First Time TTA Competition 2013 by Henry Baltesz 8th Kup
The TTA Teams event had a brilliant atmosphere and was excellent fun to both attend and compete in. The fights were fought with vigour, but there was no trace of any foul play; everyone was there to fight fairly and enjoy themselves. It was also quite motivating for my own training to see some of the techniques used by higher grades than myself in the sparring. The paired patterns competition was a new competition, but went over very smoothly, and was great to compete in. The presence of Grandmaster Loh at the competition was also very motivating, after all, who wants to be seen slacking by the Grandmaster!
First Time BSTF Competition 2013 by Petros Djakouris 1st Dan
After 10 years of practising taekwondo this was the first time that I ever took part in a full competition! With a bit of luck and most importantly my colleagues support and cheering I managed to win the gold medal in my weight category. I was waiting for this moment for a very long time and I enjoyed every second of it. My achievement proved to me that hard work does pay off and this inspired me to run for the role of Events Officer in my University’s Taekwondo society. I feel very proud that I was successfully elected because this is my chance to deliver the message to my fellow students that it is never too late to pursue something you enjoy and that you should always do more than what is expected of you.
TTA Individuals Competition 2012 by Konrad Chapman 7th Kup
This was my first time competing in a full competition and it was a fantastic experience. I competed in both the poomsae and sparring competitions. When I was going up for my pattern, I was slightly concerned to see that most of those I was competing against were a grade higher than me and so would have had more experience in the pattern. However, I was confident in my ability in the pattern and so did the best I could. I found doing patterns in competition makes you a lot more conscious of every minor misstep. Despite being, personally, slightly unhappy with my performance, I was amazed to find that I had actually won the gold!
Unfortunately my first foray into competition sparring didn’t go so well. After scoring the first points of the round with a swift kick to my opponent’s head, I then took several blows that dropped me behind. Despite the best advice from my coach, I was unable to make up the deficit and lost the fight. However, the fight gave me a lot to think about and let me know how I need to change my fight style for the future, so definitely not a wasted experience and I’m looking forward to competing in the future.
Summer School Experience 2012 by Konrad Chapman 7th Kup
This was my first year doing summer school and it was fantastic. After training twice a week for the last year, to suddenly be doing 5 hours a day for a week was a shock to the system but it was a great feeling to realise that we’d managed it. The opportunity to train under Grandmaster Loh for the full week was a great honour as well and one that I fully appreciated. It’s certainly something that I’m looking forward to repeating next year
Summer School Experience 2012 by Lauren Hindhaugh 7th Kup
This was my first Summer School so really didn’t know what to expect the training sessions to be like. I was nervous yet very excited to be trained by the Grand Master and meet members from the other clubs. Being one of the most junior members there I was determined not to let that disadvantage me and really pushed the limits of my fitness level. For Summer School I set a goal for myself to improve my flexibility and technique as we focused a lot on technique and combinations that work well together. I found this very beneficial as it really helped me when sparring. I loved the whole experience of summer school, although very challenging it gave me a great sense of achievement after every day. I feel that summer school has given me great motivation to keep my fitness levels up and I can’t wait for next summer to build on the skills developed.
Alumni Competition by Konrad Chapman 7th Kup
The alumni competition was my first opportunity to see how I performed in a competitive environment in Taekwondo. It was a great and friendly atmosphere competing with some of the seniors and knowing that they would give us a chance to experience a fight and not just go all out against us (even if they did still win the majority!). It certainly got me looking to take part in some of the larger competitions.
TTA Individuals Competition by Jasmine Rivett 2nd Kup
This was my third time competing at a TTA event, but my first time as a referee. As always I was very nervous! Before refereeing any of the kyorugi, I competed in poomsae. Even though I had only learnt the pattern very close to the competition, it was still a good experience. After the poomsae competition I spent the rest of the day reffing. Even though it required a lot of concentration it was fascinating to see the sparring from a different viewpoint. I learnt a lot from reffing which I can apply to my own Taekwondo training. Because of how much I learnt from reffing, I would definitely reccomend it!
TTA Individuals Competition by Josh Bailey 2nd Kup
The individuals this year was my fourth time competing, and I learnt more this time than I have in all previous competitions. I competed in poomsae and kyorugi. I was nervous going up to do my pattern in the poomsae competition, it’s quite an experience having everyone watch you perform while you try to do your pattern the best you possibly can. I’ve won a silver medal in poomsae before, and this time I really wanted the gold, which made me feel even more nervous! But, I managed to keep calm, and ended up getting the gold! Plus, with everyone else from the club watching, I got lots of tips on how to improve my pattern.
In kyorugi it was my first time sparring in the black belt category. There weren’t many competitors this time, so I only had one opponent, who was a 3rd Dan black belt that I knew was very good. I ended up doing terribly in the ring because he was so much better then me, but it was a great way to see what I need to improve in if I’m ever going to do well in this category.
It was, as usual, great fun and a good experience that I would reccomend to all members.
Grading Experience by Cheng Qian 8th Kup
My first grading in June 2011 was a big success – the techniques and the pattern were well prepared, which made me very confident and powerful on the day – however, the second grading in September was in an opposite situation. I didn’t take part in the annual summer school and missed the two trainings in the week before. It made things even worse that I was really sick those days, and I was dizzy, tired and extremely stressful on the day. I spoke to a senior member about my bad feelings and she encouraged me to calm down and do my best. As I had expected, I was powerless during the grading, but I tried my best to kick hard and shout loudly, and the patterns were finished without any mistake. I decided to do taekwondo mainly for my fitness, and I was looking for some sport out of ordinary. Although sometimes thing can go wrong, but I do believe that I’m getting stronger all the time by doing taekwondo. And I was so surprised to see there were so many kids doing taekwondo and lots of them did really well. It was also very impressive to see those friends from the university club had improved so much after the 1-week summer school. I wish some day in the future I could be good as them, or even better, and then I will tell everyone taking taekwondo is one of my most rewarding decisions. I the most important thing I learned from this grading is no matter what happens, always calm down and try your best, and sometimes it can save a lot!
Summer School Experience 2011 by Samira Parhizkar 6th Kup
This was my first time participating in summer school and despite hearing rumours about what the training sessions would be like, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was nervous yet excited to be trained by the Grand Master himself! My objectives were to learn as much as I could to apply the techniques at the grading and future competitions.
During the summer school, I was the most junior member of the club. However, I did not want that to be an excuse for not performing well enough. This put a lot of pressure on me for having to try to keep up with my seniors as much as I could but at the same time, the pressure was the perfect motivation I needed.
With each day, the level of intensity of the exercises increased. We learned sparring techniques, improved our patterns (and in my case, learned the next one in advance!), stretching to improve our flexibility and much more. There were many moments where I felt I just could not continue anymore and wanted to give up but one of the most important things I learned during the summer school, which I now greatly value, was to stay determined and stick to your goals. Some of the most memorable skills I learned over the week, mostly involved sparring techniques such as how to respond efficiently to opponent’s kicks as well as learning different combinations for specific attacks. This was amongst the most challenging parts of the week, both physically and psychologically. Even though it was very tiring, the fact that I continued to push myself and test my own limits was the best achievement ever! Also, to keep our motivation up, the Grand Master would share inspirational stories about Taekwondo with us which personally helped me apply that knowledge, not only during trainings, but also in my other daily activities.
Overall, I learned a lot of things during a very short period of time during the summer school and I eagerly look forward to taking part in as many as I can in the future.
Summer School Experience 2011 by Madeleine Helme 2nd Kup
This was my second time taking part in summer school. This year, as I knew what to expect from the week, I tried to maintain my fitness levels over the summer so that I would be better prepared for six days of taekwondo. Despite this I was still pushed to my limits on several occasions and I really felt like I was getting something out of each day. The week was balanced well with the first four days focusing on sparring practice which really tested our fitness as well as our abilities. One of the things we focused on during these days is how to effectively respond to your opponent’s kicks; knowing which kicks work against specific attacks and being able to quickly perform the appropriate kick in practice. I found this particularly useful as I feel that it is an area of sparring that I need to improve. The last two days concentrated more on technique and patterns, where I got the chance to work on my new patterns well as improving previous ones. As well as this the entire week contained lots of stretching as well as words of wisdom from Grandmaster Loh, helping us to better understand the techniques and how to perform them correctly as well as the way of taekwondo.
Alongside all of this I enjoyed attending the socials in the evening where we could all relax together and have fun after a tough day of training. At the end of the week I was happy to have completed the course and felt that I had improved in many different areas. Overall, I thought this summer school was definitely worthwhile and extremely beneficial to anyone, no matter what level of Taekwondo they are at.
Summer School Experience 2011 by Reza Mani 1st Kup
This year I had a different agenda for summer school. Since my black belt grading was exactly one week from the end of the summer school, I had decided that I will use it to concentrate and prepare myself for the grading. While this was the perfect opportunity for me to practice everything and sort out my problems, at the same time it made me very nervous, as usual! The morning of the first day was mostly spent on stretching. With the help of Grandmaster Loh, I managed to stretch my legs to levels that I didn’t know I could.It was amazing to find out that I was capable of stretching to that length! Now it was a matter of practising more so that I could keep that level. Then from the afternoon of that day until the end of the fourth day, we did a lot sparring drills up and down the hall. By the beginning of Tuesday’s afternoon session my legs were completely gone. I think toward the end of that afternoon I had no feeling left in my legs so I didn’t know if they were hurting or not! While you might think this is not a good thing and I had to check and see if I was ok or not, I had to focus on the exercises so much that I didn’t even have time to think about that. But now that I think about it, I’m really glad that I couldn’t feel anything anymore, because I think that made it easier for me to go on. Wednesday morning the pain had come back but I had no choice but to deal with it. But then at the end of the morning session, we had about 40 minutes of relaxing, stretching and sport massaging, which made everything so much better. Thursday morning, we started with Poomsae, which I really love, and then we went on to do some self defence, so it was a good day. Friday morning we had a session of Poomsae again and in the afternoon we did some sparring drills again. Then Saturday morning, we had the grading for the kup grades and although I wasn’t grading I was very stressed. But that’s a story for an other time!
Overall, I have to say, this summer school was the most difficult of the three I have done. Mid summer, you’re always excited and cannot wait to start the summer school. When it starts and while you’re doing it, you think “why am I paying to be tortured like this?”. But once it gets to the last day, every one is sad that it’s the last day. The most rewarding thing is to know that you have gone through all the pain and pushed yourself to limits that you didn’t know you could. Summer school is always a true test of your spirit and when you get to the end of, you get a feeling of satisfaction that, I have to say, rarely compares to anything else. As for me and the goals I had, I would say, I had a great week of training under the best supervisions and I think I achieved most of my goals.
First Grading Experience by Jeremy Leaf 9th Kup
This was my first grading and I was pretty nervous to start off with. The whole scenario seemed a little intimidating with no room for making mistakes and everyone examining your every move – including Grand Master Loh- who I had a preconception of being a really scary guy. But it turns out that my initial worries were unfounded. It wasn’t that scary having everyone watching you, it turned out to be a safe environment to make mistakes and Grand Master Loh was really nice. An enjoyable experience overall and very inspiring to see the higher belts go up and grade. Who knew that you could kick through wood.
First TTA Competition experience by Victoria Hills 7th Kup
Having never competed before I arrived at the competition fairly nervous. First was the poomsae competition where there were 7 other adult yellow belts. When I was called up to perform my first pattern all the nerves came back to me but after a deep breath and just doing it, it was all quickly over and I realised that I didn’t know what my knees had done for the whole pattern, the second pattern happened in much the same manner and then patterns where over and the results would be announced at the end of the day. For sparring I had one of the later womens fight so got a chance to watch many of the senior and see what I should be trying to do later. When the time of my fight came there were only two of us in the weight category so it was a 3 round fight. During the first round I was a bit shaky but after some encouraging words from Beth in the break and realising that I had survived that far, the second and third rounds went a lot better and I remembered some of the techniques we had been doing in training and started to apply them. While the score gave her a decisive victory I was really happy at having made it through the fight and get some kicks in which was a real confidence boost.
First TTA Teams Experience by Madeleine Helme 4th Kup
The TTA teams competition was my first time competing in a TTA competition and my second time competing overall. After losing my fight at the BSTF competition in March I felt slightly disheartened as I didn’t think I fought to the best of my ability, however, with this in mind I returned to training in preparation for the next competition knowing what I needed to improve. At the TTA competition I was nervous about sparring again but really enjoyed it and found sparring against higher grades to be a great learning experience which has hopefully helped prepare me for future competitions. Despite losing both my fights I felt that I learnt and improved with each one, particularly through learning from the mistakes I made in previous fights and with the help and advice from the senior members of the club. Overall I really enjoyed the competition, both competing myself and supporting the rest of my teammates, and I am looking forward to the next competition.
First TTA Teams & Demonstration Experience by Jasmine Rivett 4th Kup
After competing in the individual championships in November I couldn’t wait till the team championships this April. At the competition it was brilliant to be able to apply the skills I had learnt in training and to get feedback on how I need to improve for the next one! It was really exciting to be part of a team as well as to compete individually. The most scary part of the competition was doing a demonstration at the end. I only recently joined the demonstration team and didn’t really know what to expect. It was really fun being able to demonstrate how taekwondo can be used and to do breaks I never thought I would be able to. The hardest part was having the confidence to kihap in front of people and I had to practice for weeks! Overall the competition was a brilliant experience and I learnt a lot which I look forward to using in future.
TTA Teams Experience by Madhavie Perera 1st Dan
As always, I went to the competition with a bundle of nerves, excitement and the intention of taking as much as I can from the experience. As always, I have come away with a wealth of experience and, this time, a new found confidence in sparring that I didn’t think I’d ever have. Sparring has always been my least favourite part of Taekwondo being the type of person to avoid confrontation as much as possible – not wanting to hurt someone or injure myself in the process. I think I surprised myself more than anyone else at the TTA Teams competition last weekend. It was exciting to be able to use what I learned in training and see the results. I’ll approach not only sparring but every aspect of Taekwondo differently now. I cannot wait to head back to training, learn from my mistakes, work on my weaknesses and improve my strengths. Each person’s Taekwondo experience is different and mine has taken me on such a journey. I cannot wait to see and experience what comes next.
Grading Experience by Joshua Bailey 5th Kup
As always, the latest grading was one of the main events I have been looking forward to all term. A chance to prove that you’ve progressed and earn your next belt or tags. It was nerve racking as usual, going up and grading in front of everyone. It was a great experience to be able to watch all the new members and more senior belts grade, and to see what level I had come from, and then the level that I hope to achieve. The post-grading training afterwards was once again an enjoyable and worthwhile experience, showing that there is always much more to learn. Now I can’t wait until the next grading!
Grading Experience by Daniel Rainer 10th Kup
Preparing for grading turned out a little more stressful than I’d expected. I’d cut my finger preparing dinner the day before, and accidentally spread blood over the collars and sleeves of my dobok. It took a good half hour of soap and hot water to make the uniform presentable again. After this unnecessary stress, I arrived at the Sports Center with my spotless uniform with plenty of time to spare. Everybody was very helpful, and happy to offer various pieces of advice. I tried to keep it all in mind, but once grading began it went straight out of my head. At the moment when Grandmaster Loh walked in the room was filled with silence and anticipation, as we finally had the chance to see the head of the TTA, whom we had heard so much about. The grading itself passed as a blur, but Grandmaster Loh took the time to give all of us novices some instruction. It really was an honour to hear from him, as he had so much experience to share, and was very engaging.
1st BSTF Experience 2011 by Felix Laurire von Massenbach 5th Kup
My first experience of the BSTF championships was an enlightening one. Having sparred before at TTA competitions, I was looking forward to seeing and experiencing different styles of Taekwondo in action. I wasn’t dissappointed! Both in Poomsae and Kyorugi, it was clear that other organisations and clubs put different emphasis on training, and demonstrated to me how important our focus on form is. I also learned something of how to deal with different styles in the ring, both from my experience, and from observing and supporting my friends and teammates in their matches. Despite the more competitive nature of the competition, there was still a friendly atmosphere and I really enjoyed this opportunity to practice my Taekwondo in an unusual setting, against opponents with different styles and goals from those in the TTA
1st BSTF Experience 2011 by Joshua Bailey 5th Kup
BSTF was my 2nd time competing. Just as last time it was nerve racking having to stand in front of everyone and perform, but at the same time it was great fun to be able to test how good you are. It was quite different from the TTA competition I last competed in. Both poomsae and sparring had a different format to TTA and it was a good experience seeing other ways these competitions can be held. As it was not a TTA competition the competitors all had different styles of Taekwondo which you don’t normally see at TTA events. It was interesting and useful to see what other people are taught and how effective their techniques are. It also gave a greater appreciation for our own club as I could watch others and see how well taught we all are in comparison. All of the other competitors were friendly, and there was a great atmosphere of team spirit as everyone cheered for their friends. All in all it was a great experience and I look forward to competing at BSTF again next year.
BSTF Experience 2011 by Adam Turner 2nd Dan
BSTF is an event that is open to all university Taekwondo clubs and as a result there is a wide range of styles and techniques on display. It’s always interesting to step into the ring with absolutely no idea how your opponent is going to fight! It’s a great learning experience and as with most competitions the atmosphere is amazing. You get to meet a lot of new people from all over the country each with their own Taekwondo backgrounds and make a few new friends or at least a few friendly rivalries!
We were very lucky to have a lot of help from senior grades who came down just to coach and help warm up all our competitors on the day. I think we’d all like to say a big thank you for that, without you guys we’d have been completely lost!
All in all it was an awesome weekend and I’d recommend it to everyone. Congratulations to everyone that got a medal and for anyone that didn’t there’s always next year!
December 2010 Grading Experience by Matthew Hughes
As custom, the grading began with the lowest belts going first until it reached the higher ranks. It is always refreshing to see people back from the previous gradings and to see how far they have developed since the last grading. However, it can also be nerve racking as you see the time counting down till it’s your turn to grade. It is also scary to understand that you should be better than all those grades before you! I had been told by many people that I should use this grading as a demo for my actual black belt grading so I could know exactly what I needed to improve to pass my black belt grading. I was most worried about the suspension breaking for my grading. I rarely had a chance to try them before and their emphasis is on speed; a speed I didn’t feel I possessed as I never had successfully broken a suspension break. In the grading, I was most surprised by having to perform multiple other poomsae’s and the 2-on-1 sparring. The hardest parts of the grading for me were the 2-on-1 sparring and the suspension breaks, neither of which I felt I did well in. Hopefully, by the time when I am called up by Grand Master Loh, I will have improved my agility to help me in the 2-on-1 sparring and my speed and technique to help me through the suspension breaks.
December 2010 Grading Experience by Nicholas Cerat
The Traditional Taekwondo Association’s December grading this year was a cold one! While the walk to the sports centre may have been a relaxing stroll through idyllic snowy fields, the conditions for the grading itself were uncomfortable to say the least! By the time the more senior grades were called up to be tested, I couldn’t feel my toes! Being a 2nd kup allowed me to see my more junior counterparts’ Taekwondo with a more experienced eye, so the intricacies of the art are all the more fascinating to observe. Overall, a ‘sprit testing’ experience!
December 2010 1st Grading Experience by Bisola Majekodunmi
Taking part in grading for the first time was something I was, inevitably anxious about at first. But since we’d done a few mock gradings in Taekwondo sessions already and because we were mostly surrounded by the people we had trained with for weeks now by the time it was my turn to go up; it wasn’t too daunting.
I feel my grading was ok but I think it was really constructive that the Grandmaster gave tips on how to improve for next time.
For me, it was most interesting and helpful to watch the seniors grade since I got to see what would be required for the senior belts in Taekwondo. Plus, it was good to see all the training I’ve seen them do put into practice.
The experience will definitely help my future training as I now know part of what is it that I’m aiming for and so can motivate myself to train more because it’s easier to remember that you’re actually aiming for an end result not just attending classes.
Overall I enjoyed the experience and the biggest thing I learnt is that grading is not something to be scared of; it’s just a necessary element that ties the whole martial arts experience together.
December 2010 1st Grading Experience by Charlotte Foong
Despite the inevitable nerves on the morning of the Taekwondo grading, it was such a satisfying experience of achievement and progress, that I will never regret taking it! Although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of my own first grading, it was the opportunity to see everyone else grading for their higher belts which I found to be hugely inspiring. Seeing the techniques and standards that one can possibly learn and achieve, is hugely motivating, and left me wishing that morning, as I left the sports hall, that I’d started Taekwondo a lot earlier…
December 2010 1st Post Grading Training Experience by Amber Riaz-Bradley
Grandmaster Loh training was really interesting, the focus was on sparring for both days. As I am a green tag this experience will benefit me in the coming months when sparring becomes more prevalent in the training sessions as sparring tactics were discussed. It was also really useful to see what is expected at higher grades and to learn exercises to improve speed and coordination which I can now apply to my current training.
REFEREE EXPERIENCE by Reza Mani
I was selected as a referee for the 2010’s TTA individual championships. To be perfectly honest, I think refereeing is more stressful than anything else in Taekwondo. Each part of refereeing has its own challenges. If you are a corner judge, you have to be very sharp with kicks and scores, and slightest mistake can change the course of the match. This I think is the most challenging part (which, by the way, is what I had to do for my first match!). If you are at the referee’s desk, you need to watch the match very carefully and make sure you understand and capture everything the centre referee does; and you also have to keep records of scores, warnings and everything else that goes on in the ring. And finally, if you are a centre referee, your most important job is to keep the player safe.
So as you can imagine, refereeing is a very challenging task, and probably stressful too, especially for the first time. But once you start the match, you have to pay complete attention to what goes on in the ring that everything else goes out the window. Everything suddenly becomes very fast and clear and before you know it, the match is over and you will end up feeling great about finishing it, hopefully with no one getting hurt.
This time I was refereeing the kids’ matches and so I had to pay extra attention to what goes on in the ring, and make sure that they don’t get hurt. And I have to say, they are not the easiest to deal with as they cry for no reason, even if they are winning the match!
Overall, I think refereeing Taekwondo matches is a great fun and it helps you understand the matches better and what scores and does not.
FIRST SPARRING EXPERIENCE by Jasmine Rivett
This year was my first time competing so I was really nervous at first. However as soon as I arrived there was a really exciting atmosphere. There was a strong team spirit and everybody was very supportive. I thought it was going to be really intimidating stepping into the ring for the first time, but having the rest of the club cheering really helped. I really enjoyed being able to display everything I had worked so hard learning and improving in training. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had and I have learned a lot. I now know what I need to improve on in future and how to progress further in taekwondo. I can’t wait until the next competition, I wish it was tommorow!
SPECTATING EXPERIENCE by Kyle Farmer
As only a beginner to Tae Kwon Do and a new member of the society I was nervous to go on this trip, as I didn’t know anyone and I was so sure I would have absolutely no idea what was going on! As things got going and we had begun our journey in the mini bus my nervous very quickly vanished as I met every one and spoke to people. After a somewhat bumpy and slightly uncomfortable 6 hour trip we had made it to Glasgow and even though I wasn’t competing and weighing in I still got caught up in the little bit of hype along with some of the members who were very close to their weight boundaries.
The competition itself was amazing, watching and cheering for all of the competitors from Nottingham was well worth the long drive! I learnt a lot during the day, from simple etiquette to what makes a good poomsae and how to score in sparring matches. Even though I did not compete having simply gone on the trip has inspired me to achieve the best that I can in Tae Kwon Do. Having seen the beautiful yet powerful patterns of the black belts and simply being able to watch and feel the energy in the room while the people were sparring has brought out a competitive side to me that I didn’t really know that I had and now that I know it’s there the only direction I want to go is up!
I came back to training on the Monday more determined to succeed then I had the previous weeks. I am so glad that I went on the trip and can’t wait to do it again (but hopefully next time I will be competing!)
SUMMER SCHOOL 13 by Alun Nichol
After 3 months of no exercise over the summer holidays I really wasn’t looking forward to 6 solid days of training, but after the first 3 hour morning session on Sunday (apart from being heavily sleep deprived) I felt ready to take on the rest of the week. And I did, despite a painful knee injury on the Tuesday morning; I powered through the afternoon session and participated in everything that followed (much to the amazement of my peers). I had an amazing time all week and I learned so much! By the end of the week my fitness levels had increased tenfold and I had lost an inch off my waist! The socials in the evening were a great chance to see everyone outside of the dojang and it meant that I got the chance to talk to talk to taekwondoers from other clubs.
The instruction I received from Grand Master Loh throughout the week has highly increased the quality of my taekwondo. I was a green tag when I took part and I still benefited a huge amount from all of the exercises. Grand Master Loh interspersed the intensive training sessions with anecdotes which taught important lessons about how to apply taekwondo spirit in everyday life. It was a very technical week and by the end of the week I was able to do techniques that I struggled with at the beginning of the week. There was a lot of focus on a new stance which I found extremely useful for many of my techniques. Overall it was an incredible experience and I would recommend this week to anyone who wants to improve their fitness and level of taekwondo.
SUMMER SCHOOL 13 by Matthew Hughes
Over the six days training with Grand Master Loh my abilities and understanding of Taekwondo greatly improved. The most noticeable changes were of an increase in flexibility and the improvement of my technique. These physical improvements tagged up with some Taekwondo practical application theory from Grand Master Loh. Sometimes it was only after, when to the two sides of theory and practice were applied together, that I fully understood what Grand Master Loh meant. For me, Grand Master Loh’s training allowed me to ‘feel my kick’. I’ve done turning kick hundreds of times, but only after I began to lift my knee up more, bring my knee across more, and put my hips into the kick, did I only begin to realise what the kick should feel/ look like. After that moment of realisation of what I was meant to be doing, I spent the following kicks trying to repeat that feeling.
The first day was like a kick-start to my system. I hadn’t really done any Taekwondo training over the summer so this session re-stretched and re-energised my body for the rest of the week to come. In that morning of training us we also learnt about the new changes to our stances. These changes made significant improvements to ease-of-use when performing 360 techniques, back kick, and reverse turning kick. From that day on, we practiced our kicking techniques, combinations, and movement under the guidance of Grand Master Loh. As the week progressed, we focused on different kicks, and moved from everyday training in the dojang, to sparring situations. By the end of the week, our kicks had greatly improved and our sparring mindset sharpened.
After being taught for a few days by Grand Master Loh, I started to understand a lot more about the way he saw and thought about Taekwondo. For instance, saying “No”, or “I can’t” to him was a sign of bad spirit. He constantly said to us “not to bring baggage from outside into the dojang”, and to say no meant that we believed for some prior reason, that the feat set before us was impossible. All of Grand Master Loh’s challenges were possible. The reason for this was simply because he always gave us individual challenges which were accomplishable. After seeing our level of skill and understanding he would then be able to present us with tasks which were hard to reach but were definitely within our capabilities.
Another aspect I began to see from Grand Master Loh’s teaching was that a single Taekwondo kick (for example, front leg turning kick, or back kick) could be applied to all sparring situations. Now you’re probably thinking, “Surely not! I know of situations where it would be impossible to score if I only used a front leg turning kick!” Grand Master Loh showed that if you moved into stance correctly, the kicking technique was correct, and speed was applied, a single kicking technique could be used and score for all situations. However, Grand Master Loh also clearly expressed that there were situations where one kicking technique would be better for scoring than others.
Grand Master Loh also expressed that Taekwondo practice wasn’t just in the physical practice of training. He said that Taekwondo could be applied to all situations. He was obviously referring to the mindset that Taekwondo should have. This mindset was a focused, sharp, analysing, and ready-to-go mindset.
All-in-all, the summer school was great fun. Yes, I was stiff and achy in the morning and my blisters hurt, yet I found myself returning back to training the next day to have all these ailments worked out to find myself enjoying the training once more. The summer school is an experience that I would whole heartedly recommend to any Taekwondo practitioner. It greatly improves your skills and understanding of the martial art. I also had great fun at the socials and really got to know everyone else training alongside me. The summer school also develops a key understanding of your abilities, the abilities of others, and the quick and accurate analysing of situations.
SUMMER SCHOOL 13 by Nicholas Cerat
The 2010 Taekwondo Summer School with Grandmaster TK Loh was a formative week. Our first day wasn’t as tiring as we’d expected, as Grandmaster Loh was only giving us a small taste of what was to come and didn’t want to tire out us out too soon. We were taught a new fighting stance which the Kukkiwon has just adopted. While this was awkward at first, we gradually learned to adapt our fighting styles. The atmosphere was friendly, as most of us already knew each other from previous TTA events. A few of us were quite stiff because we hadn’t been training over the summer holidays. Monday was more of a physical and mental challenge, as those of us that weren’t sore yet were made so by the new stretches that our Grandmaster put us through. Tuesday, on the other hand, was one of the hardest trials of stamina that I have ever been through. The combination of rapid-fire kick sequences really put me through my paces, and while it may have not as been as tiring for the more athletic members present, all of us were panting and huffing by the end. Before we knew it the last afternoon session had arrived and our weeklong adventure was almost over. By the end, most of us were left wondering how time had flown so fast.
Training was supplemented by Grandmaster Loh’s explanations of why we were doing what we so enthusiastically did and his explanations of how it should be done. Clearly, it is a much better training method to know the physiological aspect of a stretch and the philosophy behind the training itself. Our instructor’s insight really helped us understand the mental aspect of global Taekwondo practise, from determination to self-restraint and fairness. The more in-depth he made me look, the more I wanted to train and better myself. In this respect, Summer School was one of the most useful and educational sports experiences I have ever had the luck to attend. In Grandmaster Loh’s own words, “the first stage is seeing someone do something and wanting to do it too”. In this respect, our instructor was inspirational and really showed us the limits of what is possible (while making us want to break those limits!). Also, his sense of humour lifted us out of our lactic acid induced misery many times over the week
MASTER MOON DAE-SUNG SEMINAR 2010 by Adam Turner
This July, Nottingham University Taekwondo Club had the honour of hosting a seminar by Master Moon Dae-Sung, the gold medallist in the 2004 Athens Olympics. This event was a tremendous opportunity to train under one of the world’s best Taekwondo practitioners and was open to the TTA and other Taekwondo organisations alike.
With five hours of training ahead of us we expected it to be a challenging day, though I doubt anyone was really prepared for what Master Moon had in store for us! The first three hours started with a gentle warm up before moving onto gruelling fitness training. There really did seem no end and every time we thought we would finally get a break there was always one more set of exercises to do. It was a real test of everyone’s physical and mental endurance and I’m sure everyone had a least one moment when they thought they just weren’t going to make it!
After what seemed like far too short a break we were back in for the second part of the session, nonstop kicking drills across the entire length of the sports centre. Some of the drills we were asked to do seemed almost impossible with our already exhausted legs but you would be amazed how motivating an Olympic gold medallist shouting “faster!” at you can be! That everyone managed to rise to this challenge really demonstrates the strength of the Taekwondo spirit to overcome any obstacle no matter how insurmountable it may appear to be.
The entire session showed everyone the unbelievable level of commitment and physical fitness required to compete at the highest level of Taekwondo. I think everyone was also surprised at just how much punishment they managed to endure and enjoyed a well earned sit down afterwards!
Thanks to Colin West for organising the seminar and to Master Moon for training us. It was a day which certainly won’t be forgotten anytime soon!
SUMMER SCHOOL 2009 with MASTER MOON SUNG HYU by Jasdeep Gill
Having trained the year before with Grandmaster Loh, I went into Summer School 11 blind, not knowing what to expect. Having heard about the extensive training sessions and the mental and physical strength required, as a 7th kup, my aim was to get through the week by doing the best I could. This Summer School however, being my second, I was rather looking forward to it. Before the week began, I set myself clear goals that I was aiming for at the end of each day, the week and the months to follow. I found my training was more focused than it had ever been, I was more confident with my own taekwondo and enjoyed this summer school a lot more because of it.
Comparing the summer schools is very difficult, especially as Summer School 12 was taken by Master Moon rather than Grandmaster Loh. Master Moon focused mostly on the sparring aspect of taekwondo, the area in which I am the least confident and struggle with the most. I loved being instructed by Master Moon, and it’s due to his energy and love of sparring. I felt thrived and carried along by his spirit which in turn helped to put a more positive spin on sparring for me. The morning sessions tested our endurance and physical fitness whilst jogging and doing drills. At all times I was out of breath and tired, but at the same time had just enough energy to go that little faster and push that little bit harder. I don’t think there is a drill that I quite enjoy as much as ‘knee raises’.
The afternoon sessions consisted of kick paddle work and sparring but practised in a very different way that I was used to. I felt less like a robot and learned to assess each situation better, whether it was best to use front or back leg, and judging the range and speed of the opponent. Master Moon was always very relaxed whenever fighting, and very comfortable with the technique he was executing and so I felt that I could adopt that similar frame of mind also. Rather than kicking aimlessly he taught me to focus better and visualise all possible target areas, that before I hadn’t considered. The kick paddle work exercised combinations that I hadn’t practised as such; countering and attacking more than once with the same leg was completely new to me. I was introduced to so many options with just a turning kick, that that alone is enough to make me feel more comfortable with sparring.
Master Moon’s instruction was incredibly beneficial for me, most simply because it was new and fresh. Often the same thing said or shown in a different way, can help to further one’s understanding, and that is exactly what his teaching did. I felt it filled gaps in my knowledge and practise of taekwondo. As much as I enjoyed this summer school and the sparring focus, which I was in great need of, I did however, miss the practise of form, poomsae and philosophical side of taekwondo that we had last year. This is exactly why both are so important to me and completely invaluable experiences.
SUMMER SCHOOL 2009 by Mandeep Gill
As the first day began at 10am I was already feeling out of my comfort zone by being awake so early, let alone the fact that I had five hours training ahead of me that day and 25 hours training ahead of me that week. I was still trying to get around the fact that I had committed myself to this crazy week while the time flew by. A whole week of just Tae Kwon Do seemed very surreal at first but was a nice break from reality. Got to meet lots of new people and celebrated most days of training with socials in the evenings. The best part was the fact that I could eat anything and everything without feeling guilty as I was working it off.
Training with Master Moon was an amazing experience, absolutely loved his warm ups. My spirit was tested constantly and I pushed my limits by managing to do backward rolls for the first time in my life! Lots of laughter, lots of pain, lots of moaning but most of all… lots of fun. Was very saddening when the week came to and end. The whole experience cannot be described in words, it’s something I will definitely do again and would recommend to all Taekwondoers!
TAEKWONDO TRIP IN MALAYSIA JULY 2009 by Jasdeep Gill
The opportunity to have competed abroad in Malaysia has been one of the most beneficial and educational experiences where my taekwondo is concerned. I first went out there with the competition in mind, as I’m sure others did too, but I learnt much more from the weeks’ training beforehand. It was up until that point in time, the most challenging and demanding taekwondo I had ever exercised. I felt completely out of my comfort zone with having a different climate, cuisine and outdoor training to adjust to, but upon my return to England it was clear that it had paid off for us all. During the competition I became aware at how comfortable I had become fighting a TTA opponent, and was completely thrown off when similar techniques and etiquette weren’t shown. This made me realise my weakness in fighting opponents with different sparring styles, highlighting an area I need to greatly improve on. All in all, the training on the ‘hill’ was where we worked our hardest, where I learnt the most about perseverance and my taekwondo, literally through sweat blood and tears; it was only by doing so that I feel I got the most out of the experience.
The rest of the trip involved sightseeing and trying new foods, experiencing the Malaysian culture aided by Grandmaster Loh and Master Loh’s hospitality. The other kup grades and I were lucky enough to enjoy ICTO as spectators, learning from our seniors and witnessing some of the best taekwondo ever seen. Passively experiencing ICTO has helped me to focus on strengthening my taekwondo, so that it progresses towards the high standards that I encountered this summer.
THE TAEKWONDO SPIRIT by Jo Greenland
Many people start a martial art with the aim to develop an improved level of fitness and physical strength. However, it is not until you reach a higher standard of competence, or as I found out, until you come across a major challenge in your life, that you realise that it is the mental strength you have acquired through the training which is equally, if not more important.
I began Taekwondo within the TTA whilst studying at the University of Nottingham, and attained my 1st Dan in September 2001. This achievement meant an enormous amount to me, and I felt that I was now just starting to really appreciate Taekwondo. Unfortunately though, events began to happen in my life which had a major impact on me and my Taekwondo training, and which demanded every ounce of inner strength I had.
During the Christmas and New Year period of 2001 I became increasingly unwell, with what I thought was a severe cold and chest infection. However, I was soon to be admitted to hospital with extensive pneumonia, which was further complicated by a very rare autoimmune disease, requiring unpleasant treatment in the form of chemotherapy.
Overall, I spent three weeks in hospital, not only fighting the pneumonia and autoimmune disease, but also attempting to regain the stone in weight I had lost, and mend six fractured ribs which had broken as a consequence of high dose steroid treatment. A further two months were spent recuperating at home.
Life gradually returned to normal, and I started back at work, although continued to take powerful medicines. I then began to consider returning to Taekwondo training. Thankfully my instructor and the entire club were very supportive, and helped me reintegrate gradually.
This proved to be a challenge in many aspects. Firstly, my muscle strength and fitness were understandably markedly reduced, making the sessions highly demanding and very draining. Also, due to contracting intermittent infections as a result of being on immunosuppressant drugs, my attendance continued to be relatively patchy. Both of these contributed to perhaps the biggest challenge of all ñ the mental challenge. Being a perfectionist, I was wanting to immediately be back at my original fitness and abilities which I had prior to becoming ill. When this obviously didnít occur it caused much frustration and despondency, heightened by the fact that I could see more junior grades ëover-takingí me in their training.
However, towards the end of the year (2002), my health began to even out. I was making regular sessions, my fitness was slowly improving, and my general morale was lifting.
But, unfortunately, life never runs smoothly, and shortly into 2003 it was discovered that the autoimmune disease had returned. This prompted a significant increase in my medication and further, rather unpleasant, investigations. One of these was a kidney biopsy, which not only prevented me from going on an eagerly awaited skiing holiday, but also meant a further 6 weeks absence from training.
Following this break, I once again began the uphill struggle of retuning to Taekwondo and improving my fitness, only to be dealt a further blow in June, when I developed appendicitis. The abdominal surgery resulted in another prolonged period away from training.
The last five months have, so far, been relatively event free, and hopefully life will continue in the same way. The autoimmune disease is now in remission and I am physically very well. I have just started a further degree this September, and am now regularly attending training.
However, the mental struggle remains as challenging. There are sessions where I feel really good, and come away exhilarated. Yet there are other times when I feel that I will not improve, and my frustration increases. In spite of this though, I shall continue to train as often as I can and to my best abilities. And hopefully I will eventually regain and build upon my former performance, and look towards going for my 2nd Dan.
So that really is my story. But I think I need to emphasise two points which really stick out for me.
Firstly, I believe I can safely say that had I not been as fit, both physically and mentally, as a direct result of Taekwondo training, I would not have survived the initial illnesses. This may sound rather far-fetched, but my body was pushed to its limits during those few weeks. Limits which I would not have had, had I not been so fit. I also feel it is impossible to underestimate the importance of having a positive mental attitude in overcoming any illness, and the determination to persevere and to never give up.
I think my story also demonstrates how difficult it is to give up Taekwondo. It can be very easy to stop training, but to actually give up the “Taekwondo spirit” is immensely hard, and this is what I have come to realise over the past two years. In spite of everything, I have always returned to the Dojang, and I hope I will continue to do so in years to come.
REVIEW OF SUMMER SCHOOL 2003 by Alice Goodwin-Self
(University of Nottingham Taekwondo Club Treasurer 2003-2004)
This was definitely one of the most amazing (and most painful) weeks of my life. In mid-September I participated in the University of Nottingham Taekwondo Club’s 6th annual Summer School where members of the TTA (Traditional Taekwondo Association) get the opportunity to train with our 8th Dan Grandmaster: the highest ranking instructor in UK, who can do the splits, break six inches of pine from a jumping back kick, and who founded our Association. 47 people of varying abilities from Yellow Belt to 3rd Dan attended the course this year. Members attended from as far away as Ireland and Scotland. The course lasts 6 days, with training for 5 hours a day and the opportunity to grade on the final Saturday. That’s a total of 33 hours of intense exercise in one week. Pretty impressive. It is an absolutely unmissable experience however, it is also physically and psychologically very demanding. I never realised it was physically possible to sweat that much
The first day focused on all round fitness and there was a point when I thought I would never get through the day. Grandmaster Loh explained at the end of the session that it was not sadistic, it was an exercise in Taekwondo spirit; simply to prove to ourselves how far we could go before we reached our limits. At this stage we were asked to think of some objectives that we wanted to reach by the end of the week. I thought of two. The first was self-belief, something I think I am lacking in. And the second was buns of steel. I have been on the quest for this for many years and have had little success so far! Luckily, that afternoon consisted of various forms of massage which proved invaluable to soothing achy muscles throughout the rest of the course. Despite this I really doubted whether I could make the entire week. And I did begin to question my sanity for paying for this extreme torture!
So, we all went home cursed with blisters and achy muscles for a long soak in the bath and an early night. You would never have thought that such a friendly, gentleman could inflict such pain. Over the next few days even though our feet were covered in plaster and tape, the blisters got worst. Amazingly though, after day three my muscles began to recover and I could actually concentrate on improving my Taekwondo skills. There was a lot of focus on sparring techniques throughout the course, however the sessions were very varied and although tiring, they were very interesting. In addition to practising our regular class work of paddle kicking, poomse and blocking, we were given insights into new and diverse areas of Taekwondo practice. This included pressure points, massage, self defence techniques and weapons (Filipino sticks) techniques. I can’t begin to explain how much I learnt in this week. My ability has been greatly enhanced by the expert instruction and we learnt many new techniques. Despite all the torture I have to admit that I will definitely do the course again next year.
At the end of a very long week, have I achieved my objectives? Well, my bum is still a bit flabby (I’m told that it’s “feminine”!) and I was absolutely exhausted. But I’m here, I survived and am now a green belt! I may not be a ninja yet, but watch out Jackie Chan! I’m gonna get there one day! grrrr.