Martial arts teach you how to use your mind, body and soul. Taekwondo, a Korean form of martial arts, when translated to English roughly means foot, fists and discipline, according to the World Taekwondo Federation. This shows that Taekwondo is about fighting your opponent as well as keeping calm and in tune with your emotions. Improving your feet and hand speed improves your fighting skills and trains your mind to work faster while sparring, the technical term for fighting in Taekwondo.
Becoming faster makes you a more effective fighter. Improving your reflexes and reactions to your opponent allows you to block his punches and kicks, and counter them with punches and kicks of your own. Martial arts require good upper and lower body strength and outstanding balance as you must constantly move around, keeping your eye on your opponent for weaknesses. There are drills to improve your hand and foot speed to help when sparring with an opponent.
Faster Reaction Time
Multiple strategies can improve your reaction time while sparring, according to Sang H. Kim, author of numerous martial arts books. Get in your fighting stance and slide back about 8 inches as quickly as you can, then move to one side or the other. Perform this maneuver about 25 times. Another variation of this drill is to slide back at a 45-degree angle and make a lightning-fast roundhouse kick. Repeat this drill about 20 times.
Bruce Lee was a legendary martial artist who starred in several martial arts films throughout his career. He used shadow-boxing and punching bags during his workouts. When working with heavy bags, use different combinations of jabs, hooks, crosses and upper cuts to make your hand speed well-rounded. Working with a speed bag as well develops quick hands and endurance. In a blocking drill, you throw a punch at your opponent's face and have him attempt to block it. If he's unable to, stop your punch about a quarter inch from his face. Take extra care when performing this, or one of you may sustain an injury.
Plyometrics are a great way to improve foot speed while sparring in taekwondo. Depth jumps, for example, involve jumping from an elevated surface, landing on both feet and immediately jumping up in the air again. Depth jumps improve your explosiveness and power in your legs. This exercise should be performed immediately before your season starts, but not any later because it's strenuous for the legs.
Taekwondo teaches you discipline, control and strength. However, do not perform any exercises that could cause serious injury to you or anyone else. Before getting involved in taekwondo, make sure it's medically safe for you to participate. In addition to improving your speed, work on your strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness to become a well-rounded competitor.