Martial arts can help relieve stress during MCO

Rafferty (right) with his students, striking a pose, after their successful grading. Photo: Aisya J Way

Just a 20-minute online session of Choi Kwang Do (pronounced as “Choi Kwon Doh”, CKD) helps alleviate the stress of being cooped at home during the movement control order (MCO), says Harrison Rafferty, a master Instructor of the martial art form which was introduced to South East Asia in 1987.

“One of the biggest challenges during the MCO is regulating our mood, especially when confined for prolonged periods of time at home, and this can impact the whole family negatively, ” he says.

Scotsman Rafferty, 27, runs CKD classes from his centre in Kuala Lumpur. However, due to the movement control order, all classes have been moved online.

To help Malaysians get through the MCO, Rafferty is offering free 20-minute online "mood booster" CKD sessions to members of the public.

“Not only do the exercises release endorphins into the body which boosts one's mood, CKD also helps achieve mindfulness and body awareness. When we practise CKD, we become more grounded and aware of our movement, thoughts, feelings and actions, ” he says.

Rafferty teaching in Wembley, London in 2018 during the UK 30th Anniversary International CKD Seminar. Photo: Harrison RaffertyRafferty teaching in Wembley, London in 2018 during the UK 30th Anniversary International CKD Seminar. Photo: Harrison Rafferty

CKD was founded by Grandmaster Kwang Jo Choi, a former South Korean Taekwondo National Champion and one of the original masters of the Korean Taekwondo Assocation.

Although it originated from Taekwondo, there are many differences between the two.

“In CKD, the movements are designed so that they will not cause injury to the practitioner’s body. The reason it came about is because the founder of CKD became very injured due to the physical demands of Taekwondo and could no longer practise the sport, ” explains Rafferty who came to Malaysia in Oct 2015 (after graduating from university) to visit his Kuala Lumpur-based parents and he stayed on to help them run the CKD centre, Choices, that his parents had started.

The bright side

While the pandemic has impacted classes, which are now all conducted online, the impact is not all negative.

“The students are categorised into different age groups, and the ones most affected by online learning are in the three to six group because children at this age have such short attention spans and require a very high level of interactivity, ” explains Rafferty.Rory, 10, who is training at home using a striking pad during the MCO. Photo: Harrison RaffertyRory, 10, who is training at home using a striking pad during the MCO. Photo: Harrison Rafferty

“We’ve developed a ‘Train at Home kit’, so all the families who have a child training at home will receive a striking pad and noodle that can be used for blocking and evasion drills which older siblings and parents can help with, ” he says.

But for the older children, Rafferty reveals that the results of online classes has been amazing.

“Students have unlimited access to our online classes. So, those who used to train (in person) once a week, have started training three to five times a week (online) and because they’ve been attending so many classes, they've become quite incredible!” he adds. “But of course, this is just a temporary solution since CKD is so much about interaction and practical self-defence which has to be done in person.”

Rafferty reveals that most of the students at the centre are children although there are adults too, such as office workers and international school teachers, even an elderly retired Italian man of 74 named Aldo.

Students learning Choi Kwang Do in kindergarten before the pandemic. Photo: Aisya J WayStudents learning Choi Kwang Do in kindergarten before the pandemic. Photo: Aisya J Way

Not just physical

CKD is not just a martial art for exercise and self-defence purposes, but there are also many other advantages, says Rafferty.

He cites a few students from SJKC Chung Hwa Damansara in Petaling Jaya, as an example.

“Before they joined, they struggled to behave themselves at school – were disruptive in class – and were eventually sent to the headmaster’s office, ” he says.

“But after several months of CKD, their teacher noticed a huge diference. It was such as big difference that the headmaster invited me to speak about what we were doing, to understand why the students had turned around so radically, ” he adds.

Rafferty explains that the students have learnt respect, discipline and self-control in a way that they’re still happy. It’s not the harsh discipline with a ruler but rather, soft discipline with gentleness, he says, adding that CKD also helps develop concentration.

“Students learn to focus, set goals and work towards achieving them, ” he concludes.

For more info on the free classes: Choices

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