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TAEKWON-DO and its impact on my Life

17-Dec-2013 11:18:29 AM

Thesis by Deborah Marie Campbell


“Tae Kwon-Do is and unarmed combat designed for the purpose of self defence. It is a martial art that has no equal in power or technique. It is a disciplined martial art, and the techniques and mental training are the mortar for building a strong sense of justice”.
To me, Tae Kwon-Do is a form of self defence and a creative martial art.

My interest in Tae Kwon-Do first began at the age of 15. I remember sitting down and watching my father go through all of his Tae Kwon-Do patterns and recite all of the terminology in Korean. This is the moment I first noticed my affection for the sport. My father was so passionate about the martial art that he even made his own holder to break wood and bricks. This took place in the extension to the rear of our house. My mother was always afraid and worried that a brick would go through the window, but my father was always in control and told her not to worry. Initially my father first wanted my younger brother to follow in his footsteps and start Tae Kwon-Do, so he took him along to one of his training sessions to enable him to get a feel for what went on inside the Dojang. Where my younger brother had been fussed over by my mother throughout the years (mainly due to him being the youngest sibling) it had made him a little soft and he did not like the atmosphere.
    Watching my father train made me think that I would like to be the one to follow in his footsteps and take up the martial art, but I was put off by the thought of starting all on my own. My main reason for wanting to take up Tae Kwon-Do was for self defence, but it was also for the moves and techniques which looked very interesting. When I turned 17, three of my close friends began talking about Tae Kwon-Do and about joining a local club within the area. There was a school in Princes Street in Oxford where they held the Blackbird Leys Tae Kwon-Do School. I was very keen to go along with them as I already had experience through my father of what Tae Kwon-Do entailed. There was a gentleman who trained there called Joseph who was a red belt. He came over to speak to us and made us feel very welcome and at ease. I will never forget Joseph because this was around the time that all of the students were required to learn the Korean terminology. It was around October 1979, and I remember Joseph had learned all of the terminology before handing any of the copies out to the class, so when our instructor Mr Gerald Dash then a 3rd degree asked any questions regarding this he was able to answer straight away. This made him feel really clever and intelligent.
    My three friends Ruth, Pamela, Tricia and I all sat down and watched the class as they commenced their training session. Gerald Dash in my opinion was a very good Tae Kwon-Do instructor. He joked around with the class to make them feel at ease and had nicknames for everyone in the Dojang, but he was also very strict and made sure we were taught to the highest standard in order achieve the best. This is what made everyone have the up most adoration and respect for him. One of the black belt members within the school in my opinion stood out from all of the rest. His patterns were almost perfect as was his sparing, his techniques were well timed and always controlled and he always seemed focused on what he was doing. His name was Orello Ellis then a 3rd degree. Orello is now an 8th degree senior master in Tae Kwon-Do and continues to teach and train.

My First Session
After watching the training session my friends and I were really keen to participate, so we did so at the next session. I ached for days after because I was not used to all of the hard training and I hadn’t done any proper training for a couple of years. My friend Tricia only lasted a couple of weeks at the school then gave up, personally I believe she only wanted to see what familiar male faces were at the training session and had little interest in the martial art. Not long after Tricia stopped Tae Kwon-Do, Ruth also followed in her footsteps and left. Sadly Ruth passed away in 2002 at the age of 41, so that just left Pamela and I out of the original four. Pamela continued until she reached 5th Kup then she too gave up so that just left myself. Although my friends had all left it didn’t really affect or bother me. I knew everyone there and was friends with all of them, so I felt content in staying.

6th Kup-1st Degree
I always remember when I took my grading for my green belt. It was compulsory to break a board at this grading, so all of us had practised and had chosen what we were going to do. The majority of the people chose to do a side kick to break the board, but I felt more comfortable doing a turning kick. My father used to do turning kick a lot. He made it a rule of his to train both legs to be as good as each other in whatever he done, so he didn’t have a favourite. My father didn’t ever seem to feel any pain when sparring, breaking etc (or if he did he didn’t let it show), and some of the black belts who he used to train with didn’t like sparring with him because when he blocked you really felt it. People were almost afraid to attack him as they knew his force would hurt them. This is why he was given the nickname of ‘Iron Man’. My father is only 5ft 2ins, and at the age of 81, he still goes through all of his patterns and trains every Sunday at his home.
    When I became a 1st Kup I entered into my first competition at the Town Hall in Oxford. It was Oxford against London, and all of the odds were in London’s favour. Oxford actually beat London in the end, and we were all very proud in doing so. I was a light weight at that stage but I had to compete against a heavy weight, her name was Mary. Mary and I drew first of all, but when we had to fight again I was so worn out and Mary won overall. I blamed that on me smoking at the time. It affected my stamina and my ability to keep up, so after that I decided to give up the cigarettes as they were no benefit to me. I didn’t do too well in the patterns, I was too nervous and I suppose they got the better of me. I found that overall it was a good experience. I loved the frill of competing and putting techniques into action. Even though I did a lot of sparring at the Dojang, I found that competitions were more interesting and challenged my ability. I found that sparring against people that I trained with became very easy, as their moves were predictable and I could read them like a book. Not saying that I was better than them because I wasn’t, but sparring with a stranger and not knowing what they were capable of doing was very interesting and a good experience.
    On March 3rd 1985 I went to Glasgow in Scotland to take my 1st degree. I travelled up there with Augustus Mitchell, Egbert Dublin and Ian Miller. Augustus (aka Squidley) drove us all up in his Jaguar and the journey must have taken at least six hours. We firstly commenced with a training seminar with then Master Rhee Ki Ha 7th degree. I felt very nervous at first, but after the seminar had finished it left me feeling more relaxed for the grading. I was successful in passing my grading and became very confident. It felt like it was the beginning of my Tae Kwon-Do days.
    After I successfully gained my 1st degree, I began competing a lot more in the British, English, Welsh and Scottish championships. The more competitions I entered the better I became and this resulted in me winning many gold medals. I not only felt confident in training but I also felt more courageous in general e.g. when I was out on the street I no longer felt threatened by from being quiet and timid. In fact my shyness began to disappear.

Maternity Leave
In March 1986 I unfortunately had to give up Tae Kwon-Do but it was all for a good cause. I fell pregnant with my first child, and on November 11th I had a daughter called Leila. After Leila was born I was very determined to get back into Tae Kwon-Do, so I lost some of the baby weight that I had put on and by Christmas I was only half a stone heavier than I was before. After the New Year I began training again and getting in shape for the English championships which were in February. I took my daughter along with me, Leila was my mascot. I went on to win gold in sparring and destruction and a bronze in the patterns. I thought if I can achieve this after just having a baby then I can achieve much more. I had missed out on the world championships in Korea so I made a promise to myself that I was not going to miss out on the next one in Montreal, Canada in 1990. I started to go squad training with Orello Ellis and I was training everyday (sometimes it was twice a day). I was the captain for the women’s team. We performed ok in the competition, we got beaten in the patterns by Canada who overall came second to Korea in the end. I came out with a bronze for individual patterns, which was a very big achievement for me. That same year I went to compete in Norway with Amanda Lee and Lorraine Sega. It was a great experience going to different countries and competing and also meeting people from different parts of the world. In some countries e.g. Norway and Poland, I noticed that there were not a great deal of black people there apart from the competitors from other countries. This was something that I was not used to coming from Oxford, England where there is a vast amount of ethnic origins.

Training Schools and Instructors
Throughout the time that I have been participating in Tae Kwon-Do I have trained with various instructors, who in their individual ways have taught me something new and have helped me to get to where I am now. I first started out in Blackbird Leys with Gerald Dash, I then moved to the Hinksey Tae Kwon-Do school with Orello Ellis when Mr Dash moved to the USA. After having my daughter I began to train in Bicester with Mr Augustus Mitchell. Mr Mitchell helped me out a great deal and was determined to teach me to the highest of his ability in order for me to succeed. We used to do extra training sessions, go through our patterns and help each other out when need be. Whilst training with Augustus I felt more confident, more aware and as though I was achieving a lot more. I also trained with Mr Gary Miller in Didcot where I successfully took and passed my 2nd degree. I then returned back to the Bicester Tae Kwon-Do school where I took my 3rd degree. Where I had been practising for so long, I had became very confident within myself when I took both my 2nd and 3rd degree.
   During my time of practising at Didcot Tae Kwon-Do school, I remember having both good and bad experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed the training aspect of Tae Kwon-Do and I learned a lot from Gary Miller (now Master Miller) and from his brother Mick Miller. Unfortunately Mick Miller passed away a few years ago. Mick helped me a great deal and I will always be grateful to him for that. When I was training to go for my second degree I was unable to jump very high off of the ground when doing a jumping turning kick, and Mick taught me how to better myself at this and I was able to do the jumping turning kick and break the board. Before taking this grading I competed in the Scottish championships and I won special technique which was a jumping turning kick. I owe that medal to Mr Mick Miller. Now when it came to his brother Ian Miller who I got on really well with, sparring was always a time to remember. He was different, and it didn’t matter if you were a male or female, light weight or heavy weight he would just go for it. As a light weight female Ian used to kick me about and hit me like a punch bag and his speciality was the sweeping kick. Although Ian was a bit rough it made me a tougher female. After sparring with Ian I felt as if I could spar against anyone.

Time Out
I stopped practising Tae Kwon-Do around the year of 1998 when I was in a relationship with my now ex partner. He was against me training and participating in Tae Kwon-Do mainly because there were a lot of males that were there. To keep the peace between us I followed his wishes and gave up Tae Kwon-Do which I have deeply regretted ever since. I now know that I will never let anyone stand in my way of what I love doing, and this experience has made me realise that if I want to achieve something I will work hard to do it.

Who Inspired Me
Throughout my years of training and watching others train, I admired a female black belt called Au Tam Ying. Her patterns were perfect, and her sparring and destruction were phenomenal. She always made everything look so easy. Amanda Lee was another lady who I admired in the martial art. Amanda was also very good at destruction and she was very tough and clear minded. She was a very good friend and we travelled a lot together competing, training and also spending some leisure time on holidays. Amanda gave up Tae Kwon-Do some years ago, maybe she might return sometime in the near future and we can be veterans together. Another person who I looked up to in Tae Kwon-Do was Master Orello Ellis. I never had a bad word to say about Orello when it came to Tae Kwon-Do, he was extremely good and a lot of people looked up to him. I remember watching him in competitions when he was a 4th degree and the whole of the arena would stop everything that they were doing to watch him perform. The pattern which everyone was taken away by was Moon Moo. Master Orello Ellis still continues to do Tae Kwon-Do it’s just a pity we had to fall out over personal reasons.

What I Plan To Do Next
At the moment I have got a Tae Kwon-Do school consisting of around 30 students. I am running the school with the help of Master Small. When I succeed in my next grading for 4th degree and gain more experience in teaching I would like to expand on my school, have more training sessions aswell as working part time. Hopefully Master Small with his 30 years of knowledge and experience in Tae Kwon-Do will lend me a helping hand.

What Have I Achieved
Throughout the years that I have been practising Tae Kwon-Do I am very pleased to say that I have never failed any of my gradings. I haven’t known many people to have not been successful in passing a grading but it has occurred in the past.
I have competed in many tournaments and competitions throughout Britain and also in many different countries throughout Europe. I have also won many medals during the years and my most memorable experience of winning a medal was in the world championships in Canada where I won the bronze in patterns. Another success that stands out for me was in the European championships in Poland winning the gold medal in patterns and bronze in sparring. We as a team also won two silvers and destruction. Unfortunately I hurt my foot quite badly so I wouldn’t really say i participated in winning the team the silver medals. I believe that Tae Kwon-Do has changed me and made me into a better person. I’m not saying that I was a bad person in the past, but now I come to  find that I respect my elders more and I feel as if I have more control over what I do. I listen to what others have to say and I try my hardest not to judge people as deep down we are all equal.

When my daughter was 4 years of age, I used to take her to Tae Kwon-Do training with me due to the fact that I was unable to get a babysitter for her. I didn’t realise that she was taking in the Korean terminology that was being taught throughout the session. One evening when we were driving home she was sat in the car and started to count in Korean saying, “Hana, Doul, Set, Net” all the way up to ten. I was very surprised but very proud. At the age of nine my daughter started practising Tae Kwon-Do until she became a 5th Kup. She then stopped because she was also a gymnast and swam for the City of Oxford Swimming Club. I did want her to carry on doing Tae Kwon-Do but I didn’t want to force her.

My son Leon began practising Tae Kwon-Do when he was seven years old. Leon only stayed there for a couple of months as he wanted to continue playing football with the local team. Maybe he will return when he is older and has more knowledge about Tae Kwon-Do. He is fifteen now and I didn’t take up Tae Kwon-Do until I was seventeen, so maybe one of my children will follow in my footsteps just like I did with my father.




I am pleased to say that I am now back training at Tae Kwon-Do. Being a single woman I realised that I could do exactly what I wanted and finish achieving the goals I had set myself so I decided to go back. Now my next goal is to become a 4th degree international instructor. I have learned a lot over the years and now I want to spread my knowledge to others both young and old. My aim is to teach them all that I have learned over the years. I am now training with Master Small 7th degree, who is also my partner. Master Small has helped me out a great deal and he has taught me that I can do and achieve anything. All it takes is a bit of hard work. In order to succeed you must work hard.

The culmination of a 30 year Journey


Courtesy : itftkd.org

To read the original article http://www.itftkd.org/?Content=MembersPersonalStories&ArticleID=157&NextRedirect=%3FContent%3DMembersPersonalStoriesIndex

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