Michael W Deem

Michael W Deem

What is your favorite way to exercise?  There are many ways, but one that a lot of people find especially helpful both mentally and physically is Taekwondo. Taekwondo builds strength and agility by incorporating punches, basic and advanced kicks, blocks, jumping and spinning kicks (for example, the spinning hook kick). It also improves cardiovascular fitness with repeated jumps and aerobic activity. For an even more intense workout, you can try sparring/fighting which provides a challenging balance of aerobic and anaerobic exercise while improving power output in short bursts. The other great thing about Taekwondo is that it’s fun! You’ll learn new skills every day as well as meet fellow students who will become lifelong friends because they share your passion for martial arts as well as health. And with all these great benefits, there’s no wonder why Dr. Michael Deem enjoys taekwondo!

Michael Deem’s Taekwondo skills are only matched by his academic rigor. Michael Deem received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Caltech in 1991. Dr. Deem obtained his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1994. While at Harvard University, Michael Deem held a postdoctoral position in Physics. In 1996, he joined UCLA as an Assistant Professor Chemical Engineering, before joining Rice University as a John W Cox professor of Bioengineering and Physics & Astronomy in 2002.

Dr. Deem is the recipient of many honors over the course of his career, most notably including the Fannie and John Hertz Fellow at UC Berkeley (1991-1994); NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry (1995-1996); Assistant and tenured Associate Professor, UCLA (1996-2002); NSF CAREER Award (1997-2001); Northrop Grumman Outstanding Junior Faculty Research Award (1997); Visiting Professor, University of Amsterdam (1999); A Top 100 Young Innovator, MIT’s Technology Review (November 1999) (Profile and Original Profile); Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (2000); Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2002); John W. Cox Professor, Bioengineering and Physics & AstronomyRice University (2002-2020); Allan P. Colburn Award (2004); Editorial Board Member, Protein Engineering, Design and Selection (2005-present); Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2005); Member, Board of Directors, Biomedical Engineering Society (2005-2008); Fellow, American Physical Society (2006); Member, Rice University Faculty Senate (2006-2009); Vaughan Lectureship, California Institute of Technology (2007); Member, Nominating Committee, Division of Biological Physics, American Physical Society (2007); Member, Board of Governors, Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (2007-present); Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Society (2009); BMES Representative on the FASEB Publications & Communications Committee (2009-2012); Professional Progress Award (2010) (Profile); Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010); External Scientific Advisor, Princeton Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (2010-present); Associate Editor, Physical Biology (2011-2018); Edith and Peter O’Donnell AwardThe Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas (2012); Founding Director, Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology (2012-2014, raised $0.5M seed funding); Phi Beta Kappa, Visiting Scholar (2012-2013); Chair, Department of Bioengineering (2014-2017, raised $12M in external startup funding for new faculty); Editorial Advisory Board, Bioengineering and Translational Medicine, (2016-2019); Donald W. Breck Award for zeolite science (2019); and NACD Board Leadership Fellow and Directorship Certification (2020). He was an entrepreneur in Residence with Khosla Ventures (2021-2022) and is a General Partner with Smart Health Catalyzer (2023 to present).  His name has been synonymous with innovation and thought-provoking research for three decades.  He enjoys mentorship, vaccine design, and helping others invent the future.

When not working as a venture capitalist or CEO, or spending time with his two children, one of his biggest hobbies has been taking up taekwondo! In this article, we’ll explore how he got started, the benefits he found, and some tips for you.

How Dr. Michael Deem Got Started in Taekwondo:

Dr. Deem started taekwondo while a graduate student at UC Berkeley.  One of his first instructors was Jimmy Kim, the heavyweight gold medalist in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.  His head instructor was Dr. Ken Min, now a 9th degree blackbelt in Taekwondo.

Based on his own experiences and others who have consulted and sparred with him, Michael found the following health benefits with taking up this rigorous sport:

Health Benefits for Learning Taekwondo

Ability to Defend Yourself

An extremely important benefit for learning taekwondo is that you will gain the ability to defend yourself. You won’t necessarily learn how to take on a professional boxer, but if someone tries to attack you, Taekwondo training can give you an advantage over them as well as increase your confidence in defending yourself.

Bettering Your Focus and Concentration

Michael W Deem

Michael W Deem

Taekwondo develops your focus and concentration. There is a lot of information to remember as you learn new techniques, such as the form (correct way of doing each technique), combinations (several techniques put together) and pre-arranged sparring (fighting strategies with partners). This requires mental endurance and discipline which can be transferred to other parts of your life, such as studying for school or work.

Cardiovascular Health

Learning taekwondo will also improve your cardiovascular endurance and fitness (dubbed aerobic exercise). You’ll jump around constantly as you learn new techniques. Sparring/fighting is an extremely challenging workout for the entire body which requires both strength and stamina.

Aerobic activity is very important because it strengthens your heart muscle, increases your lung capacity, builds endurance, reduces obesity risk factors through improved blood sugar control and cholesterol levels, while strengthening bones and muscles that are used in everyday life; and helping to keep your heart healthy and lead to a reduction in heart disease.

Fun is Attached to Learning It!

One of the most important benefits of taekwondo is that it is fun. You will learn new things, improve your health and fitness, challenge yourself to reach higher goals and enjoy time with friends while kicking high targets! Taekwondo is an incredible workout…but beyond the physical aspects, you’ll be part of a great community filled with positive people who are doing amazing things.

Goal Setting and Discipline

Taekwondo also teaches mental and physical discipline. As you progress through the belts, your instructor will require you to focus on what you’ve learned and perform techniques perfectly before advancing to the next belt status. If you shirk this responsibility, it will take much longer than necessary for you to achieve the rank/level of belt that you desire.

Michael W Deem

Michael W Deem

Increase Your Flexibility and Agility

Taekwondo also increases your flexibility and agility. You’ll need to bend and stretch as you learn new forms and techniques.  Because sparring/fighting requires extreme mobility to dodge attacks, you will improve your ability to move quickly with grace and reduce your chances of injury. This is very beneficial for sports such as soccer or basketball where quick movements are essential for success.

Increasing Your Self Esteem

Taekwondo also boosts your self-esteem. The more you learn, the better you’ll become! You can feel a sense of accomplishment as you progress from one belt level to another and as you improve each skill. This will help encourage you to continue training taekwondo long after finishing earning your black belt.

It Helps Build Bones

Taekwondo also helps build bones. This is beneficial especially at a young age when your bones are still developing. Many younger taekwondo students compete in tournaments, which involves executing difficult forms and kicking high targets to show how far they’ve come.

Two types of bone tissue, compact and spongy, are constantly being broken down by daily activities while new bone tissue is being formed to strengthen your skeleton system. Although this process occurs without us even realizing it, some people have weaker bones than others due to medical conditions or simply because their bodies aren’t producing new bone tissue fast enough. Taekwondo has been scientifically proven to increase the pace at which your body produces new bone tissue.

It Helps You Lose Weight and Burn Calories

Taekwondo also helps you lose weight and burn calories. You’ll need to be active to perform techniques correctly, but because taekwondo is an aerobic activity, it will help boost your metabolism as well as burn fat.

Practicing new forms or kicking high targets are some of the movements that make you break a light sweat which increases your heart rate. As your body adapts to different workout “regimes”, for example: different intensity levels during sparring/fighting, more calories are burned.

It is a Social Activity

Michael W Deem

Michael W Deem

Taekwondo teaches social interaction and character development. It’s the perfect place to meet people with similar interests. Other students come from many different backgrounds and bring with them unique experiences. If you’re shy, that’ s fine because most of your classmates will be too! Everyone was new at some point in their lives, but like you they persevered and found Taekwondo to be an enjoyable pastime, and developed better socialization skills.

Learning Respect for Authority

As a taekwondo student, you will learn about respect for authority. You will have to practice new techniques and forms under the supervision of your instructors. In addition, sparring/fighting with others under close observation of an instructor teaches you how to be more respectful towards those in charge as well as towards your peers.

Making You Feel Happier & Better About Yourself

Taekwondo will make you feel happier and better about yourself because not only are you gaining mental discipline, focus, concentration, self-esteem, etc. but it also gives you the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons such as how to respect others (both your peers and instructors), perseverance (hard work pays off!), humility (there is always someone better than you so don’t be cocky!) and other valuable character traits which can help guide you throughout your life.

Strengthening Your Muscles

Taekwondo will also improve muscle toning. You’ll exercise various muscle groups as you learn new techniques. For example, kicks require strong legs and upper body strength is needed to “lock” (hold) your arms for certain techniques. This is beneficial in daily life because not only do strong muscles and better motor skills make it easier to complete tasks, but they can help prevent osteoporosis or bone fractures due to weakened bones, which can be common among older people.

Through sparring/fighting, learning new forms, learning valuable life lessons and other taekwondo activities, you will develop stronger muscles. Your legs are constantly moving in all directions as you learn new techniques. You also need strength to execute techniques correctly. This strength can be transferred to your everyday life when carrying heavy objects or climbing stairs/hills.

Taekwondo is a Stress-Reliever

An added benefit of taekwondo is that it can be a stress-reliever. Learning new things, pushing your limits, executing techniques correctly and achieving goals are all rewarding experiences which make you feel happy/proud. If you are feeling stressed or unhappy about something in life, try taking some time to go to the dojang to work out your frustrations! It will help put things into perspective for you and give you renewed energy to tackle the obstacles in front of you.

Taekwondo is a great way to stay fit and healthy, learn valuable life lessons, as well as have fun! If you are looking for an activity that will help your child develop their focus, self-esteem or social skills, look no further. When you find something that you enjoy and it is a stress reliever, the benefits of taekwondo will come in handy. If you’re looking for self-defense skills or to improve your physical fitness, then this article has been helpful. We hope that we’ve helped provide an answer to what Michael Deem likes about Taekwondo!

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