University of Leicester Taekwon-Do Club

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. I've never done martial arts before, is that a problem?
  2. How do I get started?
  3. What should I wear?
  4. What are the benefits?
  5. Do I have to be fit before I start?
  6. What about self-defence?
  7. I have a grade from another style or organisation. Will I have to start again?
  8. How long will it take to get to black belt?
  9. Do you train in any weapons?
  10. Do I have to take it seriously?
  11. I'm scared!

I've never done martial arts before, is that a problem?

No. Every year we take complete beginners and train them into formidable warriors (or thereabouts). Clearly, if you have had some similar training you will find certain parts of the sessions easier, but it's not necessary.

How do I get started?

Turn up to a session and take it from there. If you want to come along to watch first and join in when you feel comfortable, that's fine, otherwise just come along and try a session to see how it feels. We tend to take extra care of new beginners, so you should be able to catch up quickly. If all else fails, contact the committee or ask the instructor before the session if you have any particular questions or concerns. Some people find it helps to bring a friend along with them the first time. Either way, you'll only find out if it's for you if you give it a try.

What should I wear?

To begin with, anything suitable for exercising in - tracksuit bottoms or shorts and a t-shirt are popular choices. Regardless, clothing should be loose but not too baggy, and comfortable. You will be warming up, which may involve running about, and stretching, so nothing too constricting. As you progress you will want to buy a club dobok (literally "suit of the way"), which is required for gradings and tournaments, and also makes the class look neater and more uniform.

What are the benefits?

The initial benefits will be higher levels of fitness and flexibility, which will increase as you go along. As you progress, you will also notice that you become stronger, with improved co-ordination, balance, self-confidence and awareness. Studies have also shown that regular exercise has beneficial effects on memory, concentration, weight control, and immune system function. It can also help with allergies, insomnia, alcohol tolerance, and since martial arts training tends to develop muscles that are toned but not bulky, you will be all-round sexier than when you started. Honest! Also, being able to jump in the air, spin round three times, then kick an object off of someone's head always goes down well at parties.

Do I have to be fit before I start?

No. All classes start with a warm up, which you can put as much effort into as you feel able, and you will soon find yourself getting fitter without even noticing it. Fitness levels will develop as you progress, both by working harder in sessions, and through taking part in more active parts such as sparring. However, if you have an existing medical condition it is reccommended to take advice from a doctor before starting any course of exercise, and to inform the instructor before a session begins. We will try to push you during a class, as most people need at least a little encouragement to perform to a higher level than they thought they could, but the last thing we want is people injuring themselves and being unable to train.

What about self-defence?

Training in any martial art should help here, although some are going to be better than others. Taekwon-do is an all-round art, so don't expect to become a self-defence expert in a matter of weeks or months (in fact, anyone that promises you this is almost certainly misleading you), but continued training will help you to develop the skills needed to be able to defend yourself, and the confidence and mental strength to apply those skills in a real-life situation, something neglected by many quick-fix self-defence courses. Students trained by ULTKD have successfully used their skills to defend themselves against attack in the past, so we must be doing something right!

I have a grade from another style or organisation. Will I have to start again?

Not necessarily. Unless you want to.
We're fairly laid back about most things here, and try and keep politics out of our club as much as possible, so if you already hold a grade in Taekwon-do, you can join in at your level and carry on from there; if you hold a grade from a different system, we will do our best to integrate you at the appropriate level e.g. for sparring or padwork. We train the Ch'ang Hon pattern set, so if you hold a grade from a different style you might want to learn our patterns to join in those bits of the class, and you will need to if you want to grade with us, but we won't force you to.

How long will it take to get to black belt?

Depends! In theory, a talented (or previously experienced) student starting from scratch, who is prepared to train three times a week at formal sessions and put in some work in their own time could grade to black belt in three years. In practice, most people take 4-5 years, depending on their level of commitment.

Do you train in any weapons?

’Fraid Not.

Why not?

Because Taekwon-Do is a form of unarmed combat. More specifically, it was developed for use in the Korean army following the Second World War; soldiers would already be trained in the use of weapons (rifles, mostly) with TKD used as a back-up for when their other weapons were unavailable. Some schools and instructors teach weapons based on their learning outside of TKD, but they do not form part of the core syllabus in most TKD organisations, including ULTKD.

Do I have to take it seriously?

That's up to you, really. Obviously you'll get more out of training if you take the sessions seriously and strive to perform the exercises to the best of your ability, and the students who progress the most tend to be the ones who put in their own time outside of training; to practice techniques and patterns, learn the theory, read around the subject etc. But you don't have to; if you just want to turn up to training and are happy with the progress you are making then that's fine.

That being said, there are students who are keen to learn, and their needs will come before those who are just there for the fun side. There is a difference between being laid back and being disruptive, and if your behaviour is preventing willing students from learning, or you are at risk of causing injury to others or yourself through inability or unwillingness to follow instructions, then you may be asked to leave the session. Continued disruption will see you expelled from the club entirely.

I'm scared!

Don’t be! While the instructors may appear to be quite ferocious at first, they’re lovely folks really; and the committee are also very friendly and approachable.