Impact catches up with Samira Parhizkar, media and publicity officer of Taekwondo Society, to talk bruises, black belts and WTF.

How would you describe Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art which combines self-defence techniques with sport and exercise. It is usually characterised by its fast, high and spinning kicks. Taekwondo literally means “the Art of Hand and Foot” and has multiple interpretations and styles. We practice the Olympic World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) style, including both sparring (Kyorugi) and patterns (Poomsae).

Practicing Taekwondo has a broad range of benefits. The obvious ones include increased cardio conditioning and flexibility as well as improved general fitness, but it is also beneficial for self-confidence, mental discipline, stress relief and positive thinking.

What makes a good Taekwondo competitor?

Taekwondo is based around combinations of kicking techniques and out-foxing your opponent by reacting to and countering their next move. Speed, coordination and flexibility will help you put these technical combinations together to achieve a good performance.

Mentality is also crucial – a good Taekwondo competitor can handle the pressure, be instinctive and make the right moves. You don’t have to be a black belt to beat one. You just have to make the best of your abilities.

Some people might be put off by the image of Taekwondo as a ‘fighting sport’. How dangerous is it?

Although WTF Taekwondo is a full contact sport, during training we also learn to control our techniques and movement to avoid accidental injuries. When we practice sparring, especially before competitions, full protective gear is used to protect our members. Since we practice martial arts, injuries such as minor scratches and bruises are not unusual, but the more you improve, the less injuries you are likely to get.

How would you describe the vibe of the club?

Very friendly. I remember when I first joined – I was new to the country and thought I would try something different and exciting. What initially attracted me to Taekwondo was the idea of practicing such a dynamic sport, but it was the encouraging and welcoming atmosphere that kept me training.

What’s the highlight of your sporting year as a club?

Competition weekends are always fun, if a little nerve wracking, and our Summer Ball is always something to look forward to. I think the best event though would have to be the ‘Alumni Challenge’, where the current student team competes against Taekwondo alumni. We’ve got a great relationship with our past members and welcoming back old friends makes it something special. It always gets a bit competitive (we’re 1-1 at the moment!) which just adds to the fun.

Do you think that Taekwondo, and martial arts in general, should be included in the varsity series each year?

Nottingham has more martial arts clubs than any other university in the country so it’s a shame it’s an area that gets overlooked. Taekwondo is an Olympic sport so I think it’s got a great claim to fit into the Varsity calendar. It’s also an awesome spectator sport.

For someone wanting to get involved, how would they go about it?

The quickest and easiest way would be to go to the SU website and sign up for the club membership. If you are unsure but would like to try out the club then you can try a free taster session. We usually train Monday and Wednesday evenings during term time and you can check out our website www.tta-nottinghamuniversity.co.uk for up to date training times. If you have any questions about joining you can contact our president, Adam Turner at [email protected]

Jonnie Barnett 

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