Now, don't mess with grandma

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2011, 12:00am


Seven women from the city's first taekwondo class for the elderly have proven that it's never too old to start kicking and screaming - by becoming special black belts in the tough Korean martial art.

The students, aged 63 to 74, were awarded the top ranking after demonstrating their prowess with standard kicks and four pre-set patterns of attack and defensive movements.

Lam Sai-mui, 74, the oldest in the group, which was only set up last year, said one of the main challenges was not physical but mental because they had to memorise all the moves.

'Luckily, we have a very nice classmate who wrote down every pattern in detail,' she said. 'So I could follow them easily, and train my memory by practising them every day.'

Before joining the class, she had rarely exercised. 'I was very lazy, and afraid that I couldn't learn something new,' she said.

She also thought that it would be impossible for her to learn taekwondo - which means the art of kicking and punching in Korean - because of a sore foot that troubled her. However, the pain 'disappeared' after practising the sport for a few months.

Chan Pik-chau, chief instructor of the Hong Kong Practical Taekwondo Association based in Kwun Tong, created the elderly programme after seeing similar classes in South Korea, where taekwondo is the national sport.

His group meets twice a week for one-hour training sessions at the Kwun Tong headquarters. He said exam standards were adjusted to a level that was suitable for the elderly.

Chan said each session began with simple stretching and balancing exercises before tackling advanced movements.

'After months of training, the elderly could respond and walk faster,' he added.

Chan Sau-king, 69, another new black belt, said she was so unprepared. 'At the beginning, when the instructor asked me to raise my left hand, I raised the right,' she said. 'After constant practice, I could better control my hands.'