Like with all martial arts balance is a very important aspect that is needed to learn the techniques. This is especially important in TaeKwondo. In a martial art that includes so many types of kicks, you need outstanding balance to be able to perform them.
How does one improve balance in Taekwondo? Children and Adults can improve their balance in Taekwondo by using proper techniques in their stances and by doing particular stretches that help improve flexibility.
Keep reading below as we detail the importance of balance in the martial art of TaeKwondo. We’ll also be going into how you can work on your balance and list studies that showed how training in TaeKwondo helps improve it.
Improving Balance In Taekwondo For Children
There has been research done to see if there are benefits of young adolescents developing balance and sensory function through TaeKwondo.
One particular study was done by the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at The Honk Kong Polytechnic University. You can read the results here on the National Center For Biotechnical Information’s website
In the study 42 adolescents(21 TKD practitioners 21 non TKD practitioners) had their center of gravity tested in a cross-section controlled study.
At the end of the tests, the study showed a vast improvement in the development of postural control and vestibular function. The testers went on to say TKD could be used as therapeutic intervention for children with balance or vestibular function.
Improving Balance In Taekwondo For Adults
Another study done by the University Hospital Maastricht in the Netherlands showed that TKD training helps improve balance for adults over 40.
Over a one year period, 24 volunteers between ages 40-71 participated in an age adapted TKD class one time a week. As balance deteriorates with age, the doctors wanted to see if older adults would improve their balance by participating in TaeKwondo classes.
They did various static and postural balance tests at the beginning and end of the one year period. The conclusion showed improvements in all tests at the end of the one year period practicing TaeKwondo.
According to the study adults over 40 can indeed improve various aspects of their balance by taking part in TKD training. You can read the full study here.
Why Is Balance in TaeKwonDo Important?
Good balance is pivotal in TaeKwondo. Without proper balance none of the techniques performed in TaeKwondo would be done correctly.
Eventually as you put more time into training, you start to develop proper balance and become more coordinated. It is a day and night difference in your balance when you start training and after you put more time in working on it.
All of the techniques you perform begins and ends with how your stance is. You need to have a good stance where your weight is evenly distributed to throw quality and balanced attacks. Here are a couple of things to remember about your stance and proper balance.
Where Your Should Feet Be
Remember to throw a balanced attack, you need to have your feet at least shoulder width or a little more apart. There should be about a step to a step in a half between your front and back leg. If your feet are too far or too close your attacks will be off balance.
How You Should Be Standing
Remember to stand on the balls of your feet to be balanced. This means the center of your feet. Standing any other way will have a negative effect on your balance.
The weight distribution between your feet should be almost even. This will ensure that all of your attacks are balanced and deliver them with the most force possible.
What Happens With An Unbalanced Stance?
What happens in an unbalanced stance depends on how your weight is distributed. Different things will happen if your weight is too far forward or too far back.
If you’re standing with your weight on the front of your feet, you will be liable to lean forward. By leaning forward this opens you up to be an easier target for your opponent. It’s harder to defend attacks from an opponent if you’re leaning forward.
By putting all of your weight on your heels, you make it harder to attack. It also puts you on the defensive and allows the opponent to easily push you back at will. Once an opponent takes control of the mat and has you on your heels it is hard to recover.
How To Train Balance For TaeKwondo?
There are many different ways you can train balance for TaeKwondo. Below is a list of detailed methods for balance training. We’ll go through a variety of different training methods to improve your balance for TaeKwondo.
Dynamic stretching is something every TaeKwondo class does at the beginning of class. Not only does this increase your flexibility, but it also improves your balance. Take time out of your day to go through the same stretching routine you do in class outside of class. You will see drastic improvements in your balance and flexibility.
For more dynamic stretches try some of these.
Stand on one foot and rotate your raised leg 10 times clockwise/counterclockwise. Repeat the movements on the other leg.
Kick Stretches(Leg Swings)
Without bending your knee go through the motions of a kick in a controlled/fluid motion. You can go through the motions of a front kick, sidekick, and back kick for example.
Lunges forward, backward, and side to side are excellent exercises/stretches to work on your balance.
One Leg Balancing
Balancing on one leg is one of the simplest and easiest ways to work on your balance. Especially for beginners in TaeKwondo still working on their balance. It strengthens/stretches your legs, while improving your equilibrium.
For beginners, start out with raising one foot off the ground around 3 inches. Start with 15 seconds on each leg and work your way up to a minute each.
The next level is doing the same one legged balancing, but this time have one knee to your chest. Bringing your knee to your chest is a step on every type of kick you will perform in TaeKwondo. Have your foot folded down and hold for 15secs-1min on each leg.
Finally, the highest level of difficulty for this balancing exercise is holding extended kicks out. You can do this for front kicks, roundhouses, and sidekicks. Hold out each type of kick for 15-30 seconds to build strength and balance. It can be difficult for even experienced TKD students, but is a great balancing exercise you should be doing.
The next stage after one leg balancing exercises are count kicks. If you’ve spent any time in TaeKwondo, you’ve probably done them and hate them. It is an exercise where you methodically go through each step of a kick.
Doing this exercise improves your technique, strength, and balance all at the same time. First bring your knee up, extend the kick, bring your leg back to your chest, and place it on the ground. Hold each position for 1-3 seconds to work on your strength and balance.
If you do this exercise everyday mixed with stretching, you’ll see big improvements in your balance and technique.
Touch Kicks On A Heavy Bag
This is the same as doing count kicks, except you’ll be doing it with a heavy bag. At the end of each kick you’re going to touch the heavy bag with your foot. You can do 10-20 reps of each type of kick to work on your coordination and balance.
A tip for doing this balancing drill: The point of this drill is to work on the balance and technical steps of each kick. So do not try to kick the bag at full force. Just touch it.
One Legged Kicks On Bag
Another drill you can do to work on your balance and technique on the bag is one legged kicks. For this drill, you’re going to kick with one foot for 30 seconds to a minute without putting it down
At first start slow to get the hang of it, then once you get good at it, you can speed up your kicks. This is an excellent way to improve your roundhouses, front kicks, sidekicks, and hook kicks.
If you have a balance ball handy at your school or at home put it to good use and improve your balance for TaeKwondo. You can do the same activities listed above, but at a higher difficulty by using a balance ball. Other exercises such as squats and lunges are also great to do on this piece of equipment.
As you read, balance is one of the most important aspects of the techniques within TaeKwondo. Also from the studies provided TaeKwondo can help build or improve the balance of young adolescents, as well as older adults.
Remember to work on your stance and do the stretches and exercises provided to improve your balance for TaeKwondo. If you take time to do the stretches and exercises provided along with your training in class, you will see noticeable advancements in your TaeKwonDo abilities.