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Clemson Taekwondo Club succeeding in tournaments

For almost 50 years, the Clemson Taekwondo club has been going strong with uninterrupted membership. It was founded in 1967 by Master Billy Hong and is the oldest collegiate taekwondo club in the world. 

This year, the club has about 20 regular members that compete in tournaments and competitions all around the state.

Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art. It can be translated as Tae = “to kick or jump”, Kwon = “fist or hand” and Do = “the way”. Put together, these mean “the way of the hand and foot”. The club keeps to this ideal by practicing various kicks and hand techniques to be used in self-defense, forms (a preset series of moves) and sparring. 

A typical class is about an hour and a half and goes through a series of practice moves to improve retention of the specific techniques being used. Classes are usually around 10 members which also improves the amount of individual attention a student can receive. 

The classes usually proceed in a similar fashion. The room will line up in order of seniority to do some cardiovascular exercises like running and kicking. After warming up, the class will split into smaller lines and practice a sequence of punches or kicks. 

If someone is having trouble, this is the time when the instructor and the more senior members will help them with the technique. This continues for 20-30 minutes with a water break at the end. 

The bulk of the remaining time will be devoted to working on sparring, self-defense or forms. If they work on sparring, the class is broken into two groups. One person from each group is picked and they will spar for 30 seconds. The utmost precaution is taken to make sure no one gets hurt. 

If instead the instructor decides to work on forms, upper-level students will work with the newer students on their forms. Forms are the main

way to increase belt rank in a non-confrontational way. 

If the instructor decides to work on self-defense, the class is broken into pairs and they take turns on being the attacker or the defender. In the last 10 minutes, the class finishes by performing some cool down stretches and exercises. 

To end class, everyone will form a line, similar to the beginning of class, and bow to show respect to the instructor. At the very end, the highest-ranking student says “Class dismissed!” and everyone responds with “Tae Kwon Do”, punching three times in that rhythm. 

In addition, some club members have participated in two tournaments so far this year: the South Carolina Governor’s Cup and The Atlantic Collegiate Association Taekwondo Fall Tournament. Six members went to the Governor’s Cup and brought home 13 medals; two members went to ACAT and brought home a medal in sparring.  

The club does try to accommodate students with disabilities as best they can. Taekwondo is quite physical and that can severely hinder an individual’s

ability to participate in it fully, but the club does not shy away from helping in any way possible.

The Taekwondo club meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6–7:30 p.m. in the Fike Mat Room and from 7–8 p.m. on Fridays. 

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