Athletes come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, each contributing to their unique set of skills and perspectives. One such athlete with an interesting background is NFL punter Braden Mann, who attributes his success to a rather unconventional source – Taekwondo. In a recent conversation, Mann shared insights into how his early years in Taekwondo enriched his life and his football career. This article explores the unexpected benefits of Taekwondo for athletes, as recounted by Mann.
Discipline and Values
One of the first things Mann mentioned about his Taekwondo journey was the importance of discipline and values. He began practicing this Korean martial art at the tender age of three, primarily at his parents’ behest. Taekwondo instilled in him core values such as respect, discipline, and self-control. These early life lessons are invaluable for athletes as they navigate their careers, promoting professionalism both on and off the field.
Coordination and Body Awareness
Mann also highlights the physical benefits of Taekwondo. He found the art particularly beneficial for enhancing lower-body coordination and body awareness. Taekwondo predominantly involves kicking techniques, which demand precise control of the lower extremities. This physical dexterity is not only essential for martial arts but also serves athletes well in various sports where agility, balance, and precise movements are key factors.
One of the most significant lessons Mann learned from Taekwondo was unwavering commitment. He devoted himself entirely to the sport, attending sessions seven days a week, often for two to three hours each day. The discipline and work ethic he developed in Taekwondo proved invaluable when he transitioned to football. The commitment he showed as a martial artist translated into his success on the gridiron, highlighting the transferability of these qualities between sports.
Lessons in Respect and Emotional Management
Martial arts often entail intense moments of combat, where emotions run high. Mann emphasized how Taekwondo taught him not only self-respect but also respect for his opponents. The practice of bowing and showing respect to one’s sparring partners, even in the heat of competition, ingrained in him the importance of maintaining sportsmanship. This lesson in emotional control and respect serves as a vital foundation for any athlete when navigating the highs and lows of their careers.
Setting a Base and Flexibility
Aside from the mental and emotional aspects, Taekwondo significantly contributed to Mann’s physical development. It improved his flexibility and body awareness, allowing him to stay in peak physical condition. The intensive stretching, balance exercises, and rigorous kicking routines improved his overall athleticism. Mann acknowledges that this strong foundation in Taekwondo allowed him to transition into football seamlessly.
Considerations for Aspiring Athletes
Braden Mann’s journey from Taekwondo to professional football underscores the hidden benefits that martial arts can offer to athletes. The values, discipline, coordination, and commitment he gained in his Taekwondo years continue to shape his success as an NFL player.
For young athletes, considering martial arts like Taekwondo as a complementary training method can be beneficial. It provides not only physical conditioning but also crucial life skills that extend beyond the playing field. Whether it’s learning discipline, promoting respect, or honing body awareness, Taekwondo offers a unique and well-rounded experience for individuals pursuing a career in sports.
In conclusion, Braden Mann’s story sheds light on how Taekwondo can be an unexpected but valuable asset for athletes. The martial art’s teachings of discipline, respect, coordination, and commitment can serve as a strong foundation for success, both in the sporting arena and in life. Whether you’re a young athlete or a seasoned professional, the principles instilled by Taekwondo can be transformative in your athletic journey.
The Eagles’ PR interns do a great job filling out these little oddities in the media guide and they serve as a good way to meet the players behind the helmets.
This week, we chatted with punter Braden Mann, who grew up doing Taekwondo.
Me: How old were you when you started?
Mann: I started when I was like 3. I was really young. My parents put me in it just to learn discipline and value and stuff like that. It was great for me. So I did that up until I was probably 13 or 14, so I did that for 10, 11 years.
Me: What did you like about it?
Mann: I loved the sparring. It was a good way to get coordinated with my lower body too. That was always good. It was just something that I could really focus all my energy on. I was doing that probably, I would go to Taekwondo seven days a week for most of my life. Two or three hours a day. So there was a travel team and going to the Junior Olympics and stuff. It was something for me to focus all my energy on, which is kind of how I do things. Now, it’s football.
Me: Were you a rambunctious kid? Did it help you settle down?
Mann: I think I probably wasn’t a rambunctious kid because I was in it. I solved it before it probably happened for me. I was always dead tired from it, which I’m sure my parents always loved. It was great.
Me: So what made you stop?
Mann: Just focusing more on football and soccer and the other sports I had. It was taking up a lot of my time. And the way I wanted to do it, it was either all or nothing.
Me: What did it teach you — you mentioned discipline — what did it teach you about that element of life?
Mann: I think martial arts, in any form, is great for kids to start. It was just little things that culture teaches you early. Bowing, yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am. Just having respect for others. When you fight somebody it’s a lot of tension and a lot of emotions. So you always end it with a bow and respect for one another, which I always appreciated about it.
Me: Are there lessons in Taekwondo that you feel are helpful in football?
Mann: Absolutely. The commitment for me was the big one that I learned early. I was so committed to that and my parents held me accountable with it and that kind of translated to every aspect of school or football or whatever it may be. That was the main part I took from it.
Me: Any athletic part of it translate?
Mann: Yeah, the lower body. It’s mostly kicking in Taekwondo so just getting coordinated with my feet. I feel like if I hadn’t done that, I would have been a lot less coordinated. And body awareness. You do a lot of stretching and balance and kicking and all that stuff. I think just total awareness of your body.
Me: So it set a base for you a little bit?
Me: Do you miss it a little bit?
Mann: I do miss it. I kind of wish I still did it. I’ve thought about it a couple times in the offseason, taking it back up again. Mostly for the stretches and being flexible. That is by far the most flexible I’ve been. I’ve thought about taking it up a few times.
Me: Thanks, man. I appreciate it.
Mann: Yeah, absolutely.