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article imageTaekwondo Grannies breaking boards while breaking stereotypes

By patxxoo     May 22, 2007 in Lifestyle
Does the picture of a little frail woman pop into your head when someone says the word granny? Well these ladies can brake boards with thier hands and feet. Ages 58 to 78 these ladies are true role models.
In Incheon, South Korea there is a group of ladies ages 58 to 78 that are known as the Incheon Grandma Taekwondo Federation demonstration team. They are avid promoters of Taekwondo to people outside of Korea. They have traveled to other countries and put on demonstrations in China, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines to name a few.
For those who do not know what Taekwondo is, it is a martial art form and also a combat sport that originated in Korea.
The word itself broken down into it's derivative form with it's meaning: [i]tae[/i] means to kick or strike with the foot, [i]kwon[/i] means fist or to strike with the hand and [i]do[/i] means way.
The group was founded in 1989 by 64 year-old Yoon Yeo-ho who is a master of Taekwondo that also was a trainer at an education institute for the elderly. She believed that it would be a good source of exercise for older people. She said: Taekwondo is just the right kind of exercise for both mind and body. At first, participants were worried about their joints. But after learning Taekwondo, they became more healthy and lively. At 22 members, of which 12 of them were ranked at nine or ten black belt ranks, which are the top two ranks in Taekwondo. They practice two hours every day except Sundays to keep their abilities sharp.
Each of these women have their own story as to why the are in this unique group here are a few:
Ji Bok-yeon is the leader, who has been with the group for twelve years joined after she had been told she had stage III rectal cancer. She is 75 years old with a black belt rank now. She was told to exercise regularly to help fight the cancer by her doctor.
Well she found the exercise with Taekwondo and took her medications as she was directed. Twelve years later she is still with us. Ji said: Doctors first saved my life by giving me a 30-month anti-cancer treatment and taekwondo then gave me a cure. I no longer take anti-cancer medicines after a nine-year workout.She has even went so far as to have a picture of her in her Taekwondo robe taken to be used at her funeral and has requested her team members to wear theirs for her funeral when she dies.
Baek Seong-suk who is 72 years old has been with the group ten years originally had pain and sickness as her constant companion. With a degenerative cervical disk and knee pain that caused her to have problems even walking. She said with a big smile: After learning Taekwondo, I feel like a new person. I think I can now win over young people in a Taekwondo match.Park Yeong-ja also 72 years old, at ten years with the group loves that she lost weight and now no longer has chronic diabetes. Park Yeong-Ja, 72, a second-grade black belt practitioner, said:If any punk gets drunk and tries to do something stupid, I think I can knock him out in a single blow.
Park is the "smashing ace" who recently broke a stack of 10 wooden boards as part of a demonstration.
Lee Jong-Suk who is 68 originally joined to help her overcome her depression she fell into after the death of her husband was originally a shy person but has became a totally new woman as a result.
All these women have something in common besides Taekwondo they have all improved their health and their lives by getting out there and showing just what they are capable of by making changes in their lives when most in their place have long given up the fight.
These women put on demonstrations that include smashing piles of roof tiles, breaking boards with their hands and feet. Variouse punches and kicks performed with grace and fierceness at the same time.
Yoon AFP said: Once out in a park after appearing on a TV show, we were all surprised to see kids scrambling to get our autographs," said Yoon.I have found my new role models for life. To stand strong and proud even after they have faced what most would find the worst times of their lives.
More about South korea taekwondo, Grandma, Exercise
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