During his freshman year, mechanical engineering junior Yoojun Ahn sought out clubs that catered to Korean culture but was disappointed when he didn’t find any. His experience led to him create two organizations with strong Korean influences, the newest of which is Taekwondo Club.
“Because there weren’t any clubs catered around Korean culture, I thought maybe I could make a taekwondo club sport one day because I have some experience (in) taekwondo from Korea,” Ahn said. “So, I decided to register and proceed with the sport this semester.”
The organization began in the fall semester and is open to students of all experience levels. The $30 fee to join is used to purchase uniforms and belts. Registration through the University Recreation website is required to join, but students can walk in if they choose.
“Because I’ve been practicing taekwondo for over 10 years, I believe that taekwondo will help students build stamina and learn more about a type of martial art they may not be used to,” Ahn said.
Currently, 19 people have signed up, five of whom hold black belts and three of whom hold yellow or red belts. Most of the students are white belts and have no prior experience.
Additionally, due to the physical nature of taekwondo, certain measures are implemented to ensure student safety, such as a dedicated safety officer who is in charge of administering CPR and first aid. Wooyoung Choi, a junior biomedical engineer and assistant coach of Taekwondo Club, said safety was the first priority for the organization.
“We try to make sure that everyone stays safe. For right now, we’re not doing any sparring or anything dangerous without proper protection,” Choi said. “We don’t allow for kicking and punching without pads on, and if you’re kicking out someone, it’s probably going to be with one of the instructors or coaches.”
In addition to serving as president of the Taekwondo Club, Ahn is also president of the Korean Language Club. Because of this, he was able to advertise the sport to students in the Korean Language Club and recruit new members.
Choi said the Taekwondo Club is planning several projects for its first year.
“Some of our future goals for the club include improving people’s skills in taekwondo and creating a performance and sparring team,” Choi said. “Getting the sparring team to a point where they can participate in different competitions is the first goal.”
Dongwoo Gu, a healthcare studies junior, joined the club because of his previous experience in taekwondo and the potential to meet new people who enjoyed the sport as much as he did. He said the existence of the club brings another aspect of culture to campus and is another way for student to meet up, as well as providing individual benefits.
“I’ve been getting more exercise and meeting new people that I normally (wouldn’t) have met before,” Gu said. “I’m also getting a lot of my stress out because I am kicking, and it helps me regulate my stress and self-control.”