The Taekwondo Club is known as a “town and gown” club. This essentially means that all are welcome to attend, student or not. The result is an extremely diverse group with members ranging from five to 54 years old. All are welcome, regardless of experience. The club meets three times a week with Monday sessions for students and Wednesday and Friday sessions for all. I was kindly invited to attend a demo that Student President Matt Dryden described as a “trip to a martial arts circus.”
I was excited about the prospect, as I had absolutely no experience with martial arts or taekwondo and was therefore eager to see what the sports had to offer. I was quite interested in taekwondo after seeing the success of the British squad at the Rio Olympics. Three of our four athletes secured medals, highlighted by Jade Jones’ magnificent march to gold. The hour-long demo consisted of a perfect balance of activity and discussion.
Zoe Tate, a 5th Dan black belt, led the class through various complex routines with great enthusiasm and passion. Before each exercise, Tate discussed the history of taekwondo and preached one of its main messages, the ability to achieve “victory with one blow.” The skill of the more experienced members was extremely impressive. Their ability to break boards and concrete in half was combined with their performance of intricate manoeuvres.
What struck me most about the hour, however, was the strong sense of camaraderie. The ability of the class to show such respect to Tate whilst at the same time joking around with her and amongst themselves is exactly what this sports club is all about. Indeed, you truly did get the impression that this was a taekwondo family. Such was the knowledge of Tate that she even issued all commands to the class in Korean, adding an extra layer of authenticity to an already fantastic demo. The demo culminated in Dryden performing a flying kick above three people, including my lanky self. On a more serious note, Tate emphasised real-life situations where the knowledge of taekwondo could be useful. For example, she showed the group several techniques for defending oneself against a knife attack. In addition to forming friendships by attending taekwondo, the lessons learned may come in handy while navigating challenging scenarios in the outside world.
I would strongly urge anyone reading this to consider giving taekwondo a go. After my experience in their company, I’m sure that any new member would be a welcome addition to the ever expanding taekwondo family. If you are interested in getting involved, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.