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Frequently Asked Questions and Beginner Information

Who are you?

We are the MIT Korean Karate Club, and we practice Tae Kwon Do. We are one of many clubs around the world affiliated with the World Tae Kwon Do Association, led by ninth degree black belt Grandmaster Duk Song Son. Our club was founded in 1979 by Steve Heller, fourth degree black belt. Classes are taught by Poh Lim, sixth degree.

What is Tae Kwon Do?

Tae Kwon Do is a traditional Korean martial art. Tae Kwon Do means "the way of hand and foot." In Tae Kwon Do we emphasize strong kicks, punches and blocks. Our goals are speed, power, focus, accuracy, and balance.

What can I gain from Tae Kwon Do?

Practicing Tae Kwon Do develops self-confidence and physical awareness. It leads to increased flexibility, stamina, strength, and speed. If necessary, it can be used for self-defense.

What distinguishes you from other martial arts clubs at MIT?

One of our most important tenets is no-contact sparring, meaning that all offensive techniques (kicks and punches) stop before making contact with the opponent. This enables us to practice with full power without injuring each other and requires more control. We also emphasize speed, so many of our exercises may appear quite fast relative to those practicing other styles. Our club is part of World Tae Kwon Do Association, which has several affiliated clubs across the country. We participate in regional tournaments once a semester, which provides excellent opportunity to meet and learn from other clubs in the Northeast area.

Can I join the club?

Of course! Our club is open to all members of the MIT community. Both men and women are welcome. Your years in school are the easiest, most convenient, and cheapest time to start a martial art: try it!

Beginner Information

Beginners are always welcome at the Korean Karate Club. Contact a club member if you need any information, or just show up in sweat pants and a t-shirt. We have special classes at the beginning of each semester especially for beginners. The fall beginner classes start after reg day and continue through the first two weeks, or so, in September. If you can arrange to attend your first class during the beginners' weeks, then you will be able to synchronize with our other beginners. Otherwise, just come by any time. We hope to see you soon!

How often do you meet?

We meet three times a week: 5:30-7pm on Sundays in the T-Club lounge, and 7-8:30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the DuPont Multi-Purpose Room (W31-225). In the summers we practice on the lawns behind Kresge, at 6-8pm on Sundays and 6:30-8:30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

How much does it cost?

Dues are $25 each fall and spring and $20 for the summer. You do not need to pay dues to attend a class: we collect money only from people who come to several classes and plan to continue. The money is used to pay for equipment, boards, and trips. There are also fees paid to our parent association for each promotion to a new belt level; these are generally about $60 per test.

How much commitment does Tae Kwon Do require?

As a beginner, you should plan to practice at least twice a week, and coming to all three classes is even better. All of us have been, or still are, students, and have a full understanding of the pressures of an MIT existence. Hard physical activity complements hard study. Tae Kwon Do can clear your mind and condition your body at the same time.

How long does it take to be able to do Tae Kwon Do?

You can start having fun and getting a good workout in the first class. To become proficient takes time, and your skill will increase in proportion to the effort you put into it. The goal of practicing Tae Kwon Do is to improve yourself, not to earn belts. However, to give a general idea, most people who train seriously will learn enough to take their first promotion test, to yellow belt, after four to six months. The time required to reach the black belt level varies widely depending upon the individual; the average time is probably about four years.

How do I start?

Just show up a few minutes before class. Beginners are welcome at all classes. Wear workout clothes: sweats or shorts and a t-shirt are fine. Don't worry about shoes -- we don't wear them. If you just want to watch a class, that's fine too.