I started out taekwondo in 1991 in the Philippines. I have competed in several competitions and practiced in several schools under different instructors, depending who has the most convenient location and time that time. I stopped in 1996 due to an accident where I had torn ligaments in my right knee. I was advised to rest for 2 years and I never got back in shape to what I was before. Not because of my knee, but because I was already working and I didn’t have much time freedom to workout.
Now I had two accounts of going into taekwondo here in the States, first was in 1999 at a taekwondo school along Wilshire Avenue in LA and now at Champion Taekwondo Academy in Rancho PeÃ±asquitos in San Diego. And here are the major differences I have observed.
Treatment to new students from other schools
USA: They are treated with a very warm welcome.
Philippines: They are treated with a welcome, and if their belt is colored already, they are challenged. Other students check how good you are and try to beat you up in sparring. If they see your good, you gain more respect.
USA: One hour.
Philippines: Usually two hours. One and a half hour for kids.
USA: A lot of endurance exercises, a lot of forms.
Philippines: A lot of kicking exercises, shadow sparring drills. Competition sparring drills.
USA: Done about once a week.
Philippines: Done every meeting. And is a personal favorite of higher belts. It is like, everything is boring, and everyone is just waiting for the sparring.
Personally, I was a bit bored in my first taekwondo class here, since I didn’t get to spar. But it was still fine since my endurance was really down. I still need more time to get back my aerobic endurance.