When my children were invited to try out Choi Kwang Do (CKD from here on in), I accepted the offer enthusiastically. I was already a fan of martial arts, having done a little karate myself in my younger years. However, what I didn’t expect upon arrival was to be given the chance to join in too!
Once kitted out in the familiar, crisp, white suit and belt, I could tell from the outset that this martial arts academy sets itself apart from any other as adults and children were there to learn the sport together. It’s such a simple but fantastic idea! Rather than clock-watching as children have fun in their after-school activities, parents can join in too.
I met Max, a newcomer to the class, who had tried other martial arts classes in the past but found them far too strict and so he lost interest. Joining CKD Mallorca with his son, he feels committed: “Not only is the class fun, it’s an added incentive to get to spend time with my son enjoying a sport together.” With two other mums in the class, there is a natural family feel to the group and my children and I felt very comfortable and welcome joining in.
What makes it unique to other martial arts academies is that it’s a sport for everyone.
CKD Mallorca is a black belt academy and all students are able to rise through the belt ranks to black belt and beyond. Opportunities to progress are frequent, with gradings every two to three months for those who are ready. There are pathways to become instructors and assistant instructors in class (kids can qualify as assistants too). For real enthusiasts, there is even a degree in CKD. What makes it unique to other martial arts academies is that it’s a sport for everyone. There are no bars and each student works at their own pace to the best of their own capability.
So, where did CKD come from?
The creator is Grandmaster Kwang Jo Choi. Prior to CKD he was an international chief instructor of Tae Kwon-Do. However, after many injuries, he came to realise that what he was doing to his body in the practice of his chosen sport was unsafe and damaging. Whilst allowing his body to heal and recover from the years of stresses and strains, he combined his study of modern scientific human anatomy in developing safe martial arts movements. These new more fluid movements, incorporate bio-mechanic and physiology theory and for Kwang Jo Choi, aided his rehabilitation to complete recovery.
How is CKD different from other martial arts?
An example to illustrate how CKD is different: the movements are not rigid – there is no locking out of the arms at the elbow joint when punching as in other martial arts. Rather the elbow joints are kept soft and the punches more circular in motion when thrown, reducing the strain on the joints, ligaments and tendons. With less rigidity in each movement and a greater focus on gross motor skills, the sport is more forgiving. Kwang Jo Choi has been successful in creating a truly holistic martial art with the primary aims of prevention and reduction of illness rather than competition.
For more information, check out this video: https://tinyurl.com/y748ardm
A truely holistic martial art
CKD Mallorca has all the ingredients to keep students focused, fit and at the same time have fun. It is a fast-paced, high energy class, well-structured with short bursts of several different activities. From simple blocks, punches and kicks at the start, the session progressed to patterns (sequences of martial arts movements) learned for muscle memory so that when faced with threat. The body would instinctively prepare to react defensively. In this first half of the class, I was surprised how hard my brain was working at the same time as the aerobic activity for my body. After researching CKD a little bit more, it was no surprise to discover why; CKD movements are cross lateral for the brain, meaning that the whole brain is in use when doing this sport. Both gross and fine motor skills are called in to play, directly affecting the prefrontal lobe of the brain, thus producing more neurones and improving communication skills. One study has revealed the positive impact CKD has had on children’s confidence, concentration and ultimately their school work and grades.
Here’s a video if you want to know more: https://tinyurl.com/y8vvxcva
A workout for the body and mind
The second half of the class was even faster and uses the techniques learned in a more dynamic, freestyle way. ‘Shields’ are large pads held by the instructor whilst students practice their punches and kicks on them. In a class of twenty students to two instructors, what better way to increase the intensity and pace by creating a relay race of two teams, each student performing kicks, punches and knees to the shields! Certainly, it’s a favourite for the kids – it’s explosive, exciting and gets your heart rate and adrenaline going! Shields was followed by another favourite, dodgeball, which concluded the class on a high for all. At the end, without doubt I felt I was twenty years younger…perhaps it was being in a school playing dodgeball again, or playing games with kids, or maybe I was taken back to my youth when I did karate…
Whatever the trigger, it didn’t matter – I had enormous fun from start to finish without realising I’d done a workout for my body and my brain.
Of course, in martial arts there are the elements of discipline, formality and tradition. In Helen Dobinson Metcalfe’s dojo it is no different. Bowing at the start and close of the class is a sign of respect for each other. They also use the expression ‘Pil-seung’ when bowing, a phrase used by the Korean military literally translating to ‘certain victory.’ But it’s more than that in CKD: “It is a statement of dedication, a way of life. It means you will face all of life’s challenges and difficulties with confidence.” Another expression is the ‘Ki-up’, shouted when practicing movements and patterns. It’s used to show presence in the immediate threat of danger and also helps with expelling internal energy. Everything about this class is with the intention to create a positive and confident mind and body.
Creating kind, thoughtful and decent human beings
Small details like how you are placed to stand in your row before the class begins, sets the tone of discipline from the get go – and let’s face it, when teaching children how to punch and kick this discipline is required. Something else to mention about the start of the class which I liked is how all students recite ‘the principles of CKD’, the ‘children’s promise’ and ‘adult pledge’ which are displayed clearly at the front for the duration. The principles are: ‘humility, integrity, gentleness, perseverance, self-control and unbreakable spirit.’ Included in the children’s promise is: ‘to always do my best and never give up’ and ‘to never misuse what I learn in class.’ Within the adult pledge, ‘to apply self-discipline to further my personal development.’ CKD isn’t just about self-defence. It’s to bring out the very best in each student and so its principles at the core are to create kind, thoughtful and decent human beings.
As with all sports and activities, a huge part of whether we enjoy a class or not comes down to who is leading it. Founder Helen know’s how to put a cracking class together and delivers it brilliantly. Her way of teaching is engaging and keeps students interested and informed throughout; with each movement demonstrated, whether it be a block, a punch or a kick, she also explains why and how it works best in a self-defence situation. It gives what you’re doing purpose when you understand it entirely. What also struck me is the rapport the instructors have built with the children who attend. Whilst setting up the class, I noticed how they were talking to their students about their day at school, showing interest in them as individuals. They have earned the respect of their students because they not only teach the principles of CKD, they genuinely model them as people. They are the kind of people I would encourage my children to spend time with learning CKD.
My children and I will definitely be adding CKD to our weekly after school activities in the future!
Follow us on Facebook: @ckdmallorca
Call: +44 7971 842 553
Classes run every week at Agora Portals International School, and Punta Portals Dance Academy
Written by Gemma Sherlock
About the author
After many years of moving around, Gemma, her husband and 2 children settled in Mallorca.
She loves exploring novels and plays, words and meanings and writing in a variety of ways. Not realising that it was something that she would miss, Gemma is happy to have found a new outlet in Nourish.
Why Nourish the Kids? Words, language and especially writing have always been a focus and priority for Gemma.
She likes to express herself thoughtfully and with clarity whether writing or speaking and enjoys discussing and researching new ideas and topics, particularly when it comes to health and well-being.
Likes: Circuit training, pilates, cooking from Ottolenghi books, pukka tea, hummus, reflexology, the audible app, Spanish lessons at MTA and thoughtfulness.