The time has come to talk about taekwondo (tkd). I love tkd (跆拳道). It is a well-known (and possibly slightly frustrating) fact among those that know me, and I go at least three times a week. Five is better.
Tkd is the Korean martial art, and actually very popular in China. Really any martial art is popular in China. I go to New Power Taekwondo (新力量跆拳道), the owner of which is the bloke who started tkd in Shantou. The big centre is on Baihua Lu 白花路 (near Dongxia 东厦), and there’s another one up Changping Lu 长平路. I really love tkd so let me rave for a bit.
It’s mostly a kicking sport (to the chest, sides and head), but you get to punch too. It gets you incredibly fit, really, unbelieveably fit. You sweat a lot! Often people ask me what my reasons are for doing tkd - mainly it’s to keep fit (I need to eat a lot so therefore I need to exercise a lot), and a close second is a place to take out all that pent-up anger/frustration/loneliness/boredom/dispair that you’re not allowed to express in China. I find tkd really focusses my mind. You only really learn to street-fight (self defence) once you get to black belt and up, it’s not judo or sanda 散打 (I don’t know the English of sanda. All sanda students punch fantastically). It’s a martial sport, rather than art.
Our classes are mostly in the evening, adults Mon-Fri, starting either 8.30 or 8.45, about 75 or 90 min long. They’re split into two groups, beginners and high belt (high belt - green up). Sat and Sun afts also have classes, all age. Beginners at 3pmish and high belts at 4.30. The adult classes average age - early twenties. Most students are either high school or late twenties, although some go right up to the forties. Mostly they’re lads! We have a nice group of girls that are all red belts now though (inc me), about 6 of us. There are usually about 10-15 students per instructor.
Yeah, belts. Like this: white, yellow, green, blue, red, black. Black up are the dans - 1-9. Assuming regular training 3/4 times a week, it takes 2-3 months to get to green, about 18 months to get to black, and ages to get anything above 1st dan! The owner, Chen Wei 陈维, is 5th Dan (instructor trainer), then we have four full-time jiaolians 教练 (instructors), 4th Dan (senior instructor) - Li李 and Weng翁 Jiaolian, then Shen沈 and Zhuang庄 Jiaolian are assistant instructors. Mainly you would just call them ‘jiaolian’, though. They are (ahem not bad looking) lads, all in their early/mid-twenties. Chen Jiaolian is in his early thirties.
I think they all teach great, and they’re nice lads too. Li jiaolian speaks pretty good English (although he always says he doesn’t) his English name is Jion, and Zhuang jiaolian has got some basics. Anyway you don’t need any language, you just copy. Oh I forgot to say about Xiao Mao (Kitten) 小猫 on the front desk, she’s the smiley girl with big eyes, and don’t forget Ayun阿运, Chen jiaolian’s wife, she’s often on the front desk too.
Let me repeat one more time: I love tkd, everyone should try it!
http://www.sttkd.com/ - but it’s all in Chinese.
白 花路东厦运动场 BaiHua Lu, DongXia YunDong Chang (Sports Ground). You really can’t miss it. There’s also a basketball court, badminton hall, running track and gongfu centre.
Oh yes, prices - you buy per time period and go to as many lessons as you want during that time. Like this: 1month- 200rmb, 3month- 500rmb, up to one year. Also the clothes are 200rmb.