high specifications of our governing body and so is only available through us. The doboks (training suits) are also only available through us as they have the association logo and embroidery on them. For details of the equipment available and prices please ask.

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Are the instructors qualified and DBS checked?

Yes, I (Russ Martin) am a fully qualified instructor and a qualified coach with the National Coaching Federation. My qualifications are recognised by the Sports Council of Great Britain. All my assistant instructors are also fully qualified and insured, we are all regularly DBS checked and follow strict guidelines on child safety. For more information on all the instructors please see the instructors page.

I haven’t done a martial art before, is that OK?

We expect our beginners to be just that – beginners! We don’t expect you to have had any previous experience of a martial art, although if you have, that’s great! Many skills learnt in other martial arts often easily translate into TaeKwon-Do.

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