Find out how Nicola got on during her fourth and final week of the #trysomethingactive challenge and join in now for your chance to win some Bounce balls…

So, four weeks of Tang Soo Do, plus a grading, and how do I feel? Well, great! We’re back training now and I went to my first squad training session this Sunday.

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Squad training isn’t as exclusive as it sounds; it’s actually open to anyone training in Tang Soo Do and anyone who participates in their kickboxing classes. There was a good mix of belts and a few people who were very new. The session was focused on sparring.

Sparring, or ‘Deh Ryun’ in Korean, is used as a game in Tang Soo Do. In the game you collect points off the other person by landing a blow on their head and the front of their torso, above the belt. Points sparring is about two minutes long and you reset your position after each point is scored. Continuous sparring is much harder as you keep going for the whole two minutes (this can be anything from one minute to three or more) as the scorers keep count.

Yesterday’s session was three hours long, which gave us a lot more time than usual to get stuck in and really drill some of the moves. We learned a few simple tricks, such as the ‘blitz’, where you hit the opponent’s head and the chest with both hands as you launch yourself towards them, and we also learned how to move quickly out of the way of a strike, to be able to then land one yourself.

It’s a very physical and tactical game, not unlike a sort of body-chess. Once we’d learned a few techniques we got our gloves, helmets, mouth-guards, foot-guards and shin-pads on – sparring is only meant to be semi-contact, but we like to make sure we put safety first! It’s easy to accidentally clock someone in the mouth. Then we split into red belts and above and green belts and below.

The greens, oranges (me), yellows and whites fought for 1.5 minutes, then we had three minutes to rest whilst the reds and blacks fought. I must have fought about seven or eight rounds, and I also got to spar with three different black belts during the free-fights at the end. Fighting a black belt isn’t actually that daunting, as they have to fight to the level of your belt, and you have to try and fight to their level. It’s a great way to pick up skills and tricks. I made sure to bring some Bounce Balls for after!

The photo at the top of this post is our post-training ‘sweaty selfie’ with Master James and the Squad Training Crew.

So have I enjoyed my time at Tang Soo Do? Absolutely! I’ve made some great friends and met some really interesting and skilled people. I have equipped myself with a fair few self-defence tricks and I’ve learned to fight! I never thought I’d have learned to do that, or enjoy it as much as I do.

I’ve also found that Tang Soo Do is a brilliant way to keep fit, both physically and mentally, and it’s incredibly inclusive and welcoming. I’ll be doing what I can to keep on going and hopefully, in a few years, I’ll be the black belt helping the floundering orange belts to keep on fighting!

We always end each session by clapping and shouting Tang Soo, so it seems fitting to say here: TANG SOO!

Fancy joining in the challenge? All you need to do is share photos of your new active hobby experience with #trysomethingactive on social media for your chance to win some Bounce balls! It’s not too late to get involved!

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